[WATCH] Jacob Ribicoff (‘Manchester by the Sea’) on creating ‘real life’ through sound design

During our recent webcam chat (watch above), Jacob Ribicoff, who served as the sound designer, sound editor, and re-recording mixer on Kenneth Lonergan‘s domestic drama “Manchester by the Sea,” explains that the challenges on a film like this are both, “the subtly and the decisions made as to what to hear when.” This Roadside Attractions release of an Amazon Studios production stars Casey Affleck as a man who is forced to confront his past when he returns to his hometown to care for his nephew (Lucas Hedges) following the sudden death of the boy’s father (Kyle Chandler).

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Ribicoff, an Emmy-winner for his work on Ken Burns‘ PBS documentary “The War” (2008), credits Lonergan for being, “so sure of when it was too much, when it was not enough, and when it was just right.” In creating a soundtrack that included dialogue, music, and foley effects, his job was, “to give him all of the options of what one might hear in any given environment,” and allow the director to pick-and-choose what he wanted.

Related: Watch our interview with Lucas Hedges (‘Manchester by the Sea’)

When looking at the film for the first time, he reveals, “I’m thinking, how do you want to tell your story, and where do you want to go? There are endless possibilities with sound. You could go way over the top or you could be very restrained. You could be very abstract and impressionistic, or you could be very literal.” It all starts with the director’s vision, and Lonergan, “was definitely more of a reality type person, but then you start to find out that every director that wants real life, that wants things to sound authentic, has a very specific idea of what real life is.”

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