The Artist

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on March 02, 2012

Stamp image Priority

Dear Valeria Ghiran
Boom Operator

Dear Valeria,

First, let me apologize. I said some things I didn't mean when I heard you were going to work on a black and white silent film. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been such a solid gig for you, and Justified was just getting good! But I know you've always wanted to work on a real Hollywood film. TechnicallyThe Artist is French, and there's no talking, but who's laughing now, right?

I bet nobody even blinked seeing you walk around with your big pole and microphone for the entire 35 days. I wouldn't have. Boom operators are like the bellybuttons of film sets - we just accept they exist and have a place. Sometimes they even serve a purpose. Other times, it's just nice when producers gloss over the crew list. Am I right? So give me the skinny baby, dish up some dirt from behind-the-scenes!

For example, I know director Michel Hazanavicius is married to Berenice Bejo, but there's no way her and Jean Dujarin weren't up to some "French" business between takes. I don't think I've ever loved an onscreen couple as much as I did the two of them. His eyes, her smile - no offense, but I think your "sound" abilities would have only ruined what they had going. Good call to stay away.

I hope you snuck into Bejo's trailer to slip on one sleeve of her coat and touch yourself though. I would have. She managed to turn something that sounds creepy into the most beautiful moment of the film. She would have been totally flattered to find you playing with her clothes. Europeans are always so much more direct. You probably figured that out during the cute homage to your boom operating skills when Dujardin kept ruining those takes on purpose. He totally gets you - I hope you got his number.

Also, I've been meaning to ask - what the hell was John Goodman actually saying? I assume you recorded all that gold for the DVD extras. My guess is he was speaking German, because he would blow-hard for a good 30 seconds and the title card would just say something like "Darleen!" Classic John.

Maybe you can help me understand one part that bothered me. I don't know how the whole sound department hierarchy works (besides the fact you're at the bottom), but can you tell your bosses that using the Vertigo score killed the ending for Hitchcock fans? Depriving people of a climax after such a stimulating ordeal is akin to, well, trying to now take Kim Novak seriously. But everyone has critics. Your film, however, has fewer than most. Deservedly so.

Imagine - you've finally worked on something that your sweetheart mother, pretentious father, colour blind brother and deaf Grandma all equally enjoy. Take some credit Val, and don't be so offended by all the praise for this brilliant and unlikely "silent" hit. That scene, with the sound - you nailed it. The audience at my screening was so quiet you could hear a cup drop. So stop being so damn modest in all your interviews. You made a point in that negative space - just like the arrow in the FedEx logo. To me, your contribution was loud and clear.

Somewhat sincerely,


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