Sound Recordist Chris Durfy Takes DPA Mics On Set of Swimming With Men, Stranger Things
Dependability in all kinds of locations and climatic conditions is the key reason why film and television sound recordist Chris Durfy takes a selection of DPA microphones with him whenever he goes on a shoot.
“My first DPA purchase was a d:dicate 4017B Shotgun Microphone, which I bought some years ago,” says Durfy. “The sound is fantastic and I soon discovered that the RF resistance and humidity imperviousness was far more reliable with this microphone than with some others that I own.”
As a result of this good experience, Chris Durfy’s DPA collection has grown to include two d:dicate 4017B Shotgun Microphones, two d:dicate 4018B Supercardioid Microphones, two d:screet 4098 Supercardioid Podium Microphones and four d:screet Slim 4061 Omnidirectional Microphones.
“I have at least two of each because I like to use pairs of boom mics, so that two boom operators can both work a scene with matching sound,” says Durfy. “My wireless systems are all Lectrosonics – I have two Venues on the cart and three SRCs in the bag, all of which work well with my DPAs.”
Durfy has recently been using his DPAs to record audio for Swimming With Men, a new comedy from Dad’s Army director Oliver Parker and starring Rob Brydon, Rupert Graves, Jim Carter, Thomas Turgoose, Adeel Akhtar, Jane Horrocks, Charlotte Riley and Daniel Mays. The film tells the story of a man (Rob Brydon) who finds new meaning in his life as part of an all-male, middle-aged, amateur synchronised swimming team.
“A lot of the action takes place in a swimming pool, so we needed boom microphones that could cope with high humidity and still give great sound,” says Durfy. “The d:dicate 4017Bs were ideal for this purpose. Our boom operators Andy Thomas and Michael Sinden were in the pool with the cast, holding the microphones above the water. We used blimps over the mics to protect them from water splashes.”
Durfy also used d:screet 4098 Goosenecks as plant mics around the swimming pool and d:dicate 4018C microphones for super low profile rigs that were positioned in doorways and in areas where the ceilings were too low for a boom. In both cases, the quality of the recorded sound lived up to his expectations.
Originally from the U.S. but now based in the UK, Durfy began life as an architect before deciding to work in television and film. He started a small production company and was soon learning to mix sound on his own projects.
“From there I never looked back,” says Durfy. “I began by working on large reality shows shooting all around America and then all over the world. After 10 years, I decided to make a transition from reality to scripted television. Under the mentorship of Whit Norris, CAS, I began to work second unit shoots until I got my first big break – MTV’s Teen Wolf. I did two successful seasons of Teen Wolf until production moved to Los Angeles. I stayed in Atlanta and worked on various other TV and film projects.”
One project filmed during that time was Stranger Things, which was shot in and around Atlanta and at Screen Gems Studios over the winter and spring in late 2015 and early 2016.
“I was lucky enough to be asked to work on the project by a long-time associate and UPM, Tim Lonsdale,” says Durfy. “We had one scene to shoot where the boys discover Eleven in an absolute downpour in the woods at night. I’ve never seen such an ambitious rain gag setup. The boys have a long walk through the rain from a very wide shot towards camera. There was no chance to boom the shot so we used d:screet Slim 4061s, knowing they sound great and are waterproof. The result sounded great. The mics absolutely got wet, but we knew they would and were fine – I still use them up to this day!”
Since moving to the UK, Durfy has also worked on The White Princess, a new historical fiction television series for Starz. Based on Philippa Gregory’s novel of the same name and a prequel to the BBC’s successful miniseries The White Queen, The White Princess tells the story of the marriage of Elizabeth of York and Henry VII and the political intrigues surrounding it.
“Think kings and queens, castles and large battle scenes,” says Durfy. “It was a great project to work on after shortly moving to the UK as it took me to so many wonderful locations all over England and then on to Spain.” During filming, Durfy’s DPAs were mainly used to record dialogue and for on-set reference for sound effects.
“Different microphones are used depending on the scene’s demands: interior/exterior, camera framing, reverb/reflections, hidden in frame, etc.,” says Durfy. “Whatever I’m recording, I like to use DPA microphones because they sound fantastic. Also, you know that each DPA will sound just like the others with its flat response pattern. Finally, they are dependable in all sorts of conditions. DPA’s high RF immunity really proves to be a boon on-set when you have
limited time and need the tools to work properly the first time.”