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Alex Guéry: The Making of Près de Moi

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Alex Guéry burst onto the international film scene in 2012 when he directed Les Dernières Marches (The Last Steps), a short film created for the 48 Hour Film Project that won the Project’s Best Film award in France, and was nominated in two categories in the Hollywood final, including Best Director.

Keen to follow that success with a long form film, Guéry began a four-year process to develop Près de Moi, a psychological thriller about a grieving mother who has lost her daughter, and will do anything to prove that she is still alive.

Guéry also had to raise funds to make the movie – he pulled together a tiny budget of just 10,000 Euro through private funding - and the six-week filming eventually got underway last summer on location at Chateau de Jallanges in Touraine, France.

“Près de Moi is the synthesis of my ten years’ experience in making short films,” Guéry says. “I needed to take the next step into long form film making, but with such a small budget to play with, I had to rely on the support of a small team of passionate professionals, all of whom were determined to help make this film possible.”

Those passionate professionals included DPA Microphones' French distributor, Audio2 who, from an early stage, built a strong relationship with Guéry:

"He is a marvellous young director,” declares Audio2’s product specialist, Christophe Bonneau. “Everyone involved was very enthusiastic about the movie. It just goes to show that you can make a great long format film without spending millions of Euros.”

To capture dialogue, sound recordist, Nicolas Milieu (from Studio SNM), hid miniature DPA d:screet SC4060 and 4071 microphones in the actors’ clothing, and also in plants and flower pots located around the set.

“We used regular DPA concealers, which we either tapped onto the skin of the characters or hid in their shirt collars,” Miljeu explains. “I was particularly delighted with the sound we achieved from the tiny SC4060 mics – they were amazing. The high sensitivity and low self-noise really helped us to capture the emotion of many scenes, particularly those where the microphones had to be as invisible as possible. We were even more impressed when we got into post production and realised the sound was so real that it seemed as though the actors were talking right in front of us. This had the added benefit of helping us save money in post because we didn’t have to spend time adding in effects.”

To capture sound on location, Miljeu used d:dicate 4017 shotgun microphones, plus a d:mension 5100 surround microphone.

“We had two 4017s: one was mounted on a boom, while the other was mounted on the camera for those scenes where we needed to get in close and couldn’t use a conventional boom," he reveals. "Normally, a long form film would employ two boom operators, but because of budget limitations, there was only scope for one. But the results were very accurate and smooth, even at high frequencies, while the off axis sound (timbre/phase) was not modified in any way. This was very impressive, and everyone was delighted with the quality of the sound. We also loved the d:mension 5100 mic, which we used for ambience recording. It was such an easy mic to set up, and the sound we got from it was incredibly natural.”

“I had never use DPA mics before,” adds Guéry, “but right from the start they really impressed me because they stayed invisible during shooting, were exceptionally easy to work with, and brought great joy to our ears when we were editing.”

While Près de Moi is being completed in post, Guéry is working on some new short films including La Petit Fille du Marais. Although shot with a different team, the sound was once again recorded by Nicolas Miljeu using DPA microphones.

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