Baz Luhrmann ‘Mic’d The Floorboards’ Of A Church To Get An Authentic Sound During Elvis’ Gospel Scenes

When he was writing and directing “Elvis,” Baz Luhrmann was not afraid to immerse himself completely in the project. “We lived these things,” he stated matter-of-factly. “I lived in Memphis. I had an office in Graceland for eighteen months.”

But perhaps the most important component of the project was finding a way to capture the sounds that influenced the entirety of Elvis’ diverse and powerful discography.

“When it came to the music, working with [music producer] Dave Cobb, Elliot and I and the whole team — Dave took us down to Nashville,” Luhrmann recalled. “We were finding gospel singers singing in churches and recording.”

Cobb wanted to capture every element of the music in those churches. Movement is an important part of gospel, and almost any gospel song would be incomplete without the sounds of clapping and stomping. This aspect of gospel explains the way that music moved Elvis. In an effort to capture this sound accurately, Cobb had to get creative. Luhrmann said:

“Just to give you an idea of how detailed and how passionate everyone was about getting the authenticity, when Dave Cobb mic’d the church, he even mic’d the floorboards. So that in the movie when you see all the members of the Pentecostal tent stomping their feet, it’s actually the real gospel singers back in Nashville in the church stomping their feet. He was recording the feet stomping. So we strove to create visual authenticity but that came from the fact that we already had audio authenticity.”

This attention to detail is what made “Elvis” such a captivating and evocative film. The visuals and the sounds of the film are perhaps closer to an emotional and maximalist hyperrealism than they are to true aesthetic realism, but they are grounded in the fabric of Elvis’ real life.

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