MPSE Wavelength

Fall 2023

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M OT I O N P I CTU R E S O U N D E D I TO R S 53 SL: Thanks for chatting, pal. And thanks for hiring me at the start of my career. I think the biggest takeaway for me from those days was how important it is to always be recording, and how important it is to always be building an original library. A very wise sound man once told me, "Nothing gets older faster than a new sound." MM: No self-respecting filmmaker would put a stock shot in their new movie. You shoot something new. Something with the specific intention and relationship to the story and the script and the characters. I think we should all follow that to the best of our abilities in sound as well. There is great value in sound libraries— but I believe the best sounding movies always have the freshest ingredients. No self-respecting chef would put canned peas in their featured dish. SL: That's the analogy I always use. MM: So too should we not use any more canned sounds than we absolutely have to. Sometimes you can't avoid it—you can't always find a Sherman tank. It's easy for me to pontificate. I understand that I live in an ivory tower. Unlike most, I get schedules and budgets that support a fresh recording. But many sound designers working on TV don't have these luxuries. They have to turn an episode around in a week and feel lucky to have any kind of sound cut at all, let alone a bespoke one. Who has time to even go outside? I recognize that. Yet I think you might still take pride even if you just get one new sound in, 'cause you thought, "Oh, I just heard my espresso machine! I'm gonna put that in for the flaps on the airplane!" That feels good! There's value in that. SL: I completely agree with you. 100%. Having been on the side of not having the money or the time to go out to get anything—some libraries have saved my ass. But also there is a lot of forward- thinking you can do during your downtime. You should always go out and record things when you can because you just never know. MM: You've actually just made your own point beautifully. When you do have the downtime, get those recordings made, and you can have a fresh palette. You didn't make it that day, but you recorded it "because it was there," as we used to say—and now you have a fresh recording when you need it and you don't have the time to go out and record it. That's an example of what sound designers might be doing in their downtime. SL: Thanks again for taking the time to talk, dude. Oh, wait—last question … what can you tell me about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... I hear Trent Reznor is doing the score! MM: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are doing the score. I'm super- stoked about that because they're bringing a very unique sensibility to the movie. The director (Jeff Rowe) is a mensch. I got really lucky, because he's a big fan of the sound of many of the movies I've worked on. I've had a great schedule with ample time to design and develop the film. As with many previous films, we built a new sonic universe for the Turtles. We haven't leveraged anything from the TV shows or the previous films. All this will be bespoke, designed sound. It's a really good movie. And it's going to be in Atmos, in theaters! I can tell you that there was a lot of creature voice design, which has been really fun. And the turtles are always doing acrobatic things—that's a turtle visual gag. The flips and jumps they do. So we developed a new library of whooshes and swishes. There's some really fun stuff to look for there as well. It's their "signature." I'd tell you about it, but I'd have to kill you. I think we're bringing a really unique sonic sensibility to it too. It's a good movie, and a movie that adults, like you and me, can go watch! SL: Great. Thanks, pal. MM: Wait a minute, now let me ask YOU something. SL: Oh, yes…? MM: Now, you tell me. I told this to the director—this movie is the first time I used a "Wilhelm" in 15 … 18 years…? SL: Right. MM: …There is a little "Easter egg" in Ninja Turtles. You have to find the Wilhelm. SL: Oh! So it's not necessarily an easy find…? MM: YOU will hear it immediately. SL: I will hear it immediately. Okay. Well, that says something. A slightly longer version of this interview will appear in a volume of The Hollywood Sound Museum Conversations series of books, coming soon. Visit

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