You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Hate U Give’ Sound Crew Created Aural Realism to Support a Tragic Tale

When BAFTA-winning sound editing supervisor Don Sylvester (“Walk the Line”), Oscar-winning re-recording mixer Andy Nelson (“Les Miserables”) and Oscar-nominated re-recording mixer David Giammarco (“Moneyball”) began collaborating with director George Tillman Jr. (“Soul Food”) on Fox’s recently released “The Hate U Give,” they all set out to carefully craft a soundscape that was both naturalistic and realistic.

“George didn’t want a heavy-handed approach or to point fingers,” says Sylvester of the ripped-from-the-headlines story, a work of fiction based on the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller of the same name by Angie Thomas.

The film stars Amandla Stenberg (pictured) as Starr, a young woman who witnesses the racially charged, fatal shooting of her childhood best friend by a police officer. “It tells the story from Starr’s limited point of view, so it’s often very subjective, and we wanted to pay homage to all the similar events happening in the real world and on the news all the time.”

With that in mind, Tillman referenced “a lot of recent events and shootings that he’d researched on YouTube,” adds Sylvester. “He wanted us to study them and then recreate them, sonically and visually, as if we were witnesses to what’s taking place. So the approach was to avoid being ‘too Hollywood’ and over-the-top with the audio.”

Sylvester gradually assembled “the real sounds you’d hear in a riot, or in a fatal confrontation with an officer,” he says. The riot chants, he adds, “are the real thing – not hyperbole. We consulted with activists to make sure it was all legit and accurate. We didn’t want to present the cops as thuggish or the rioters as bad people. But we had to keep reminding ourselves that we weren’t trying to sell an idea or keep pushing buttons, but ultimately present a personal journey.”

The team did all the mixing on the Howard Hawks stage on the Fox lot. “George really wanted the sound to set in place the feel of all the different environments,” says Giammarco. “Starr [lives in] two distinct worlds, so we used sound to create and then differentiate those. And he wanted to keep reality in place, but also play with reality and then pull away from it by using sound and music to get into her emotional, inner world.”

As Sylvester and his team compiled sound effects and turned them over to the picture editors as they were cutting, Nelson and Giammarco began to do an initial temp mix for a preview. “That gave us a sense of how it’d play with an audience, and we then could explore more ideas and get the sound exactly right for key scenes like the riot,” he explains. “So that process set a template for us, and by the time we got to the final mix, which took about three weeks, we had the time to really refine all of the ideas.”

Tillman was “very involved” during the final mix, “along with the picture editors,” he says. “It was a very collaborative, rewarding project.”

More Artisans

  • Les Miserables BBC

    BBC's 'Les Miserables' Recreates the Dark World of Victor Hugo's Novel

    Director Tom Shankland didn’t want his “Les Miserables” to be anything like the stage-musical version of Victor Hugo’s sweeping historical novel, nor like the 2012 Tom Hooper feature-film musical.  For the BBC limited series — a drama starring Olivia Colman, Lily Collins, David Oyelowo and Dominic West, which aired the first of its six episodes in [...]

  • Marsai Martin Little Movie

    How the 'Little' Production Team Created Look of Marsai Martin-Regina Hall Comedy

    What if you could return to a time in your childhood and relive your life from that point knowing what you know now? That’s the fantasy at the core of Universal’s “Little,” released April 12, in which Regina Hall’s Jordan Sanders, a character overwhelmed by the pressures of adulthood, gets the chance to relive the [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8 BTS

    How 'Game of Thrones'' Locations Have Expanded With the Series

    When the eighth and final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” debuts on April 14, the show’s millions of followers will once again be transported to the exotic lands and sweeping landscapes where the saga is set. From King’s Landing to The Wall, stunning locations have been woven into the fabric of “Thrones” since its [...]

  • In The Dark CW

    How 'In the Dark' Trained a Regular Dog to Act as a Guide Dog

    There used to be an adage in show business about never working with animals or children, but for Violetta Hessing, there’s nothing more fulfilling than finding a dog that wants to be on set and training it to deliver just as much emotion as its human scene partners. Hessing owns and is the head trainer [...]

  • Ryan Higa Youtube Star

    YouTube Star Ryan Higa Shows the Way to Maintain Independence With DIY Studio

    Hollywood creatives have always dreamed of having total control of their work. For most of them, it has been just that: a dream.  But that doesn’t hold true for a new breed of content creators: YouTube influencers. These individuals, with no corporate boss to answer to, and whose work is growing in scope and impact, [...]

  • Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell organize

    Glitz, Old-West Grit and 15% Transferrable Tax Credit Pull Films to Nevada

    The Las Vegas strip with its glamourous casinos, spectacular shows and throngs of merrymaking tourists is iconic in the American imagination. But there is more in Las Vegas – and in Nevada – for producers. Filmmakers who travel to the state will find locations that include stunning rock formations, abandoned mining towns and motels that [...]

  • Killing Eve

    'Killing Eve' Costumes Get Creative Twists in Season 2

    Jodie Comer’s Villanelle astounded audiences with stunning designer clothing throughout Season 1 of BBC America’s breakthrough spy series “Killing Eve.” Who can forget the sight of her in that poofy pink Molly Goddard dress she wore to a therapy session, of all places? But the international assassin with a penchant for high fashion is on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content