UPDATED. This post originally described an audio-only project I did in September of 2018. I took that audio content and reorganised it to accompany video from the original trailer (which has also been reworked to accomodate my audio version), which you can watch below. So the text here describes ONLY the audio project. I may produce a ‘making-of’ video describing how I made this video, which will be a future blog post.
Scream Trailer SoundCloud version (audio only)
The creators and producers of the 1996 movie Scream hold all copyrights to this project’s content (save sound effects). This is a fan production that promotes the film and the media in question. It will never be monetized in any way. If the copyright holders have any issue with this content, please let me know.
Scream in paradise
I first saw Scream in a theatre in Honolulu. My free evenings often Thai Soup for dinner and several movies in a row. We’d go drink coffees in between at the Bad Ass Coffee stand nearby. The reviews for Scream were good, lauding the concept as being very original. I thought, perhaps, this was one scary movie I could get through, so long as it wasn’t too gory.
The whole film has this nihilistic, savage animal feel to it (indeed, some of the soundtrack sounds like wild animals). There’s the prominent 90s penchant of presenting teenagers (with the exception of Sydney, the ‘final girl’) as vapid, self-centered people. They all seem constructed from corporate pop-culture leitmotifs, quite distant from the nuanced reality of teenage life. It’s a great story. But I wonder if they present the characters this way so that you can picture any of them being the killer? Perhaps it’s so you won’t mind too much when they get kacked? Either way, it’s a very harsh and surreal. I guess if the ‘kids’ acted like those on Stranger Things, the ‘disposable’ nature of the characters wouldn’t work. Would that make the whole slasher genre obsolete?
I am NOT a fan of horror movies. I like scary movies, especially monster movies. And I love watching YouTube videos where they pick horror movies apart looking for deeper social and psychological meaning. But gore, I cannot stand, and I don’t really get why anyone would be a fan of gory horror movies.
It was rough to watch that first horrible scene where Drew Barrymore is slowly terrified into a frenzy by the Killer. While Drew is on the phone, the killer guts her boyfriend on the patio. He shows up and ultimately slaughters Drew as she flees the house. I wasn’t sure if I’d make with through the whole film, my heart was beating so fast and so hard. But that scene turned out to be the worst. And the movie’s frequent, self-reverential jokes made it more scary than gory, and ultimately bearable. I’ve seen the movie and its sequels many times since. And watched tons of behind-the-scenes videos about the movie’s creation and structure. This is what got me interested in re-doing the trailer to Scream.
Taking a stab at movie trailers
I’ve always wanted to be one of the people who does the voice-over for movie trailers. Originally, I thought I’d just do the Narrator, but the Killer also sounded very cool. In the end I thought, “Why not do all the men?” to show range. I thought it’d be a straightforward process to cut the voices of the trailer and replace them with my own. In a word: NO! The Scream trailer, at least, is such a patchwork of overlapping sounds. Everything I did affected the space around each part, so in the end I reconstructed the entire thing.
I started before the summer holidays. I got about a third through the thing before Audacity crashed, and I lost all the content I’d created. Most of this wasn’t so hot anyway. Then I had to wait for our family vacation to be over and our kids to go back to school. Then I really had the time to tackle the project again. What a learning experience!
I was able to resurrect some of the audio content I’d lost, but it just wasn’t right. My rendition of the killer (played to gleeful perfection by Roger Jackson in the original) sounded too deep. Also, the transition between charming and psycho wasn’t seamless enough. I knew I could never duplicate the ‘thunder-throat’ stylings of the late Don LaFontaine. So I did my own take on the Narrator. At first, it was a bit too rumbly from the gain on my mic being up to high. On re-recording, I lucked out with a summer cold. That made it easier to get the Narrator right, and the rest fell into place.
Normally audio projects take a week of sporadic work to finish up and blog about. But this one was a doozy. Had I known redoing movie trailer audio of a would be this complex, I would have approached it differently. That said, I did five male voices in this project. I started with about 25 Audacity tracks and eventually condensed them down to about 15. NONE of my version’s content was lifted from the original trailer.
Anatomy of a Scream
As I said before, I lifted NONE of the audio here from the original trailer. The sources were as follows:
Voices: I lifted Drew Barrymore’s voice from scenes posted on Miramax’s YouTube content. So was the brief blip of Courtney Cox. The Killer, the Announcer, Jamie Kennedy, Matthew Lillard, and the short Dewey line, were all me. Sydney’s ‘Hello’ is from another Miramax YouTube scene. I took her line about ‘stupid’ horror movies from Neve Campbell’s audition for the part, also on YouTube. Neve Campbell’s movie scene was too mixed with other sounds to use.
Music: Soundtrack.net listed the music from the original Scream trailer (there’s a resource I’ll probably use again). I cut the music from the first third, where Casey is talking to the killer. I couldn’t find the right Nightmare on Elm Street track (though I listened to the WHOLE extended soundtrack on YouTube). It sounds better without music anyway. I also couldn’t find ‘The Aggressor’ by Immediate Music. Instead I used the Scream soundtrack tracks. They were the 2nd and 1st tracks (The Game Begins and Opening Logo respectively), bookending the recording. The intense part in the middle is from the Copycat soundtrack (as in the original trailer). All this music was available on YouTube.
Sounds: This was hard. Most of the sounds you hear are from Freesound.org. All of the Drew Barrymore dialog had either crickets or popcorn frying in the background. These were blended into my recording with background noise. The crickets I got from samwd and the frying sound from katfolker. The wind-glassbreak-scream after Casey says ‘What did you say?’ was a mixed separately and then exported for the main recording, the sounds coming from cusconauta, gevaroy, and marsebastia respectively. The low ‘flash’ between a few scenes was from an explosion sound by ALLANZ10D. Outside of Freesound.org, the only other sound effect is the Oooooohhhhhh! Sound during the ‘Rules’ part of the recording, which came, again, from a Miramax YouTube scene.
Playlist of scenes from Scream from Miramax’s YouTube channel.
Piecing all this together was a big learning experience. I had to throw out about half the work I did and approach it from the different angle. And it WAS spooky, sitting at my desk with my headphones on, listening to the Killer (performing the Killer). I found it difficult to think about the horrific mentality of someone who might actually commit such crimes.
I might have a stab at doing another trailer in the future. Next time I’ll script the whole thing, including music and sounds, before I do any recording. What I’m increasingly seeing is that a voice-over artist needs reels to get any work (commercial, video-game, narration, etc.). So that needs to be my focus in the near future. I’ll continue with these Audio Projects while I cobble together some reels to use in selling myself to potential customers.