‘Elvis’ sound team interview
“The big thing about working with Baz is that you know it’s not going to be a straight narrative,” says Wayne Pashley, sound designer and supervising sound editor for Baz Luhrmann‘s film “Elvis.” “I’ve worked with Baz for 30 years now. I knew, even from the script, by the time it hits post-production it’s gonna be up for grabs. He’ll shoot a lot. He tends to shoot conventionally, surprisingly enough, but a lot of the magic happens in post.” Pashley is joined by production sound mixer David Lee and re-recording mixers Andy Nelson and Michael Keller in our video interview above.
“Elvis” stars Austin Butler as Presley along with Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It follows the music icon through his childhood, becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s and his death in 1977.
“With Elvis, because it was going across the 50s, 60s and 70s, and really Elvis and the Colonel were the conduit for a cultural overview of America during that time, that was the big deal for Baz,” Pashley continues. “He basically wanted a sonic architecture that was going to be sexy, gorgeous and be completely immersive — and never stop.”
Lee, who won an Oscar for his work on “The Matrix” in 2000, revealed, “When Baz arrives on set, the games begin. As much as you had planned for the particular scene, all the balls are in the air. You’ve got to have all your wits about you and develop the approach. On ‘The Matrix,’ everything was planned within an inch of its life. We never shot anything that wasn’t on the storyboard. Baz is sort of the complete opposite of that.”
For Nelson, a two-time Oscar winner for “Saving Private Ryan” and “Les Miserables,” there was no hesitation when Luhrmann asked him to join the production. “I knew how much fun it would be and I also knew what we would be in for,” he explains. “It’s a very complex mix. You’ve got a lead like Austin, who was phenomenal in his performances and of course Tom Hanks. It was every bit the challenge I expected it to be with Baz, but it was incredibly fulfilling. With Wayne’s great team, editorially, it was presented in such a way that it was a joy. We were able to jump right in with Baz being fully collaborative as he always is.”
The heaviest lifting in post-production were the crowds throughout the film. “Early on we have more singular girls going crazy for Elvis and then the medium-sized crowd chimes and once we hit Vegas, that’s where all hell breaks loose in a very exciting way. Story, music and Elvis’ vocals were always king and then the crowd plays second fiddle. Since Elvis loved the crowd and the crowd loved Elvis, it was a huge player.”