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INTERVIEW: Monique Reymond – Foley Artist

I have the pleasure of sharing this great interview with Monique Reymond a top Hollywood Foley artist.  Monique was nominated for a prime time Emmy award for her work on the TV series “Survivor” (yes – they Foley Reality TV too, we’ll get into that) and this year won a 2008 Golden Reel Award for her work on the animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants.”  She is also the proud recipient of a 2008 Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Music and Sound – “America at a Crossroads / PBS Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” for her outstanding Foley work.  If you click her name above you can find a link to her IMDB page and although it is not complete you will find it to be exhaustive.

WOODY:  How do you define Foley?

MONIQUE:  I sit in a room with a microphone and an engineer records me making sounds for use in television or film.  At a minimum, I cover all of the human sounds, by this I mean footsteps, hand pats and grabs, and props that the folks onscreen handle.  This does not preclude animal sounds, we do animal footsteps and movement as well.  There are sounds that are covered mainly by foley, and others by a sound editor that may be cut from a library.  Who covers what is dictated by:  time, budget and available resources. Sometimes, both Foley and effects will cover a particular sound and the re-recording mixer will use a combination of both.  If it’s a big sound like a car crash, our tendency in Foley is to cover the debris from the crash as opposed to the actual impact, which a sound editor would cut in as a hard effect.  If I have the time I may help the impact along, but I won’t be able to get as large of a sound as an editor can cut in from a library.  We don’t generally do sounds like engines or motorized sounds.

WOODY:  I think most people would be surprised at the amount of Foley that gets done.  How much Foley will you do on a feature?  Do you do all the human sounds?

MONIQUE:  On a standard feature we do all of them.  Some of the Foley “legends” will do far more than just the human sounds.  They will do huge impacts for example,  I heard about a foley artist that covered the sound of a train chugging along and screeching to a halt on the tracks for a film that featured a very long train sequence.  The fact that they covered the train in foley instead of recording an actual train blew me away.  Part of the reason they can do this is because they are very talented, but also it is because they have a stage that affords them a lot of space and a lot of really great large props, also they have the time to experiment and figure out how to create something as involved as that.  They may have a month to do a film, which is generally not the case with me.  Usually I do a feature length project in five days.  I don’t have the time or the resources to experiment with that kind of thing.  But it can go far beyond human sounds if you’ve got time.

WOODY:  When you say “legends” you’re talking about studio Foley artists and large Foley stages like Warner Bros. or Paramount?

MONIQUE:  Exactly.

WOODY: You’re doing the Foley for a full-length feature film in five days?

MONIQUE:  Five to ten is the most I’ve been given.  Budgets have gotten tighter.  ProTools has been really good and bad for the industry.  In some ways it’s been great because you can redo a take very quickly.  In the old days when you were shooting tape everything required a pre-roll.  Back then, to redo the slightest thing took twelve seconds just to prepare for that, whereas now, it’s instantaneous.  If you don’t like it you can very quickly redo it.  But it’s also brought down the budgets because people are doing guerilla Foley in their garages.

WOODY:  Probably also with ProTools you have more and more tracks.  Do you find that, too?

MONIQUE:  Yes, absolutely.  When there were less tracks, we also worked in pairs because that way you could double up on things.  Double up on footsteps for crowd scenes, double up on props, like somebody would get one aspect of a sound while the other person would handle another.  Say it was a dining room scene and if you have very few tracks you could have somebody doing chair creaks of people sitting at the dining room table while somebody else is handling glassware or dishes and you can do it simultaneously.  Now, with so many tracks, you keep everything on it’s own track.  Which is good in some ways but also it’s a lot more for the mixer to contend with.

WOODY: Do you generally work solo or in teams or both?

