Category Archives: Foley

Shorts in the Spotlight

Some work I did last year got some recent attention. Operator, directed by Caroline Bartleet, won best British short at the Baftas this February. This was quite a nice surprise as I’d completely forgotten I’d worked on it; Alex Joseph and I recorded all the Foley at the end of a session for another film. Hats off too to the film’s sound designer Lisa-Marie McStay who picked up the award for best sound design at London’s Underwire festival.

Another pleasant surprise was The Drum magazine’s pick for their ad of the week back in October. Film is Fragile was a collaboration between The Mill and BFI to promote the restoration and digitisation of the UK’s historic film collection.

Once again, Alex asked me to look after the footsteps in the film. We were both volunteering our time on this and I soon realised it consisted of clips of characters running in classic films. It didn’t take too long  to complete in the end; I’ve gotten pretty used to grabbing old recordings. In fact I’ve managed to create a library in my brain that can go straight to the appropriate reel in a film edited 5 years ago; picking the right shoes, surface and pace. Well, that’s the intention anyway, results can be mixed.

So is this still Foley? No, not really… not if considering the definition of recording bespoke sound effects for linear picture. However that in itself can be contested; the line between sound effects and classic Foley is frequently blurred, especially when taking game sound into consideration. Nonetheless, nicking old recordings and cutting them to picture is pretty common with low/no budget shorts and worked well in this case. Many Foley editors will also supplement recordings with old favourites. These supplements may be used to add weight to tracks or sell the texture of a surface.

In the case of this film, the copied footsteps were quite simple. The snow feet and the wet beach feet were both layered up, however the rest (all of which were concrete) sat there quite nicely on their own.

So two quickly made Foley soundtracks that caught a bit of attention; if only the long-slog projects did the same!

Spotting a Honeytrap

Honeytrap Film Poster

Brixton-based drama Honeytrap came out in UK cinemas last Friday and received positive reviews. Based upon the 2009 case of a 15 year old girl who lured a boy to his death by a gang, director Rebecca Johnson drew on her experiences working with young people in the same area with her not-for-profit Fierce Productions filmmaking workshops.

Layla, played by Skins’ Jessica Sula, comes to stay with her mother in London having grown up in Trinidad with relatives. As the film progresses she falls deeper and deeper into trouble as she desperately wants to fit in with her new peers and gain affection and attention from the local top boy, Troy. 

I had the opportunity to sit in the spotting session for Honeytrap with Rebecca, sound designer Alex, dialogue/ADR editor Adele Fletcher and re-recording mixer Richard. Spotting sessions are great aren’t they? We combed through the final cut (shout out to picture editor John Dwelly and Rebecca for the great edit) scene by scene as Alex and Rebecca determined the feel of the sound design. Adele, Rebecca and Richard made their ADR notes, hard effects were noted for sound editor Stelios and we noted down the Foley necessities.

It’s so great to have a detailed plan and communicate requirements to the Foley stage (Universal Sound recorded and performed the Foley) and give attention to scenes that require ADR coverage or creative attention. Attending this spotting session also let me know which scenes or parts of scenes would be dropping production/sound effects in favour of music and design. It would appear that proper planning and preparation not only prevents piss poor performance but also nourishes creativity and allow it to flourish, especially with time constraints to adhere to.

Honeytrap is in UK cinemas right now. Updates on DVD and international releases are available via the film’s Twitter and Facebook feeds.

An Adventure in Animation Foley

I recently returned to the choppy waters of freelancing; this has proved to be both exciting and stressful. On the plus side, I’m writing this from a pretty bar in Yorkshire bang in the middle of the afternoon – the downside is that I’ve developed an unhealthy attraction and yet a simultaneous aversion to emails.

Another joyous positive for the life of a freelancer is the freedom to take on work away from the norm. I was recently invited to join Dave Darch and his team working with young people with the BFI and THAMES film music project for a Foley workshop, complimenting their 10-week music for film course. I turned up armed with a back-breaking array of props, shoes, cloths and vegetables with the full intention of wiggling them all in front of the students.

