Marshall, Kingsley. 2024. ‘Can you hear me?” ‘Son sur le scenario’ - the act of writing sound in the script of Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men (2023)’. In The Soundtrack, Special Edition: Screenwriting Sound and Music. Intellect. ISSN: 1751-4193

Marshall, Kingsley ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2518-7305 (2024) Marshall, Kingsley. 2024. ‘Can you hear me?” ‘Son sur le scenario’ - the act of writing sound in the script of Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men (2023)’. In The Soundtrack, Special Edition: Screenwriting Sound and Music. Intellect. ISSN: 1751-4193. The Soundtrack, Screenwriting Sound: Expanding the Creative Vocabulary of Sound in the Screenplay (15). pp. 45-59. ISSN 17514193 (In Press)

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Abstract / Summary

In the opening scene of the ecosophical folk horror Enys Men, released in cinemas in the US and Europe in early 2023, a woman’s voice emanates from a tabletop VHF radio. The voice is that of The Volunteer, a character whose experience is at the centre of a time slippage story set on a remote island off the coast of Cornwall, UK. A meter needle indicates the volume. “Can you hear me?”, she asks. The needle on the meter freezes. From these first lines of writer/director Mark Jenkin’s feature film screenplay, sound is priviledged.

In the script, sound indicates for the audience the space between the familiar and the unfamiliar, the natural and the unnatural, the normal and the uncanny. In the script, bees buzz and birds make their distinctive call. Generators are described as rumbling and humming. Elsewhere, helicopter rotor blades chop and clocks tick (and, sometimes, they don’t). Each location of the island, and each action of The Volunteer, is distinctive in its sonicity – the phenomenological quality and, more significantly considering the slippages of time that The Volunteer experiences, the temporal nature of sound in cinema. Dripping. Splashing. Breathing. Tremoring. Even the pages of a book turning make a noise in Jenkin’s script. In turn, The Volunteer is shown in the script to respond to each of these sounds. They draw her gaze. She follows them. She seeks out their origins. At one point, she puts her ear to the ground to hear what lies beneath the island itself. She is always listening and we, as readers of the script or as viewers of the film, follow her lead into what she hears. In the cinematic worldbuilding of Enys Men sound is alive - in the script it reverberates, thuds, clanks, and, occasionally, it dies.
Choosing to shoot his last two feature films Bait (2019) and Enys Men (2022) on a hand cranked clockwork Bolex 16mm camera, writer/director Mark Jenkin adds all of his audio after principal photography. The filmmaker is credited as sound designer on Enys Men, and completed the majority of the dialogue, foley, and FX and atmospheres in his small studio during post-production (Jenkin, in Oram 2023). Throughout his work, sound is used not just to advance narrative or enhance emotion but to add atmosphere, a sense of space, place and character. Unusually, in both Bait and Enys Men, the filmmaker also composed the soundtracks.
Dr Kingsley Marshall has worked with Mark Jenkin at Falmouth University for over a decade and composed the score for Jenkin’s short film Hard, Cracked the Wind (2019). Using a conversation with Jenkin as a starting point, this paper will consider cinematic sound design in the wider context of writing film and the actualisation of sound in film itself, examining the very specific impact on Jenkin’s own filmmaking and to better understand the wider significance of his approaches to sound and music the construction of place, space, character and narrative in cinema from script to mix.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1386/ts_00026_1
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mark Jenkin, Enys Men, Bait, Bronco’s House, 16mm, analogue, film sound, Foley, sound design, screenwriting, Son sur le scenario, film music, Cornwall, folk horror, horror, screenwriting, analogue, film sound and script, film sound and characterization, film sound and narration, silent landscape dancing grain, manifesto, sound/image cinema lab, bosena
ISSN: 17514193
eISSN: 17514207
Subjects: Film & TV > Film > British Film
Language
Music > Sound Art
Music > Sound Design
Writing & Journalism > Creative Writing > Storytelling
Courses by Department: The School of Film & Television > Film
Depositing User: Kingsley Marshall
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2023 08:33
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2024 16:04
URI: https://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/5062

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