Sound people complain, and we should complain because of our low status in storytelling relative to the importance of our contribution.  But progress gets made.  Larry Blake reminded me a few days ago about Murray Spivack, a mixer whose films won 11 Academy Awards for sound, but he only got two of them.  Murray mixed from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, and before the 60’s the Sound Oscar went not to the people who actually did the sound work but instead to the bureaucrats who ran the sound departments at the big studios.  I guess the idea was that sound was a communal effort.  Of course the visuals were a communal effort too, but you can bet that the cinematographer, not the head of the camera department at the studio, was always the one up there on the stage to accept the statuette.  Sound editors didn’t get Oscars on a regular basis until the 1980’s.

Though the budgets continue to get smaller, and schedules shorter, there are other reasons to be optimistic.  One is the Sundance Institute’s annual Music and Sound Design Lab at Skywalker Sound.  Young filmmakers are introduced to the idea that the time to begin thinking seriously about the sound in their movies is in pre-production, and I can testify that it’s a joy to see that light bulb flashing on in their heads.  Nothing to complain about there.

Randy Thom


Larry Blake:

Murray Spivack :




One thought

  1. Well said. Since it is also an invisible format and no qualification is actually in place for most industries when it comes to sound, anyone can have an opinion. Because of this it is often an after thought to productions.

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