Contemporary Color follows ten color guard troupes from across the country as they perform in multiple concerts put on by David Byrne in Toronto and Brooklyn. Crafted to appear to take place over one night at the Barclays Center in New York, the Ross brothers’ documentary places as much emphasis on the process of the show as it does the concert itself. Swiftly moving through the interior of the arena, into the stands, onto the stage, and even away from the arena entirely, Contemporary Color creates a visual landscape that sometimes moves into the abstract to recreate the environment of the performance.

The Ross brothers once again paired with sound designer and long-time collaborator Lawrence Everson in order to fulfill their experiential imperative. Everson was responsible for the sound design in Bill and Turner’s previous films, 45365, Tchoupitoulas, and Western. Contemporary Color marks the first time that the Rosses invited sound recordists to their shoot, tackling the challenging environment that is a series of concert performances.

I spoke to Everson about his background in sound design, the concept and execution behind Contemporary Color, and the intricacies of crafting auditory landscapes in documentaries. The film plays next this Saturday at AFIDOCS.

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