"He sits at the desk like some kind of mad, eight-limbed professor at the helm of a bizarre scientific machine he’s designed himself, tweaking knobs and pushing faders and yelling “HANG ON A MINUTE I’VE HAD AN IDEA!” And the next thing you know, he’s done something you never saw coming but now can’t live without. "
- Jack Cocker (Producer/ Director) describing working with John Cobban
Having worked on a number of previous episodes of this acclaimed Arts series (featuring Philip Pullman and Andrew Lloyd Webber) we knew we were in for a treat when we again got the chance to work on an episode of BBC Imagine. This time round, our in-house Sound Dubber John Cobban had way too much fun working alongside fellow RTS Award winner, Producer/ Director Jack Cocker, on this latest film that follows Rupert Everett.
The programme follows Rupert's decade long quest to write, direct and star in his own film about his hero, Oscar Wilde. As The Happy Prince is released in cinemas next month and is currently garnering excellent reviews, it would be easy to underestimate the remarkable effort and unending determination required in the epic journey to get this film onto the big screen.
Director Jack Cocker joins Rupert 5 years into this journey, following numerous false starts and setbacks and he pulls the audience into this rollercoaster endeavour. Honest, unguarded and unbelievably engrossing - it is a must watch.
During the dub when Jack suggested a "wilhelm scream" might be appropriate, John knew this was a man after his own heart. The first director he has worked with in his 30-odd year career to ask about this infamous, legendary sound effect. A kindred spirit.
"my eyes lit up when he mentioned it. I really enjoyed working on this film with Jack, it was obvious he had a real intimacy with Rupert. He was embedded in the whole process - which makes it so authentic. There is lots of light and shade, humour and serious points - with lots of cheekiness too".
Building this sort of collaborative working relationship makes for an exciting and genuinely creative production process. Jack apparently enjoyed the process just as much:
Working with John was, as always, a pleasure and an education. He sits at the desk like some kind of mad, eight-limbed professor at the helm of a bizarre scientific machine he’s designed himself, tweaking knobs and pushing faders and yelling “HANG ON A MINUTE I’VE HAD AN IDEA!” And the next thing you know, he’s done something you never saw coming but now can’t live without.
He’s also brilliant at analysing what sound (or silence) will do psychologically to an audience, and has taught me how to shift sympathy or subconsciously change the mood purely through the mix. And I don’t just mean ‘stick some sad library music on it’…. I mean in more subtle ways. For instance, he knew precisely which species of seabird had just the right plaintive cry to add a touch of melancholy to a scene that previously had none. Ca-cawwwwww….
I tend to sidle nervously into dubs, wringing my hands while apologising for my poor location sound. But like a kindly, slightly crazy uncle, John would reassure me before summoning his juju and getting down to business. And hey presto! It came out the other end like it had been recorded in a studio. He’s got great taste, bags of infectious energy and brilliant comic timing.