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How We Told the Story of SALT FROM BONNEVILLE with Sound and Music

Postred has recently worked with Simon Mozgovyi on a documentary feature Salt From Bonneville, which came out this month. Ukrainian film tells the story of two enthusiastic drivers’ old Soviet motorcycle and their quest to break the record in the United States.

The film is primarily set in Bonneville Salt Fields, where the story depicts an exciting relationship between an old Soviet bike and American speedway. To create Bonneville Speedway’s atmosphere, Supervising Sound Editor Beso Kacharava and composers Zviad Mgebry and Luka Lebanidze worked closely together to blend the sound and score on such a level that it would be impossible to perceive one without the other. Speedway is an almost desolate place where, besides the motors roaring, the only sound one can hear is the wind. The sound design team spent a lot of time portraying that wind, giving it an essence that the viewer could feel in static and alongside the bike’s motion. Winds of Bonneville are chaotic, but the sound designer and composers found a way to synchronize every blow with the rest of the sounds and score.

Winds were a point of inspiration for composers, who imagined it as an instrument that would play its own song. Zviad Mgebry and Luka Lebanidze did several experiments to match the rough, unfiltered sounds of salt-filled winds from Beso Kacharava’s sound design with musical instruments. They used electric piano, flute, cello, clarinet (as well as clarinet keys separately), violin, Georgian national instrument Panduri, etc., in search of the perfect matching sound and found a solution when they tuned, amplified, and mixed them, getting them to sound like synthesizers. The result was an eerie, crude noise that was so unique that Postred decided to create an entire library of virtual instruments out of them. From those virtual instruments, the score was composed; music that plays simultaneously with the wind.

Beso Kacharava’s sound design made the American wind whistle with the speed, and as it breaks on the hand-made windshield of the Soviet motorcycle, a chilling, coarse score accompanies it. This amalgam of inseparable sound and music dictates the rest of the soundscape in Bonneville, which is further enriched by noises of race flags flapping, motors revving, and salt-covered tires rolling, created by our Foley artists.

Working on the sounds of Ukraine was a familiar experience for our sound designers. Post-soviet countries share similar city planning, vehicles, and buildings, so Kyiv and Tbilisi can make many similar noises. Sound designers recorded background noises for the Kyiv market scenes in actual Tbilisi bazaars. Scenes set in garages that require less or no music are made more idyllic and tranquil by the ambiance, as well as clunks and other Foley sounds, so the depiction of working on motorcycle engines and talking is as peaceful and relaxing as the process itself.

Zviad Mgebry and Luka Lebanidze performed the film’s score in Dovzhenko Centre, Kyiv, in front of the live audience and received an overwhelmingly positive reaction. We’re very proud of our work and hope we’ll get the chance to work with Simon Mozgovyi again soon.