Brent Kiser and Andrew Twite interview: ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ sound
“The whole point of this movie is to make sense of the noise. So we had to establish noise,” says “Everything Everywhere All at Once” supervising sound editor Brent Kiser. Time traveling through the multiverse is a central concept in the Daniels’ maximalist film, but the directors were adamant about a “lo fi” quality to the sound. So Kiser and sound effects editor Andrew Twite gave the cacophonous design a warm, familiar feeling. “We’re living in a Windows 95 world,” quips Kiser. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“There was a natural rhythm to the movie,” explains Twite, describing the specific ways in which the movie was edited. “The sound design was naturally able to follow those beats as well,” he continues, “it was a great lesson for us in timing and rhythm.” The sonic landscape of the film would be an important tool in their mission to immerse viewers in the various worlds of the story, some of which would only appear on screen for mere seconds. So synching the sound design with the film’s pace contributes to the overall flow of the movie.
Kiser reveals that some of the warmth in the design is a result of “using technology that is memorable and accessible” as recurring themes. For instance, Jobu (Stephanie Hsu) is accompanied by the sound of an old radio frequency when she moves through universes. It’s motif that will evoke nostalgia in viewers, yet is able to fit within this specific science fiction story. By contrast Evelyn’s (Michelle Yeoh) jumps are set to a shattering glass effect. “She’s still learning how to control her powers… it’s this whole idea of a fractured sense,” explains Kiser, “That’s where the idea for the glass came from.” He believes that using themes like these “not only added color to the sound design itself, but they gave us something to help us move the story along.”
But what about designing sequences which drop the characters into a world unlike anything on earth? “When there’s something that doesn’t really exist, that actually gives us a ton of freedom,” divulges Twite. That came in handy for the infamous world where everyone has comically large floppy hotdogs for fingers. The team experimented with various meats to find the right sound quality, and paired it with mushy cat food for texture and comedy. “For me, I found a little more comfort in the hot dog fingers,” admits Twite. “There’s a comfort in the unknown. It gives you a license to just kind of go big and try whatever you can.”
Kiser won an Emmy Award and a Golden Reel Award for “Gettysburg.” He earned an additional Emmy nomination for “Wild West Country.” Twite won a Golden Reel Award for “Return to House on Haunted Hill,” and received three additional nominations for “Bojack Horseman,” “Rick and Morty,” and “Star Trek: Discovery.”