I will be shooting (producing) a super low budget short for 4 days out in the country. There is no dialogue. One scene features a struggle that ends in someone getting stabbed.

My former colleagues in Production tell me to save money by doing the sound in post, using Foley. I was thinking of hiring a sound person for one day - the day the struggle is filmed - during which he or she could also get natural sound for us.

Every penny counts on this, most people are working for free, myself included, and I would have to put the sound mixer up and feed them, hence my worry about blowing the money.

Honest opinions wanted.


I do sound design and post and the truth is that, in this case, everything can be done afterwards. Still, during the struggle I imagine there will be gasps, grunts, or other human noises. If you want to capture those for sake of performance, you can focus on that. If you don't care about those, I believe you can save the money from location recording and use that for post, getting good results. My 2 cents.


Anything like what your planning to shoot is going to require foley or sound design but I can't think of anything that is ever cheaper in post. The cost to put someone up for a couple days is about a half day of work in the cheapest post houses, factor in the additional foley and sound design needed plus ADR, thats way more than a half day.

  • Yes, but for a feature where people are working for free, someone can do foley or sound design from their own studio rather than having to travel.
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 20 '14 at 5:24
  • Thats true but is it really fair to put that extra work on someone working for free rather than to bring on appropriate crew? He sounds like he is making it intentionally hard on the post people by not properly recording production audio. I understand that everyone is working for free but much of the production sound could actually be usable and good if there is no dialog and even if it's not it gives you a great starting point for footsteps, the actual ambience, any sounds the actors might make,foley etc.Also If the production recordist is on set he can capture elements for the post process.
    – coaxmw
    Aug 20 '14 at 6:00
  • @AJHenderson despite your good intentions to pragmatically answer every question, do take note that working for free is not something that should be encouraged. It happens, yes. Although he is not saying that the job is unpaid, it sounds like it could be, so it would be better to dissuade him from doing so. This is a professional board and there are lots of people here would have suffered a whole lot to change this mindset that working for free pays off. Sound, like some other departments, are so often hopelessly taken advantaged of.
    – user6513
    Aug 20 '14 at 7:06
  • 1
    @takuya - the question of whether working for free under certain conditions pays off is an entirely separate question (personally, I'd argue it does in a limited number of cases). This appears to be a project that is either non-profit or student in nature, so the point would more be either the cause or the learning experience (or both). My point is simply that IF it is unpaid either way, then having fewer expenses to pay (which is typical on non-profit shoots) is a substantial savings.
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 20 '14 at 13:45
  • If he wanted substantial savings, he should hire a location sound recordist and just have the editor do the basic sound edit. That's how a budget project would normally run, not create a problem to be fixed in post.
    – user6513
    Aug 22 '14 at 0:33

Everything can be done in post provided you have the budget. Nothing can be fixed and recreated with an incredible amount of time that usually works out to be more than the time spent on filming the scene. So without a budget, nothing can and should be done by a professional. So in essence, hire that sound recordist. What he gets may not be all usable for post, but what he gets would be a good starting point and a great reference for post. If you have your sound designer onboard already, he/she should be able to give you an idea of what sounds you should be capturing on location. Recording wild sounds is a good alternative to Foley.

Please be aware that you will never be blowing any money hiring a good sound recordist and a good sound designer. Your film is like any other business. If it does well, you reap all the rewards from it as producer/director. If it doesn't, that its a risk that you have decided to undertaken and you would have gained some valuable experience regardless.

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