Holey Foley!

Think of a common sound you hear in TV shows, films or on radio. Footsteps, for instance, or a car door slamming. Have you ever wondered how those sounds are created on a studio set? Twenty-eight Grade 6 students from Footscray Primary School will discover the secret of sound effects as part of Paper Fire, run in partnership with SYN Media and Express Media. Starting with a tour of the SYN studios on Monday, over the next 9 weeks students will plan, write and produce a series of radio plays. Helping them along the way will be young mentors from SYN Media and Express Media, and a special guest, Laura Milke Garner, who will share tips and tricks from her experience as a Foley.

What is a Foley, you say? Well, we asked Laura if she could give us some insider information on her work.

What exactly does a Foley do?

Foley – or Sound Effect (SFX), as it’s also called – is the technique used to create and make all the sounds for soundtracks. This could be for film or television but was probably most popular in the golden age of radio within radio drama.

The reason it’s often referred to as ‘Foley’ is the process was named after Jack Foley. He created a lot of the basic techniques, which are still used today.

What drew you in to the world of Foleying?

I have been in radio for 23 years, starting as a radio announcer and moving through to production and producing. Along the way I was also heavily involved in the performing arts so for me it was combining my two loves of radio and theatre. I created a series of contemporary live radio plays 10 years ago and started to play live Foley, from there I have gone on to do bigger and more elaborate radio plays with bigger and better sound effects. So it came from a love of storytelling, radio and theatre and grew from there. Like most things that people love, I kinda just fell into it.

What are your tools of trade? 

The brilliant thing about sound effects is the tools of trades are every day items.  Once you know what to look for, you would be amazed as to what you have just in your own house that could create a world of sound effects.  It’s about everyday items and items that may not look like the sound but SOUND like the sound. For example, the wings flapping say of a bird or a bat is simply a pair of rubber kitchen gloves – go on, try it!

What is the Foley’s part in storytelling?

Foley’s role is to create the soundtrack or soundscape to a story. For radio plays the Foley will stand on stage with a variety of materials, items and surfaces to create all the live sound effects. The kind of sounds a Foley can create include footsteps, opening doors, smashing glass, punches, slapping, creaking … the list is endless.

Your favourite sound effect?

There are so many but some of my favourites are some of the smaller sounds like footsteps on different surfaces like snow. Leaves, opening doors and big bangs and crashes are always fun to do.


100StoryB_Laura Milke Garner

Laura Milke Garner is an award winning multi-media producer of comedy, theatre and radio, with over twenty years experience in the industry. In 2008, Laura established her own producing company, MILKE Performance Industry Services, producing projects, shows and events for independent artist and major arts organisations and festivals locally and internationally.

Her current series of live radio plays – Super Speedy Sound Shed – commissioned by the Arts Centre Melbourne has just played to a sell out crowd at The Famous Spiegeltent (April 2013) and will be touring to Sydney Opera House in September 2013.