“Work hard to listen!” is what a young film maker said in response to recent criticism that dialogue is being drowned out by background music and sound! A debate took place in the BBC Breakfast studio, following complaints about dialogue not being audible on the blockbuster film Interstellar. The director, Christopher Nolan, defended the sound mix, saying that it was his intention to immerse the audience in the noisy, frightening scene in this way. Read the article.
In the latest Superstar Communicator podcast I discuss when and if we should force audiences to “Work hard to listen!”. I summarise some of the main points from the discussion and also share my thoughts.
I do believe that the director was wanting to create an immersive experience for the audience by the scene being very noisy. The characters wouldn’t have been able to hear each other and the audience (of course) experienced this too. Was the dialogue important? Did it move the drama forward? I hope not.
But it personally concerns me that a young film maker is arrogant enough to say that audiences need to work harder to listen to dialogue. Film is entertainment and audiences to to watch a film to be entertained, not to work hard. There has been a shift in creative performances where background sound has taken more prominence. 30 years ago actors and singers used crisp diction to ensure words were clear to the listener, particularly when accents were used. Background music and sound WAS in the background rather than the being the feature. Of course it sometimes – not always – creates a realistic atmosphere, but we do have to ask where the balance is between entertainment and feeling that we have to WORK HARD in order that we enjoy a film or TV programme.
This relates to speaking to clients, in webinars etc. Yes, we should be challenging our audience but they will switch off if we don’t engage them. And we don’t want to do that do we? Listen to the podcast.
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