Two Academy Award Shortlists, a Grammy Nomination, and Year End Award Roundup
In December the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences released the 92nd Oscar shortlists, and both American Factory and Fire in Paradise made the cut. American Factory was shortlisted in the Documentary Feature category, while Fire in Paradise was shortlisted in the Documentary Short Subject category.
American Factory also picked up an Independent Spirit Award nomination, five Cinema Eye nominations (including Original Music Score), as well as winning a Gotham Award, an IDA Award, two Critics Choice Documentary Awards. The film was also chosen as Best Documentary by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, as well as by the Toronto Film Critics Association.
Two Films In Sundance, and One in Slamdance
In Park City festival news, I’m delighted to announce that Feels Good Man will be having its premiere In-Competition at Sundance in January. This stylized documentary follows Pepe the Frog’s journey from an indie cartoon character to alt-right hate symbol, and its creator’s quest to reclaim it back. The soundscape is weird and wild and bouncing from all the walls as we travel across creative tapestries of the indie art scene as well as through the dark underbelly of the modern internet. Directed by Arthur Jones, I can’t wait for the world to be able to experience this film.
Also playing at Sundance will be the North American premiere of Max Richter’s Sleep. This documentary dives into the spaces between consciousness and dreams as we follow renowned composer Max Richter as he conducts an outdoor performance of his Sleep opus, an 8-hour mesmerizing lullaby is intended to be absorbed throughout the night. Weaving nocturnal cityscapes and the sound of dreams within and around Max’s music, this film was beautiful to mix and I’m excited for audiences to see it at Sundance after its World Premiere at IDFA in November. Directed by Natalie Johns.
Also playing in Park City, Jasper Mall will make its premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. Lyrically chronicling a year in the life of a dying mall in Jasper, Alabama, we experience the realities of the mega mall culture in today’s internet age. Filled with sounds of quiet emptiness and nostalgic sadness, this film was lovingly crafted by co-directors Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb and it was amazing to work on the sound edit and mix of this quietly beautiful portrait.
DOC NYC 40-Under-40 Selection
It was a tremendous honor to be selected for the 2019 Doc NYC 40-Under-40 list, and I want to thank everyone that helped make that happen. It was really moving to be surrounded by such incredible documentary filmmakers (many of whom I’ve had the joy of collaborating with in the past!), and it meant a lot to me to be the first (of hopefully many) sound artists selected. Post production sound isn’t something that gets a spotlight shown on it very often, and to be included on a list like this was humbling, and I’d like to thank Doc NYC for recognizing the artistic contributions sound designers and mixers make in the documentary genre. I’m very proud of my body of work over the last ten years since founding my freelance studio, and all the wonderful people I have collaborated with and who have supported me along the way, and I look forward to what the next ten years and beyond will be like.
Festival And News Roundup
Feather & Pine had its USA premiere at the Tulsa American Film Festival, where it also won the award for Best Cinematography. Chronicling the life of a small lumber town in the Sierras over many years, it’s a beautiful verite portrait of a unique place in the mountains. Directed by Star Rosencrans.
The Seer and the Unseen continues its festival run, winning Best Foreign Documentary at the Oslo Independent Film Festival, Best Environmental Film at the Echo Mountain Film Festival, and playing at Doc NYC, RIDM, Leeds, and I had the joy of traveling back to Iceland exactly one year after last recording the film’s custom sound libraries out there to attend the Icelandic premiere at the Reykjavik Film Festival.
Meanwhile Fire in Paradise won the Audience Award at the Hamptons Film Festival, and debuted on Netflix to strong reviews. Indiewire also listed it as one of the hopeful frontrunners for the 2020 Oscar Documentary Short category.
And in other fiery-titled film news, Fire on the Hill won Best Documentary Feature at the Portland Film Festival, as well as the Jimmy Stewart Legacy Award at the Heartland Film Festival.
And last but not least, this year’s absurdly fun Netflix documentary The Legend of Cocaine Island is going to be remade into a fiction film starring Will Ferrell. I loved working on the documentary and I can’t wait to see its larger than life story portrayed in this new version. I loved watching the TV show G.L.O.W. after working on The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling documentary, and I look forward to this new Cocaine Island adaptation as well!
End of Year Closing Thoughts
2019 was a busy year, even by my normally work-crazy standards. As I look back on it I start to feel the full scope of everything that was accomplished, in addition to the weight of the many sleepless nights. I feel proud of all the projects I was able to be a part of, and the soundscapes I was able to create with the help of some truly wonderful teammates and collaborators. And of course all the directors, editors and composers that made such wonderful and loving company as we twisted and turned and crafted our ways through creative deadlines. Every film or TV series has its own little family, and its own little world that is born out of the process, and I’m so happy to have been included in so many utterly unique and special ones this year. To the people in my own real world, I’m sorry I was so absent for so much of 2019, I know there were times when I might have gotten a little too lost in the captivating haze of sounds and storytelling and the isolating walls of the studio or the seemingly unforgiving pits of deadlines and due dates. One of my goals in 2020 is to be able to balance my real outside life with my wonderful inside the spaceship creative life. Overall though I am beyond happy with all the amazing and varied sounds that were created this year. From the magic of single blades of grass gently shifting in the Icelandic wind, to the cacophony of broken glass infinitely cascading from an Ohio factory, to enormous and angry crowds of state champion wrestling matches, nocturnal serenades swaying between Max Richter’s notes, or subliminally curling ocean waves over David Lynch’s musings on inspiration, I am forever in love with the diverse nature of the creative projects and sonic wavelengths that come across my doorstep. A huge thank you to all the wonderful dialogue editors, sound editors and mixers I’ve had the joy of working with this year, both in the studio here in LA as well as the amazing folk up north at Skywalker, you have all lifted the work up beyond anything I could have ever imagined on my own. As the calendar draws close on 2019 and the air grows a little more still, and a little more chill, I turn eager and excited eyes and ears to what adventures the new year will bring. Lots of love to you all, from my creative spaceship studio and my silly little heart.