J.R. Fountain: The Sound Of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Sound Editor J.R. Fountain discusses the sound design of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.

DGC Ontario Supervising Sound Editor J.R. Fountain spoke to us ahead of the release of the Guillermo del Toro-produced Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark.

On the the sound and mood of Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark?

Scary Stories really taps into the vibe of the books which is that fun “ghost stories around the campfire” meets the horror of “holy crap these stories are coming to kill me”. The sound in the film had to play that balance. There are times where it’s all about the jump scare, the fun scare, where we’re building tension by stripping down the soundtrack and the audience is waiting and waiting and waiting for the big stinger. But then there are other sequences where it’s far creepier and more akin to the drawings in the books, where you’re not quite sure what you’re seeing or hearing but it’s absolutely freaking you out.

On the most exciting aspect of designing the sound for Scary Stories?

With any film or show I cut, the most exciting aspects are always the discoveries made while designing new sounds. A notable discovery for us on Scary Stories was the design for the Pale Lady’s voice. Our director, Andre Ovredal had always acknowledged that her voice would be tricky and that she may not require a voice. We recorded a number of women and try as we may to pitch, process and edit, the voice just wasn’t matching the size and character Andre was looking for. During the final mix, our picture editor Patrick Larsgaard asked me to give it one more go before we scrapped the idea when it dawned on me, why not use a male voice instead? Such a simple solution. Long story short, it worked a treat. Those kind of wins that late in the game are super satisfying.

A scene from Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark

Where do you turn for inspiration when you need to get the creative juices flowing?

I love getting out into the field to record new sounds specifically for a project. It fires me up to create something from scratch and gets me invested in the show in a deeper way. If I’m bumping on something during an edit, I find talking to others really helpful. My design studio is at home, so that often ends up being with my wife Tina who is awesome at brainstorming. Finally, if Tina’s not around or it feels more appropriate I will pray. I figure if you need to be creative why not go to the Creator himself. An idea may not present itself right away, but often my mind gets cleared and refocused and I’m in a better place to press forward.

Can you describe your ongoing creative collaboration with your fellow Sound Dogs team (many of whom are also DGC Ontario Members)?

I love our Sound Dogs fam. I’ve been with these folks since I was 17 years old doing a high school co-op placement with Stephen Barden. There is a hunger within Sound Dogs to push and help each other in our craft as well as support one another through the ups and downs of the film industry. Nelson Ferreira is such a generous leader, always looking for opportunities to give each of us as we grow in our profession.

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