SFP: 'Bored to Death'

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Blair Jackson

HBO COMEDY SERIES TAKES TO THE STREETS

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Ted Danson (left), Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman star in Bored to Death.

Ted Danson (left), Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman star in Bored to Death.

Bored to Death is a new HBO comedy series about an aspiring writer in Brooklyn who, as a lark and as a way to meet women after the breakup of a relationship, puts an ad on Craigslist claiming to be an unlicensed private detective. This leads this fan of Raymond Chandler and other noir writers to become involved in actual cases he probably has no business tackling. The series (which had its debut on September 20) is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based writer Jonathan Ames, and in the series Ames is played by the witty and versatile Jason Schwartzman. Ted Danson (Cheers, Becker) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) co-star in this ensemble series, which Danson describes as “sweet, innocent and perverted.” The show was shot almost entirely on location in Brooklyn, and posted at Soundtrack Film & Television in Manhattan — it's New York through and through.

Handling the challenging production sound for seven of the initial eight-episode run of the series was Griffin Richardson, an Emmy winner last year for his work on 30 Rock, which has been his main gig the past four years, and “the best job I've ever had in my life.” Griffin joined the Bored to Death team last spring after the pilot had been shot and 30 Rock shut down for the season. (Mathew Price, production mixer for The Sopranos and many other shows, did the pilot.) “Jonathan Ames, who's the main creative force behind the show, used to write a column in a newspaper here in New York and he's really funny,” Richardson says. “Then, once I heard the cast, it sounded way too good to pass up.

“They warned me on the phone: ‘Look, just so you know, we're going to be on location 90 percent of the time.’ A lot of times in a movie or TV show, they'll say the scene takes place here, but you really shoot somewhere else where it's more convenient. But Jonathan was really insistent that we shoot at these specific locations. He really wanted to get the feel of this Brooklyn that he knew and loved and that he'd written about.”

A native of Duxbury, Mass., Richardson moved to New York originally to attend NYU film school: “I play music, and thought taking a sound class would be fun — and it was! There weren't a whole lot of people in film school doing sound, so it was kind of easy to get experience quickly. Then, once someone finds out you know what you're doing, a friend of a friend recommends you and…It happened kind of effortlessly, though obviously it's a lot of effort because low-budget shoots are really hard.” He started as a boom operator but quickly moved into production sound mixing, plying his trade mostly on indie features and then episodic television. He also worked on the hilarious Web series Wainy Days (wainydays .com; check it out!), starring comedian David Wain. These days, he has a crew of two helping him out — boom operator Chris Fondulas has been with him for eight years; his utility/second boom, Bryant Musgrove, for about five.

Like nearly all current production mixers, Richardson uses a combination of boom mics and RFs worn by key cast members to get a full and accurate picture of each scene, and to provide plenty of options for the post mixer(s). “I prefer the boom mic whenever I can get away with it because it sounds fuller, more real and you have more of a sense of the physical place within the scene,” he comments. “But the radio mics these days work great and they can save your ass. They tend to flatten everything a little bit.” When he can, he'll double-boom and sometimes also keep off-camera characters wired “because I've learned that in comedy, more often than not, it seems like when people are off-camera, they tend to relax and say a lot of funny stuff. When you have people like Jason and Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis who are so good at improvising, you want to make sure you never miss anything.”






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