“There is nothing more fun to do at five o’clock in the morning,” laughs sound mixer Tom Ozanich about the excitement he and his fellow nominees felt on the morning of the Oscar nominations announcement, where their film “Joker” led the pack with an impressive 11 nominations, including for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.
Ozanich is joined by fellow nominee Dean Zupancic who were both nominated for the second year in a row for sound mixing (after ‘A Star is Born’ last year) and who share the nomination with team member Tod Maitland. They are also joined by nominee Alan Robert Murray, who is nominated for the record tenth time for best Sound Mixing (winning twice for “Letters from Iwo Jima” in 2005 and “American Sniper” in 2014). Watch our exclusive video interview with Murray, Ozanich and Zupancic above.
For the sound technicians working on Phillip’s dark DC Comics’ super villain origin story, the challenge was to immerse the audience in the world of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), who we follow on his journey from mentally unstable outsider to the menacing Joker. What was particularly important for the team was having the soundscape of the film transition back and forth as the story shifts between reality and the world inside Fleck’s head. “It’s a very tricky thing to pull off,” Ozanich admits about “doing this dance between reality and his head.”
“We are really trying to put the audience in that location, in that spot,” Ozanich adds. “The world that Arthur lives in is really critical to understanding his character. We needed to sit in that space and feel the oppression of Gotham around him and the ugly world that he lives in.” Zupancic agrees, adding that “when Arthur starts to descend, the sound is visceral and you’re on the ride with him all the way through.” For Murray, he needed to ensure that his editing and effects were consistent with what the mixing team were doing. “We are staying at a low level to start the scene and the sound effects would reflect what was going on with Arthur and the world he was in and depending on what Arthur’s conflicts were the sound would get more brazen or more sinister,” he explains. “It was building everything like a symphony.”
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