June 5, 2010
Santa Barbara Bowl

Santa Barbara, CA

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Hollywood SFX

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GK: Our show is in Santa Barbara today because our sound effects man Fred Newman is busy in Hollywood, doing the sounds for a World War I movie called "Aces High" and here's a little clip from it here---- (GUNFIRE.  EXPLOSIONS OF ARTILLERY. (FN: HOLD FIRE!!!! HOLD FIRE!!!) CHICKEN WALKS ACROSS SCENE, CLUCKING. MESSERSCHMIDT DIVES ON STRAFING RUN, MACHINE GUNS BLAZING, AND TANK BLOWS UP.  FN FRENCH. CHICKEN.) A clip from "Aces High," the movie that Fred Newman is doing the sound for in Hollywood. Fred is in demand for motion pictures because recorded sounds don't sound real. Here's a real creaking door recorded digitally (DEEP GROAN) and here's Fred doing the sound effect himself (CREAKING DOOR). You see the difference. Here's an actual bullelephant in heat (GRUNT) and here's Fred doing an elephant in heat. (SHRILL ELEPHANT CRY). And so if they're making a racing movie (RACING CAR REVS UP, SCREECHES AROUND CORNER, FADES), or a cops and robbers movie (CHOPPER APPROACH), Fred is there to do the sound. Outer space (SFX) or volcanoes (SFX) or a maritime adventure (BOAT HORN). They call for Fred. Because the secret of movie-making is sound. You see a deserted alley, shadowy, littered with glass (A FEW FOOTSTEPS, HESITANT), and the hero is walking along, gun in hand, slowly,trying to see what might be back in those dark doorways, around that corner, and one little sound is what makes the audience sit up straight. (CONDOR) . Anything involving animals, they call for Fred. Movie animals can be very temperamental…
GK: …You don't want to spend hours waiting and the stars sitting in their trailers and a thousand extras standing around and you're paying three hundred grand per day in overhead and meanwhile a cat wrangler is trying to coax a cat into meowing (FN: C'mon, c'mon. C'mon Snowball. Do it for daddy. Do it. Come on. You can do it, baby. You can do it. C'mon, baby. Meow......meow----- (CAT HISS) ---- why go through that when Fred can meow better than a cat? (MEOW) Fred can bark better than most dogs. There’s a new re-make of Lassie being filmed now.  Here’s the scene with real Lassie barking (FN KID CALLING: LASSIE. LASSIE!) ( LOW BARK).  Now, here’s Fred doing the bark for Lassie.  ((FN KID CALLING: LASSIE. LASSIE!) (BARK, FOLLOWED BY WHISTLED THEME)  Brings a tear to your eye. He can do bison. Here's your average bison (GRUNTING) ---- and see how much more bisonlike Fred is---- (SFX), same with cougars (SFX), caribou (SFX), wapiti (SFX), elands (SFX).  And surf. You try to mike surf, you're just going to get wind. Fred does beautiful surf.  (SURF, GULLS) FN:  I don't like the word "sound effect" ---- it suggests that there's something phony going on. I call them "soundscapes" ---- I want to get to the soul of the animal. I don't want it to be just "a guy doing an elk". I want it to be more like "the elk speaking who is within all of us---the inner elk"  (ELK) 

----- GK: Fred was so good with animal sounds that ---- I don't know if I should say this or not ----- but Fred won the hearts of a number of actresses  simply by coming onto them as an animal. (FRED DISCOMFORT) For example, Sandra Bullock. Fred won her heart by whinnying. 


SS: It was beautiful. He held me in his arms and whinnied and I just went all to pieces. It was so real. So powerful. I found that I needed it in some way I couldn't explain. In the end, of course, whinnying could not take the place of conversation, and yet---- He made me all shivery inside. No other man could make me feel primeval the way he could.  He whinnied and I came running and then one day, he did a male elephant in heat. (SFX) And I shot him. With a howitzer. (SFX) I missed him, thank goodness. But it was the end of our relationship.

FN: I had been using sound effects to attract women and once I realized how manipulative that was ----- (LOON) ----- I stopped. I do not do loon calls anymore. I'm trying not to do them. Sometimes I can't help myself. I know that every time I do a loon call, women stand up in their seats ----- women move toward the stage, drawn by an irresistible force-----

GK: Fred, don't. Please. Not now.

FN: Just a little one.

GK: Just one.

FN: One loon. One lonely loon. (LOON)

 

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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