MPSE Wavelength

Winter 2023

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Page 44 of 99

M OT I O N P I CTU R E S O U N D E D I TO R S I 43 Bob was Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. It was supposed to be Columbia's big summer box- office release in June 1983, but it ended up not doing as well as expected even though it was really cool. It all took place in space, plus it was my first supervising job where I was also responsible to lead other crew members' work in a direction Bob and I saw fit. It was all about coming up with a whole world of sounds that did not exist on Earth. They had these wildly imaginative vehicles in the film that looked like nothing you'd ever seen, and the director, Lamont Johnson, told us he didn't want any of the vehicles to have any combustible engine sounds in them. We were thinking, "What sounds are we going to use to propel these vehicles?" We used a lot of processed animal sounds and actually recorded and processed our own voices too. We came up with new weapon sounds that don't sound like regular guns. That was the most challenging part initially. Creatively and aesthetically, and really getting into the fine nuances and art of what we do, I'd have to say Road to Perdition helped me grow the most. Working with Sam was interesting because he encouraged me to not always feel I had to sonically "mirror the image" in a literal sense. He suggested that I be poetic not prosaic, operatic not episodic, to think artfully and not always literally. I really enjoyed working with him on such a beautifully made film. On a creative level, many sound designers feel like they always need to be bold with their sounds popping all the time, filling the room with sound. Sam was more subtle, subtractive, and minimalistic for this film. The process taught me more restraint as a sound editor and designer. I think that movie is a masterclass in subtlety, nuance, and detail that I'd never approached before. And what I've come to find out is that those can be the harder films to do. Road to Perdition was really delicate because when things are that quiet, every sound has to be 'just so' with nowhere to hide. Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone was my humble beginning as a sound supervisor, and creatively it was a huge job. But then Road to Perdition taught me about the finer brush strokes, the details and subtlety. EM: What would you say to a young sound person coming into the industry now, beginning their career? SH: What did Willie Nelson say? "Don't let your son grow up to be a sound editor." No, I'm teasing!! If you love what you do, follow your passion. Anytime that you're starting anything challenging, it's like a mountain climber looking up at Mount Everest and wondering how the hell they're going to get to the top. You put your head down, take one footstep at a time, and don't be discouraged if you encounter a few missteps along the way. There's just something to certain people that you cannot take away from them. It's their perseverance to just keep pushing forward, to work your butt off, and make yourself invaluable to where your boss doesn't want to think about working without you. That's easier said than done. I had a little easier time of it because I didn't have a family early in my life, so I really was able to dedicate a lot of my time and energy to my profession. You just have to put your head down and be dedicated, because it's hard work and most of the schedules are not for the faint of heart. There's a lot of material to get through, and you've got to be super creative—thinking off the top of your head, and being quick on your feet. It's important to make your client feel comfortable and confident that you're going to do the best for their film at every turn. Day by day, and before you know it, 45 years will have passed, like me. I can't believe I've been doing this for that long. It blows my mind when I think about it. I'm still inspired by the same things that inspired me and I focused on when I started, and I think that's important. It's easy to get burned out in this industry, so you have to be really careful about pacing yourself too. I was a semi-reckless worker when I was younger, constantly at work. The time flies and you want to keep making it better and better. Sometimes that is what it takes for you to stand out from the rest of the crowd, but ultimately, it is important to seek a healthy life/work balance. My life as a sound editor/designer has been very fruitful and rewarding on so many levels… I wouldn't want to have had it any other way! EM: That's really profound, Scott. Thank you so much for your time today. SH: Thank you. Michael Sullivan Jr. looking out at Lake Michigan in Road to Perdition. Supervising sound editor Scott Hecker in Redondo Beach, CA

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