Interview: Production Sound Mixer Sean O’Malley on the Processes and Challenges of ‘Euphoria’

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO Max

The Emmy-nominated Euphoria presented a second season that managed to be even better than the first, highlighting the lives of hyperactive high school students obsessed with sex, relationships, and drugs in a riveting way. Among the most fascinating aspects of the show is its relationship with sound, which earned production sound mixer Sean O’Malley his first Emmy nomination.

Awards Radar had the chance to speak with O’Malley about how sound works on the show and his team’s approach to the operation and the incorporation of music in general:

“We have a commitment to do no ADR. Every actor is wearing a wire, we make sure that wire sounds good, and that’s a complicated process to make sure that all works. Also, this season in particular, we recorded all our music live. All our performances – we did a whole scene with our composer Labrinth singing in a church, we recorded that entirely live. It’s a big, complicated process. Also, the sound design in general, we try to get everything in-camera as much as possible, and then later, they add what is needed to really help the storyline along. It’s not a sci-fi show, it’s one that wants the sound to feel real, and we do as much as we can to really make that process happen.”

He also shared a humorous anecdote about a workaround that worked until it didn’t:

“We were doing this scene in a pool where Alexa Demie’s character is sitting in a raft, and she’s technically out of the pool, so we tried to boom it at first, and the camera was just so wide, and we were at the edge of this property. Along that property, this big valley was just so noisy. We realized we couldn’t do it without putting a mic on her. This is common in the trade – if you’re going to have a microphone near water, you put the pack inside a non-lubricated condom and you synch it tight, and it’s water-resistant at that point. It avoids splashes and everything. We do this scene with her, we add the microphone, her back is on this lounge chair in the pool. Everything goes great, and then he calls cut, and she just dives right in the pool, totally forgetting she’s got a microphone on her back. Yeah, we had to get a new microphone.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

The first two seasons of Euphoria are available to stream on HBO Max.


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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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