A high percentage of these items were indeed wiggled. The young people also got a chance to wiggle them to their own films that they’re working on. I think they enjoyed their day; it’s not often folks get a chance to step into someone else’s shoes or transform a hand drill into a pistol. At the request of Dave, I brought with me some examples of my Foley to picture, including a section of Moshi Monsters: The Movie. It hadn’t occurred to me that not many folk get to watch moves without the finished mix; they all seemed to be transfixed.

I didn’t write up anything about Moshi when we were busy working on it. This is due to the fact I was bloody knackered at the time.

Moshi Monsters

The film was the first by Shoreditch’s award winning digital company Mind Candy and was released straight after their win at the Children’s BAFTAs. Mind Candy’s Lead Audio Designer, Daan Hendricks, got in touch with us when I was at Creativity Media and we joined his team on the sound design, Foley and effects mixing. This would be my first theatrical animated film and I was bricking it.

I wasn’t overly familiar with Moshi Monsters and the idea of creating their movements for the first time in a film was a little daunting. Thankfully, I had Alex giving me a whole bunch of advice and we were soon strolling around Soho poking heads into various shops and market stalls looking for interesting food stuffs, toys and materials that would bring these characters to life.

The workflow of the film in terms of the Foley was a little different to that which I’m used to. Spider Eye, the animation studio, would send us sections of the film once they were fully rendered and green-lit. Therefore, we worked in a very non-linear fashion, recording and fitting Foley in a very stop-start manner until we received picture lock. We took a couple of days recording with Gwilym Perry (now of Doppler and Dubbs) in Twickenham’s theatre 3 then finished the rest of the film with Simon Trundle at Universal Sound. These two studios have their own unique characteristics and the two mixers their own separate approaches, both of whom contributed such wonderful creative ideas and experience, I really valued working with them both.

The five Moshi Monsters who lead us through the film are the same monsters that children ‘adopt’ in the online game. Katsuma (a cat with an inflated sense of self), Poppet (the level headed character), Zommer (think of Scooby Doo’s Shaggy but more of a zombie), Furri (lovable hairy oaf), Diavlo (fiery) and Luvli (sultry). They are also joined by Poppet’s favourite Moshling, Mr Snoodle (a little horse which looks like an elephant puppy).

These are characters that kids will know and love so it was pretty essential to make their movements reach expectations. In terms of cloth tracks, I pretty much followed their animal type or resorted to simple cotton cloth. The supporting characters, however, offered more creative opportunities. Shelby, a turtle character, needed an interesting material for his moves. Alex suggested using PVC which was duly adopted and had a nice sound to it. Buster Bumblechops (a Jurassic Park Richard Attenborough type in an adventurous mood) was performed with canvas and rougher cloth. The character Furry was… furry. I performed his moves with fur. Imagination was required elsewhere.

Footsteps provided the other major preparation challenge. I couldn’t decide whether to follow what was on screen or to go with the nature of the characters instead (soft, wet, rocky, bristly etc). We experimented with different materials but- for the most part- went with less abstract choices… if you can call udon noodles less abstract for a footstep. In fairness, the leads were walked lightly with fairly standard shoes. One character was barefoot but heavy set; I walked him with my hands but made them very ‘slappy’. Daan wanted a kinda plastic/rubberish footstep for Mr Snoodle. After much rummaging around, Universal’s Paul Hanks came up with using finger tips upon a wellington boot. This project induced a very collaborative environment and the Foley benefitted from this.

A section of the film that we spent quite a bit of time on was set on a snowy mountain; the footsteps involved the usual cornstarch and rock salt. The scene involved an avalanche that was a bit of fun to create. This is one of those moments where the Foley stage is used by the sound designers and fx editors to obtain something for themselves. Both Alex and Daan were keen to collate a bank of recordings that they could later affect for their own design and fx tracklays. Acquiring the help of another soundie, Ryan Lee Twyman, we flumped and bellowed pillowcases full of flour onto the floor all in full view of the Neumann and contact mic. The recordings accumulated but a distinct sound of falling snow was missing. As I brushed the ground ready for another load to drop, Alex was still monitoring the mics. Turns out a little hand brush on the concrete with cornstarch to scatter makes quite a lovely avalanche sound when you’ve got a contact mic there doing its thing.

