A Quiet Place (feat. Oscar-nominated sound team)

A Quiet Place (feat. Oscar-nominated sound team)


Hi, I’m Michael. This is Lessons from the Screenplay. (monster lands) Sound always plays a particularly important
role in the horror genre, whether it’s a hair-raising score, a terrifying
effect, or just a noise that gives away a character’s
location. (crash) But “A Quiet Place” takes this a step
further, making sound itself a key element of the story. (noise on roof) As writer/director John Krasinski said: “The sound design is a main character in the
movie… The guys designing the sound, Ethan and Erik, they’re the most talented guys in the world. You really got to see the art form of sound
design at the highest level. “Alright. Ethan, take one.” “Hi, I’m Ethan Van der Ryn.” “My name is Erik Aadahl. I’m one of the supervising sound editor-… (together)
…sound designers on ‘A Quiet Place.’” Through my friend, Michael Coleman over at
SoundWorks Collection, I actually had a chance to visit the Warner
Brothers lot and sit down with Ethan and Erik to discuss
the sound design process. So today, I’ll be asking for their input as we look at the ways sound can be used to
affect the emotion of a story… Why thinking about sound during the screenwriting
stage is so important… And how contrast and dynamics can make or
break a film. Let’s take a listen to “A Quiet Place.” In his book, “Screenplay,” Syd Field says
of writing sound into a script… …almost nothing. He all but dismisses it as something that
will be added after the movie is finished. In fact, most screenwriting material has very
little to say on the subject of sound. So when Scott Beck and Bryan Woods set out
to start writing “A Quiet Place,” they knew they had a challenging and unusual
task ahead of them. In a blog the duo wrote for Indiewire, they
said of the process: “Writing a silent movie isn’t easy. You can’t use dialogue as a crutch. And you can’t bore the reader with blocks
of description… This process forced us to take an unorthodox
approach to screenwriting, in which we threw formatting styles to the
wind.” In a normal screenplay, sound is often just
written plainly in the action lines, or sometimes it may be in all caps. But one glance at the original script for
“A Quiet Place” immediately shows how far Beck and Woods took their experimental
formatting, which includes handwritten words, pictures
of props, and even charts and facts which may be fun
for the reader but are pretty useless to a filmmaker. This screenplay breaks almost all the formatting
rules, but I will admit that the stylized nature
is particularly effective in its representation of sound. Looking at the first two pages, certain words are underlined to draw focus
to the silence of the environment. These underlined words stand out and give
us a clear sense that silence plays an important role in this
family’s life. Similarly, Beck and Woods play with caps,
font size, and word placement to communicate silence, tension, and pacing. In an especially tense moment, as the monster
stands between the father and his family, the script goes so far as to limit each page
to a few words. With each page the font size increases, highlighting
the tension and need for absolute silence. Ethan: “I love it when there’s sound directions
written into the script. I think that it’s so important for screenwriters
when they’re when they’re writing to actually be thinking about what is happening
sonically in the world, because it’s a big part of the storytelling.” In many ways sound is one of the most under-appreciated and under-utilized storytelling tools. Erik: “We experience movies with two senses:
our sight and our hearing. I believe strongly that the hearing part
of it is half of the experience.” We tend not to notice how important sound
is until it’s absent, and it’s precisely because it affects us
in this unconscious way that it is so powerful. Erik: “Walter Murch had this great saying,
he said: ‘Images come in through the front door but
sound comes in through the back door.’ So you can be a lot sneakier with manipulation.” (creature sound) Erik: “You can dig into that reptilian part of the human senses and in a way with sound become kind of in
a puppet master of emotions.” When writing, one of the most important goals is to make the audience empathize with your
characters, and the same is true of the the sound design
process. Ethan: “Within every storytelling process
there’s going to be moments where we want to experience what the characters
are experiencing in a visceral way and I think sound is really one of the key
tools that we have as filmmakers to help create that experience.” An example of this is found in the original
screenplay for “A Quiet Place.” There is a moment that is written in such
a way that the reader perceives the action from
a single characters perspective because the sound. “Exterior: woods. Path, afternoon. April gets very still. She turns up the volume on her hearing aid. Just faintly, through the high frequency static,
we hear the baby crying in the distance. April stifles her breathing. The sound of something else continues breathing
behind her. Out of focus, just ten feet away, we see it
move slowly towards the sounds.” Writing the moment this way makes the audience
experience the story events through the point of view of the character, and this technique was utilized several times
in the final film. (heartbeat) Erik: “There’s a number of different sonic
points of view in the film from the creatures and the family members…” (monster’s perspective of clock ticking) Erik: “One of the central ones for us, design-wise,
was for the daughter Regan played by Millicent Simmonds, who, in real life she’s deaf. And in the film her character is deaf as well. So for a film that is so much about sound, we felt it was really important to right from the beginning sequence put the audience into her shoes and what it’s
