Zoe Freed Puts her Best Foot Forward

We spoke to Zoe Freed, Foley Artist at Molinare about her work and diversity in the industry. Freed is currently the Team Leader for the Foley Department and works alongside 17 talented individuals. Her projects include films such as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Wonder Woman 1984 and Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; TV shows Peaky Blinders, The Witcher and Killing Eve; video games including Ghost of Tsushima, The Dark Pictures: House Of Ashes and The Division 2.


As a Foley Artist, it’s her job to perform and create sounds for film, tv and games. She works with a mixer who records the sounds, and an editor who puts it all into shape. “I love the creativity and hands on nature of sound and how it can be manipulated in so many different ways, evoking different emotions and telling a story. When I first heard about Foley, I couldn’t believe it was real! I get to have fun and make sound all day, with a great team on fantastic projects.”


Her first job out of university was working in a pub, which gave huge flexibility to get work experience at loads of studios as well as gain customer service experience. “This helped me get my foot in the door at my first industry job as a runner with the team at Creative Audio with Glen Gathard, where I then became an Assistant Foley Artist then Foley Artist.”


So what is her workflow on a typical film? “We will watch the film first so that we know the story line, what's going on and start coming up with ideas. We’ll then work through doing the feet first, making sure we match the sync for character and location. Then we move onto the spots, which is typically what the characters are doing, but also includes helping with atmospheres and wild tracks, such as tree movement, birds flapping past, a market atmosphere. And finally we’ll complete the moves, which is the characters’ cloth movement. This helps bed in any ADR, and brings the costumes to life as well. During this stage, we will listen to everything we’ve previously recorded to check we’re happy with it. Alongside the recordings, the editorial team, led by Paolo Pavesi, will be editing all the foley to ensure it’s frame accurate, and help sculpt it.”  


“When creating atmosphere and texture we’ll take a listen to the scene and see what’s missing or where we can help bring the world to life, working around the music and with the sound effects. Then, say it’s a bustling market scene, we’d get the whole team into the studio, with a variety of props and record a left, centre and right track. We’d pick the props carefully so that nothing sticks out too much and it all sits in with what's already there.”  


“Because of the human nature of foley, we bring the characters to life through the performance of the sound. We put the characters’ emotion into whatever sound we’re creating for them, to make it feel realistic. And if we talk about animation or game, then this is completely creating new sounds, often ones not heard in the real world. We help build whatever world the viewer is supposed to be in, to create a real and immersive environment.”


Performing foley is a very physical task so having good fitness levels and great hand eye co-ordination is a must. “Think about what sound you’re trying to create and break it down, the props that’ll help you make it will most likely not look like the one you’re trying to create. So having a good imagination is a priority!”


It is well known that some of the sounds we hear are not created by using the equipment we would expect. We asked what has been the most bizarre sound she has made. “This is a hard one as there are so many! One would be for Sackboy: A Big Adventure, creating some of the costumes for that was lots of fun- especially the jellyfish one which was actually a combination of smashed fruit, condoms and custard!”  


As for her favourite bit of kit, it’s not quite what you would expect. “For me, it’s my shoes! I’ve been collecting them for the last 8 years and probably have well over 100 pairs now. Some are my go-to pairs for most jobs, but it’s great to be able to delve in and pull out a pair of tap shoes, moon boots or clogs on request!”


Freed has grown up with the Harry Potter franchise so being able to work on Fantastic Beasts to continue the magic for the next generation has been very exciting and rewarding. “For the latest film, myself and Rebecca Heathcote worked together with Glen, and even recorded our own heartbeats for Dumbledore and Grindelwald!”


Projects come in all different styles and sizes and the team pride themselves on the delivery of top quality work regardless of the budget. “The challenge is identifying what areas are priority and where best to spend the most focused time. Ultimately, we would always love to record everything but sometimes this is just not possible with time and budget restrictions. We take great care to find out exactly what is required from both a creative and technical delivery standpoint and put our best foot forward.”


Freed has been extremely lucky in her career to have been supported and surrounded by equality. “When I first joined the team, they were already established with an equal split of genders. This has continued as we have moved to Molinare and is something we are very proud of. To work with a group of talented individuals who see no barriers is extremely refreshing. I have seen more women entering the industry, which is great to see. I feel we are slowly getting there in terms of championing female creative talent.”


As for how the landscape may look for women in the industry going forward Freed would love to see more women in leadership roles within post production, engineering and technical roles. “With the current changes occurring I think this is definitely a possibility, and a landscape I am proud to be part of.”




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