MONIQUE:  Generally, I work solo.  They still work in teams on the lots at Sony and Warner Bros., but it’s getting to be less and less at your little boutique studios which is where I work.  They tell me they don’t have the budget and they don’t see the value in having two people because they think that someone is just standing around, which isn’t the case at all.  It works really well to have two people doing Foley for a number of reasons.  One is that somebody might be stronger at a certain thing than another.  I recently had to do a film where I had to walk Samuel L. Jackson, and I weigh about 120 pounds, and it’s a struggle for me to sound like a plus 6-foot man.  So if I had a partner that was maybe a bigger person, male or female, they might have been a little bit better at that.  There were some things they did with the EQ and the way I physically hold my feet and do the steps and choices of shoes that help me, but the reality is in having a partner there’s somebody who is going to be better at one thing or the other.  And also it gives you a bit of a break from not having to do every single thing all the time.

WOODY:  I’ve personally never recorded two Foley artists, but I’ve often thought that it could be a really creative atmosphere.

MONIQUE: Yeah.  It’s much more creative because two people, well I don’t want to say two because whoever is recording the Foley has a very heavy influence on the creative process, so having three people in a room coming up with ideas is much better than just two.

WOODY:  So you see the engineer as a partner in the collaboration of the Foley recording?

MONIQUE: Oh absolutely.  I don’t really know how to articulate how important the engineer is in the entire process.  Usually we will have a discussion as to what we are going to cover first or what we think is the most important thing and we will do that first.  Within a reel we won’t necessarily go linearly.  Because we are trying to budget time, we sort of pick what is the most interesting or what relates to the story.  If there is something that is a really key prop that’s used over and over and over again, then that’s something that we really want to establish.  And sometimes we will record that in it’s entirety throughout the film all at once for consistency’s sake.  I recently did a horror film where somebody spends a lot of time with a box over their head with a bunch of locks on it, which is not pleasant, I’m sure, for the person wearing the box.  But anyhow, I could use that wood box with the latches that I have created for the sound, and if I do it over a period of days, I might change the way that I handle that particular prop.  It might be rattling more one day than the other.  So when it’s something like that, we will usually record it all at once just so we get the same sound from it and that my interpretation doesn’t change depending on my mood over the days.

The recordist is huge, huge, huge – on the level of morale for the space that’s created because it is such an intimate space, especially if I’m working by myself and the person on the other side of the glass is my only contact.  There have been many times that I have worked with people that have had such great, great, great ideas that I would not have come up with on my own, and together we build on each other’s ideas and it is an amazing thing.  Also, I don’t always have the best judgment of how the sound is translating through the microphone.  I can be thinking that something is just right on, and if I’m not working with somebody who is really skilled in that awareness of what is working and what’s not, I’ll go back and listen to what we have recorded and it’s not so good.  I can’t always tell how the microphone is picking up what I’m doing and I heavily rely on the recordist’s judgement.  I work with a bunch of different types of engineers.  Some are truly mixers and have taken it to an art form and EQ and modulate and do all sorts of things and others I work with just do straight recording, but are very picky about my interpretation of what I am doing.  I’ve been really blessed and I have avoided situations where I would have to work with someone who either is unpleasant or lacks really, really great judgment.  The people that I work with are really quite incredible.

WOODY:  It’s great to hear that you rely on a real collaboration with the engineer.

MONIQUE:  It’s more important than anything.  It’s more important than the props I have to use, it’s more important than the stage I have to use, it’s more important than the show I’m working on.  I’d have to say it’s singularly the most important thing.

WOODY:  That is very encouraging.  Let’s shift gears a bit – how do you determine what to cover within a scene?

