Summer 2015

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19 SUMMER 2015 / CINEMONTAGE by Peter Tonguette S teven Soderbergh and Larry Blake have been making movies together since the start of their professional lives. The supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer on all of Soderbergh's films — including such classics as sex, lies, and videotape (1989), Out of Sight (1998) and Traffic (2000) — Blake has known Soderbergh since the director was 16 years old. The two Louisianans — Soderbergh lived in Baton Rouge, where his family moved when he was a teenager; Blake was born and raised in New Orleans — were introduced through a mutual friend, and soon their collaboration got underway. The first film for both was 9012Live (1985), a documentary directed by Soderbergh about the progressive rock group Yes' concert tour for its 1983 album, 90125. Soderbergh has never been reticent about adding to his filmmaking workload. The Academy Award-winning director has handled the picture editing of many of his films (when not working with Stephen Mirrione, ACE, as well as other editors earlier in his career). And Traffic saw his duties expand to include cinematographer, too. Those crafts come readily to the director, Blake says, so he has been comfortable taking on both of them. But, where sound is concerned, Soderbergh has relied on those he trusts, including Blake. Given their long history, it is no surprise that their work together is largely unspoken. "When people ask me how I collaborate with him on sound jobs, they're usually surprised to find out that a film rarely involves more than a few minutes of conversation," Blake says. "There's very little said between us because I have a very clear idea of what he's going for." Their overlapping tastes run to the realistic, perhaps even the minimalistic. "We just don't have a what-did-I-get-for-Christmas approach towards sound," Blake says. "As a rule, we're pretty conservative about surrounds, just because it has such great potential to drag you out of a movie as opposed to involving you." One of the high points of their collaboration is Traffic, which was released 15 years ago to laudatory reviews, receptive audiences and, ultimately, four Academy Awards, as well as a nomination for Best Picture. Screenwriter Stephen Gaghan (who, like Soderbergh, was honored with an Oscar) examines the North American front of the war on drugs through a cluster of characters, including the new-on-the-job US drug czar, Robert Wakefield (Michael Douglas); his daughter (Erika Christensen), who is grappling with addiction; law enforcement agents in this country (Don Cheadle and Luis Guzmán) and in Mexico (Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro and Jacob Vargas); and criminals, including a well-off drug dealer, Carlos Ayala (Steven Bauer), and his wife Helena (Catherine Zeta- Jones). MY MOST MEMORABLE FILM Larry Blake on 'Traffic' Larry Blake. Traffic. USA Films/Photofest

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