NEW YORK, NY – Furthering their reputation as the go-to creative audio post house for cutting edge indie documentaries, HOBO lent to its considerable sonic skills to the acclaimed documentary “QUEST,” which following a successful film festival run that included winning a 2018 Independent Spirit Award and being named a 2017 official section at Sundance, will have its broadcast premiere on PBS starting in June.
Part of PBS’ POV series, “QUEST,” will air throughout June, and will also have select theatrical screenings around the U.S. A complete list of screening can be found here.
Directed by Jonathan Olshefski who filmed with vérité intimacy for almost a decade, “QUEST” is the moving portrait of an American family living in North Philadelphia. Beginning at the dawn of the Obama presidency, parents Christopher "Quest" Rainey, and his wife, Christine'a "Ma Quest" Rainey raise their family while navigating the poverty and strife that grips their neighborhood. Amid the chaos, they nurture a community of artists in their basement home music studio, but even this creative sanctuary can't always keep them safe. Epic in scope, QUEST is a vivid illumination of race and class in America, and a testament to love, commitment, healing and hope.
For the HOBO team, led by Senior Audio Engineer Chris Stangroom, and featuring the skills of Stephen Davies, Diego Jimenez, Julian Angel, Oscar Convers and Jesse Peterson, sound proved to be a big part of the cinematic experience for “QUEST.”
“Since QUEST was a film not only about the Rainey family, but also their neighborhood of North Philly, I spent a lot of time researching the sounds of Philadelphia,” Stangroom explains. “I gathered a lot of great references and insight from friends who had grown up in Philly, like the sounds of ‘ghetto birds’ (helicopters), the motorbikes that are driven around constantly and the SEPTA buses. As Jon and I spoke about the film’s soundtrack, those kinds of gritty, authentic sounds were exactly what he was looking for. It created an energy to the film that made it vivid and alive.”
Recreating A Pivotal Moment:
As you can imagine, any documentary film shot over nearly decade would face some audio challenges in terms of maintaining consistent sound quality throughout, however for Stangroom the biggest challenge he faced was a key scene in a hospital room with Quest and his injured daughter PJ. The scene features the two holding each other close and whispering, but the moment’s emotional core is ruined due to the large amounts of room noise.
“It took the viewer immediately away from the emotions that we were trying to connect with,” Stangroom says. “We ended up scrapping that entire audio track and re-creating the entire scene’s audio from scratch. Jon actually ended up getting in the sound booth and quietly whispered of the kinds of phrases Quest said in the moment to his daughter. It took a couple hours to finesse that scene, but in the end it ended accurately capturing the touching moment that it actually was.”
For HOBO President/Founder Howard Bowler, filmmaking is a collaborative experience with every everyone contributing creatively to make it work, and through sound, HOBO is especially good at pulling audiences into a story and keep them engaged.
“HOBO’s been fortunate to be attached to some top documentaries,” Bowler says. “Filmmakers want to work with us is because first and foremost our goal is to make an emotional connection to the audience through sound. Each element in the soundtrack has to have a reason and has to fit. That mindset has helped us grow exponentially, and improve the client experience as well as the work itself.”
About HOBO Audio:
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Click here to watch the trailer for “QUEST”:
Click here for more info about “QUEST”:
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- Avid ProTools
- Izotope RX 5 Advanced
- Audio Ease Altiverb Zoom H4N
- sE1a condenser mics
Director: Jonathan Olshefski
Producer: Sabrina Schmidt-Gordon
Editor: Lindsay Utz
Assistant Editor: Ellen Knechel
Original Music: Christopher "Quest" Rainey
Original Score: T. Griffin
Audio Post: HOBO, New York
Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer: Chris Stangroom Sound Effects Editor: Stephen Davies, Diego Jimenez
Sound Effects Editor/Foley Mixer: Julian Angel
Foley Artist: Oscar Convers
Dialogue Editor: Jesse Peterson