Oscar-Winning Sound Mixer Donald O. Mitchell Honored at Awards Dinner

The rerecording mixer won an Academy Award for "Glory" and received nominations for films including "The Paper Chase," "Raging Bull" and "Top Gun."
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Donald O. Mitchell

Citing the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros. Studios, producer Peter Macgregor-Scott said, “If Clint Eastwood can have a have one, then Donald Mitchell should have a dubbing room -- the Mitchell Room.”

Macgregor-Scott co-produced The Fugitive -- a film that earned rerecording mixer Mitchell one of his 14 Oscar nominations for best sound. Mitchell won an Academy Award for Glory and received nominations for films including The Paper Chase, Raging Bull and Top Gun.

The producer made his comments Saturday night at the Sheraton Universal Hotel for the Motion Picture Editors Guild Fellowship & Service Award dinner, where colleagues, friends and industry leaders honored Mitchell.

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Macgregor-Scott presented Mitchell with the award. Onstage, he also read a letter from The Fugitive director Andrew Davis, who called Mitchell “a legend among those who really understand sound.”

A video tribute included Mitchell’s film work as well as his industry service. During his career, Mitchell served three terms on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors, and, with sound editor Kay Rose, is credited with successfully advocating to keep sound editing and mixing awards as part of the televised Academy Awards when there was a proposal to move them to the non-televised Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony. This part of the video received loud applause.

Of the decision to keep sound in the Oscar telecast, Mitchell told The Hollywood Reporter, it was “well deserved; if you don't have a soundtrack, you don't have a movie.”

With the sound of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity generating so much attention this weekend, THR asked him if he had seen the film. “I haven’t yet,” he responded. “But it's nice to see sound being recognized. It kind of falls under the radar, but that’s how it should be — because if you don’t know it’s there, then it’s done just right.”

Accepting the award after a standing ovation, Mitchell said he “owed his career” to three “giants of our industry:” the late Burt Wilks, who ran the sound department at Fox; Don Rogers, to whom Mitchell reported at Fox; and the late John Bonner, head sound engineer at Fox (and for whom AMPAS’ John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation was named.) “They protected me,” he said.

E-mail: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA