Meet the sound designer behind Mother London's award-winning doc

James Lyme: sound designer behind Mother's The Good Fight
James Lyme: sound designer behind Mother's The Good Fight

James Lyme is a sound designer at Scramble Soho. He worked with Mother London on The Good Fight, which won Best Documentary Short at Tribeca.

In less than a week, Lyme turned around the sound design on The Good Fight, a short film co-produced by Mother London that follows a man building a better future for his community in Rio de Janeiro. The film centres on Alan Duarte, who lost nine family members to gun violence but he starts his own boxing gym to help his neighbourhood.

The film won Best Documentary Short at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It was directed by former art director Ben Holman and the executive producer was Hermeti Balarin, Mother’s executive creative director.

At what stage did you get involved with The Good Fight?

I got involved right at the end of the process. The director Ben Holman had already been working on the project for two years.

My involvement started at crunch time – we had a week to meet the deadline. Ben showed me the trailer and talked me through the project. I was sold within the first two minutes. It’s easy to see why when you watch the film. A gritty display of guns, drugs and gang life would usually be enough to entice me, but add to that an amazing true story told through the eyes of a very brave and talented director and there was no way I was saying no.

What was the aim of the sound design?

Ben did a sterling job on the location recordings but the circumstances were trying. Lots of cleaning and polishing of the dialogue was needed. Hours of footage had been recorded – the training scenes, the talking heads, the interviews, as well as the gunfights.

Our aim with the sound design was to enhance what we were seeing on screen, not to overdramatise. Given the documentary nature of the film, it would have been inappropriate for any sound design to come across as "too Hollywood". So we used only subtle and tasteful additions – most of which needed to be made from scratch. 

What was your inspiration?

You can’t help but be inspired by the story of Alan Duarte, who finds salvation through boxing. Alan’s drive is infectious and it’s a story of a great achievement. You also can’t help but think of City of God – high praise in my eyes!

What are you working on next?

I’m teaming up with Ben again. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to talk about it, but I will say it’s loud! And we’re waiting for the green light on a very exciting immersive audio project. There are so many obstacles; if the director gets to film a quarter of what’s proposed, it’ll be amazing. Fingers crossed.

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