MONIQUE:  That comes from experience and budget and time.  Usually when we start a film we’ll start at the beginning and we’ll work reel by reel.  Let’s say we’ll start with a cloth pass. And that will be the first time that I’ve usually seen the film.  I generally don’t see what I’m working on until the time comes that we are recording [the session].  When I do the cloth pass, I like to wear headphones so I can listen to the production audio so I can hear what the film sounds like.  Because a lot of times we are trying to sound like production so the foley can be used and not pop out in a bad way.  The floor surfaces and shoes need to sound similar so if they replace the production dialogue in a scene with adr the foley matches up.  So I’ll do a cloth pass which involves me close mic’ing manipulation of cloth to emulate the characters’ movements.  I’ll have a variety of types of cloth depending on what the people are wearing.  A denim shirt kind of does it all, it sounds like almost anything, but if someone is wearing a silk blouse, for example, I’ll have a piece of silk handy.  So we’ll do a movement [cloth] pass, which is something I never noticed prior to doing Foley.  Now I hear it being used all the time, even on television.  It’s just an interesting thing that you may not even be aware of on a conscious level until someone tells you about it and you’re like, oh that’s that rustling sound.  So we will start with that and then we’ll do a footsteps pass where we will get all the characters’ footsteps on the various floor surfaces.  A good Foley stage has a cement surface, a wood floor, a dirt pit, a gravel pit, a way to make the sound of grass.  We will do the footstep pass and then we will do a pass of props.  You’ll do a setup for basic hand props and then, depending on the time and the budget, you’ll cover things that maybe the effects people will be covering as well, but since you have the time, you will be able to do that.  But if you don’t have the time and you think it is something the effects guys are going to cover anyhow, then you’ll just skip that.  You pick your battles.

WOODY:  What are the tools of your trade?

MONIQUE:  I’ve got about forty pairs of shoes.  I’ve got a small portable kit that I bring with me.  I have a foley purse with some stuff in it that rattles kind of cool.  I’ve got a lot of metal things, some hinges and wood, glass, plastic and rubber items.  Things are basically categorized into like materials.  I have a backpack with various paper (photos, newspaper, cellophane, wax paper, etc.)  I’ve got some different clothes that I carry with me (a leather jacket, nylon windbreaker).  It’s really great when you can find something that squeaks or creaks.  It’s invaluable stuff to me.  I was at a yard sale and I was looking for a day planner to use as a Foley prop.  So I’m at this yard sale and I’m opening and closing this day planner.  I’ve got it held up to my ear and this guy looks at me, I guess the owner of the day planner, and he said, “it’s only a buck.”  And he thought I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to spend the dollar on his planner for some other reason.  It didn’t sound good, so I didn’t buy it.  My favorite props I think lately, are a couple of pillow cases filled with cornstarch, which I use for snow.  The reason I put the cornstarch in the pillow cases is [that] it contains it so I don’t leave the stage with a nice white powder covering everything.  But cornstarch has a nice screech and creak to it that’s really, really cool.  The crunch sounds like snow.  It also works really well for body falls in animation.  If somebody falls in sand, it’s got a lot of loft to it, and it’s more of an interesting sound than just using sand, for example.  A chamois has been a great friend of mine.  When you get them wet, they make lots of cool dimensional gushes and mushes and things like that.  And I’ve also gotten a lot of mileage out of a pinecone.

WOODY:  Really?  What do you use a pinecone for?

MONIQUE:  I can step on a pinecone and the cracking of it can sound like ice breaking.  If the pinecone is worn down a bit and I manipulate my fingers on it can sound like little bug legs.  It can sound like all sorts of things.  It’s a secret favorite of mine.  I remember telling an engineer I worked with, “don’t tell anybody about the pinecone.”  There are Foley secrets and with the exception of when I was training, I’ve almost always worked alone.  I’ve gotten to have a partner a few times, but the downside to working alone is that there are some Foley secrets that I don’t know – that are only passed on if you’ve worked with someone who knows them.  But I’ve developed some of my own, so I’ll do those for now.  (Laughs)

WOODY:  When you go to a Foley stage or a session, what items do you anticipate they will have there for you?  Obviously you aren’t going to be carrying a car door around with you.

MONIQUE:  Exactly.  A car door is important.  There was a long time where one of the stages I worked at didn’t have a car door and I was trying to use a folding chair.  It was terrible.  Finally one day one of the sound editors took pity on me and went to “pick-a-part” and bought a car door.  A car door is a big one.  A wood chair is nice because nothing sounds quite like a wood chair, especially one that has a little bit of creak to it.  I prefer not to carry dishes and glassware with me, so it’s nice that, even if they don’t have a proper Foley stage, usually the places I work will have a kitchen.  Nothing is sacred or off limits.  I will grab whatever is around the facility.  I won’t break it or anything (usually).