As enjoyable as our more experimental recording sessions were, I maintain that some of the best work comes from having no time to think. The 5 days I had at Universal Sound with their handsome mixer Simon was hard work. Good grief, we had so much to get through whilst my dreamy old colleague Stelios and intern Daniel were editing the fruits of our work. As I wasn’t as familiar with the props at Universal, Simon came up trumps in suggesting props to use. We flew through scene by scene and in all honesty I can’t remember a lot of the things I used because we worked so quickly everything relied upon instinct rather than considered thought.

Something particularly enjoyable about working on this film was the expeditions to source prop material. I spent an absolute age looking in different toy shops across London; trying to find items that would pop, whistle, squish, squeak, rattle and hum. These toys proved very useful for both Foley and the sound design. Mr Snoodle’s flappy ears were made with a whoopie cushion, flies were made with buzz magnets and tuning forks, large drinking straw-like pipes were made with a whirly tube slid inside a washing machine tube and the Moshi’s arch enemy’s army of glumps were complimented in the Foley stage with a rubbery toy cheese filled with slime. It was beautifully disgusting and fun.

Here’s some pics of the recordings.

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Here’s the trailer for the film.

Sound of Cinema, Sound of Panic

Oh hello. It’s been a while since I wrote some words on here. I’ve been setting aside free time to learn Chinese and watch Breaking Bad (still haven’t seen season 5, please don’t spoil anything please, please, please). Anyway, by the time I’ve gotten through all of that, I’m a bit reluctant to look at the computer any longer.

Well, this is a shame as there’s been so many cool things happening over the past year. One of which, I thought I’d share tonight.

At the close of 2013’s beautiful summer (it was bucketing down outside), Alex and I appeared on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune live broadcast at Southbank’s BFI theatre 1, launching the broadcaster’s Sound of Cinema season. The producer asked Alex to discuss sound design and he invited me along to talk about Foley. It was around this time that the first nerves wafted over.

This was rehearsal, there were a few more people there when it came to broadcast.

This was rehearsal, there were a few more people there when it came to broadcast.

On the day of the broadcast, we were in Soho with the Mind Candy sound crew mixing the Moshi Monsters movie (ah man, that’s a whole different post, so much fun) and so had the capacity to accumulate some interesting items to audition on stage. We sourced some rhubarb, a melon, some knives and forks and Alex’s toy plastic tennis racquet. My good friend and fellow sound editor Patch also came up trumps and donated his (empty) wallet and a builder’s trowel.

So here’s the actual broadcast. Patch was good enough to record this for me and it’s not on the iPlayer anymore so I figured it’s cool to share.

So a few things happened…

1. I forgot how to form sentences

2. I forgot how to say words without sounding like a 1950s newsreader

3. I declared that we use leather for creaky floorboards (wat?)

4. I forgot that wet leather does not creak

5. Alex smashed it

Despite points 1-4, it was still a whole bunch of fun. Once I’d gotten over the intensity of my heart beating at around 80 decibels, the sight of a room full of people hearing about sound design and Foley, possibly for the first time, was brilliant. They were either really interested in our craft or had mastered the art of looking really interested in two people bash things around on a stage whilst waiting for the classical music to return.

The fruity aftermath

The fruity aftermath

So yeah. That happened. I think the best thing was my mum and dad were listening at home and I think they finally understood what us noisemakers do every day. Thanks to Alex (and the radio show producers) for inviting me along and Patch for the mute wallet.

Our Girl

Last night Our Girl was broadcast on BBC 1 here in the UK. I was pretty excited about this as it was my first Foley job for broadcast drama and I had friends and family members sat around the country in front of their televisions sending various messages of support and intrigue. The programme is set around a young woman, played by Lacey Turner, stuck in a rut and low on self esteem. At her lowest point, she comes across an advert for the army and decides to enlist. The subsequent training and new encounters forges her character and alters her outlook on life.

