Better Watch Out

Damian Candusso (Other)

Research output: Non-textual outputs, including Creative WorksCreative Works - Recorded or Rendered works


Better Watch Out is an international full length-feature film directed by US based director Chris Peckover. My roles on the film are credited as Sound Designer, Supervising Sound Editor and Re-recording mixer (See IMDB link). These roles signify significant creative investment in the film and it should be noted that usually on a film, the roles would normally be taken by three different people. In fact, the Academy awards assign 2 separate awards for these roles (Best Sound Design and Best Sound Mixing). The film not only signifies my contribution to the film through three separate film credits, I am also credited on the international poster for the film (a film poster credit is uncommon for those working in film sound).

Below is a breakdown of the 3 roles and the appropriate research:

Sound Designer: Responsible for the entire soundtrack creation. My initial brief of the film was that it was a cross between ‘Home Alone1’ and ‘Scream2’. Being a ‘horror’ film, I heavily researched the genre exploring many similar films. My research interest explored the use of sound and the use of silence. This included the study of what sounds were used, and how these sounds were used. The film relies heavily on drawing in the audience, before providing a ‘jump scare’, and perfecting this for the film resulted in my research. An example was the use of fine twigs scraping on glass as in the film Insidious3.I accomplished these through frequency manipulation and slowly building pitch until a big jump in loudness dynamics occurred. There were about 300 hours spent on designing the sounds for this 90-minute film.

Supervising Sound Editor: Supervising the film from Wagga Wagga meant that I managed the Sydney based dialogue and foley personnel remotely. I liaised directly with the director face-to face in Sydney and also via Skype. As the Supervising Sound Editor, I am responsible for all of the dialogue and its relationship to the narrative. This includes the main dialogue and additional background dialogue. This process is both creative and technical, as often I will bring an actor back to re-record (ADR) lines of dialogue not only because of background noise, but also to improve performance. Research for this comes through an understanding of the script, and knowing how to portray certain characters in certain situations.

Re-Recording Mixer: The rerecording mixing is the final stage in a films production. It is here that all of the sonic elements come together for the first time. The re-recording mixer is responsible for balancing all of these elements, ensuring sonic aesthetics, and an understanding of all of the relevant delivery requirements. This is also the final creative stage of the film. The mixer decides what sound plays when, and where it is placed within the surround sound system. Hollywood conventions are often followed, however as in the case with the film ‘Gravity’4, it is also the final opportunity to push new boundaries. My research interest in the mixing process draws upon my earlier research in 3-D film sound placement in relation to the screen. I mixed the soundtrack off the screen, so as to increase immersion for the audience. In addition, the mixing process allowed me the opportunity to blend the music and the sound design elements where I could increase the ‘suspense’ of the film. This included being able to narrow in on the low frequencies, and to increase these in certain spots so as to add almost a haptic5 experience for the viewer.

As noted above, my contribution to this soundtrack was 3 times more than what is typical on a film.

1 Home Alone (1990) directed by Columbus, Chris
2 Scream (1996) directed by Craven, Wes
3 Insidious (2010) directed by Wan, James
4 Gravity (2013) directed by Cuaron, Alfonso
5 Rick Altman, “The Sound of Sound.,” Cineaste 21, no. 1/2 (January 1995), 68.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationInternational Cinema Release
PublisherWell Go USA Entertainment
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 06 Oct 2017

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Better Watch Out'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this