How do you lav an actor?
No, that is it. It’s that simple.
This article isn’t about how to HIDE a lavalier, its about the process we go about to do it. Surrounding the recent Weinstein scandal it was also announced that the co-creater of Broad City has fired a couple of men on the show because of sexual harassment. One of the men was just said to be a “sound guy.”
And while no one is talking about the situation surrounding when the sexual harassment occurred there is one part of the job that has always been a touchy subject; wiring a mic on someone of the opposite gender.
We can all think about comments we’ve heard in the past from other film departments who say stuff like:
“So… You sneak a peek?”
“How does she feel?”
“Touch the butt?”
All of these are rude and wrong. I myself was in a shuttle to the airport this week and the random person sitting next to me got to talking and even he asked “so what’s the sexiest actress you got to hide a Mic on?” NO!
And I always find it funny when I answer “No, it’s a pretty clinical process, like a doctor’s visit” and you watch the pigs face fill with disappoint. And it is a really clinical process when done properly. On the last feature I would only get maybe 1-2 minutes with each actor or actress to hide the lavalier. In that time you have to introduce yourself, let them know what you’re about to do, do it, check for clothing noise, fix the wardrobe you fucked up and get a mic check….. You know… in 1 minute!
One video that really helped me learn how to make it friendly but clinical was the one I’ve included below. It was done by Dean Miles who also teaches workshops around the world and has published a few books on location sound mixing. One way I deviant from Dean’s method is I don’t use my thumb on the talents body when describing what I’m about to do. I use two fingers together (shaped like a gun) and I show the talent where I’m gonna place the mic and run the wire on my OWN body. I also don’t put my hand on anyone’s shoulder… I’m not a touchy feely person.
Going forward I hope we as the sound department can really shake off some of these sigmas. For our industry to move on from the Weinstein scandal it is going to take all of us to-do our part.
Andrew Jones is a location sound mixer based in Los Angeles. He started in the TV and Film industry in 2004. You can email him at Andrew@HoldForSound.com