MPSE Spreads the Gold
Several Films Are Awarded for Sound
by Edward Landler
photos by Peter Zakahary/Tilt Photo
On Sunday evening, February 16, the Motion Picture Sound Editors presented its 61st Annual Golden Reel Awards at a gala event at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The honors for the past year’s highest achievements in sound editing rev up Oscar speculation with single Golden Reels going to a whole range of Academy-nominated features, including Gravity, Captain Phillips, The Great Gatsby, the animated Frozen, Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster and the documentary Dirty Wars.
A highpoint of the evening was George Lucas’ presentation of the MPSE Career Achievement Award to his long-time collaborator, Oscar-winning sound designer, sound editor and re-recording mixer Randy Thom, CAS, MPSE. In accepting the award, Thom paraphrased the Star Wars creator, saying, “Sound design is not something you just add to a picture… sound can be 50 percent of a movie, if there is a path to get there.”
Later, backstage, Thom spoke of his work as Director of Sound Design at Skywalker Sound, noting, “Skywalker has recently begun working with the Sundance Institute and we’re talking to the young filmmakers about how they are incorporating sound in their work.”
MPSE President Frank Morrone, CAS, MPSE, opened the program with a quote from producer/director Cecil B. DeMille. Upon bestowing the very first Golden Reel to 1953’s science-fiction classic The War of the Worlds, the film pioneer said, “Sound editors make the pictures live and breathe.”
After Morrone’s address, Foley artist John Roesch, MPSE, introduced a moving tribute to the man who had presented last year’s Career Achievement Award to him: sound editor Charles L. “Chuck” Campbell, MPSE. A three-time Oscar winner and a past president of the MPSE, Campbell died last summer. Just before screening a video memorial from Steven Spielberg, Roesch quoted from a poem by Campbell, “Let us fill our days with kind unselfish things.”
Later during the presentation, sound editor, re-recordist, re-recording mixer and picture editor Walter Murch, A.C.E., CAS, MPSE, offered a tribute in celebration of the industry-transforming work of sound engineer and inventor Ray Dolby, CAS. who also died last year.
The Golden Reel for Best Sound Editing of Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film went to the team working on Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity: supervising sound editor/sound designer Glenn Freemantle, Foley artist Nicolas Becker, sound design editors Niv Adiri, Ben Barker and Eilam Hoffman, Sound Effects Editor Danny Freemantle and Foley Editor Hugo Adams. Accepting the award for the British team, Barker and Danny Freemantle noted that they used Dolby Atmos technology on the sci-fi thriller.
The sound crew for Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips won the award for Dialogue and ADR in a Feature. The winners — supervising sound editor Oliver Tarney, MPSE, supervising dialogue editor Bjorn Schroeder, supervising ADR editor Simon Chase and dialogue editor Rob Killick — were not in attendance.
The Golden Reel for Best Editing of Music in a Musical Feature was given to music editors Earl Ghaffari, MPSE, and Fernand Bos, MPSE for Frozen. Ghaffari, who accepted the award, later said, “It’s not just made up of tent-pole songs — it’s a real musical with Bobby Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez’s songwriting shaping the story and defining characters. It was fun to collaborate with Fernand. Christophe Beck’s score meshes so well, launching into and out of songs.”
Supervising music editors Jason Ruder and Tim Ryan and music editor Craig Beckett took Best Editing of Music in a Feature (non-musical) Film for their work on Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Music Librarian Chris Mangione of Ruder’s 2Pop Music company was on hand to accept the award.
Best Editing of Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR in an Animation Feature Film went to the cartoon fantasy Epic. Its team included Career Achievement winner Thom, along with
co-supervising sound editor Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, MPSE, co-sound designer Jeremy Bowker, supervising Foley editor Luke Dunn Gielmuda, supervising dialogue editor Brad Semenoff, Foley artists Denise Thorpe and Jana Vance, Foley editors Benny Burtt and Jim Likowski, dialogue editor Michael Silvers, sound effects editors Leff Lefferts, Andre Fenley, Kyrsten Mate and Kent Sparling, CAS, and music editors Lisa Jaime and Bill Abbott.
Commenting on the team’s work, Whittle said, “We had to balance the back-and-forth between two worlds — he tiny micro world and the big klutzy human world.” Thom added, “After seeing the movie, we want kids to go out in nature and experience the same sounds as magical and as natural as possible. Naturalism was very important to director Chris Wedge.”
