Opinion Pieces

Opinion Pieces

The Curtain Looms Over

The foley industry in the Ukraine has been enjoying a strong working relationship with its western clients. Since the war with Russia broke back in February, producers, directors, and sound engineers appear to be refusing to send films, fearing projects will not be finished in time. Dmytro Kniazhenchenko, co-founder of Mad Friends post-production studio and represents Foley Art Studio, gives us his opinion on what the foley industry can still achieve during the country’s difficult time.


“Like an iron curtain, there is a similar mental wall built around Ukraine, with hopes of weakening our nation and cutting down any Western relations, primarily economic ones. It’s upsetting to admit, but the plan is somewhat working. Foley Art studios began in 2008, with two bright minds Victor and Eduard wanting to discover the magic of foley making for big movies. Foley Art is located in a historical place, the Dovzhenko Film Studio, with a room of 110 sq. m. and 30 sq. We have 10 people and 2 foley stages. Right now, its portfolio counts 120 films. Recent projects include Unorthodox, 47 Meters Down, The Man Who Sold His Skin, and many others. Mad Friends was established in 2019 with a desire is to help sound post-production facilities cope with the workload as an outsource studio.”


“Active development of Ukrainian foley goes back to the late 00s. Two of the most well-known studios to Western filmmakers were founded at that time: Foley Art and Foley Walkers. Both are multiple award nominees for MPSE and CAS.  Each year, the Ukrainian foley industry contributes to global filmmaking. The Ukrainian art of foley making is crucial to Western cinematography.”


“The 24th of February came to us unexpectedly, both for Europeans and Ukrainians. At that time, we felt the need for an immediate evacuation from Kyiv and were unable to continue our work. But despite the constant air raids, we’ve successfully finished the film we were working on, one we started just before the war. Western media make a big accent on warfare, creating panic and mistrust to our partners. Yes, there’s war in our country, Russians are destroying our cities and are killing our nation, but war is a complex issue, and accentuating only the warfare is warping the true meaning of our reality. There’s a significant territory of Ukraine with no ongoing warfare in it. There people can work and make an impact in support of our economy. But would a producer want to send their film to a country of ruins and devastation? No. And yet, that’s precisely what has the biggest value in helping the entire Ukrainian film community. It’s why it’s important to turn this tendency around.”


“What I’m trying to say is that without a working economy we cannot win. Our mission is to win as quickly as possible and return to our jobs. Today, the quantity of projects has not reached even a 50% of its pre-war mark. Some people were forced to migrate to have a chance of doing their beloved job. The Ukrainian foley industry has been building a reputation worthy to be standing equal to European and Western mastodons of sound post-production facilities; our artists could keep creating a high-quality sound but were forced to either change their specialty or migrate. Our work keeps Ukraine stable by paying out taxes and reducing the pressure on social institutions. As seen in my case, it has financially provided for its many staff.”


“To stop the regression, two simple things are required, Ukrainian foley studios must provide a guarantee of completing the orders, and clients to gain back their trust, working towards a united goal. After taking a stand on coming back to work, we began to look for alternatives in case of emergencies. Now we have a pool of partnered studios across Europe and the US, which became our guarantee and will finish the project in case of our inability to do so. These are famous studios and their competence is not up for debate, but I hold a belief that we’ll not have to use a plan B. The situation will stabilize, but it needs time. If projects are insured, and our workers can do their jobs without posing a risk to their lives, what prevents the producer from ordering Ukrainian services? Ukrainian studios are still able to offer the most optimal, safe, and high-quality method of mutual collaboration during this difficult time.”


“Publicity about what is happening is important, too. The more people learn about our readiness for work, the more chances of getting new projects will rise. Ukrainian foley artists will be able to do what they love and access their only method of income. It facilitates the direct well-being of each citizen and Ukraine itself. I strongly believe that a sound community is one big family. By caring for each other, we can reach extraordinary heights, growing both as creative specialists and humane individuals.”





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