Do you know what a foley artist does? No? Well here’s your chance to find out from Hollywood’s unsung hero, Dusty Horne. It’s 1963 and in this interactive performance lecture, Dusty explains that foley is the art of reproducing and enhancing sound effects for film and TV (often via some unconventional and unbelievable methods) and, as she is the person behind the movie business’s sound effects, and we’re invited to learn some of the tricks of the trade.
It’s very interesting to learn about foley and there’s a childlike glee in not believing your ears
As Dusty says, the art of foley is something that can’t be fully explained on an intellectual level; it needs to be experienced to be understood or even believed. Armed with a set of keys and walking sticks she manages to evoke the enormous Roman army from Spartacus. A celery stick stands in for a broken neck, and for the grand finale we have the chance to join in the magic, which I’m not going to spoil. It’s very interesting to learn about foley and there’s a childlike glee in not believing your ears but the downside is that the foley proves to be much more captivating than the story that runs parallel to the lecture.
To explain, Dusty and her assistant Nicholas recount their Hollywood experiences and behind-the-scenes gossip that informs some of the clips that pepper the performance. Gradually the strains in Dusty and Nicholas’ relationship become clearer and we learn of Dusty’s anger towards the studio executives and unreliable directors who hung her out to dry. While this is a good foil for a foley class and adds extra layers to the show the somewhat melodramatic narrative and performing style, whilst amusing, turns out to be a slight distraction.
Ultimately it’s very technically impressive and a highly enjoyable, eye-opening (or rather ear-opening) show. However it cannot be denied that the foley is most definitely the star of the show and one is left wishing for slightly more sound and a bit less fury.