3545125-high_res-our-girl.jpg

I was approached by the programme’s sound editor and dubbing mixer, Steve Chase who, alongside post production supervisor Elaine Jaxon, were after a Foley artist to compliment the sound and fill in any production sound gaps.

Soon followed a trip to the BBC’s studios in Elstree for two days of boots, anoraks and sandbags. At one and a half hours, the programme is easily the length of a feature film, however with two days to record all the material, I was relieved to see Steve’s comprehensive sheet of cues. We sped through the programme applying footsteps to scenes where the feet weren’t prominent in the production sound or for those that were crying out for a little attention (soldier’s boots in the training camp’s corridors or stiletto heels walking down the high street at night). We took the same approach for the effects, paying attention to anything that was missing or needed an extra touch.

There were plenty of moments to be creative in terms of problem solving. When a background character is seen wheeling around a wheelbarrow, we needed to find an alternative due to a serious lack of wheelbarrows in the studio. Elaine located a postal trolley and was soon encouraged to join in as we pushed it, rattled it and moved the wheel against the concrete. It all sounded rather nice in the end.

There were also opportunities to be inventive. When the lead character stands up on a toilet seat to peer over the cubicle wall, we found that a canteen tray made a good substitute for a cheap club toilet seat. This also offered another opportunity to use sound to reinforce the crummy, cheap life and environment that she was living in. Steve encouraged me to pipe up with any of my own ideas which was great and very much appreciated.

The programme is currently on the iPlayer (UK viewers only) and will stay there until Sunday evening. It reached 5.3m viewers on Sunday evening which was pretty rad.

A Puzzled Foley Artist

At some point in the autumn of last year, I got a call off my friend and long time collaborator Dean Covill, giving me a heads up on a short film he was working on for Oliver Kember at some time in the then near future. I was reel deep in Foley editing to the point of alcoholism and delirium, so could only grunt a few words back such as “sure” and “of course I’ll have a good, long think about making the sound of a Rubik’s Cube.”

In all honesty, that was the last I thought of it until the morning came when I was supposed to actually get on with the recordings. That wretched, slow realisation of disorganisation dawned upon me and I was left with no option but to rummage around in the Foley boxes and hope for the best.

There’s something to be said for abandoning forward thinking and relying on instinct because I swear that all the times I’ve had oodles of time to prepare and consider forthcoming recordings, I tend to accumulate a whole lot of items that get pulled, bashed, shook and snapped, yet never really hit the mark. Over-thinking gets in the way of instinctive imagination, whereas just glancing round the room will transform an umbrella to a yacht’s sail or an old kettle into a steering wheel . In this instance, I was saved by a 50p toy car and the removable wheel from my plastic stacking drawers.

Rubik's Car

The wheel itself was quite thin so weight was gained from the car. I could place the car’s wheels in the grey wheel’s groove and mimic the rotation and slide of a Rubik’s cube. As long as I held the car’s wheels quite tight whist pushing and twisting it against the grey wheel, the rattle remained muted and clacky rather than thin and annoying.

The short film is entitled Puzzled and drifts back to the 1980s when Rubik’s Cubes were the best thing since Etch A Sketch and the ultimate goal was to be the first kid at school to solve it. As a result, there was quite a lot of fiddling with the car and wheel to do, every now and then the car would slip and it would come loose. I was worried this would all be too noisy and the whole recording would sound like a toy shop falling over, however upon playback with a little level reduction, it slotted into place and felt kinda reminiscent of gun handling Foley; utter ridiculous upon solo, however perfectly feel-good when played against the picture.

I think the whole exercise was a bit of a confidence boost. I’ve got a film coming up in a few weeks where I’ll be the only Foley artist in the recording theatre and the temptation to pre-plan and prepare each and every prop has become harder and harder to resist. In reality however, all Foley artists rely on their intuition to find the right materials to create the correct sound with the perfect performance. Easy!