I’m definitely resourceful and I will find things and use them.  Some of the creativity comes from, in my experience, trying to make do.  Working at little boutique studios, they don’t have everything that one needs, literally.  So trying to figure out how to make a wide range of sounds working with very little is, I think, a great part of the creativity.  On the other hand, having done this for 11 or 12 years, a lot of times movies have someone riding a horse.  Not as much in contemporary films, but I did a lot of old movies where I did the Foley.  And I’ve always faked it with some cool leather creaks and some belts I use as reins, but the other day I was somewhere that actually had a saddle and I got to use the saddle for the creaks.  And it sounded so good, I was like, oh my god, I can’t believe I’m finally getting to use this thing!  So it would be a luxury to work somewhere that had all sorts of cool things, but it’s also honed my creativity to not have that option.  If I would have always had the chance to literally use “the thing” then I wouldn’t have grown in the way that I have needing to improvise and make do.  Also, the literal prop does not always sound the best.  It just depends.

There have also been situations where you spend a lot of time compensating for the shortcomings of a room. Say the stage is an ADR stage and there are no Foley pits, there is no dirt or gravel or grass area, you can still make do, as long as you have a decent concrete surface, which can be used for tile, cement, or asphalt.  For dirt footsteps,  you can throw a carpet down and throw some dirt on the carpet and walk on that but you have to walk much softer so you don’t reveal the floor underneath and there are other things you have to do to try to pull that off.  You can do it.  It doesn’t sound as good, but you can get away with just about anything as long as the room is quiet and it doesn’t have weird bounce.  I’m not an acoustician, but there have been times that in working in makeshift rooms there’s weird bounce that happens from all of the right angles in the walls and the ceiling.  I recently worked on a stage like that where I was walking “a big guy” and I was walking really hard and it sounded great to me, but then when I listened to the recording I sounded like a woman in heels.  There is just a bizarre, weird, echo bounce thing that can happen which makes things more difficult.  So I ended up having to walk this big guy really soft so that we wouldn’t hear that [the poor room quality].  It compromises the quality when you don’t have a great stage, but we can make do with just about whatever we are given.

WOODY:  You do Foley for feature films, but you also do it for television as well?

MONIQUE: Yeah.  Because I work at a few different places, I get to work on a really nice variety of projects which I think is helpful as far as one not getting into a bit of a rut.  I work on feature length films, good and bad.  I work on television.  I recently started a really great one-hour drama, “Mad Men”.  I sometimes get to do animation, which is the most difficult thing I do from a creative standpoint.  I work on reality TV, which most people are just amazed that there is Foley in reality TV.  That seems to be a huge secret that no one knows.  Even people in the industry are shocked when I tell them that I do Foley for reality TV.  I’ve done Foley for “Survivor” for 13 seasons. I am currently working on “American Gladiators” and “Wipe Out”.  I did Foley for many years for “Fear Factor”.

WOODY:  So you’re doing the munching of spiders?

MONIQUE:  Yes, yes, yes.  People eating intestines and things, the sound of people in a fish tank full of roaches moving about.  All of that stuff does not really have a sound associated with it, we put that in.  At first when I started “Fear Factor” I was very creeped out by the content and then what I grew to realize is it was one of the most creative things that I’d ever gotten to do from a Foley standpoint because it’s not straightforward.  It’s not setting a wine glass down.  There’s only so much pizzazz that can have.  But having to come up with a way to make the worms sound different than the roaches and the pig intestine chewing sound different than the hundred year old egg involves some true thought.  And plus, they actually play the stuff up, which is really nice.

WOODY:  That was going to be my next question.  Did you find that they use this for the on air mix or is it more for the M&E and foreign delivery.

MONIQUE:  For “Fear Factor” it made the mix and it was played up.  On “Survivor”, they say they use what we do, but the show has such wonderful music, the composer for that is just outstanding.  For something like “Survivor” we mainly cover the competitions.  So if somebody is going through some sort of obstacle course, that’s what we cover.  We also cover them traipsing around through the jungle and certain things that didn’t come out well in production because they don’t mic reality shows for those sounds the way they do when they are shooting in a controlled setting.  They mic for dialog, but no one bothers sticking a mic into the tank of cockroaches and I don’t even know if they would, what that would sound like.

