Soundtrack: Showtime's <I>The Curse</I>
June 14, 2024

Soundtrack: Showtime's The Curse

Showtime’s The Curse centers on newlywed couple Whitney and Asher Siegel, who are struggling to bring their vision for eco-conscious housing to the small community of Española, NM. Their efforts are further complicated when reality TV producer Dougie sees opportunity in their story. As the series unfolds, the couple find themselves caught in a mysterious web of ethical and moral gray zones. The Curse stars Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie. It premiered on Showtime and is available on Paramount+.

Phillip Bladh (pictured) served as production sound mixer on The Curse, working in New Mexico, where the show is shot.

“I record the on-set sound while the [show] is being filmed,” says Blahd. “I specialize in adapting to the specific need of what each production needs based on workflow and communication with the directors, writers, actors and crew to get the best results possible.”

Bladh’s main mixer is an Aaton Cantar x3. 

“I use Schoeps boom mics, Lectrosonics wireless, Countryman b6 lav mics, Cinela Shockmounts and Denecke Timecode. I always tell people that if you get good gear, it does most of the hard work for you.”

Bladh points to Episode 10 – “Green Queen” - as his favorite.

“We monitor how the sound is from take to take and make adjustments,” he explains. “The upside down stuff was really fun to record and film. I had a great boom op and sound utility, who were really hard working and great to bounce outrageous ideas off of. We used a plant mic on the tree branch when he was stuck holding onto it. There was never a dull moment on the show and every shot was an opportunity to learn and do something new. Very proud of the end result.”

Larry Benjamin (pictured) is a re-recording mixer on the show and is responsible for mixing dialog and music (underscore and source music), as well as blending all the open production microphones. He also cleans up any extraneous noise that would interfere with the story. 

“We also added some sparse loop group throughout to fill things out with specifics, but the dialog mix was more organic than most shows and had a controlled chaos quality to it,” he explains. 

The show is mixed on an Avid S6 console using McDSP NF575, Supertone Clear, FabFilter EQ, Waves Renaissance Compressor, McDSP SA-2 and FabFilter Pro-DS de-esser plug-ins for cleanup, shaping, EQ and control. For reverbs, he uses Audioease Altiverb.

“Every scene’s got audio attention, but one of the more challenging sections is when Asher (Nathan) was up in the tree wearing a lavalier mic under his clothing, as he was appearing upside down, clinging to the tree branches,” he recalls. “He was yelling down to Whitney (Emma) and Dougie (Benny). Some of it was on the edge of distortion. Some needed to sound perspectized and further away with some slap, and Asher was in a precarious physical place during the scene. Also, all the sequences where he appears to be flying through the sky and space. He was yelling over wind machines and equipment necessary to make it look like he was quickly moving through the atmosphere into outer space. None of it was looped, and the tricky part was to make it intelligible and seem clean and urgent. The various plug-ins would work together in a chain to help dig out and mitigate noise during these sequences to create a clearer dialog track.”

Tim Hoogenakker (pictured) is also a re-recording mixer on the show.

“I mixed effects throughout the show, which consisted of hard effects, sound design, Foley and backgrounds/ambiences,” he recalls. 

In addition to the Avid S6 console, he relied on a number of plug-ins, including FabFilter EQs, OEK Sound Soothe and Spiff. For reverbs and delays, it was custom variations of Exponential Stratus 3D, as well as Cargo Cult Slapper.

“A fun example of the effects in this show is the interior scenes of the house, which in the story is an air-sealed home,” he explains. “So, whenever some doors are being opened, there’s an ‘air release’ quality. Think of it was opening a sealed tin can and the air pressure changes and shifts the ambience a bit, which in many cases would give you a changed sense of comfort by feeling sealed into the scene.

“Foley and practical effects in this show needed to stay very natural,” he continues. “This is not a show of Hollywood-style bang & zoom effects. This show is definitely more about subtle and raw sounding elements. Foley on this show was recorded really well and was recorded carefully as to make sure it fit into the scenes naturally. During the mix, we had long discussions and collaboration into making sure that all these elements felt more raw. Literally every effect was intentional for the story, which helped make this show so unique in sound.”