Wylie Stateman (‘The Queen’s Gambit’ sound designer): ‘It is an amazing palette’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“Chess isn’t normally what you would consider a sound orientated sport,” admits “The Queen’s Gambit” sound designer Wylie Stateman in our recent webchat. He continues, “Beth plays it in her head, against her own inner demons, set to period music. It is an amazing palette of stuff.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

The Netflix limited series tells the story of chess prodigy, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), during the Cold War. When playing chess, Beth escapes into a world where pieces move on the ceilings. The sound designer explains, “When you have this fantasy, where you can go inside somebody’s head, it’s a very sound reliant creative opportunity. For us, a lot of that was to be simple and sweep the audience along. It’s clever because it is often done with music and score and supplemental pieces of sound design.”

Stateman has received an Emmy nomination for Best Sound Editing for his work on “Gambit.” It’s his third nomination in the category after reaping bids for “Godless” (2018) and “Space” (1985). The nine-time Oscar nominee for Sound Editing is yet to garner a win for either industry reward.

He reveals, “It’s an amazing process, film making. It’s established in the writing, it’s re-written on the set, and then the final rewriting is in post-production. The timings are shorted and lengthened. The takes are selected and stitched together in a way that completely changes the time. Then sound really helps to heal the cuts and compel the story. It becomes a garnish for the experience but an important one. We are fixing in the final mix the relationship between the dialogue, the music and the sound effects. In some ways it’s a little technical and in many ways it’s very creative. And there are a lot of wonderful creative people that have been assembled to finish the project in terms of sound.”

Stateman reflects, “You don’t fall in love with a sound. The best you can hope for is to fall in love with the project, and “Queen’s Gambit” was a very rich environment in order to play in terms of sound.”

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