92nd Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: SOUND EDITING

SPEECH BY: Donald Sylvester


Download Video


Q. Congratulations.
A. Thank you.

Q. We were just talking the other night, everybody was speculating who would win.
A. We were speculating, exactly.

Q. How does it feel to have this kind of recognition?
A. Well, it's pretty overwhelming. If you look at the Oscars for year after year on television and -- and you wonder if you'll ever be there and you think, probably not. My daughter, when she was in third grade said, "Dad, why don't you ever win Oscars?" And I go, "Honey, I just did a Garfield movie." So, but things are different now. So I'm very -- I'm very happy. Am I supposed to -- am I in charge? Am I supposed to do that?
A. 29 needs a microphone. I know that because I am in sound.

Q. My husband and I loved the movie. He decided he should race right after we watched it.
A. Yeah, I've heard that.

Q. I mean, obviously sound is a massive part of it, so what was the challenge? I read in an article that finding that specific --
A. Yes.

Q. -- car sound was one of it. But can you expand on that?
A. Well, there was a real challenge of finding a very -- I wanted to have the cars be as loud as they really are in real life. If you're standing next to a 747, for example, it's like standing next to a GT40. But there was the problem that you can't blow people away in the theater, so there was this give and take about having loud cars -- having loud races and then not blowing people away. I mean, we've got a 25-minute race at the end of the film. So that was pretty much a challenge, but
-- and I give all of that to my mixers who did not win tonight but they should have because they balanced it in a way that it was completely palatable, you didn't get your head blown off. There were even people sitting in the front row I saw at some Q&A, and they -- I, like, "How's your head?" They go, like, "It's okay." So that was the challenge.

Q. Could you elaborate on your collaboration with the team because that's something you've been talking about all season, Jim and the sound mixers and the whole team?
A. Well, the funny thing is that when we got Dave Giammarco on the editing side, he's also a mixer, so it was my clever plan to get a mixer involved early so that when we moved forward we would always have something that's been premixed already. As she said it, you know, "How do -- how do you keep the sound from blowing you away?" By having a mixing on the editing  team. And also, I've worked with James Mangold and -- and the picture editors Michael McCusker, I've worked with them for 15 years.  And so we work in the same building right next to each other, and it's, like, every day we're sharing ideas and notes and things like that. And things don't happen, like, in a regular way. Jim will say, like, "Oh, I have an idea," boom, and we'll get the idea. And then Mike will say, "I have an idea," boom, and I'm right there. So if I were, like, across the street or down the block, it wouldn't have been that great, and I have a notebook that thick of my notes. So that's our collaboration. I mean, we always try to anticipate what each other wants, and that's good because we know each other pretty well after all these years.

Q. You talked about some of the challenges, but what was one of the most exciting sequences for you?
A. Well, when -- you know, we don't really know how it's going to be until we've put all the elements together. And I think the Daytona race was a real thrill to me and a big surprise, because Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders wrote music in the key of the engine, which I discussed with them, and I didn't think they were going to do it but they did. And there's points in the race where the music hits, like, it's sound effects and vice versa. So there's actually a moment in the end of the Daytona race where you actually can hear a chord of music and engine playing together. And for me, that -- when I discovered that, that was a big thrill.


These transcripts may not be reproduced except as brief quotes used in conjunction with news reporting about the 92nd Academy Awards®. All content Copyright 2020 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Oscar®," "Oscars®," "Academy Awards®," "Academy Award®," "A.M.P.A.S.®" and "Oscar Night®" are the trademarks, and the ©Oscar® statuette is the registered design mark and copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Additional information regarding the "Terms & Conditions of Use" and "Legal Regulations for Using Intellectual Properties of the Academy" may be accessed online at http://www.oscars.org/legal

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Communications Department
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
Phone (310) 247-3090
FAX (310) 271-3395