Awards Daily talks to Ted Lasso‘s supervising sound editor Brent Findley and dialogue editor Bernard Weiser about their Emmy-nominated episode “The Hope That Kills You.”
When it comes to a show like Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, sound editing is the icing on the cake, the thing that takes something special—like Ted Lasso‘s story, acting, and writing—and makes it even better.
“Sound in general is misunderstood,” says Ted Lasso dialogue editor Bernard Weiser. “There’s the mechanics of dialogue editing, which is to smooth out the tracks and prepare it for mixing. Take out ticks and backgrounds noises that don’t fit and just make everything match and seem natural. Then there’s the elevated part, which is putting together the pieces and help making sure everything hits in the dialogue to progress the story.”
Weiser works with supervising sound editor Brent Findley to help these key moments land.
“We get to elevate the possibilities and a lot of it, as you can see in [the season finale] ‘The Hope that Kills You,’ is about what not to play as much as it is about what you should hear,” says Findley.
What Not to Play vs. What There is to Play
In Ted Lasso Season 1, Episode 10, the climax of the episode is the match that will determine whether AFC Richmond will be relegated, with many noisy scenes in the locker room and out on the pitch.
“We get scored against—spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen it,” says Findley with laugh. “We do lose in that final episode. The stadium of 35,000 people, we hear Ted’s shoulders drop and exhale, realizing we just lost. That’s an example of Bernard cutting that breath through, amidst everything else that’s going on—it’s a clean piece of exhale from Jason Sudeikis, in amongst what on either side of it is 35,000 people. Literally there are not 35,000 people on the field; we have to generate a sense of that through multiple techniques and a library and getting groups of people together to go over and over to sound like a bunch of people, but the essence is that the team is defeated and they fall to their knees in slow motion—we pan to the crowd and the crowd is just silenced. They don’t know what to think. You could hear a pin drop. That’s the idea of telling the story through as much as what not to play as much as what there is to play.”
Roy Kent’s Big Moment
Also in the finale is a touching scene of goodbye from AFC Richmond fans to their longtime captain Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), who is ushered off the field after he is injured, in what everyone realizes is probably his final appearance as a player.
“I get chills thinking about that now,” says Findley. “That’s such a powerful scene. We get Marcus Mumford’s rendition of his song. We go from score into song. There’s a 10-minute sequence that is every piece of audio kit we have. We’re in the locker room. We have a voiceover with [commentators] Chris Powell and Arlo White, laying out how grave this situation is, with an injury like that at his age. The door of the locker room closes and the stadium goes away with the door. Jason really wanted to be sure that this is the story of what’s going on in Roy’s head.”
“The Hope That Kills You” Speech
Sound editing is clearly not as simple as sticking a microphone around actors and letting them go. In many ways, the sound team is supporting the actor, like in Ted Lasso’s locker room speech.
“Really, what it comes down to is appreciation for performance,” says Weiser. “When you have a performance that is taking that story and making you feel what’s going on. It’s the dialogue editor’s responsibility to protect that performance completely.”
But it’s a tricky line to toe, since you don’t want to do too much to the sound to “suck away the life of the dialogue.”
“Even if there’s a light noise in the background that’s right in the middle of their dialogue and there’s no way to clean or filter it out without causing the sound of dialogue to change, then you leave it in, because that sound, that performance, is key to everything. Even if the tracks are not pristine. It’s that element of humanity that isn’t perfect. If everything is too perfect, it doesn’t sound normal and you won’t believe what’s being said and you’ll destroy the performance.”
In order to make the locker room feel alive, they brought in Foley artists to create reactions to what Ted is saying, sniffles to give it a presence, but because this speech is a hinge pin to everything that follows, they made room for Ted and the score, knowing what to highlight and what to move into the background.
“The dialogue is king,” says Findley. “The music is queen, and everything else we bring is the court jester.”
Megan McLachlan is a freelance writer that lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has appeared in Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, The Cut, Paste, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thrillist, and The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @heydudemeg.