2018 • Sound Editing/Mixing • Backstage

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90th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: Sound Editing

SPEECH BY: Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo, Mark Weingarten, Richard King and Alex Gibson
FILM: “DUNKIRK”

Q. I’ll let you guys tackle this however you want to since you collaborated together. I was interested with the challenging timeline of this film, how that affected some of the sound editing decisions, foreground events becoming background events later. And also, with any war movie, especially an iconic battle like this, the authenticity of the actual sounds made by the actual devices and machines. So how did all those factor in?

A. (Richard King) Oh, I’m usually pointing it the other way, so I’m confused.
We went to great pains to ‑‑ to capture as much authentic sound as we could, recorded all the Spitfires, the bombs, guns, boats, but we wanted it to be an emotional experience. So it was all about investing the film in as much power and emotion and visceral, you know, feeling as we could, and we used every decibel that we had available to do that.

Q. You used a really interesting thing called the ‑‑ and whoever is appropriate to answer this ‑‑ the Shepard tone, that kind of continuously ascending tone, and I’m really curious how you, number one, achieved that, and number two, wedded it so beautifully with the visuals as well.

A. (Alex Gibson) Well, the Shepard tone is something that Chris has been playing with I think since THE PRESTIGE. So it’s been floating around for a while. What it is is it’s an ascending line, melody line, that when it hits a certain note, it starts over again and then it’s overlapping itself, so it always feels like it’s going up. It’s just an aural trick. Well, because the movie was fast paced, but still running out of time, that ascension, the continuous ascension played right into it.

Q. Did you work with Chris?
A. (Cross Talk) Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yeah, they did, yes.

Q. Gregg, would you please comment on how it feels to win the Academy Award on your final film, unless Chris urges you back for one more?
And, then Alex, could you comment on the rare feat of your particular role being honored in this category?

A. (Gregg Landaker) This film ended up my career. It didn’t end my career, but I decided to put a period on it. And this was my 207th feature film, ninth nomination and fourth win for a soundtrack. My first win was for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK back in the ’80s. But Chris has always encouraged me to reach further into our art craft of mixing a film, to bring something completely different to the soundtrack that the audience would step up and notice. Thank you.

A. (Alex Gibson) And the reason I’ve said that the historic nomination from the sound branch was a music editor, this is ‑‑ they don’t get awards. There is no Academy Award for a music editor, and there never has been. I think one person was nominated years ago, but I’m now the first one to win. And it’s because of the intensity of the work I did and how it wove with Richard’s work. And a lot of luck. So that’s what it is. That’s how it happened. Thank you.

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