Mickey O'Sullivan in 'Room Tone'

‘Room Tone’ A Silent But Deadly Day On The Set

Sound Designer Mark Ruff helped Director Michael Gabriele transform one of the least noticeable yet most important filmmaking tasks into a short titled, Room Tone, that will screen at the Facets’ Chicago Horror Fest on October 22. 

In the moviemaking world, the concept of room tone refers to the unique sound that a room makes.

Capturing room tone requires everyone on set to remain silent while someone with a microphone records what appears to be nothing at all. “It’s almost one of the most awkward and hardest things when you’re on set to do,” says Gabriele, who co-wrote the script with Danny Rhodes. In his treatment, the job becomes a hilarious and bloody nine-minute trip through a stressful day at work. Before being completed, it evokes strangulation, decapitation and hand-to-hand combat.

Ruff pulled from millions of sound effects that he has compiled over his career to complement the action. He also surprised Gabriele with what the director describes as “creative depth and creative layers” by manufacturing effects from vintage audio equipment.

“I used a lot of sounds that were sounds of sound equipment,” he explains. “I’m a sound designer working on a movie about a sound guy.” 

The sonic customization includes modified beeps of SMPTE timecode and buttons from a reel-to-reel Nagra recorder. 

In similar fashion, Room Tone lead actor Mickey O’Sullivan, who plays the sound guy, takes out his frustrations on fellow crew members with film and audio gear. The results are a fitting homage to old-school spatter fests like Halloween and Friday the 13th.



Room Tone was produced by Chicago-based Daily Planet Productions, with Amy Stewart credited as Producer and the company’s President, Scott Marvel, as Executive Producer. Marvel also performed in the film along with cast members Angela Aiello, LaShon Barton, Brittanie Boeck, Jay Cabrera, Danny Rhodes and Jeff Zarinelli. Ryan French handled cinematography. Cyle Williamson handled special effects.

Mark Ruff is an award winning engineer with decades of experience. His quick wit and problem-solving skills make him a great resource to bridge the gap between talent and client. Described as fast, efficient, and sometimes funny, Mark has worked on a bit of everything, from supermarkets to Super Bowls spots with a lot of feature films, shorts and toys in between.

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