Sounds of TRANCE
While hypnosis might impact what a person sees, the process begins with what a person hears,
with a voice guiding them away from the shores of everyday experience and into the hidden realms of
the psyche . . . so sound was as integral to Boyle's conception of TRANCE as the visuals. In their
research, the team had discovered that the timbre of a therapist's voice is a core ingredient for bringing
the patient into a trance state, and that became a major focus of the production.
"It's quite rare in a film to have the words become the visual vocabulary of the story but I
explained to Simon Hayes, our sound recordist, that he had to be obsessive and create a perfect,
hermetically sealed space in which these characters could maneuver around each other with no other
resource to draw on other than themselves," explains Boyle. "I've never had that amount of detail paid
to the voice before, but it is something very important in the film."
Colson adds, "It's a form of what's known as neuro-linguistic programming, the way in which
you phrase certain questions, the way in which the language that you use begins to affect the listener in
order to be useful to the practitioner."
Hayes, the sound recordist, was acutely aware that the job would be intensive. "When Danny,
Christian and executive producer Bernie Bellew approached me about doing the project, they made it
clear right from the start that it was a very big job for sound. We spoke about the timbre of the voices
and what Danny actually wanted to achieve was a rich, broad hypnotic sound, especially in the trance sequences. In those scenes it was really important to get the microphone very close. It was often
literally on the edge of frame. The director of photography allowed us to position the microphone
within literally a centimeter of the edge of frame. We were dancing with the devil, as they say, on
every single shot."
For the film's equally key music, Boyle approached his long-time collaborator Rick Smith of
the techno duo Underworld with the task of playing with the euphoric form of dance music that is itself
known as "Trance" for its fast beats and soaring atmospherics. Smith had spent months working with
Boyle on the Olympics Opening Ceremony -- and they had previously collaborated on THE BEACH, on
the theatre production of "Frankenstein" and, famously, on TRAINSPOTTING where "Born Slippy"
became an anthem for the mid to late 90's club scene.
"He sent me a funny text after the Olympics were over," Smith recalls. "It said something like,
'You'll probably never want to work with me again after the experience you've just had, but would you
be interested in working on TRANCE?' We've worked together for 20 years on and off so I know
Danny as well as anyone. It wasn't hard to say 'Yes.'"
Smith watched a cut of the film at the beginning of September 2012 and began piecing together
the musical fabric of the film, knowing that Boyle likes the unexpected. "He really wants to be
surprised. That's a gift to a creative partner. I wasn't privy to the script or the film during its
production phase so I came to the project with a completely fresh approach. Danny's a great lover of
music and we're both big fans of rhythm."
Smith had previously collaborated with emerging singer/songwriter Emeli Sande during the
Olympics where she sang two tracks: "Heaven" and "Abide with Me." Smith saw a link between
Sande's lyrics and vocal tone that matched Rosario Dawson's character in Trance, so was keen to bring
her in to work on a couple of particular aspects of the soundtrack.
"I was really struck by Emeli during the Olympics Ceremony," says Smith. "She's a very
talented young woman with a cool head. There was certainly something I saw that resonated with
aspects of Rosario's character. Emeli has an expression that is really beautiful and haunting. I thought
it would be fantastic fit."
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