We sit down with Signature Post’s Re-recording Mixer and Supervising Sound Editor Alexandra Fehrman to hear about her experience working remotely and delivering for everyone from Amazon Prime Video to the Daniels with ClearView Flex.
Signature Post is a full-service post-production boutique offering premium mixing on Atmos- certified stages in a choice of two Los Angeles locations, Santa Monica and Burbank. Signature’s award-winning re-recording mixers and supervising sound editors are not just masters of their craft, they are also consummate collaborators who prioritize clients and their stories.
Among them is Re-recording Mixer and Supervising Sound Editor Alexandra Fehrman. She not only mixed dialogue, music, effects, backgrounds and foley for CODA, winner of the 2022 Academy Award® for Best Picture, but also mixed the many sound effects for 2023 multi-Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Signature has been Fehrman’s homebase for two years, and Everything Everywhere was the first film she worked on there. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy® in 2019 for her work on Amazon Prime Video’s superhero series The Boys.
How does it feel to have worked on two best picture Oscar winners back-to-back?
Alexandra Fehrman: It’s quite unusual that’s for sure but I’m really happy because both films definitely deserved all the love they got. They each had a wonderful message of kindness, love and healing. It’s pretty incredible that I ended up working on both of these. I’m super grateful for that.
How did you end up working at Signature?
I often enjoy working at independent facilities. I love the boutique feel, and having the opportunity to work with a small group of people who have a similar approach to their mixing. Everybody who has been drawn to work at Signature has the same love for their craft.
How did you get involved with the team on Everything Everywhere All at Once?
The sound design crew for the film was already onboard, headed by sound supervisor Brent Kiser who had booked out the stage at Signature. He took me out to coffee and let me know they were going to mix at Signature and asked if I would like to join their team to mix the effects. It was sort of serendipitous in terms of timing since I’d been wanting to work [at Signature] since they opened, and I was very excited about the film.
Did you work remotely on Everything Everywhere?
Our mix crew worked mostly with (writer-director duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) and composers Son Lux who usually came in person to the stage. I was tasked with mixing the many sound effects for Everything Everywhere All at Once, working closely with Brent, who mixed the music and dialogue, Sound designer Andrew Twite, as well as Julie Diaz who supervised the ADR.
There was some remote connectivity before we got to that point, mainly between Son Lux and Brent, so the composers could understand the direction of the sound design and we could also start to build the interrelationship between sound design and music.
That said, ClearView was integral to Everything Everywhere in that we had it open and available during the entire mix so if somebody absolutely needed to attend, they would be able to jump in.
Will you tell us about creating one aspect of Everything Everywhere such as the multiple scenes where characters are ripped from dimension to dimension?
Andrew described that as one of his favorite experiences designing for this film and it was one of mine also. The Daniels came up with a large number of ideas for all these wild connections and we worked out how best to convey where the sound is supposed to come from. Is the other multiverse calling from the corner of the screen or is that too distracting? Should we have it sneak in from the left? So, we were on stage playing with the panning and treatment of Andrews layered sounds to make it feel like the characters are really jumping between alternate worlds.
How do you like to work with ClearView Flex?
In some fashion, I’ve used ClearView on every project that I’ve been working on since the pandemic. Without it, the work would not have been possible. We used it on Coda to playback scenes with one of our producers in France. I used it on The Boys and on upcoming AppleTV+ drama Lessons in Chemistry.
The principal reason for usage is when key talent is remote and can’t get to the stage. It’s great to use this tool on days when the director or exec producer, or anybody who just doesn’t have enough time to drive to the facility still wants to virtually attend the stage mix. I typically mix dialogue and music with Rich Weingart on fx, and we have both found ClearView to be an immeasurable communication tool for those who can’t be in the room with us.
For instance, on Chevalier (the new biographical drama feature from Searchlight Pictures based on the life of a French-Caribbean musician) the music editor was based in Scotland. He would go to England for record sessions and was able to remotely join us for the mix with ClearView. It was amazing to let him hear what we were doing in real time, for him to give notes and for us to immediately adjust. I was able to work very closely with him and that would not have been possible without ClearView.
There’s another thing I love about it too, which people don’t talk about a lot. I think it’s wonderful to have people listening in multiple formats from the beginning. We don’t listen to all the formats at the same time on the stage. Before versioning, we mix in the largest format Atmos, 7.1 or 5.1 so it’s great to get immediate feedback from anyone listening on various headphones to the two track because this gives us ideas about how many people will eventually experience the show.
How has the recent experience of remote working changed typical workflow patterns?
Remote technology and the impact of the pandemic on work patterns has made so much possible that was unimaginable before 2019. In the future, I could even imagine myself not living in LA, which has never been an option before. For me and so many others, in post and in music mixing, it means there are many more places we could live and work. We don’t have to be attached to certain cities when clients aren’t attending the physical stage. It’s opened up a way for people to mix remotely.
Just before the pandemic, I did build a one-person dub stage in my back yard to facilitate working from home. It’s designed to not only sound but look great on the interior which is what an exec dialing into the live stream will see using ClearView.
It is really hard to organize a group of studio execs, a director, the showrunner and a picture editor to all meet at the same time in the same place. They all have incredibly busy schedules but ClearView means we can be productive covering a lot of ground in a mix, and stay on schedule by having the ability to share that mix remotely instead of waiting until each person can attend.
What first attracted you to work in sound for film and TV?
I’ve always loved music and as a teenager, I was taking guitar lessons. I had a wonderful teacher who was also a very technical player. One day, I was a little frustrated at feeling that my skillset had plateaued and I remember leaving that session and wandering down the hall to find an open door of a recording studio. All I can say is that it was love at first sight. The control room was being rewired with cables and connectors everywhere in this beautiful room. I still remember the smell of the wood. I was just so enthralled by this sight that I knew then and there that I wanted to mix. A few years later after seeing some films that really impacted me sonically, I decided to transition into mixing for film and television.
What drives you creatively each day?
I don’t always have the luxury of getting scripts when a film or a show is still shooting, but when I do, that does excite me. It gives me space to imagine the texture and overall feel of what music and sound will be. I love to collect ideas constantly even when I’m not on the stage and think about the environment I am in and how I can use that down the line to propel a story. What I love about sound is it’s an invisible way to enhance a story. It’s such a powerful storytelling tool and feeling that I have an opportunity to support and enhance a story is my favorite part of my job.
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