Supervising sound editor/sound designer Christopher Barnett, CAS, and fellow sound designer Brandon Proctor of Dirty Wars, about targeted drone killings, won for Best Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue, ADR and Music in a Feature Documentary. “Documentaries tend to be professorial. I was trying to avoid that. The objective was to get people to react viscerally,” remarked Barnett.
The Golden Reel for Best Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR in a Feature Foreign Language Film was awarded to the martial arts bio-pic The Grandmaster. The sound crew was supervising sound editors Robert Mackenzie and Traithep Wongpaiboon, sound designers Nopawat Likitwong and Steve Burgess, supervising Foley editor John Simpson, supervising dialogue and ADR editor Gary Chen, Foley artists Sam Rogers and Chumnan Chuponkrang, and sound effects editors James Ashton, Chris Goodes, Luke Mynot, Sam Petty, Narubett Peamyai and Ekaratt Chungsanga.
Best Sound Editing of Sound Effects and Foley in Long Form Television went to the team for the “Salvage” episode of Sons of Anarchy. They were supervising sound sditor Erich Gann, sound designers Robert Costanza and Mike Dickeson, supervising Foley editor Bill Bell, Foley artists Tim Chilton and Jill Sanders, and assistant sound editor Kevin Meltcher.
Gann said of their work, “We worked hard to put back in all the sounds we lost while shooting a gritty, documentary-style TV show with a lot of motorcycles…” Chilton added, “…and bullets and leather.” Winning the second Golden Reel of her career, Sanders noted, “This is my first Golden Reel with my married name.”
For Best Editing of Dialogue and ADR in Long Form TV, the crew of the pilot episode of The Bridge won the award: supervising sound/dialogue/ADR editor Mike Marchain and dialogue editors Paul Longstaffe, Charles Kolander and Robert Guastini, MPSE. Marchain said, “We had a lot of location exteriors in Mexico and El Paso. We stayed outside and true to what the scene was, dealing with the people, the traffic and noises of the actual places.” Longstaffe explained, “I’ll say it took passion…” Kolander added, “…and dedication.”
Not in attendance, music editor Annette Kudrak won Best Sound Editing in Long Form Musical in Television for her work on Showtime’s music documentary History of the Eagles: Part One.
The Golden Reel for Best Sound Editing of a Long Form Documentary in TV went to the team on “The Final Battle” episode of Discovery Channel’s crab-fishing reality show, Deadliest Catch. They were supervising sound editor and sound designer Bob Bronow, CAS, sound effects and dialogue editor Kevin Skaggs, sound effects editor Selina Zakaria, dialogue and ADR editor Jason Tuttle, dialogue editor Edward Rodriguez, and music editor Doug Kern.
For Short Form Documentary in Television, supervising sound editors Kate Hopkins and Tim Owens, sound effects editor Stephen Griffiths, assistant dialogue editor Owen Peters, and music editor Michael Baber won for their work on the “No Place to Hide” episode of Discovery’s North America.
The crew of the “Dumbbell Curve” episode of Nickelodeon’s Fairly Oddparents won for Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR on Animation in TV. They were supervising sound editor and sound designer Heather Olsen, MPSE, supervising Foley editor Roy Braverman, supervising dialogue editor Robbi Smith, MPSE, and Foley artist John Lampinen.
The sound on the “Felina” episode of Breaking Bad was singled out for Best Editing of Sound Effects and Foley in Short Form TV. Taking the award were supervising sound editor Nick Forshager, Foley artists Dominique Tabach Decaudain and Gregg Barbanell, MPSE (one of the night’s two triple-winners), sound effects editors Mark Cookson and Cormac Funge, and Foley editors Timothy Boggs and Jeff Cranford.
Accepting the Golden Reel for Forshager, supervising ADR editor Kathryn Madsen commented on the special effects and Foley work, “For show runner Vince Gilligan, sound is just as important as picture, and he gave us complete freedom. It was a labor of love and it came out in the specificity of sound — down to shell casings falling on the ground and the sound of Tio’s bell that comes back in different guises in different scenes.”
Best Dialogue and ADR Editing in Short Form Television was awarded to the team on “The Rains of Castamere” episode of Game of Thrones: supervising sound editor Tim Kimmel (winner of two awards that night), supervising dialogue editor Jed Dodge, supervising ADR editor Tim Hands, and ADR editors Ruth Adelman, MPSE, and Martin Mahon. Speaking for the group, Kimmel said, “We had a lot of different locations and a lot of different sounds over busy, busy dialogue and lots of people getting killed. With so much going on in the background, our job was to make sure all the dialogue came through clearly.”