Anyway, I must thank Oliver and Dean for having me in on this project. I rather enjoyed the story, will link it here if it finds its way online, it’s rather endearing. I also love how each project Dean sends my way there’s some lovely leather satchels to record. This is always appreciated mate, especially because I spent a lot of money buying them from vintage stores before discovering the magic of charity shops.

Both Oliver and Dean are on Twitter. Follow them if you fancy.

Seriously Rubbish Foley

A feature-length documentary I worked on, Trashed,  is going to be up for best documentary award at next week’s Raindance Film Festival in London. This film was refreshing to work on, I was brought in to help sound designer Jack Gillies and dialogue editor Richard Fordham on the project, tracklaying atmospheres and hard effects where necessary. Naturally I waved my hand high in the air and requested, nay demanded any Foley be sent my way.

The documentary produced by Blenheim Films is an investigation into man-made waste and its environmental effect upon the world’s inhabitants. There’s a nice review on Ecocentric for your intrigue. Anyway, the section of the film I was looking after involved a heck of a lot of boats, waves and beaches. Not to mention a good collection of plastic bottles.

I scrambled along with some nice Foley here and there, be it faffing around with items on a trawler deck, scraping a petri dish in a laboratory or the flap of a plastic bag causing a nuisance to an otherwise beautiful landscape. Some items were a little more difficult, I had a pile of langoustine to move around and interact with. With a total absence of anything shell-like to hand, I had to resort to using stones, odd pieces of glass, porcelain and a parsnip.

Other more creative endeavours involved the sound of a sea worm burrowing in sand on the seashore. Can’t quite remember what I used but my hands were definitely covered in a ton of moisturiser in that pass. My hands were pretty soft by the end of it all. I remember having a lot of wet vegetable items for the sound of sea weed. Possibly spring onions, it all smelt a bit unpleasant by the end of the day.

Amongst all this enjoyable mess, Richard contacted me in need of the sound of a man balling a melon in a restaurant scene he was working on. I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not but having scrolled forward, there it was, a close up shot of a man balling a melon with no production sound present. How unusual, for those readers who aren’t sound orientated, watermelons are often or at least historically used to create ‘gore’ sounds by using both the flesh and the juice providing disgusting and effective results.

This surely had to be the first and only time I’d ever needed to do the opposite. Especially when my fridge was completely melon-less. Well it would be wouldn’t it? I sacrificed my pre-planned bolognese meal then grabbed a courgette and tomato with unhealthy intentions.

On his way to the kitchen wandered an intrigued Patch, my flatmate and old Radium colleague who is used to such activities and I kindly volunteered him to perform the deed. Armed with a serrated knife, he scratched at the hard flesh of the courgette for an audible, resistant scrape. We then recorded a few passes of tomato squishes which, without the context of the video, are utterly vile in a whole manner of ways.

Not a Watermelon

So have any other sound editors found themselves in a complete inverse situation from the norm? I remember going on a Foley workshop at London’s SoundFjord where we experimented using a starter pistol to simulate a sliding mechanism/lever. I guess thats a bit opposite of using mechanisms for gun handling (I don’t have any deactivated firearms to use due to the fact I would have absolutely no idea where to get them from).

For the environmentally enthused out there, Trashed has a Twitter and Facebook presence. It’s a documentary that’s had an effect on me since working on it, to the point where I’m freaking out about the sheer amount of unnecessary plastic littered about our daily lives. Our whole bathroom is absolutely full of it! Let me know if you get to see it at all in forthcoming screenings at festivals. It also has Vangelis as the composer. Vangelis! Absolutely brilliant.

The Right Type

I’ve been after a bloody typewriter for ages. Not exactly sure why, I’ve never needed to use one. They seem to be staple accessories in Foley stages and I figured it’s best to have one than get caught short. They are also rather delightful.

Here is the latest acquisition.

It’s a bit broken, that’s okay

It’s pretty, not as much as the attractive metal-framed beasts found hipster’s living rooms but at £5 and housed in a sweet leather case, it’s a steal and a welcome addition to the family. I also managed to find two pairs of mens shoes that fitted a treat and ticked two essential boxes.

