Unlearning Film School: The ‘lo-fi’ Soundtracks of Joe Swanberg

Nessa Johnston

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Johnston explores the impact of new digital technologies on recent low-budget filmmaking, focusing on the soundtrack and film sound practice, and uses as a case study the ultra-low-budget films of prolific writer-director Joe Swanberg, previously associated with the press-hyped ‘mumblecore’ label (named with reference to its ‘bad’ sound). Analysis of sound aesthetics in Swanberg’s recent films (including Art History, Silver Bullets, The Zone and Drinking Buddies) is contextualized by discussion of their critical status and research of Swanberg’s working approach to sound in production and post-production. Johnston shifts consideration of production practices beyond the fully professionalized industry sphere and discusses the implications of Swanberg’s lack of creative interest in film sound, arguing that his films’ ‘lo-fi’ sound functions within a tradition of ‘indie’ sound aesthetics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media
    EditorsLiz Greene, Danijela Kulezic-Wilson
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    ISBN (Print)978-1-137-51679-4
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2016


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