Soundtrack: HBO's <I>Barry</I>
June 7, 2023

Soundtrack: HBO's Barry

HBO’s Barry ran for four seasons and centers around Barry Berkman (Bill Hader), a former Marine who now works as a hitman. The dark comedy sees Barry travel to Los Angeles for a job, but finds him involved in an acting class taught by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), where he meets aspiring actress Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg). He then begins to question his life choices, while dealing with criminal associates. 

The show’s soundtrack is presented in 5.1 surround/Dolby Atmos, and its first three seasons received Primetime Emmy Award nominations in the category of “Outstanding Comedy Series.”

Sean Heissinger and Matthew E. Taylor serve as supervising sound editors on the show. Additional soundtrack credits include dialogue editor John Creed, sound designer Rickley Dumm, Foley editor Clay Weber, Foley mixer Darrin Mann, Foley artists Alyson Dee Moore and Chris Moriana, and music editor Michael Brake.

“Working on the show Barry is so much fun on the sound editorial side of things,” note Heissinger and Taylor. “Bill Hader is very conscious about sound and how it can really help him tell his story, and from the very beginning, there was a lot of room for us to be written into the scripts. This gives us space to create moments that are hopefully impactful in the story and leave an impression on the audience.”

One of Season 4’s more challenging scenes for the sound team came Episode 4 – the sand silo. Each area of post sound had to come together to create one of the series’ most tense scenes. 

“From cleaning up the dialogue recorded in a really reflective space, to recording the loop group reacting to having the time of their lives playing in the sand, and then suddenly turning to surprise and horror as they are swallowed, to Michael Irby's ADR struggles for Cristobol as he sinks in the sand, recorded through a rolled up hand towel to give it the muffled claustrophobic quality, to the sound design of this peaceful place all of a sudden becoming a monster trying to kill everyone in it, to the Foley of all the sand movement and Hank coming to dig Cristobol out at the last minute,” note the supervisors.

Another unique aspect of the show was the sound team being given the resources to do a lot of field recording — more than many other television shows allow. 

“We were quite fortunate to get access to an active Supermax prison for sound recording purposes,” they recall. “In fact, this was the location where all the prison scenes were filmed. This afforded us the opportunity to record a fairly-wide variety of prison ambiences, wallas, activity, doors, alarms and tools. 

“Also in the sand silo scene, when Cristobal sank into the sand and was buried, we recorded two contact mics submerging into a large bag of rice. The goal was to create a grim ASMR experience of sand directly passing by and settling near the ear canal. These recordings helped accent and add an extra level of authenticity, especially to the prison track's day room and yard [backgrounds].”