On the surface, Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty appears to be a straightforward thriller. The film, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as an LAPD cop pulling a night shift at a 911 desk, boasts a compelling and suspenseful narrative unfolding within a claustrophobic setting. The primarily players Gyllenhaal interacts with are voices on the phone as he struggles to uncover enough information to save a life.
While the film is anything but straightforward, the crafts team behind The Guilty faced several challenges when creating the film amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, the sound team of Mandell Winter, MPSE, (Supervising Sound Editor), David Esparza (Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer), and Ed Novick (Production Sound Mixer) needed to use their established working relationships with each other and with director Fuqua to swiftly create a world-class sound design in the face of safety-ensuring COVID protocols.
Here, in an interview with Awards Daily, Winter, Esparza, and Novick describe the collaborative process employed to create the film’s subtle and brilliant sound design. They talk about what I’ll call “sonic care packages” provided to their remote actors, the challenges in replicating cell phone conversations while on conference calls, and the need to use an exoskeleton.