Bobbi Banks interview: ‘Women of the Movement’ sound editor
“Women of the Movement” was an emotional experience for supervising sound editor Bobbi Banks “in quite a number of ways. Number-one is for me personally, as I’m an interracial person, when I was younger I actually saw the KKK burn a cross on our lawn. This was around 1960. So for me it was a real personal part of the story, and just to see how people have so much hatred, it’s just really hard to digest all the time.” We talked with Banks as part of our “Meet the Experts” TV sound editors and mixers panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Movement” takes place just a few years before the personal incident Banks remembers. In 1955 Emmett Till was kidnapped and lynched in Mississippi at the age of 14, sparking national outrage and spurring the Civil Rights Movement. But this ABC limited series approaches the story from the point of view of Emmett’s mother Mamie Till (played by Adrienne Warren). It also happens to be directed entirely by Black women, which “was just really powerful to me because we don’t get that opportunity all the time, and especially for us to kind of tell our own story.”
For the disturbing scene where Emmett is abducted from his uncle’s home in the middle of the night, “you want to try to create some tension with as little as possible. So there was a lot of wind that was used. We wanted to also focus on breathing because breathing also can bring tension. Footsteps walking from room to room … The tension’s already there, but you just try to accentuate it a bit more.” The sound of cicadas also helped capture the atmosphere of rural Mississippi. “You have to just be really true to that environment in the 1950s.”
Along with her prolific work in film and television, Banks has also been a leader in her industry within the motion picture academy and as president of the Motion Picture Sound Editors. “I love what I do,” she explains. But “people don’t know what we do. They don’t know what a sound editor does, a Foley artist, a Foley editor, music editor … The young people coming up, they’re so talented. But they don’t even know that these jobs exist,” so taking a leadership role is a way to help bring more awareness to the profession so more people enter the field. If you can see it, you can be it.