New York, NY (June 2, 2022)—Goldcrest Post’s sound team led by supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Gregg Swiatlowski and re-recording mixer Eric Hirsch is once again providing sound editorial and mixing for Billions, Showtime’s drama about power politics in the world of high finance.
The show, created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin, with Mike Harrop as executive producer and Beth Schacter as showrunner/executive producer, was recently renewed for a seventh season. In shepherding the show through post-production sound, Swiatlowski and Hirsch work under the direct supervision of Koppelman, Levien and co-executive producer Michael Harrop.
“Billions is very much a dialogue-driven show,” says Harrop. “Sound post-production is nuanced to ensure that the dialogue between the characters is highlighted, and the performances are clean. Eric and Greg are masterful in their technical aspects of sound, but they’re also storytellers themselves and skilled in making sure the emotion pops. They’re artistry helps make the show sing.”
Hirsch notes that sound effects are kept to a minimum and chosen with care both to avoid distracting from the dialogue and to subliminally underscore that notion that everything in the world of high finance is under tight control. “If you are a billionaire, you can afford the best soundproofing, so when we are in the company run by Mike Prince [played by Corey Stoll], it’s very quiet.
“The same sound aesthetic applies to other locations. Restaurants are upscale venues that only the super-rich have access to. The challenge for us is that many of the shooting locations are relatively noisy and require extensive clean-up to create the effect of serene silence,” Hirsch says.
Post sound effects are applied with restraint but serve a critical function in establishing a sense of place. The many scenes set in Wall Street trading rooms include a patter of office sounds, but they are generally kept tucked away. “The trading rooms are almost hermetically sealed. You rarely hear phones as you would in a normal office. And the dialogue has to be more than just clear. Each cast member has a distinctive and interesting voice. We have to apply the right EQ for each person to capture the individual character of his or her voice,” Hirsch observes.
“Music is a constant; it’s almost as omnipresent as the dialogue,” he also notes. “It adds intensity to the mix, but, as with the sound design, it does so in a subliminal way. We shape and blend it so that it doesn’t mess with the dialogue. It pokes through now and then, but otherwise it’s an underscore that serves to ratchet up the tension.”