Supervising sound editor Ethan Van der Ryn describes “A Quiet Place” as the “toughest sound design job we’ve ever tackled, because sound is so critical in every single scene.” Directed by John Krasinski, this Paramount release imagines a post-apocalyptic world in which a family (led by Krasinski and Emily Blunt) must live in silence to hide from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. Watch our exclusive video interview with Van der Ryn and fellow supervising sound editor Erik Aadahl above.
“Sound is really the central driver of the narrative,” explains Van der Ryn. The movie establishes “this world where making too much sound can get you killed.” So in their work the duo had to explore “all different layers and degrees of quiet.” He adds, “It’s really a film that’s full of sound. It’s just used in ways that moviegoers aren’t used to hearing.”
Many people have described it as “a silent movie,” Aadahl reveals, so they assume the work “must be easy.” However, that was far from true. “I think sometimes there’s a misperception when there’s not a lot of dialogue, people just associate that with silent films. But it’s actually quite the opposite.” Though many moments are quiet, “there’s only three moments in the film where we do go absolutely silent,” all of which are from the perspective of the couple’s deaf daughter (Millicent Simmonds).
Almost everything else, Aadahl explains, is “shades of quiet between nature sounds.” And it’s not just whispers and tip toes. “We do, in fact, get pretty big in places, and that’s when the danger strikes. I think of all the films we’ve ever done, there’s probably the most dynamic contrast, which made this a thrilling nut to crack.”
Aadahl and Van der Ryn were Oscar nominees together for their work on “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011) and “Argo” (2012). Before that Van der Ryn won Best Sound Editing for “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (2002) and “King Kong” (2005) and was nominated once more for “Transformers” (2007). The pair also recently won a Hollywood Film Award for “A Quiet Place.”
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