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How to juggle working as an executive producer and sound supervisor on set

Patrick Haynes talks to TVBEurope about his dual roles on short film One Drop, why he chose Audio-Technica microphones and wireless systems to capture the film's sound, and dealing with a live snake on set

Due for release this autumn, One Drop is a short film that tells the story of a tortured artist struggling to overcome his personal demons to finish a commission for the Queen of Denmark’s 80th birthday ball – with just 14 hours remaining.

Starring Ryan O’Donnell (The Crown), Joseph Payne (The Witcher) and Gary Wilmot MBE, the film has been made by production company Just Upstairs.

Patrick Haynes acted both as sound supervisor and executive producer on the project, relying on Audio-Technica microphones and wireless systems on set.

He talks to TVBEurope about juggling both roles, and why he chose Audio-Technica’s products for the shoot.

How did you get involved with One Drop?

My business partner Ross and I, who both run Just Upstairs, have always wanted to produce our own narrative piece, having worked on a number of short films throughout the years as crew members. We met Stewart Gold, who at the time was living in Harrogate, and he showed us his short film script that he was working on. 

Over the period of around a year, we worked with Stewart to develop the script to work well with Ross, who directed the film, and my vision as to how it would appear on screen. We then started building the team to make this vision a reality led by our director of photography Matt Gentleman. 

Having worked in audio for many years, I was able to really craft my vision for how this film would sound and took on the sound department alongside being one of the executive producers. 

There are not many exec producers who also work as production sound mixer – how did that come about, and how did you juggle both roles on set?

I was fortunate enough to have an amazing team around me, which allowed me to fully focus on being a production sound mixer whilst on set. Everything needed to be organised and nailed down to a tee in pre-production to ensure that the whole production ran without a hitch. 

We had two amazing associate producers in Lisa and Sam Swainsbury, who took the lead for any production aspects throughout the day, and we then ensured we had morning and evening briefings to ensure no issues were happening that needed mine or Ross’s attention.”

What technology did you use?


From the wireless audio side – I opted to use the 5000 Series wireless system from Audio-Technica.  The receiver was the ATW-R5220 paired with 2x ATW-T5201 belt pack systems. I then paired the receiver with a pair of ATW-A49 antennas. We then used 2 BP899 omni-directional microphones plugged into this system. Our boom operator Sam King used a BP4073 shotgun microphone

Why did you opt to use that technology?

I opted for the 5000 series firstly due to the Dual compander that is built in. This allows for the high and low frequencies to be processed separately, which really allows for a superior audio quality in the transmission and capture. 

Boom operator Sam King with Audio-Technica BP4073 shotgun mic during the filming of One Drop. Lead actor Ryan O’Donnell in foreground

The series is extremely reliable and stable, and I was therefore extremely confident that we would have no issues with dropouts, especially in our high-emotion scenes that would be difficult to reshoot. 

The BP899 was very low noise, with a wide dynamic range and tolerance for high SPL. For a film such as ours, which went from our cast whispering to shouting in moments, this meant I was always confident that this microphone could handle any input, clearly and intelligible. 

You shot the film during the pandemic, what impact did that have on the production, and did the technology you used help in anyway?

When we shot the film, all productions had Covid protocols nailed down, however it was still a challenge to overcome. We had to ensure that all members of the cast and crew had done LFT tests before arriving on set, and proof of this had to be sent to our associate producers. Shooting inside, we had to ensure that masks were worn at all times. I had to be very careful with this, as part of my role involved having to get very close to the talent when fitting microphones. 

Unfortunately on our first day of shooting we lost a vital member of crew who tested positive in the morning – this meant we had to pull someone in last minute who could fill this role, and understand all the previous member’s creative ideas in a very short period of time. 

What was the biggest challenge of the whole project?

Shooting throughout Covid was always a big challenge, and there were many additional aspects of work that we had to overcome. 

The One Drop shoot involved lead actor Ryan O’Donnell being suspended 12 feet in the air in one scene

Being an independent production with a limited budget is always so challenging, to ensure we can get the best crew, best kit with such a limited budget does mean we have to be extremely creative. Being able to shoot this entire film in five days was challenging on everyone.

We shot with a live snake throughout the film. Working with animals is always difficult and does slow things down considerably – especially as they will never do what you would like them to do. 

We also had stunt aspects that needed to be shot, which included suspending our leading actor 12ft off the ground. Doing this in general is tricky but being able to achieve this in a listed building, while the leading actor is holding a live snake was a challenge to workout logistically. 

What are you most proud of achieving on One Drop?

First and foremost, we are most proud of being able to create, in our opinion, a beautiful and entertaining piece of work. 

Secondly, this production is fully independent and self-funded. We are so proud of being able to achieve what we did, while being able to pull in some incredible young creatives from around the UK who always maintained the same level of passion for the project that we did.