like to live with a cochlear implant.” (toy beeping) Erik: “So we get these shifts in the sound…” (toy beeping) (sound cuts out) “…that I think helped connect the audience to her character.” (silence) Experiencing the film from the sonic perspective of Regan helps the audience empathize with her character, but it’s also the fact that these shifts are
so stark that helps make them so powerful. Erik: “We wanted to do really nice, hard
cuts into it. So you could really feel the shift of contrast
between: ‘here’s atmospheric sounds that the other
characters would be hearing, and woosh— now we go into her head and there’s this
sort of low tone going under it.’ ” This underscores the idea that whether you’re designing the sound for
a film, or the plot of a film, it’s important to remember the need for dynamics. When Beck and Woods began working on “A
Quiet Place,” it didn’t take them long to realize it couldn’t
just be a movie devoid of sound. Scott Beck said of the process, “You had to figure out the pacing, because you couldn’t constantly have silence
permeate the entire film. You had to envision where there might be sound
design moments.” But why? Why was that such a crucial part of the development
of the story? Ethan: “Imagine a wavelength, of little
difference between the top amplitude and the lowest amplitude. Everything starts to flatten out, and what that does is it starts to flatten
the experience out for the audience. You start to disengage, and you push back
from the screen, and you push back from the experience.” If every sound in a movie was played at a
loud volume from beginning to end, not only would it be really annoying, it would prevent any particular loud moment
from being impactful. So in “A Quiet Place,” the sound is designed
to be dynamic. Sequences often begin at a low volume, and
increase over time. (yell) What’s important to note is that this mirrors
the plot design of these sequences as well. As tension builds, the sound builds… …until they both reach the climactic breaking
point… (screaming / explosions) But even then, neither the plot or sound stays
at 100% for long… (explosions trail off) as the volume drops low again as the tension
is reset. This dynamic flow can play out not only over
the course of an entire sequence, but within a few moments of a scene. Erik: “My favorite moment there is at the
very end of the film where the two kids are in this pickup truck. Regan’s hearing aids starts ‘fritzing’
and she switches it off. Complete digital silence. She’s looking at her brother, who’s looking
past her, and his face just blossoms into this look
of sheer terror… (crash / snarling) …and that counterpoint—having this incredible
performance, this really intense situation, but just nothing supporting you, sound-wise
it’s just… silence. To me, that’s like the most terrifying thing
I’ve ever experienced. So that was really fun.” This is a good reminder that sometimes silence is the best way to create suspense, but after a long period of tension, it’s good to give the audience some catharsis
before they’re ready for more. (muffled hoot) Erik: “I think the best movies are scripted
with sound in mind. If you can build sound into the into the DNA of your script then you’re just gonna have a better movie
every time.” Scott Beck and Bryan Woods’s unconventional
approach to screenwriting may not supplant the decades-old formatting
we’re used to, but it is a good example of what storytellers can do when they appreciate the importance of sound. It can connect us to a character in an emotional
way, making us immediately empathize with their
situation. And just like any element of filmmaking, sound is most effective when it’s utilized
in dynamic ways to create moments of contrast. (clanging) And it underscores the power of dynamics— reminding us that the plot of a film should flow between emotional states, and that the loudest sound can only come from a quiet place. When I sit down to watch a movie, it’s often hard to turn off the analytical
part of my brain and just enjoy it. But when I listen to a story, the emotion bypasses my conscious self and
is often a much more moving experience. Which is why I love listening to Audible. Audible has the largest selection of audiobooks
on the planet, and since I just released a video on No Country
for Old Men, I think its the perfect time to recommend
checking out the book. While the film is fantastic for many reasons, the amazing story all came from Cormac McCarthy’s
book. And you can get the audiobook for No Country
for Old Men for free when you start a thirty-day trial by going
to audible.com/lfts or texting “lfts” to 500500. Once again that’s audible.com/lfts or text
“lfts” to 500500 to start a thirty-day free trial. Thanks to Audible for sponsoring this video. Hey guys, hope you enjoyed the video. I want to say a big thank you to Ethan and
Erik for taking time out of their very busy schedules to talk about the importance of
sound. I also want to thank my friend Michael Coleman
for connecting me with Ethan and Erik. If you want to learn more about sound for
film, you should definitely check out his website, soundworkscollection.com. He has a ton of awesome blog articles, and
an audio podcast, and video profiles— all filled with great information about sound
for film. Thank you, as always to my patrons on Patreon
and supporters here on YouTube for making this channel possible. If you enjoyed the interviews consider supporting
the channel on Patreon so I can do more, and as extra content, I’ll be sharing the
full interview with Ethan and Erik with all my supporters and patrons. Thank you for watching, and I’ll see you
next time.

100 Comments on "A Quiet Place (feat. Oscar-nominated sound team)"


  1. When you think of films with great sound, what are some examples that come to mind?

    Reply

  2. Could u do a video about the art of music in a movie (for example in Donnie Darko ,the music just break u)

    Reply

  3. Seeing this in the cinema was a nightmare. 100+ people in squeaky chairs coughing and drinking and eating popcorn and opening chip packets completely ruined the experience.

    Reply

  4. Could you do a video about characters revealing themselves for the climax? Like Maximus in Gladiator or The Bride in Kill Bill or Frank being revealed in Once Upon a Time in the West and why these work so well. Thanks

    Reply

  5. love your videos! I'm curious, have you seen the film 'it follows' from 2014? I personally consider it one of the greatest horror films of this generation, if you haven't seen it i highly recommend- amazing cinematography and score, not to mention it was the director's first horror film!!

    Reply

  6. First off, I’m obsessed with your channel and want YOU to write a book. Second, can you do a video on writing a “coming of age” screenplay? Like Boyhood, but with a better example (I think I’m the only person who disliked that movie!) Pretty please??

    Reply

  7. I hope at some point you can review the Safdie Brothers Good Time movie. I would really like to hear your analysis and opinions on the film. And I feel like you could bring a lot to the table on that film.

    Reply

  8. Ever thought of doing something with 10 Cloverfield Lane?

    I love the switch of ideas where the monsters were thought to be outside.. But the true ones are in the inside (of the bunker).

    Reply

  9. hey michael! i was wondering if you would make a video on the trope of manic pixie dream girls? i.e. clementine from eternal sunshine of the spotless mind? i would love to see your interpretations and thoughts!

    Reply

  10. Hearing the full interview with the sound designers might be interesting, although it sounds like the sort of thing that would just be patrons-only

    Reply

  11. Another perfect example of sound used beautifully in plot is in "The Wrestler" by Darren Aronofksky. Like when he pauses at the curtain of the supermarket and hears cheering etc. Really pushes the characters nostalgia/memories out without boring us audience.

    Reply

  12. Can you do a video on a movie where the antagonist or anti hero does bad things and yet are still extremely likable? Maybe like a Clockwork orange?