“The Rains of Castamere” from The Game of Thrones was also recognized for Best Sound Editing of Music in Short Form TV with supervising music editor David Klotz taking the statuette. He said, “The hardest thing was finding the right place for music to exist in the show. The music spotting required a special expertise.”
Best Sound Editing of Short Form Musical in Television went to supervising music editor Steven Rebollido and music editors J. Walter Hawkes and David Mennella. They adapted Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and edited 12 characters singing four-part harmony for “The Beethoven Problem” episode of PBS’ Peg + Cat.
The sound crew for Mortal Kombat: Legacy Series II Episode 4 — supervising sound editor and sound designer Michael Babcock, sound designer Tim Gedemer, supervising Foley editor Jeff Sawyer, Foley artist Greg Barbanell, MPSE, and sound effects editors Ian Herzon and Bryan Jerdan — took the Golden Reel for Computer Episodic Entertainment.
After praising producer/director Kevin Tancharoen for creating a grand scale show without a lot of money, Babcock said, “We tried to match that sense of scale and give definition to the sound in dense action sequences, combining realism with surrealism.”
Best Sound Editing for Computer Interactive Entertainment went to the team for Blizzard’s Starcraft 2: Heart of the Cinematic. Comprising the crew were supervising sound editor and sound designer Paul Menichini, MPSE, sound designers David Farmer, MPSE, and Stuart Provine, supervising Foley editor Darrin Mann, supervising ADR editor Andrea Toyias, Foley artist Gregg Barbanell, MPSE, sound effects editor Caroline Hernandez, MPSE, sound editors Thomas C. Brewer, MPSE, and John Kurlander, dialogue/ADR editors Alexander Ephraim and Clinton D. Jones, and music editor Neal Acree.
Menichini said, “The Blizzard cinematics team put out visuals to rival any movie company in the world. It was a challenge to do them justice and fun to try. I had a stellar team working with me.” The last time he won the Golden Reel was 2008, along with colleagues Farmer and Brewer, for the first incarnation of Starcraft.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 took the award for Direct to Video Animation. Supervising sound editor/sound designer Robert Hargreaves, MPSE, supervising dialogue editor Mark Keatts, Foley artist Gary Marullo (the night’s second triple-winner), sound effects editor George Brooks, dialogue editors Kelly Foley-Downs and Mike Garcia, and Foley editor John Hegedes.
Best Sound Editing for Direct to Video Live Action went to Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter. The crew was supervising sound editor Andrew DeCristofaro, MPSE (another double-winner), sound designers Ann Scibelli, MPSE, and Michael Payne, MPSE (the night’s third double-winner), supervising dialogue editor Laura Harris-Atkinson, and Foley artists Gary A. Hecker (a fourth double-winner) and Gary Marullo, MPSE.
“The show was very low-budget and the movie starts with the footage from the very big-budget Captain America feature,” said DeCristafaro. “We picked up from the huge elaborate climactic moment of Captain America and seamlessly transitioned to Agent Carter. The sound felt just as big as the feature.”
Winning for Best Sound Editing for a Special Venue show was To the Arctic 3D made for IMAX projection. The sound team was supervising sound editor Andrew DeCristafaro, MPSE, sound designers Stephen P. Robinson, MPSE, and Peter Staubli, MPSE, sound effects editors Edmond Coblentz, Michael Payne, MPSE, Gayle Wesley and Bruce Tanis, MPSE, supervising dialogue/ADR editor Tim Kimmel, dialogue editor Steve Judson, supervising Foley editor Kerry Carmean-Williams, and Foley artists Gary A. Hecker and Gary Marullo
About this film, DeCristafaro said, “Producer/director Greg MacGillivray wanted us to be authentic in every detail. We used 30 pounds of snow for Foley work and we found out that polar bears don’t growl, they chuff.”
The Verna Fields Award for Sound Editing in Student Filmmakers was given to Robomax from England’s National Film and Television School. Supervising sound editor, sound designer and music editor Tingli Lim also accepted the award for Foley artist Ricky Butt and music editor Sarah Warne.
As the festivities drew to a close, MPSE President Marrone said, “It was a wonderful evening and a thrill for us to recognize all the great work from all the sound teams.”
Edward Landler is a filmmaker, media educator and film historian. He made I Build the Tower, the definitive feature documentary on the Watts Towers, and is currently writing a cultural history of film. He can be reached at email@example.com.