Randy plays "Dogbowl," a hyper character with ADD who is in constant motion. To add depth to the sound design, Jeff and I recorded a lot of extra dialog for Randy that we can pepper throughout the movie. So any time there is a break in conversation, Dogbowl can be heard screaming something in the background.
Remember that we filmed The Last Hurrah all the way through from start to finish, each day of our shoot. This means that if an actor flubbed a line 34 minutes in, we didn't yell cut and start over at the beginning. We just kept rolling. This makes ADR especially important for this movie!
Randy's was a fun ADR session because it involved a lot of improv. But several of the actors needed more meticulous ADR because their lav mics on set had too many pops and cracks. In these situations, the actor stands in a sound booth watching film footage on a monitor, and gets recorded saying the same lines over and over until the ADR recordist gets a usable take. Actors must match the pitch, rhythm, and characterization of lines they spoke six months ago. It's hard work!
Put on some head phones, lock yourself in a closet, and read each sentence of this blog post, out loud, fifteen times in a row. Now do that for four hours. And you will begin to get a sense of how an ADR session works.
ADR for the Director
My background is in sketch comedy. Sketch comedians are a neurotic breed who will eagerly invest hours perfecting the rhythm, nuance, and timing of three minute comedy sketches that will probably only be performed on stage once.
With our extremely limited rehearsal time for The Last Hurrah, there was barely enough time to memorize lines, let alone perfect comedic timing. Going into post production, there were about forty lines in the movie whose pace and comedic delivery I was not satisfied with. ADR is giving Jeff and me a second chance to let the actors perfect their comedic performances.
The Weird Part About ADR
Maybe it's because our actors are hilarious, or because there's a lack of oxygen in the recording studio, or because you get punchy after hours in a windowless room...but ADR is hysterical after a while. Every one of our actors had me cracking up - recording themselves doing funny voices and saying ridiculous things. I'm surprised to discover that ADR is one of the most fun parts of the process, with the added bonus that I get to spend time with our actors again.