WOODY:  I often prefer to work with Foley artists than to have to search through my sound effects library and layer and create and edit sounds.  Many times it’s better and faster and more creative to do it with a Foley artist.

MONIQUE: It’s so weird.  People get so cheap when it comes to Foley and they think, oh I can just cut that, but they don’t realize the time it takes to cut something like that that’s multi-dimensional and nuanced.  It takes quite awhile as opposed to we can do it in a matter of seconds.

WOODY:  So how did you get into Foley in the first place?

MONIQUE:  I was very fortunate.  It was accidental.  I had been doing art department work and I knew that was not where I wanted to end up.  It seemed like a lot of moving furniture to me and I didn’t want to be a production designer.  I couldn’t really see it going beyond the dreaded furniture moving that I was doing.  So, I thought I wanted to get into picture editing. I was at a party and I met someone and he said he was in post and I thought that meant that he was a picture editor.  I didn’t know anything, I thought that post was picture editing.  And I said, “oh I’ve always wanted to do post.”  And he said actually he was in post sound.  And I said “oh, I’ve always wanted to do that.”  I just went along with it.  He said he actually recorded Foley and I said you know, that has always been interesting to me because I’d seen the LA Times trailer [shown during the pre-show of film screenings which depicted various crew positions in motion pictures] they had a few years ago and it did look interesting.  So the guy called me a couple of days later and he said “we’ve been trying to train somebody and it’s been about a month now and he’s just not getting it so we’re auditioning people.  Would you like to come in?”  So myself, along with about ten lucky others, all had a chance to come in and try to walk footsteps in sync or move a piece of cloth.  Nothing real taxing or complicated, but just to see if you could hit sync with what was being projected.  They picked me and ironically I worked for them for about a month before the purchase of their building fell through and thus, their foley stage went along with it.  And so I had about a month experience and I sent a resume saying that I was told that I had potential talent but I had very little experience.

I was really lucky.  My timing was good and I met some very kind people who were willing to show me some things, which is extremely rare.  There’s not that many of us, I think there’s maybe only a hundred Foley artists in the state [California], and the work isn’t long like editors who can work on movies for a year given the different budgets.  But Foley artists, our job, even on a big budget thing, maybe get twenty days a month.  So everything is very competitive and no one wants to teach anybody how to do what they do because then that person is going to be willing to do what they do for cheaper.  It’s funny.  It’s very, very difficult to break in to.  It’s very, very competitive.  No one wants to show anybody anything and I managed to get some people to show me some things and to hire me.  I still am stunned.  I don’t know quite what happened and I don’t think I realized how lucky I was at the time.  I felt glad, I thought, this is cool, but I really didn’t know how truly lucky I was.  I am glad I didn’t know how hard it was to break into.  My naivete probably helped me along quite a bit.  If I would have known how hard it is to get into foley I may have not thought it realistic.  I meet people all the time that say they’d love to do Foley and I wish them well, but it’s very hard to break into.

WOODY:  I get that question all the time.  “Hey, I’d love to do Foley.  Would you hire me?”

MONIQUE:  I think part of the problem is schools, too.  I met a kid a couple years ago who went to a recording school and his parents paid I think about a hundred grand in tuition for him to go to school there.  And of course his parents were expecting that he would be able to come out here and get a forty or fifty dollar an hour job, which is what the school said would happen if they trained in this area.  I’m not saying all schools are to blame, this is just an isolated story, but the poor kid came out here, he was doing an internship and making nothing, and the next level up from that he was maybe going to be making $8-$10 in the machine room somewhere.  And he was super bummed because his parents kept asking him when he was going to make that big salary he had been led to believe he was going to get upon graduation.

