Right, especially with the amount of movies coming out these days. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about how massive blockbusters tend to sound similar, not just in reference to their scores, but also their various SFX components.
You mentioned, of course, two Edgar Wright movies, Scott Pilgrim and Baby Driver. And I was looking over your filmography and I realized that you’ve basically collaborated with Mr. Wright on every film of his since Shaun of the Dead. From an outsider’s perspective, and this doesn’t represent my own or Flickering Myth’s, I feel there’s this idea about the film industry that it’s full of heavy competition, with people utilizing Machiavellian methods to get ahead of the curb. And I was telling this to a film editor I interviewed before that it warms my heart when I see friendships like yours and Mr. Wright’s. I mean, do you feel, especially in light of the Weinstein Scandal, do you feel that people have this wrong image of Hollywood of being Machiavellian, or are these friendships more prominent?
That’s an interesting question. I think, well, I’m sure it is Machiavellian. I mean, I’m lucky insofar as I’m not really exposed to that side of things. You know….you could take Edgar for example, he has his core team of people that he works with time and time again. So he has picture editors he works with all the time. His DoP, his production designer, his composer Steven Price. And I think that is because he is a craftsman himself. The work I do with Edgar, it’s not just a happy coincidence that it sounds unique and great. It’s because he’s driving it. And he wants to be surrounded by people who think like him or help him realize his vision.
So I’ve been very blessed to work with someone like Edgar, not only cause he makes great movies, but because he keeps asking me back to work on them. But at the same time, there are movies I go up for and I’m up against six other people, and that’s purely just a question of whether the stuff that I’ve done chimes with the director or picture editor….or how that interview goes, [especially with] certain movies that I have no past relationship with.
So, I think good directors rely on their collaborators, and, you know, people like Tarantino, he always uses the same people, and you look at Edgar, and really skilled directors who make interesting cool stuff, normally stick with the people that they’re very happy with cause they enable them to produce that stuff.
Right, those partnerships tend to produce a lot of great work. Unfortunately, people tend to focus on the cast/director relationship, but to me the crew relationship is arguably more important because when you develop good relationships with your lighting department, your sound department, your VFX department, it creates a more cohesive experience in the end. You mentioned that you’ve not just worked with Mr. Wright. What’s the experience like when you start working on a new film with people that you’ve had no prior relationship with? Is it sort of nervous at first or have you been in the industry long enough to adapt accordingly with different artists?
I’m certainly not relaxed because my job is to try and get into the head of the director and the picture editor and try and think with them with what they’re after. And two directors can have totally different views on how something is supposed to sound. And neither of them is wrong, but they are specific to how they feel. So, how Edgar feels a certain sound should sound versus how another director thinks it should sound quite often are polar opposites. And I’ve got to try and dial into that with the other director as quickly as I can to help them realize his or her vision. So, yeah, it’s a question of trying to talk to them and get on their wavelength as quickly as you can.
Right, right, new relationships obviously take time to foster, but once you get on that same synchronization, I imagine it must be a great experience too.
Yeah, and if you take Jumanji for example, I had never worked with the picture editor or the director before. And I’m sure there’s a certain amount of, regardless of whether they [looked] at my resume or not, I’m sure [it is] a bit like going through a first date, trying to figure each other out. But thankfully by the time…I finished the job we were all good friends and I look forward to working with them again. But like I said, it’s a bit like a first date. You’ve got to try and figure out the other person as quickly as you can till you can [get in-sync] with them.
That’s a great point-of-view sir. You mentioned different directors as we’ve been talking about, and I remember reading an interview that Edgar, and I don’t know if this applies for his past films, but when he was writing Baby Driver he had the music in mind, the music synchronization. I’m wondering, when he was giving you directions on what exactly he wanted for the movie, do you prefer those kind of directors who have that really set game-plan, or do you prefer other directors who give you more freedom and say “do what you want with this scene”?
It kind of fluctuates really. It’s either. I mean, Edgar knows exactly what works and what doesn’t work. That’s not to say he doesn’t give me a huge amount of creative input, because what he’ll do is he’ll set up the structure of a scene, and then he’ll just turn over to me and he’ll say….like for example with Edgar I’ve never done a [spoken] session. You know some directors, I sit down with them, and they get through the whole movie and say to me “this is kind of what I’d like to try here, this is what I’d like to try there, this is what I’m trying to hit.”
With Edgar, I don’t do that….And I guess because we’ve known each other so long, I can see instantly what he’s trying to achieve, and he leads me to how I get to that point. He leaves me the freedom to do it, and also the hope to go beyond that point. With other directors they feel the need to kind of specify what it is that they want by literally giving me a road map. But Edgar’s not like that. Edgar’s much more kind of broad strokes, “this is what I’m trying to achieve,” but it’s not so specific. Although Edgar’s very specific about what he can work and doesn’t work….via kind of a very tight road map. It’s kind of like broad strokes and then I’ll go in and work something….I’ll mix it and play it and then he’ll say “that’s great, but let’s just try this this and this on top of that.” Or “let that work, that doesn’t work.” On the outset, he’s not necessarily….concerned with the small details of that stuff. He’s much more the [overall] vibe of the movie.
That definitely shows. When you think of an Edgar Wright movie, I think the two things that come to mind even for regular moviegoers is the editing and the sound. Those two things.
All of Edgar’s movies are very sound-centric because he’s the kind of director who understands what sound is capable of, and he embraces it and he kind of encourages us all to try and go that extra mile to make it sound special I would say. So that’s what we try and do. But there’s Baby Driver, which is written with the sound in mind. I mean, as you said, he wrote the script [with] music cues. So anytime I work with Edgar, I kind of relish the opportunity because I know it’s going to be….a journey [of] sonic experimentation. But with Baby Driver….that has to do with music and sound working together as one thing.
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