MPSE Wavelength

Winter 2023

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Page 80 of 99

M OT I O N P I CTU R E S O U N D E D I TO R S I 79 With the recent explosion of Baz Luhrmann's Elvis onto our screens, there is cause to celebrate the careers of two extraordinary Australian sound practitioners whose pure passion and energy brings so many films to life. Wayne Pashley and Libby Villa started working as sound assistants at the national television broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), in the 1980s, when high-end television drama was being shot and post-produced on film. In the late '80s, they left ABC to start their freelance careers, and, few years later, they boldly started their own company, Big Bang Sound (BBS). BBS has grown from renting rooms, to renting premises, to owning its current multi-level premises at Rosebery, six kilometres (four miles) from the centre of Sydney. It features 16 editing suites, three mixing suites, and a dedicated ADR/prop recording room. In August 2022, Wayne and Libby were bestowed with the prestigious NSW Cinema Pioneers of the Year Award "in recognition of their dedication, professionalism, and outstanding achievements in motion picture sound both in Australia and internationally." JW: I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which this interview is being conducted, the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and pay my respects to Elders both past and present. Let's begin at the beginning. After leaving the ABC, what was your first feature film experience like? LV: My first feature film was The Piano (1993) and it was amazing. It was my first time working with established freelancers, like sound supervisor Lee Smith and sound editor Peter Townend, and working on 35mm film. I felt I'd made the big time. The work practises were pretty much the same, except on a grander scale; there was more time, more budget, and I remember it being a lot of fun. Working with Jane Campion was incredible, and of course, The Piano was my first experience mixing in a big theatre. WP: My first feature was on a wonderful film called Minnamurra (1989), directed by Ian Barry. I was in the sound effects department, assisting and editing, and I also felt like I'd hit the big time because we'd come from working on 16mm mono and now we're dealing with 35mm stereo. JW: I recently read an article in MPSE Wavelength about the migration from film to digital. BBS was at the leading edge, investing in Fairlights in 1993. What made you invest so much money in digital equipment when you first started BBS? WP: It came from my experience working on Strictly Ballroom (1992). The iconic music studio, Albert's Music, was a producer on that film and they were using the new Fairlights. I was put on a nightshift because they were using the equipment during the day to record bands. So, there I am at four

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