True Memoirs of an International Assassin stars Kevin James as an accountant who writes a book about a fictional killer-for-hire, which his publisher mistakenly prints and sells as a true story, thrusting him into a life of danger and hiding in Belize.
As it is a satirical action flick, True Memoirs features several helicopter and car chase scenes. These conditions often prove difficult for audio capture due to the need for a high-quality, easily concealed audio solution, which the production team found with DPA Microphones‘ d:screet 4098 supercardiod microphone.
The DPA mics were selected by the movie’s production sound mixer, Michael “Koffy” Koff, CAS, who purchased a pair after using them for the first time on the set of TV show Finding Carter.
“While working on the MTV series, my boom operator Allen Williams came to set with a bag of goodies, consisting primarily of DPA microphones,” he says. “We played around with some of the modular shotguns, but it was the plant mics that I was interested in. I’d been using competitor brand boundary mics for plants and car rigs for years, but when I placed the d:screet SC4098 next to its competitor in the same scene, the results blew me away. The warmth and presence of dialogue through the DPAs far exceeded my expectations; it sounded more like a shotgun than a plant mic.”
Once Koff began working on True Memoirs, he found even more benefits of using the d:screet SC4098s in comparison to his former solutions.
“My other two plant microphones are bright and tinny, and it can be a struggle to hide the excess cable, but the d:screet SC4098 allows me to put it almost anywhere, while giving me the warmth I want,” he adds. “They’re so easy to hide because you don’t have 12 feet of cable, so you can just put a piece of tape over the transmitter and it’s blacked out. The rejection of the d:screet SC4098 also allowed me to get clean, crisp dialogue even in scenes in which traffic was passing by or windows were open. I’m still surprised it doesn’t clip. I always gain my SM transmitters to 30 [dB] for normal level and it gave me plenty of room to play.”
Koff used d:screet SC4098 mics “in our helicopter gimbal, which we constantly had Ritter fans blowing directly into. While the additional Rycote windcover shields it from some of the elements, we were taking a lot of wind directly into the mic. To add some protection, we brought in some fur and asked the costume department to sew the edges and lay in some Velcro to fit over the included windscreen and backup Rycote. With this, we were able to get quite a bit of usable dialogue during our stunts, which was unexpected.”
After the initial six weeks of filming in Atlanta, production for True Memoirs headed to the Dominican Republic (DR) for an additional six weeks.
“The environment there isn’t nearly as controllable as Atlanta, it was very nasty and humid,” says Koff. “The d:screet SC4098 mics were left out in the elements, but I didn’t have any issues. On day one, I pulled out my go-to exterior boom mic [from a competitor brand] and by lunch we’d put them all away because of the humidity. Unfortunately, once those mics get wet, the humidity creates a sizzle. But, the d:screet SC4098 mics never seemed to have an issue with the humidity or elements. I don’t know how wet the mic actually got, but we had them set up with all of our windscreens – the Rycotes and the custom ones from wardrobe – and, while the windscreens were soaked, I couldn’t hear any displacement in the mics.
“Also, all of the helicopter work that we did in DR was in a practical helicopter, with both stunt doubles and first-teamers in an old Vietnam-era Bell with open doors, whereas in Atlanta the helicopter scenes were on a green screen,” he continues. “In addition to patching into the NAVcom system of the helicopter, I placed a couple of d:screet SC4098 mics in positions similar to those we used on-stage to accommodate the perspective of flying, and I had really good results. We have scenes where Andy Garcia and Kevin James are running and jump into the helicopter and then it takes off. I got some really great audio from that in terms of the sounds of them jumping in and slamming the gun into the back of the pilot’s head. We had extensive gun fire and explosions throughout the filming and the mics didn’t peak or clip, or anything like that. I was extremely impressed.”
Though Koff considers the rejection of the d:screet SC4098 to be somewhat of a “double-edged sword,” he recognizes that this feature is among the microphone’s most notable attributes. “In the past, I would play off one mic to pick up two people, but now I’m using a separate mic on each person because the d:screet SC4098 mics sound more like a shotgun mic plugged directly into my transmitter. So, at the end of the day, it sounds good – it just requires more gear. I’m not easy to impress, and I certainly don’t just go out and buy gear for the heck of it. I did my homework before purchasing the d:screet SC4098 mics and I’m impressed with how they sound and what they are capable of doing.”
Koff became so captivated with the DPA d:screet SC4098 microphones that he’s hooked for good. “I’ll continue to use them and I’ll probably end up buying a couple more. In fact, I’ll absolutely use them on my next project in Boston.”
Produced by Merced Media, True Memoirs of an International Assassin was written by Jeff Morris and directed by Jeff Wadlow. The film is set to premier at the Cannes Film Festival in May of this year.