Freedom is oddly rarely free, and in the Emmy-nominated HBO series Made for Love starring Cristin Milioti, the series wrestles with the meaning of freedom, abusive relationships, and rediscovering yourself.
Made for Love follows Hazel Green (Milioti), a woman that escapes from a suffocating 10-year marriage to tech billionaire Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen). But her newfound freedom reveals the shocking discovery that she’s been implanted with a tracking device by her husband. No matter where she goes, Gogol can track Hazel, even see through her eyes and gather “emotional data.” The drive to regain her freedom propels the series’ many twists and turns.
PopAxiom spoke with Karol Urban about becoming an audio professional and a week in the life of working on Made for Love for HBO.
Karol worked on the recent Bel-Air remake on Peacock and the Apple TV sci-fi series For All Mankind. So, where did the journey to mixing sound begin? “I have horrible eyes. As a result, I think I have a hyper-focus on sound. I’m observant of frequencies and changes in sound.”
“At age 13, I started studying in a recording studio” she says, attending a public magnet school at the time. “By the time I got to college, I knew that I wanted to work on sound for picture.”
After college, Karol “stormed the area I was living in for gigs. The Washington, DC area has work, so I entered the glamorous world of political advertising. Not soon after, I went into documentaries doing a lot of work for Discovery Channel. My career really began there and has expanded ever since.”
“It’s everything I dreamed of as a child,” she declares about working in mixing sound for picture. “It takes my attention and focus but gives me peace while also being a challenge. It’s the most fun ever. I never want to do anything else.”
About Made For Love
Karol admits that industry work is often “a little less structured than you would think. The industry is project-based and as there are many moving parts to creating a series or feature, schedules often morph.”
Made for Love is a half-hour series, so there’s a “shorter turnaround time,” Karol explains. “Typically, we have a first day to go through the show. I have an effects partner who takes care of foley, backgrounds, and sound effects. Meanwhile, I take care of ADR, production dialogue, group and music. It’s a wonderful system. We ignore each other while we review the material.”
“We get it to where we think it should be to tell the story. Then we marry those two together. Highlighting or diminishing where we think that needs to happen to best display the narrative.”
The next day, the pair watch the show together and make further tweaks. “Later the clients come in and watch. During COVID, a lot of that happened through the studio’s remote system for playback. We take their notes and talk about what they want to achieve. Then we make more tweaks based on that until we have a final version. Then we review with the client again.”
“Made for Love creates some unique sonic spaces. They’re beautiful. The world outside of the hub is dirty, layered, and chaotic with many dimensions. In the hub, it’s clean, hygienic almost; it’s extremely sanitized and flat. Because of that, in the hub, the dialogue must be clean. If you can hear the reality of production, then I’ve failed. It’s a challenging show in that way, but beautiful.”
Karol intimately works with the series’ unique music from composer Keefus Ciancia. “He is an incredible talent. His music is funny, its commentary, it makes the situation light but dramatic with texture and layers.”
“It’s a dark comedy,” she says about Made for Love. “It’s exaggerated and grounded in a funny way. You even have a synthetic life partner who is basically a sex doll, and a talking dolphin. But, it’s all anchored by the characters. Hazel is so relatable that you fall into her world despite all the crazy around her.”
What’s the hardest thing to get right in a mix? “The ‘right’ sound and the ‘right’ mix is the one that tells the story the filmmaker wants to tell. It can be challenging to get into their heads, but when it happens, it’s beautiful. You get their unique perspective of the world.”
“But there are times,” she adds, “where you’re bending the laws of physics to get things to work. For instance, sometimes the production material, for whatever reason, doesn’t jive with what the creators ultimately want. So, When there’s a technical and creative clash, it can be a difficult situation.”
What’s a dream project for Karol? “I feel like my dream project is the opposite of whatever I’ve worked on most recently. I love the sandbox. I tease people that I love to play mind games with sound.”
Karol’s been in the business for a long time and watched it evolve. “There’s so much originality happening with the rise of streaming. It used to be that a show had to have a large mass appeal. Now, you can create for a more niche market because the reach of distribution is so targeted.”
Is Made for Love on your watch list?
Thanks to Karol Urban and Kingmaker Communications
for making this interview possible.
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