Independent Vision Award: Bill Nisselson

Sound One's topper praised for his passion, precision

During his more than two decades overseeing sound mixing and editing at New York City’s Sound One studios, the late Bill Nisselson regularly worked with such noted directors as Woody Allen, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. But it was his support of emerging filmmakers that endeared him to many in the indie community.

“Bill is somebody who has touched everybody in the New York film community from the lowest-budget films to the highest,” says Good Machine co-prexy Ted Hope, a board member of the Independent Feature Project (IFP). “He did not say, ‘You’re a Scorsese film, and you’re an NYU film,’ he approached each film and director as someone who was going to make or break Sound One.”

Nisselson, who died in his Sound One office of a heart attack June 19, will be honored by the IFP with the Independent Vision Award at its annual gala kudos ceremony Monday. He was manager of the studios and was named chief operating officer in 2000 when it was purchased by Liberty Livewire.

“He touched so many people that people felt the change the day that he died,” Hope notes.

“Sound One went through a few different owners but he was the constant and he built it as a real New York film institution,” Hope adds. “He wasn’t going to just give you a home for two weeks, but a home that you could come back to.”

Studio One’s well-known clientele includes Joel and Ethan Coen, Jonathan Demme, Nora Ephron, Milos Forman, Lasse Hallstrom, Jim Jarmusch, Ang Lee, Mike Nichols, D.A. Pennebaker and John Sayles.

Hope says Nisselson was considered a loveable curmudgeon who would fight passionately for what his clients needed. He was an innovator who kept on top of the latest digital technology and was always looking for a newer, less-expensive way to make things work for filmmakers.

“There are very few folks that I can say had they not been around, the face of New York film would have been a lot different,” Hope says. “But I can certainly say that about Bill.”

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