Backstage Interview: Sound Mixing

Q. How does it feel being part of the MAD MAX family with this run that you guys are having tonight?

A. (Chris Jenkins)  Go, Ben.  This is Australia.

A. (Ben Osmo)  It’s unbelievable.  I mean, so many of us from Australia are just totally thrilled, Angela.  We are over the moon really and just so proud to be a part of it with George and Doug ‑‑ George Miller and Doug Mitchell.  I’ve been with them for a long time, made a lot of films with them.  This is my first Academy Awards, and I’m just so stoked.  Thank you.

A. (Chris Jenkins)  We were talking earlier today just saying that tomorrow is going to be kind of a sad day because we have been together with this crew for so long, and that everyone gets along just, you know, unbelievably well, and tomorrow, everybody goes their own separate ways.  So to have it all run like this tonight is just spectacularly lucky.  So, thank you.

Q. Your colleagues in the sound department just talked about how not much of the location sound was usable in designing the aural landscapes, and so ‑‑

A. (Ben Osmo)  Yeah.  Thanks a lot, guys.

Q. No, but can you expand on what you were able to capture with all these noise and machines and how you did that?

A. (Ben Osmo)  Yeah.  It was ‑‑ it was ‑‑ it was quite a challenge.  Now, the main synopsis was that the main cast, seven or eight of them, are going to be in a metal cage.  There were going to be three or four cameras around it, or no cameras and a remote vehicle.  The Edge Arm was going to go from like 2 centimeters in the ground traveling behind a vehicle at 80, 90 kilometers an hour in the off road, and then tracking right around the back to do a close‑up with dialogue; and nobody else was going to be there, and how are you going to do it?  And so, the thing was that it ‑‑ the vehicles were noisy.  You know, there was no way out of it.  But George had to have to listen to the performances and make decisions in whether he got the takes or not.  We knew very early on that it was going to be ADR dialogue, but at the same time I gave George a mix of the dialogue.  I was doing multitrack recordings of the vehicles that these guys were able to mix into it and also enhanced by the amazing editors that were before us.  And, also, there were ‑‑ John Seale was in the land of nowhere, the cinematographer, crouched down with all his other camera guys, and he couldn’t hear a thing.  So we were so far away from all the walkie‑talkie towers and all that kind of stuff; and PJ, the associate producer and first AD said, “How are we going to do this?  Can you help us out?”  So with the normal sound equipment that we’ve got on set, I set up a whole communication system so George and another vehicle could talk to John Seale.  John had a mic, he could talk back to him.  And so they ‑‑ we were able to make the film basically, because it was ‑‑ it was impossible to hear each other otherwise.  So it was just another facet of what we had to do.  Also, we had another guy recording vehicle sounds the last few weeks in Namibia, Oliver Machin, and he did a great job.  So all those tracks together were, you know, part of the film.

Q. My question kind of piggybacks off your answer to that one.  Knowing ‑‑ did you know much in advance that the sound was going to be captured in the way that it was, and what inspires you to jump on board a picture like this with so many sound challenges?

A. (Ben Osmo)  Well, I’ve been working with George and Doug Mitchell since 1987, and they’ve always given me a challenge; and I was just happy to do it, you know.  I’ve always loved working with those people, and they are very inspirational.  But, yeah, you can’t be scared of something that’s going to be difficult; but that’s the way I approach life anyway.

A. (Gregg Rudloff)  For us, Chris and I on the rerecording side, working with George not only him recognizing but embracing our passion for the use of sound in storytelling, and we ‑‑ that’s what we live for.  That’s what ‑‑ that’s what gives us our fix; and recognizing that in George and going through the whole process with George on that was, you know, what it was for us.

Q. So going back to the aspect of technical challenges, was this the most challenging film you’ve edited, and did you know at the time that it was going to be this successful?  I don’t think anyone could have predicted that.

A. (Gregg Rudloff)  One slight correction:  We mixed it, but no worries.  When we were first shown an early version of the film, we understood what we were in for.  So it’s ‑‑ it’s all part of what we do.  It’s what we embrace, we thrive on that situation, so ‑‑

A. (Chris Jenkins)  And it was ‑‑ technically it was extremely challenging, and it wasn’t always ‑‑ we weren’t always successful with it.  It took a long time to get it right.  And it took getting ‑‑ when we started, George was still finding the cut, and finding the whole meter of the movie with Margaret and Junkie XL, who is our composer who is not here tonight who we love dearly for his work.  But the movie found itself; and even late in the game, there was questions whether the movie was too strange or too off‑putting to audiences, and it really wasn’t at all.  And there was a lot of talk about, should we take some of the things out of it that we really loved, which were kind of legacy MAD MAX things?  And those are the ‑‑ you know, that’s what made it individual.  That’s what it made it stand out.  And to George’s credit I think this made a lot of filmmakers, ourselves included, take bigger risks, because not only do people recognize that George at 71 years old spent 10 years making this astonishingly crafted movie, but he made all of us rise up to it and do our best work, and he allowed us to do it, and it doesn’t always happen.  A lot of times we are just a pair of hands to ‑‑ you know, to help somebody else’s voice.  In this case, it wasn’t always successful, and we found it.  We found a way to make it successful, and we did it together.  So it was really ‑‑ it was really great, but it was not ‑‑ for a long time, it wasn’t a successful movie, and it found its place, and it’s found its heart and its soul, and it found its audience and critics.  So, it’s a very special experience for us.  Thank you for asking.

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