There’s an exceptional level of craftsmanship among this year’s nominees for the Cinema Audio Society Awards, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments in sound mixing, a collaborative discipline that requires sound editors, re-recording mixers, Foley and ADR artistry to work together to create a harmonious finished product.
The categories considered are: live action, animated and documentary features, one-hour and half-hour small-screen shows, TV movie or limited series, television non-fiction, variety or music series or specials and post-production. “Ford v Ferrari” director James Mangold will be the honored filmmaker and Tom Fleischman, part of the CAS nominated team on “The Irishman,” will receive the org’s career achievement award at the ceremony.
This year’s live-action CAS nominees span a wide range, from “Ford v Ferrari,” “Joker,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to “Rocketman,” in addition to “The Irishman.” “Ford,” “Joker” and “Once” also landed Academy Award nominations for
“This year’s theme is clearly diversity of content,” says Karol Urban, VP of CAS. “Our honored filmmaker, our career achievement award recipient, and our nominees this year display an impressive colorful tapestry of incredibly rich genres, styles, and techniques that all exemplify impactful and engaging sound. This year is truly a celebration of the power sound has to emote the narrative.”
Fleischman says Scorsese’s main objective for “The Irishman” was to quiet the sound so viewers didn’t get distracted from the performances. “He wanted to keep the quiet scenes as intimate and keep those performances as pure as possible because that’s where the heart of the scene is,” says Fleischman, whose collaborations with Martin Scorsese date back to their New York U. days.
The film’s editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, often pushed the sound team on keeping scenes quiet. “It was the tricky thing to get right,” Fleischman admits. “We didn’t want to affect the quality of the voices.”
Silence was also key to CAS nominee “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” While music is a key part of its emotional thread overall, the scene in which Cliff (Brad Pitt) visits the Manson family at the Spahn Ranch lacks music accompaniment. Wylie Stateman, who worked as a sound designer on the film, explains he opted for a twisted approach when it came to incorporating sound. It’s not until the end of that sequence as Cliff is navigating his exit that music is reintroduced.
“That scene has no music until the final moment when he’s driving off and you hear the radio announcement: ‘5 o’clock in Los Angeles, and we’re back to KHJ Radio,’ ” he says.
Taron Egerton rerecorded his “Rocketman” vocals in post, and in the “Crocodile Rock” sequence, supervising sound editor Danny Sheehan worked with the sound mixing team. In production audio, they lifted out the nervous breathy tics from Egerton’s live rendition and mixed them into the redub.
The challenge for nominee “Russian Doll,” meanwhile, was developing a soundscape about repetition. Rerecording mixer Lewis Goldstein’s goal was to change Nadia’s (Natasha Lyonne) world slightly from episode to episode. “These subtle changes in the world she’s stuck in help heighten her anxiety of what’s to come,” he says.
Michael Rayle, who served as production mixer on nominee “Stranger Things,” says the season’s key sequence involved Dustin and Suzie singing “The NeverEnding Story.”
He and the Duffer brothers, showrunners on the period Netflix series, “knew this scene would be tricky, so we developed a plan to put the two actors in different rooms in real time, wearing earwigs of the music track being fed into their ears as well as each other’s vocals by way of their lavalier mics.”
The idea, he explains, was to make the scene feel natural and organic.
For a full list of nominees, go to cinemaaudiosociety.org.