Pulling into the driveway, I didn't know what to expect. Was there really a recording studio built in a backyard, deep in the Santa Monica Mountains? At first glance, I couldn't believe what I was looking at a beautiful house with a large, expertly built shack jutting out from the hillside. I walked up the wooden stairs and, after knocking politely, opened the door to the shack. I was instantly transported to a state-of-the-art soundstage filled with a menagerie of objects and trinkets. And there, in the middle of it all, was woman strategically stomping her feet on the ground.
"Some people say we're the actors of sound. We bring a character to life sonically."
Let me introduce my new friend Jody Thomas. She's a professional foley artist. Her job is to recreate various sounds in TV shows and films to make them seem more real. And the profession has been a staple of the entertainment industry since silent films became talking pictures.
"Foley first began in the golden age of Hollywood in the big dance numbers. And originally it was the footsteps for the dance numbers were recreated…the sounds of the footsteps in dance. And it's kind of a hybrid that crossed over from the radio days," said Thomas.
Classic musicals like Swing Time and Singin' in the Rain were just a couple of inspirations for future foley artists like Jody…and it fueled her perspective on the industry. She believes those that produce sound have to use the same skills as artists.
"It's absolutely an art because it's not an exact science. It is not something that everyone can necessarily do or has the skills to do. It takes a certain amount of coordination. It takes a certain amount of musicality. It takes the creative ability to think sonically. It's its own special gift to the film industry," said Thomas.