I recently was on a judging panel for a paid internship that the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences holds.  The person who receives the internship gets to work at a sound facility here in Los Angeles for a month or two.  And it’s a paid internship, it’s not a huge amount of pay, but it’s still some pay.  But they get the experience of that.  There were maybe thirty applicants and we had to narrow it down to three.  They have to write a letter explaining why they want to do the internship and what they hoped to gain.  It’s really interesting.  They get letters of recommendation from faculty and it’s just really interesting seeing what peoples’ ideas of what this business is and what’s going to be expected of them and what position they get to assume upon arrival.  There’s, of course, a number of talented people coming from USC, but the panel also likes to give opportunities to people from other states where they don’t have a chance to meet people and make contacts the way they do out here.  The exciting thing about it is there are a lot of bright talented foks out there that really are into sound, which is very cool.  I don’t know that that was the case twenty years ago.  I think people are a lot more educated about the importance of sound than they used to be.  It used to be kind of an after thought, didn’t it?

WOODY:  In many ways it still is.  One of my rants is that people think sound for film and TV is just a technical job.  They have no idea the amount of collaboration and creativity involved.

MONIQUE:  And I don’t know if they’ve changed course, but it used to be AFI didn’t even teach sound.  It’s weird, too, about that collaboration thing.  I think that’s really huge as far as what we do in general.  Editors have a tendency to work a lot by themselves, sound editors in front of a computer, but they’re still collaborating with the sound supervisor, with other editors on what the tone of the film is supposed to sound like so that there’s some continuity, and then with the dialog [editor] and with the mixer.  All of these forces come together and it’s really a hugely collaborative effort.  Every once in awhile I’ll meet somebody who is a Foley artist/recordist where they maybe have some way to push play from the stage, like they’ll have a little portable console and they’ll record themselves.  And that’s like working in a vacuum.  I would rather not do Foley at all than to work like that.  The collaboration is what makes this really interesting.

WOODY:  It also makes it better.

MONIQUE:  Oh, so much better.

WOODY: I don’t think people think of the sound portion of motion pictures as being artistic.

MONIQUE: I think it’s moving more in that direction where people are beginning to understand, but I think it has a long way to go.  Another thing, too, is that people have a tendency to run out of money.  They spend all of their money in production and then if they have a little bit left, that goes to picture editors and that process, and by the time they get to the audio portion, that’s the last thing. And then they have neither money nor  time.

WOODY:  A lot of times directors don’t understand or see the value of what we do until they sit in on a sound edit or mixing session.  What do people most misunderstand about what you do?

MONIQUE:  I’d have to say that what they misunderstand about Foley is that they imagine the difficulty would come from the creativity or from the sync.  Both of those things are difficult, but I find the thing that is the most challenging about doing Foley is having to pay such close attention the entire time.  You are glued to every second on that screen and you have to almost be psychic to be able to tell what a character is going to do next and to be able to do that in sync with the right intensity.  It requires a great deal of concentration.  So there will be times where I’ll work a really long day, maybe I’ll work a double shift, and people would imagine that I would be tired because I’m running and slamming things down and moving about and that’s not the part that’s tiring.  The part that’s exhausting about doing Foley is having to pay such close attention from the moment you’re in record.

WOODY:  Can you give me some insight in terms of your brain -you’re looking at something in life, a prop or item in a store, and somehow your brain sees that but hears something else.

MONIQUE:  It’s weird.  Sometimes people have said to me that as a Foley artist you probably hear things differently.  And that’s not true at all.  I hear things the same way everybody else does.  The only difference is that I might be, on occasion, more aware of them.  Like I recently bought a silicone, waffle-weave pot holder and I bought it because it was cool looking and I needed a new pot holder, but the other day when I was rinsing it I realized that it made this cool kind of sucking sound.  And I’m like, oh, this would be cool for something.  And I didn’t know at the time, and I still don’t, what it will be used for, but there will be a day where I’m sitting on a stage and I’ll need that particular sound and my brain will go, oh, that pot holder you have at home would be perfect.  Another thing is a lot of times the recordist will come up with a really great way to articulate to me what is or is not working about what I’m trying.  Say I’m trying to do a bug crawling and the legs sound too big or too crunchy, a good engineer will be able to tell me specifically what about it that isn’t working and then I’ll have to just be resourceful and based on the description of what is needed try to just experiment and figure out what will work.  Sometimes they can help me with EQ and sometimes they can actually help with suggestions.  As far as what part of the brain,  or what makes a foley artist able to access those ideas – I used to have a lot more fear about it.  I’ve actually lost sleep over thinking “how am I going to make this particular sound?”  But what I’ve come to realize is that we always work it out.  Whether it’s my idea or the engineer’s idea, at the end of the day we always work it out. So I don’t have that fear so much anymore.  If I don’t know how to do it, I just go, oh I don’t know how to do that, but I know that by the time I need to I will have figured it out or the recordist will have or we both will have.

