End of Year Awards: Two Academy Awards Shortlists, Three Independent Spirit Award Nominations, 14 Cinema Eye Honors, and many more

2018 has been an incredible year, and it’s looking to end on a wonderful note with many films I’ve mixed being honored or nominated for awards.

On Her Shoulders and Shirkers were both shortlisted for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards. It’s a tremendous honor to have two films I mixed make the 15 of the Academy shortlist.

Both of those films were also nominated for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards, and On Her Shoulders also picked up a second Spirit Award nomination in the Truer Than Fiction category.

Meanwhile for the Cinema Eye Honors Bisbee ’17 received 5 nominations for Outstanding Achievement for Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking, Direction, Production, Cinematography, and Score.

Shirkers also received 5 Cinema Eye nominations, for Outstanding Achievement in Direction, Graphic Design, Debut Feature Film, Score, and the Audience Choice Prize. It was also honored in the Unforgettables Category.

On Her Shoulders was nominated for the Audience Choice Prize, and was also honored in the Unforgettables Category.

And Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Film for Broadcast.

As for other awards, On Her Shoulders was presented with the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review.

Bisbee ’17 won the International Documentary Association Award for Best Score.

Shirkers won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Documentary.

Both Bisbee ’17 and Shirkers were Gotham Award nominees for Best Documentary.

On Her Shoulders and Shirkers also made the Doc NYC Short List. And Bisbee ’17, Shirkers, and Footprint all made the IDA Shortlist.

On Her Shoulders also won the Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award honoring outstanding audiovisual reporting.

Also I think it is very important to include that Nadia Murad, the central subject of On Her Shoulders, won a Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against sexual violence, which is incredible and a testament to her dedication and courage.




American Factory to Premiere at Sundance

I am extremely proud and excited to be working on Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert’s upcoming feature documentary American Factory, which will have its World Premiere in-competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. I love this film, and its detailed sonic landscape (of which I got to visit and spend time sound library recording in earlier in the year), and I’m very proud to be able to return to Sundance with my 9th project in my 5th consecutive year. I can’t wait to share more about it over the upcoming weeks and months ahead!


Fire on the Hill Debuts at the LA Film Festival, Wins Jury Award

Meanwhile, back in September another one of my documentary sound design and mix features Fire on the Hill premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where it took home the LA Muse Jury Award.

The film then followed up its premiere with festival showings at Doc NYC.

The film follows a trio of African American cowboys and rodeo riders from Compton, California, and was filled with cinematic opportunities for sound design and thrilling mixing. A teaser trailer can be found here.


Short Films, Ad work, and Other News

The short film Footprint was released as a New York Times Op-Doc. This observational portrait of remembrance at the World Trade Center memorial site was published on the platform the week of the 9/11 anniversary, and alongside it the director Sara Newens wrote a beautiful statement.

White Tide was purchased by Netflix after its Tribeca premiere, and had its title changed to The Legend of Cocaine Island. It will release sometime in early 2019, and I can’t wait for everyone to be able to see this larger than life and stranger than fiction documentary caper film!

Brent Spiner (famously known as Data from Star Trek the Next Generation) came into the studio to record all the singing and vocals for his comedic short film Brentwood, which was a blast. The film also stars LeVar Burton and Doug Benson.

The Timex ‘Take Time’ ad campaign I sound edited and mixed last year won a Telly Award!

I traveled to the University of Missouri to guest lecture about documentary sound at the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism which was so meaningful to do for the third straight year.

I also had the pleasure to travel to Iceland to record wind, weather, and surround sounds of Icelandic nature for my work on the upcoming film The Seer and the Unseen. We’ll be mixing in the new year, and it’s going to be a sensory-filled documentary tale about the invisible currents that can alter our lives.


End of Year Wrap Up, Best-Of Lists

And last but not least, because it’s the season for them, there are tons of year-end best-of lists featuring films I’ve mixed, which brings me a smile that so many projects have been resonating so strongly with critics and audiences.

On Her Shoulders, Bisbee ’17 and Shirkers all made the New York Times Critics Picks List, and all three also appeared on Vulture’s Top 10 Documentaries of 2018.

Bisbee and Shirkers are also included in the New Yorker’s Best Movies of 2018 list, Time Out’s Best Films of 2018 listRolling Stone’s Top 10 Documentaries of 2018, Paste Magazine’s 10 Best Documentaries of 2018, The Film Stage’s Best Documentaries of 2018 and Vox’s 11 Best Documentaries of 2018.

Bisbee also was featured by AO Scott and the NYT as a tie for #1 Best Movie of the Year, was on The Hollywood Reporter’s Best Documentaries of 2018Esquire’s Best Documentaries of 2018 list, Slant Magazine’s 25 Best Films of 2018, and was an honorable mention in the LA Times Best Movies of 2018.

Meanwhile Shirkers was listed in the top 20 for the LA Times Best Movies, Roger Ebert’s 10 Best Films of 2018, BFI’s Best Films of the Year, Vulture’s Best Movies of the Year, Monica Castillo’s Top Ten Films of 2018, the AV Club’s Best Films of 2018, is ranked #2 in the Wrap’s 11 Best Documentaries of 2018 and #6 overall in Rotten Tomatoes nearly 200-long Best Movies of 2018.


Final Holiday Thoughts 

As I mentioned at the top, this has been a wonderful year for the studio. It started with a bang having three features I sound edited and mixed premiere at Sundance, and continued strong all the way through. I worked on new features that I loved, TV documentaries, short films and ad work that kept me busy the whole year through. I got to work with new and returning sound editors and collaborate in my multiple studio rooms here in downtown Los Angeles. I was able to travel for film festivals and recording project trips and guest lecturing which my heart always yearns for. I’m still trying to figure out when to sleep, I haven’t mastered the art of taking time off yet, but I always count my blessings that so many wonderful and creative audio projects are crossing my doorstep. As my studio grows (not in terms of number of rooms again this year, but in terms of plugins, posters and TV screen sizes at least for sure!) I look forward to what 2019 will bring, and already there are interesting and exciting projects upon the horizon. I feel every independent freelance year has gotten better and better, but 2018 was a rocket leap forward, and I look forward to the challenge of trying to top it in 2019. I love everyone that has helped me get to where I am in my career, and the ever growing mass of compadres, collaborators, film family and loved ones that help keep me standing. There are few greater pleasures than being able to make meaningful art, and I thank everyone that has let me be a part of their films and their stories. Happy Winter Holidays and cheers to a New Year everyone 🙂

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