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Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star Is Born, has scored eight Oscar nominations, including one for sound mixer Steve Morrow, who was previously nominated in 2017 for his work on Damien Chazelle’s La La Land.
Morrow sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the challenges he faced while creating the sound in the concert film, including having the film’s stars singing live on set.
“The first conversation I had with [Bradley] was at his house. We were talking about the process of making the film, that Lady Gaga wanted to sing everything live, and he wanted to attempt to sing everything live as well. And I think it’s one of those challenges that on the technical side is just incredibly difficult to do, so it was kind of, ‘How do we accomplish this in the way that it’s going to serve the film better?'” he said.
The Oscar-nominated sound mixer went on to explain the process of creating the live-concert experience on film in front of an audience, all while avoiding having Lady Gaga’s exclusive music leak into the world.
“Original thought was we would play it out loud and record it like a concert and have the vocals live. But then quickly we all decided that this music is going to leak a year and half in advance because these aren’t just actors creating something. This is Lady Gaga, one of the biggest pop stars in the world, so she’s going to have all these new songs, and people are going to want to hear them, so how do we protect that?” he said.
The solution required Morrow to record the instrumentation in playback and have it play in Cooper’s and Gaga’s ear pieces as they sang a capella onstage.
He continued: “We put it all in her ears, and when you’re on set with them, they’re basically signing a capella into a microphone that’s not amplified to the crowd. The crowds are able to cheer and get excited, but they’re not really hearing the songs, so it was that process of capturing all that but keeping it really quiet on set and expanding it in postproduction, which is what the post mixers did and really put you in the concert.”
Watch the video above to hear Morrow also discuss his favorite scene in the film, working with Cooper and his reaction to Cooper’s best director snub in the video above.
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