    Reply

  13. I'm easily scared on watching movies but this kind of story telling makes me liking the story of the scary movie. Keep it up

    Reply

  14. Can you please do episode 14 of the Final season of Breaking Bad “Ozymandias.” Arguably the greatest Tv episode of all time!

    Reply

  15. CAN YOU PLEASE DO 'MIDNIGHT IN PARIS' – WOODY ALLEN ? 🙂 OR THE BEFORE SUNSET, SUNRISE, MIDNIGHT SERIES

    Reply

  16. Another cool video of yours. Would you please do " A Clockwork Orange" because I believe that the movie is great and needs some of your clarification.

    Reply

  17. Do Eternal Sunshine!! It's amazing! Kaufman is a genius
    OR Adaptation. Adaptation is a brilliant deconstruction of script writing

    Reply

  18. What to do if you have a good idea and you want to write a screenplay but you are not that good in english language ?

    Reply

  19. Please do "Searching"!

    I just watched it and totally love it! During the whole movie, I kept asking myself, "how the heck does the screenplay look like??" It's intelligent and creative, and it must have a very unconventional script

    Reply

  20. Can you do a video on Phantom Thread or possibly Paul Thomas Anderson's writing style/techniques? This video was amazing, as always, by the way. Thank you!

    Reply

  21. Dude, thanks for doing these, you are literally my favorite Channel that focuses on Movies and I feel bad sometimes when I don't click on your videos because I don't want to get spoiled, because you deserve the click

    Reply

  22. Dude you need to upload videos consistently, otherwise you'll start losing user loyalty. Come on Michael, you can do much better than this!

    Reply

  23. The script for A Quiet Place almost sounds like it was intended to work on its own, like something they could sell to bookstores as-is without much hassle if the movie went belly-up.

    Reply

  24. I just saw your video about Nightcrawler and after you said that this movie was one of your favorite movies I decided I recommend you Nelyubov(Loveless) by Andrey Zygatinsev. It also has a great criticism about society like Nightcrawler so I think you would like it.

    Reply

  25. I’m doing a presentation for ib English on the use of sound in graphic novels. This video was the inspiration. Thank you so much!!!

    Reply

  26. This was absolutely phenomenal! I love how thorough all of your videos are! I just saw the one about Devil Wears Prada
    the first 10 pages, which was brilliant that I loved it, and now this one. This one is just absolutely fantastic. I really loved seeing how you analyze the screenplay and hearing about their techniques of making font bigger or smaller having just one sentence on one page… That is absolutely awesome to see in screenwriting. The screenwriters are unafraid and experimental, which made the movie outstanding. If I had to name my emotion for this movie when I saw it in theaters it would be amazingly intrigued. Even intrigued isn't the right word. I felt so unbelievably invested in the world and each character and I don't really like horror movies. But the premise of this was so unusual, and the script definitely highlights that. Even if you read the script by itself from the way it's written and designed you could easily sense the tension. Anyway I just really highly enjoyed that section of your video. And I laughed out loud at the way you ended it by the way. That was one of the best ending that I've ever seen. I'm going to show this video to my mom because she loves stuff like this as well!!

    Reply

  27. I never really get scared watching thrillers or horror movies, they don't get my heart pounding. A Quiet Place, however, oh boy. I saw it at the cinema and there were many instances when I couldn't breathe and I got tears in my eyes because the experience was so tense. Especially the very beginning, when the youngest child gets killed and when Emily Blunt gives birth. During those two moments I was out of breath and almost crying, I had never experienced anything like it, it was magical! Love this movie.

    Reply

  28. I really enjoyed this movie. Loved watching it in the theater and people around me trying not to make any noise was quite funny.

