27 January 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
EGG Post Production’s Sound team talk to IFTN about acclaimed work on ‘The Canal’
27 Mar 2015 : Seán Brosnan
Aza Hand, Colm Mullally and Patrick Drummond’s work in ‘The Canal’ has earned impressive reviews from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times
Normally seen as an “invisible art" within the cauldron that is the filmmaking process, Irish horror film ‘The Canal’ (screening at JDIFF this weekend) offered the sound guys at EGG an opportunity to bring their skills to the fore of the film as writer/director Ivan Kavanagh’s script was resolutely in favour of having the sound play on the emotions of the audience.

‘And that’s why it feels great to have knocked it out of the park the way we did’, says Sound Supervisor Patrick Drummond.

The reviews concur across the board with publications such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times all hailing the sound work of EGG with the Hollywood Reporter stating that the “sound design team push their skills to experimental extremes here with shuddering jump cuts, subliminal single-frame edits and blood-curdling off-screen noises.”

Sound Designer/Re-recording Mixer Aza Hand says: ‘This was definitely a moment to shine for us. Ivan was adamant that the film would be noted for its’ sound – that’s what he wanted and that’s what he got in the end. It was definitely an opportunity for us to show what we can do.’

When ‘The Canal’ ended up at EGG Post Production’s door for full post-production services, Ivan Kavanagh stated that he was a fan of Sound Supervisor’s Patrick Drummond’s work on the well-regarded 1970’s horror films ‘The Changeling’ and ‘Black Christmas’.

After shooting the film, Kavanagh met with the guys and laid out what Sound Effects Editor Colm Mullally describes as an “emotional road-map” with regards to what he wanted the sound to achieve in the film.

This gave the men a starting point to begin designing the tracks for the film which took place on EGG’s state of the art NEVE DFC – which is the only one of its’ kind in Ireland. The DFC desk allowed the designers to mix with their hands and very quickly see how the mix is progressing while keeping an eye on the screen – as opposed to trawling through menus when mixing on a computer.

Director Kavanagh – who designed the sound on his features ‘Fading Light’ and ‘Our Wonderful Home’ - was heavily involved in the sound process here too.

Aza Hand says: ‘He was in here maybe twice a week. So every time we completed a new sequence we would show it to him and he would take notes. Most of the time he was happy with what we were doing but he would just ask to make it more visceral and more intense – he always said he wanted to make it feel like the cinema is breaking apart and is about to collapse!’

Despite a very meticulous and well-prepared script – there were a few moments of creative spontaneity by the sound guys which made it into the film – most notably Colm Mullally recording Aza Hand scraping his shaved head against a door – which made it into one of the film’s scariest sequences which involves a demon in a bathroom stall.

Another element added by the team was using vocals from the main character’s wife in a disturbing scene in the film as vocals for the film’s antagonistic demon also.

Speaking on this, Patrick Drummond says: ‘I think that was a big surprise for Ivan and we really sold him on that. We also came up with something for the end sequence that Ivan was really happy with.’

After garnering all the good reviews, did the designers get a chance to watch the film at all to see how much damage their sound does to the nerves of audiences?

Colm Mullally says: ‘Myself and Aza saw it last year at a special screening at Cineworld – we were there at the back and as well as watching the film we were watching people’s reactions to the sounds and there were a couple of people there who let out screams at some of the moments which was nice for us to see!’

Patrick Drummond adds: ‘I think it’s definitely the type of film to watch on a good cinema screen with surround sound because when those subwoofers kick in they will shake your soul and shake your kidneys! Colm and Aza really pulled out all the stops with the myriad of sound manipulation tools and pushed and pulled the sounds to really create something special here.’

With the reviews speaking for themselves and putting EGG indelibly on the map for sound post-production in Dublin, the work slate has increased with the team currently working on the hard-hitting thriller ‘Tiger Raid’ which is directed by Simon Dixon and stars Brian Gleeson.

Other sound work completed by EGG in the past year includes Niall Heery’s ‘Gold, starring James Nesbitt and David Wilmot, which was released last year to positive reviews. They also worked on Lisa Mulcahy’s fantasy feature ‘The Legend of Longwood’ which will be released later this year and Ciarín Scott’s acclaimed Christina Noble documentary ‘In A House That Ceased To Be’ which was released to Irish cinemas earlier this month.

EGG’s sound work also extends to international films as they worked on the Maltese feature ‘Simshar’ which was long-listed for the 2015 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

They are also slated to begin working on Billy O Brien’s film ‘I Am Not A Serial Killer’ which is currently shooting in the US and stars screen legend Christopher Lloyd – as well as ‘The Truth Commissioner’ which is shooting in Belfast and Dublin and is due to wrap next week.

Patrick Drummond concluded: ‘The Canal’ definitely put us on the map as we have created a soundtrack here that has worked around the world so I think any director coming here from now on will know they are in safe hands.’

‘The Canal’ will screen as part of JDIFF on Saturday, March 28th at the Light House cinema at 8.30pm.

For more information on EGG Post Production, go to egg.ie.

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