The first pair have a slight heel (and at a size six, the ability to slightly crush my size seven feet) which offer a minor clop reminiscent of a subtle ladies heel or a prominent man’s shoe. The second pair are much flatter but with smooth leather soles offer a distinguished and commanding footstep, similar to the brown brogues featured at the top of this blog, without the distracting and unusable weight that those same beautiful shoes find themselves hampered with.

I’m sharing this boring update because it’s something that I’ve had to come to terms with in regards to my shoe collection. Many of the various shoes that I’ve collected are absolutely ideal when walked in a guerrilla fashion (the alleyway behind the block of flats, the stairwell in an office building), however in the controlled environment of a Foley stage, they sound ridiculously over the top. When we were recording Fast Girls, the majority of my shoes remained in my holdall, two pairs of subtle flats were called upon above all others.

This is a bit of a nuisance as I’m having to purchase shoes that I already assumed to be covered, replacing exaggerated ladies heels for shoes that have a heel without the capacity to distract and take prominence over everything else in the mix. Thankfully I found some amazing thrift stores in the midland’s Leamington Spa, this is always the case with more affluent places, the shoes tend to be of a higher quality and therefore offer a more appropriate sound. I’m hoping my guerrilla shoes and these new acquisitions will complete the collection and offer more options when in the pits. In the meantime, I’ve got to find somewhere to put the unnecessary, yet treasured typewriter.

Fast Girls, Slow Feet

Oh hello.

Over six weeks ago I had the joy of joining the good folk at Universal Sound for a day of shooting Foley for the forthcoming feature film Fast Girls. The film revolves around Shania, a track athlete who finds herself in an intense rivalry with a fellow British runner Lisa. It stars many actors of cult TV and film including Noel Clarke, Lenora Crichlow, Bradley James, Rupert Graves and Lily James.

Universal Sound originally based their Foley studios at Perivale, within London’s borough of Ealing. Had I known this back in my university days (which is based in Ealing itself), I’d have been bothering them years ago. The facility is currently located in the pretty village of Amersham, Buckinghamshire and houses three studios and a swimming pool. The river of chocolate in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was aurally created in said swimming pool. I found no traces of nutrient agar when I was there.

My day with Paul and Simon involved helping out with the feet and effects in reel one. The first footsteps sequence to come my way involved a character hoisting up onto his feet, jogging, then sauntering over to another character… down a few steps. Um.. I may have taken eight attempts to get both the sync and performance correct on this before Paul had to take over.

Naturally all confidence had evaporated at this point and I was scanning the room for a black hole to disappear in and that would have been the end of that. Thankfully the chaps didn’t lose faith completely and my second attempt involved walking some straight background feet and as the day wore on, my feet loosened up and I got on with more faith in myself and revelled in each chance I was given.

Once the feet were recorded we moved onto the effects. We covered a variety of different props from car tyres slowly grinding against gravel to bunting flapping against a background fence. One pass that I’d never encountered before involved performing the patter patter of a small dog’s footsteps, then taking on it’s metal chain lead. This was rather fun and Paul shared his techniques with me on many of these props. Another highlight was performing both spot and background effects in a canteen scene. We covered baking trays, utensils and fingernails imitating chicken pieces hitting plates together in the same take. I’ve seen this teamwork before when sitting in various other sessions but to be part of that was really something.

The photo is totally staged, the stupid grin I'm wearing isn't.

It’s great not only working with the artist themselves, but also seeing how essential the relationship between the artist and the mixer is. I noticed the number of times that Simon and Paul were in tune with one another. They barely have to finish a sentence as the other knows what they’re going to say, in fact I’m sure they have their own made-up language formed over time. It’s something I need to get used to having recorded my own Foley performances, I guess it takes time.

You’d have thought I’d have been on here bleating on about my day in the pits sooner, however there has been a few hours put into the Foley editing and myself and colleagues have only just emerged from the other side. I’m going to be spending a day there again next week with the film we’re currently working on, Get Lucky. If I remember anything interesting, I’ll post it here. I won’t subject Paul to another photo, maybe I can convince Simon to pose instead.

