Oscars: 'Hacksaw Ridge' Sound Editor on Making Audiences "Feel the Terror of War"

"It was about creating the threat of the battle," says Robert Mackenzie as he and other nominees from 'Arrival' to 'La La Land' spill secrets about their craft.
Mark Rogers/Summit Entertainment
'Hacksaw Ridge'

Arrival
Sylvain Bellemare

The alien heptapod vocals were made up of various sounds that included bird songs, a Maori flute, camels and other animals — and even the voice of one member of the sound team — all together "producing a melody," says Bellemare.

Deepwater Horizon
Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli

The soundscape had to put viewers on the rig with "documentary-like immersion," says Stateman, allowing them to "witness life associated with offshore oil exploration work with all of its technical, noisy, messy and yet highly coordinated activity while also evoking a sense of lurking danger from the environment."

Hacksaw Ridge
Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright

"It was about creating the threat of the battle. It's an antiwar film, so we wanted to put the audience in the battle to feel the terror of the war," says Mackenzie. "We wanted to keep it as realistic as possible to the Battle of Okinawa — the 'typhoon of steel' — so we used a lot of metal sounds."

La La Land
Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou

"The traffic jam — the city sound, radio music, horns. Most of it, we recorded on the backlot. I also recorded some traffic jams in New York," reveals Lee.

Sully
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Because the goal was to be as accurate to the real-life plane crash as possible, says Murray, "We had to do the bird strikes, engines blowing, alarms. It was all structured on our interview with Capt. Sully, and we had the cockpit transcripts, which were broken down by seconds."

This story first appeared in the Feb. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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