    Reply

  29. Man funny to think the same guy who was Jim in the Office can also make one of the most fun and creative films I have ever seen

    Reply

  30. This reminds me of a great documentary about the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. He began his movie career all the way back in the silent era. I wish I could track it down. But apparently when "talkies" became popular, Hitchcock was one of the early directors who realized how important sound could be. The point was illustrated by showing a short clip from an early 30s movie he directed (the name escapes me), but the plot involves a young woman who murders a man in her neighborhood. The day after the crime, she's trying to act as if nothing is wrong, but her mother and neighbor are gossiping about "the murder" down the street. Hitchcock zoomed in on the guilt-ridden woman's face while the neighbor droned on about the crime. The neighbor's dialogue becomes indistinct — all but one word: knife.The word comes up again and again: "So I heard it dah dah dah KNIFE dah dadada KNIFE duh KNIFE dududududu KNIFE .." If I can find that clip I'll post it, but it really demonstrated the effectiveness of sound.

    Reply

  31. this movie has a fair amount of story and editing oversights that people seem to overlook, but the sound design is impeccable. Another really great horror movie that plays with this sound construct is Don't Breathe, highly recommend.

    Reply

  32. Funny, I didn't get at all that she was turning up her implant at all in that scene. They make such a big deal about her implants not working through the whole film that I assumed she was upset by the high pitched sound.

    Reply

  33. " sound design is a main character" Na let's give the Oscar to the movie about music because we don't know what's the difference between sound design and sound editing.

    Reply

  34. Thank you for your vids, I am learning so much. They are such fun. (:

    Thanks for the book recommendations as well. 😄

    I thought this was an interesting film to watch, I DEFINITELY plan on seeing it again. ..It's really true, sound is SUPER important to a film and I like what they did with "A Quiet Place." I was more impressed with it than I thought I would be. (:

    Again, liked your vid on it. It was cool to hear from the sound guys too. What fun. (:

    Reply

  35. They seem to mix and match hearing aids and cochlear implants a bit. A part of the screenplay you read said hearing aid, but what the character's wearing is very clearly an implant. The little disk on her head is what connects to the actual implant, and is not present in a hearing aid. The important difference is that in the film, her implant screeches like a hearing aid and actually plays into the plot. To my knowledge, this is impossible for a cochlear implant to do. It wouldn't bug me if it weren't so plot-relevant. In case you're curious, a hearing aid amplifies sound and the feedback screeching occurs when the sound is picked up by the microphone. An implant is incapable of amplifying sound and instead bypasses the damaged cochlea to channel sound directly and stimulate the auditory nerve.

    Reply

  36. This movie came out after a particularly traumatic event in my life, and BOI that was such a tense and suspenseful ride I almost had to walk out.

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  37. watching your take on this movie is actualy more entertaining man. i watched this movie about 2 days ago, and i didnt like it, one of those movies which its imdb rating is above average but for me below.. but your takes on movies are awesome

    Reply

  38. I didn't like the film. I was sooo irritated by the girl. She was so fucking stupid. Besides, there were no answers to why these creatures could not be killed by the American military.

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  39. Это прекрасно , я обожаю всё о сценарном искусстве особенно в таком формате(!!!), не секрет что такого нет в России , но черт возьми ОГРОМНОЕ СПАСИБО ЗА СУБТИТРЫ!!!!!!!))))))))))) единственное что я могу сказать вам по английски : THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  40. The quietest place on earth I've been was the Rub' al Khali desert [aka The Empty Quarter] in Saudi Arabia – it was so silent there in the eternal dunes that my ears started to throb with pressure.

    It was unnatural. It was unnerving. I wasn't scared, but I was disconcerted and my brain was on alert.

    This wasn't a great movie, but it was a very entertaining movie because it tapped into something so surreal most of us have never experienced.

    Reply

  41. I remember when I saw this in theaters, there were some people whispering during the beginning, then the kid died, and everyone was dead silent for the whole film.

    Reply

  42. Hi, ı made turkish subtitles for ur vid. And ı will continue to do so, when ı am free. can u accept them?

    Reply

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