Dmytro Kniazhechenko is the co-founder of Foley Art and Mad Friends Outsource (firstname.lastname@example.org), two Ukraine studios that offer Foley and post sound services. The companies have contributed to films ranging from art-house projects to Oscar nominees, but after the war broke out with Russia, business has slowed considerably, with many clients too afraid to work in the country. Kniazhechenko contacted Post recently to update the post production community on the happenings in Ukraine and how it has affected business. The following is his report on the current state of Foley in the country.
Foley on fire
By Dmytro Kniazhechenko
You might say that war found us in the workplace. My colleague Ilya and I, with our dear Foley artist Daniil, stayed out late at the studio on February 23rd. We experimented with the sound as the film was following the events of the Soviet Union collapse, and it was necessary to recreate the atmosphere of that time. There was a feeling uniting us that something bad was about to start, but like most people, we didn’t take it seriously and continued to hope for the best.
That evening we drove home at midnight. Exactly in a day, Russian forces passed through Bucha and Irpin, and almost reached the gates of our studio. I was home at 2am and went straight up to bed. At 4am I woke up from the first missile sounds. We packed our things in the emergency bag, barricaded the windows, and waited for the dawn to come. No one knew what to do next, not to mention how to finish projects that have already started. And so, our problems began…
Foley mixer Illia Popel and co-founder Dmytro Kniazhechenko
Everyone knows about Foley. We constantly encounter it at work — as producers, directors, editors or re-recording sound engineers. Of course, we are used to the fact that, more-or-less, each large project has its own Foley scenes. But over the past 10 years, the demand for this type of outsourcing service has been growing rapidly.
Why is this? It's simple: A Foley studio is very expensive to build, especially for simple productions of an average (budget). Another reason is that in large productions, loading of their specialists is 100 percent, so an outsource Foley studio comes to the rescue. Two such studios are Foley Art and Mad Friends|Sound House.
Foley Art was founded back in 2008 by two enthusiasts who wanted to create Foley for big movies. The studio is located in a historical place – at the Dovzhenko Film Studio - in a room of 110 square meters. We have 10 people and two Foley stages. There are about 120 films in the portfolio right now, and recent projects include Unorthodox, 47 Meters Down and The Man Who Sold His Skin.
Mad Friends was founded in 2019, with the main goal of helping sound post production facilities cope with their workload by serving as an outsource studio that is always ready to have your back. This year looked promising, with a number of great projects that we were excited to work on.
A few days after the war began, we were able to leave Kyiv for provincial towns scattered throughout Ukraine. But to hand over the work is a matter of honor, so after a few weeks, we came back. We made a firm decision to finish the previously-started projects. During the day we worked, and in the evening, we slept right in the studio, because the transport didn’t (work) at that time. In total, it lasted 20 days until all the work had been (completed) and we were able to return home.
Since then, foreign partners have turned away from us. Although in peacetime we could record Foley for four films every month, we haven’t had a single new order since the beginning of the war. Producers and directors doubted that February 23rd could happen again. This led us to come up with a plan B that we now have ready in case of any emergency.
In extreme cases, the project will be completed by our partners – Foley studios in Europe and the USA. We are doing everything to ensure that projects are in good hands. The best help from you would be to distribute this material and recommend our studios to your friends.
Now everything is calm. Transport, cafes and cinemas are working as usual. People can safely walk the streets, as we are protected by our strong army. Our studios also took a deep breath, and we are fully ready to embrace a dear-to-us, pre-war work (schedule).
Working with Ukraine is prestigious and reliable. This article was created to dispel any doubts about it. Write to your Foley artists from Ukraine and propose an offer that is hard to refuse.
Together we are strong.