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Q&A with Daniel Birch – Production Sound Mixer on ‘All is By My Side’
28 Oct 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
Daniel Birch’s many credits include Jim Sheridan’s ‘In America’, ‘The Tudors’, ‘Grabbers’, ‘The Summit’, ‘Damo and Ivor’ and ‘Vikings’.

Now he talks to IFTN about his work on ‘All is By My Side’, which is showing in cinemas now. Shot in Dublin and co-produced by Irish production company Subotica, the biopic is based on the life of Jimi Hendrix (played by Andre Benjamin) and is directed and written by ‘12 Years a Slave’ writer John Ridley.

At what stage did were you attached to ‘All is By My Side’?

I met with John Ridley about six weeks before the shoot where we went through key areas of the script where sound would predominate, and then we met weekly up until principle photography. John had clear creative ideas and I gave some input and practical solutions.

At what stage of production did you start working on the sound in the film?

[Producer] Danny Bransom had recorded some great tracks in LA in a live situation with the band playing together to give a live concert feel. He sent the stem mixes over to me so we could have control of any element of the track and each musician could have a personal mix or give a backing track for live vocal.

We also prepped things like telephone lines, practical phones and hybrids to put into the location set for the scene where Jimi talks to his dad, which was performed live with an actor calling in from the US and with John Ridley on the line giving notes in a different room. The result was fantastic, very authentic, rather than recording the actors in a studio and trying to bandpass the audio to sound like a phone line.

Great care and attention was given to the sonic integrity of all of the locations with regard to what we could control on the day, and the location crew really worked hard since this was an all-location shoot and no sound stages where used. There were always going to be some difficult scenes, like on the balcony outside the apartment where you were in for a hiding acoustically because it was beside Pearse train station. Some days you just have to accept that - as I am often reminded by industry members, “it’s a visual medium”.

How did you achieve the sound that was specific to 1960s London? What was your greatest challenge in the film?

There were a lot of live performances shot though not all made into the final cut. For them we put our own sound reinforcement by varying from 5kw to 10kw, and we disguised a 1960s source practical vintage Shure mics from the era for vocals since we had a live vocal mic to help give a more live feel to the filming. For the production sound we used Schoeps cardioid mics to give a more open airy sound and great detail. Some more acoustically aggressive location made hard work for me and Richard Hetherington, the boom operator, because we were supposed to be in 1960s London and we were shooting in contemporary Dublin.

For the exteriors we had to rely on wireless heavily due to the level and content of the background. For this we used DPA microphones and Lectrosonic wireless channels all recorded to a 12 track Deva.

What was your overall experience of working on the project?

I really enjoyed working on this film with a great crew and cast, and John Ridley really appreciated input on the production sound.

What projects are you working on or have coming up?

I’ve just finished Viking series 3 on which I was the production sound mixer.

‘All is By My Side’ is being distributed by Curzon World and is now showing at the IFI and Light House Cinema in Dublin.






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