Fast Girls hits the cinemas on June 15th. The trailer is available to view here.

Tappity Tap, Don’t Talk Back

Late as ever to the party, but surely it’s never too late to wish one another a wonderful new year full of experiences and adventures; be they work related or in those fleeting hours we call our spare time.

This forthcoming year is filling me with trembly anticipation towards a plethora of new projects to be undertaken both in the (sound) edit and the pits. The thought of treading floorboards makes me so happy I could vomit, however this nausea may also be as a result of some trepidation in developing flat feet and the dreaded rumble tum/bum.

So I’ve decided to wind back the clock to childhood days and take up tap dancing classes.

On the left. I hated that dress.

It makes sense to devote time and energy to footsteps, the more difficult aspect of Foley to master. I remember drilling this into my head when reading Vanessa Theme Ament’s The Foley Grail back in my Radium days, she mentioned how many Foley artists entered the industry with a background in dancing and stage performing, however it was an aversion to hairspray-filled dressing rooms littered with ribbons and eye shadow that kept me away from the dance studio.

I’ve read almost every book by writer and martial arts expert Geoff Thompson. Near the end of last year I re-read an article entitled Armstrong’s Hills where he described pushing himself away from his comfort zone into writing screenplays for film and the stage. His observations into Tour De France champion Lance Armstrong’s training approach gave me an essential kick up the arse. To quote:

I got the idea after reading about Lance Armstrong, the serial Tour de France winner. What inspired me about this great man was not just that he managed to fight cancer against horrendous odds, but also that he went on to win The Tour De France an unprecedented six times. He won it so many times that the organisers of the race actually changed the route (I believe four times) to give the other riders a better chance of winning. What intrigued me was not so much that Lance Armstrong won the race so many times, rather it was the way in which he went about it. He looked at the Tour route and realised that the hardest part of the course, the part that every rider struggled with, was the hills. He realised that if he could master the hills, he could dominate the whole course. So that is what he did. Whilst the other riders concentrated on their flat riding Armstrong was on the hills, up and down again and again and again until he mastered them, until he was comfortable with them, in fact until he loved the hills.

I don’t particularly expect to win the Tour DeFrance, or become a master at footstepping, but the idea of concentrating efforts on the most difficult areas of one’s field, in this case Foley, by getting more acquianted with rhythm and utilising all areas of the feet whilst avoiding the temptation to perfect less challenging and, dare I say, more ‘exciting’ aspects of the art, may offer some relief to the butterflies forming in my stomach region at present.

Aside from finding an excuse to don a tutu and avoid jogging in the evening rain, it will feel good to try and tip my hat towards the legacy of Foley artists who began their careers as professional dancers. Near the close of last year, Alex linked to me a wonderful article by Lionel Selwyn about the UK’s Foley heritage. The photo of the late Beryl ‘The Boot’ Mortimer hard at work in the pits is mesmerising and it’s most humbling to read about how many artists worldwide came into the Foley theatres from… theatres.

And now onto something completely different.

It seems uncouth to maintain all attention on the forthcoming months without taking the time to appreciate the twelve just passed and those that have made 2011 so incredible.

May I offer my sincere gratitude and love towards Alex Joseph, Richard Kondal and Patrick Fischer at Creativity Media. Many thanks also to Beth Lovell, Charlotte Radford, Rachel Chapman, Syriah Bailey, Renee Vaughan Sutherland, Sophie Mallett, Carlos Wisteria, Patch Morrison, Anne Marie Kennedy, Spencer Lowe, Mark Watts, Emily Kidson, James Walters, Christopher Jones, Dean Covill, Nigel Heath, Ayush Ahuja, Matt and Aleah at Zelig, Kate and David at Hub TV, Nic, Tom and Shaun at Beautiful, Neil and Louisa at Silent Deer, Alex Amelines and the delightful Olivia Comberti. You’re amazing.