WOODY:  When you see the final project, how much of what you do, do you think, makes it?

MONIQUE:  It really varies.  That’s where the re-recording mixer is the final say.  Some mixers love to use Foley.  Others really just like to use production and only use Foley when absolutely necessary.  I have learned through some disappointments early on.  I was doing “Gods and Monsters” maybe my second year of doing Foley, and I remember there was this one scene where Ian McKellen’s character operates on Frankenstein.  He opens his head and he removes his brain and then he stitches it back up.  This was one of those occasions where I lost sleep trying to figure it out.  I was pretty inexperienced and it was so specific and the sound supervisor said “oh we want something really cool for this,” so it was really something that kind of freaked me out.  I couldn’t tell you what I did now, it was too long ago, but I spent about an hour on it actually recording different elements for it and all together it sounded really cool.  I remember the sound supervisor called me in to a room where they were watching down the Foley and the director was there, and they were so complimentary.  And they were saying, “Monique this is just amazing, this is exactly what we want!”  They were thrilled and I was thrilled and everybody was thrilled and then I went to the screening a few months later and I was all excited about my big scene and all I heard was music. (Laughs)  So I’ve learned to separate myself from attachment to the outcome of what makes a mix.  As long as what the engineer and I have come up with sounds cool when our session ends when we play it back, as long as that sounds good, whether it makes the mix or not I’ve had to separate myself from caring.  Of course it’s nice when it does, but I can’t take that as a personal failure if it doesn’t because it’s really not anything to do with that.  Or sometimes it might be.  Sometimes they may not like it, but it’s generally just a creative choice.  Clearly with this Frankenstein scene they opted for music.

WOODY:  Do you enjoy the work?

MONIQUE: Yeah!  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I’m picky about where I work.  If something doesn’t feel right, like if I don’t get along with the people, I don’t work there.  So the show can be bad, the show doesn’t have to be good, it’s nice when it is, but really the most important thing is who I’m working with.  And if the show is bad it just gives us something to laugh at.  Sometimes we take our work for granted and we’re really fortunate to be living in a beautiful place, [Southern California] working in this industry that so many people would love to be a part of.  So many people have jobs they don’t care about.  They just do it as a means to an end, but I’d like to believe that if I came into a windfall of money from the sky, that I would still do Foley because it’s fun.

WOODY:  And I hope I’m behind the glass with you!


  1.   Neara Russell wrote:

    What a fascinating job! There’s nothing more inspiring than a backstage artist with true passion for her work. This reminds me of Imogen Heap hitting cardboard tubes with empty CD cases in one of her songs, but Monique beats Immi hands-down in the Creative Effects department. I wonder what my squeaky boots from Goodwill could be sampled for …

    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 11:44 pm | Permalink
  2.   savannah wrote:

    i am only 12 years old but i have been researching this job (strangely enough) not for school, and i really would like to become a foley artist. I have visited universal studies and it looks facinating with the amount of importance it has to a movie! is their anyway i can talk to someone that also does this for a living or knows something about this career? thanx!

    Friday, February 13, 2009 at 2:20 am | Permalink
  3.   Orlando wrote:

    I have been reading up on foley acting for months after my audio engineering graduation and it is a dream. After reinacting the pirates of the carribean scene when he is walking down the peir after his ship sinks (to perfection) I have been fascinated by foley.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink