Falkirk filmmakers putting horror fans in the frame

Barry Frame's project has already attracted widespread interest
Barry Frame's project has already attracted widespread interest

Fans of the horror movie genre can ‘chill’ out to a new thriller that will satisfy their senses in more ways than one.

While horror films are all about the gore and blood of characters bludgeoned to death by psychopaths or supernatural beings, two innovative filmmakers have created a unique sound technique that gets the imagination running wild – and scared for that matter.

Falkirk producers Barry Frame and Simon Gillespie have turned their attention from making movies to audio plays, and have created a horror show for radio with a unique sound system that makes the listener think the noises are right there with them.

The technique is called binaural and is nicknamed ‘3D sound’. It all sounds very hi-tech but the basic principle is more than 130 years old and was called ‘theatrophone’ by its French inventor – who developed surround sound using phones long before television, never mind 50-inch plasmas, were thought of.

Barry (29), from Dunipace, said: “It’s a recording technique pioneered by a Frenchman called Clement Ader in the 1880s and it’s relatively simple.

“I had this idea to use a binaural technique to record the play. It mimics human hearing and involves me having to wear a microphone in each ear to record the actors performing all around me.

“We use special microphones that are really tiny. I sit stationary and the actors moved around me. It attracts your natural hearing cues.

“This really is ideal for people to listen to with their earphones on, in the dark, as it heightens all your senses and makes you feel like the actors are in the room with you walking all around you.”

When Ader set up the first binaural transmission, he connected telephone transmitters along the front of Paris Opera House’s stage and people listened in to hear the onstage action up to two kilometres away by holding two telephone receivers to their ears.

Barry, not a horror fan per se, chose the genre to get the best effect out of the sound and his play, ‘The Scent of My Death’, which lasts 14 minutes, has been receiving rave reviews from enthusiasts as far afield as the USA and Canada.

Barry, an HND sound production graduate from Forth Valley College, is now studying a degree in commercial sound production at University of West Scotland.

He said: “I thought using horror would really bring out the sound and highlight how effective binaural can be.

‘‘I’d say the play is a bit like ‘Walking Dead’ because of the zombies. The story sees a group of friends trying to escape from a vicious, frightening entity that turns friends into enemies and is quite scary.

“A sound engineer from the BBC told me he absolutely loved it, but wouldn’t let his children hear it because he feared it would be too scary for them.

‘‘Two guys from Canada feature it on their radio show as well and I think it’s had about 600 hits worldwide on my Audio Clinic website so far and it’s gathering a bit of momentum now.”

Barry also predicts binaural will become more popular in the modern age.

“It amazes me that the technique has been there for years but nobody really uses it,” he added.

“With most people owning a pair of earphones for their mobile phones or MP3 players, it is an ideal time for bringing radio plays and audio books to life and really sparking the imagination.

“I’m surprised that this technology has not been used more. A chap called Tom Lopez from New York used it back in the early 1980s to portray Stephen King stories and it was quite popular with his fans, but not with many other people so it died out. But the world has changed since then. I think there is more of a market for it these days.”

Simon (40), from Falkirk, who owns Haggis Western Films, took a leap from movie-making to get involved in the radio project.

His latest film, ‘Setting Rainbow’, which he scripted and starred in, was premiered at Cineworld Falkirk last year and he believes the binaural sound will stimulate imaginations.

He said: “When Barry approached me with the idea I thought it was really interesting and I was delighted to have a go at writing for radio rather than film where you try to show not tell.

“With audio stories you have to think more about how you can stimulate the imagination of the listener. Like Barry, I would describe it as like the ‘Walking Dead’ with a wee bit of ‘Alien’ and Ridley Scott-esque style thrown in.

“I must say film and radio are obviously two very different genres, but I really enjoyed the challenge of writing for this project and I had always wanted to write a horror story. With Barry’s excellent sound recording it really brings it all to life.”

‘The Scent of My Death’ also features David Kinnaird, well known for his work on the Stirling Ghost Walk trail, as the narrator.

Barry said: “David was amazing – his voice draws you in and he delivers the story brilliantly.”

Thcrew is sound recordist, editor and producer Barry Frame; director and scriptwriter Simon Jake Gillespie; assistant director James Frame; and sound assitant and runner Kieran Gorey. The cast is made up of Mark Harvey playing Michael, David Kinnaird as the narrator and Michael’s dad, Alia Torrie as Susan, Fraser McGoogan as Victor, Jacqueline Walker as Beverly, and Leanne Walker as Nicola.

To listen to the play in all its binaural glory, visit the Audio Clinic website, sit comfortably and plug in the earphones. Then close your eyes.

After listening for a bit, you may have to open your eyes just to check you are on your own!