Sound designer, editor, and re-recording mixer Julian Slater describes the work that he and his “Baby Driver” colleagues did as “something that was quite special.” But he “never really appreciated that other people would understand what went into it and would pick up on all the kind of sound things that we did.” The academy certainly picked up on it, and rewarded Slater with Oscar nominations for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Watch our exclusive video interview with Slater above.
Written and directed by Edgar Wright, the film stars Ansel Elgort as a young getaway driver named Baby who always needs to play the right tunes when he’s behind the wheel after a heist. In order to match the music with everything else in the movie, veteran sound man Slater had to make sure that the “multitude of elements” were not only “musical,” but also “believable and cinematic.” One example of this was a shootout set to the Button Down Brass cover of “Tequila.” “Gunshots that work with the drumbeats of ‘Tequila’ may sound great musically,” he explains, “but they don’t necessarily work cinematically.” So there was a give-and-take to make everything meld with the score.
Slater also had to figure out a way to convey Baby’s tinnitus, the ringing in his ears that happens anytime music isn’t playing, without “alienating the audience.” Ultimately “we came up with a range of different varieties” to pull this off. “The tonal sound, by and large, is in the pitch of either the outgoing piece of music or the next in-going piece of music. So the pitch of that varies” to create a seamless transition.
Prior to his Academy Award bids, Slater competed at the Emmys for his work on “Animal Farm” in 2000 and “Tsunami: The Aftermath” in 2007. Among the laurels he’s received for “Baby Driver” include nominations at the BAFTAs, the Cinema Audio Society Awards, and the Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards. Can he add an Oscar or two to his mantel?
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