Darius Marder interview: ‘Sound of Metal’ writer/director
“The first two words of the script are ‘he hears,’ and that’s before you see the picture, explains Darius Marder, who directed and co-wrote “Sound of Metal” with his brother Abraham Marder, based on a story by Marder and director Derek Cianfrance. “‘He hears.’ And then you come to picture. And the last line of the script, the first two words of the last line of the script are ‘he sees.’ There’s a very simply arc to that,” he says about the film’s underlying themes about self-discovery and community. “From the beginning this was a story about the trappings of identity and belonging. We had this mantra right from the beginning, which was ‘if you strip everything away, is what I am enough?'”
We talked with Marder as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with key 2021 guild and Oscar contenders. Watch our interview above.
In “Sound of Metal,” heavy-metal drummer Ruben’s life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing. Starring Emmy winner Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”) and veteran actor Paul Raci, the film premiered to strong reviews at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, particularly for leading man Ahmed, whose character is coming to terms with his hearing loss. Raci has since been on a winning streak among critics groups, firming as the supporting actor frontrunner this awards season. The film has also been praised for its immersive sound design, as it depicts how Ruben absorbs and receives sound from his point of view, from loud thrashing at a concert, to muffled, to the dissonant frequencies heard through his implants to ultimately the striking silence at the end of the film.
“What a shocking idea,” he declares. “That the absence of all sound can be a gut punch. As it relates to writing, or painting or all the arts, the space between the notes and music, what is that? What is it about the absence? How do you earn the absence?”
Marder acknowledges that the use of sound to tell this story “came very early,” he says. “That might have been around 12 years ago. I found myself dreaming about this cinematic language. But the it was the process of earning it. I knew that I had received this incredibly special framework, and then it was about how to earn it on a story level, on a character level.”
Previously, Marder is best known for his 2008 documentary “Loot,” which he directed, wrote, produced an edited. He also collaborated with Cianfrance on the screenplay for 2012 crime drama “The Place Beyond the Pines.”