Michael J. Benavente interview: ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ sound editor

“One of the first instructions I got from Dustin Lance Black was that Utah doesn’t sound like other places. It’s Utah quiet,” says “Under the Banner of Heaven” supervising sound editor Michael J. Benavente about setting the scene for the FX on Hulu true-crime mystery. We talked to Benavente as part of our “Meet the Experts” TV sound editors and mixers panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

Based on the 2003 nonfiction book by Jon Krakauer, “Heaven” tells the true story of the investigation into the murder of a Mormon woman and her baby daughter, for which a prominent Mormon family was implicated. But despite the high stakes of the story, Benavente didn’t want to overplay his hand. “We want it to be interesting, but we couldn’t be too big sound wise,” he explains. “Even the police station where Andrew Garfield‘s character is based had to not be like a traditional active police station. We hear some voices, but there might be just eight people that worked there and half of them were on this case or out. It was hard because I’m so used to making things busy.”

The quiet goes beyond the tense interiors of a police station. Because of fundamentalist characters living in the woods, “there’s a lot of forest scenes,” Benavente points out. So sometimes we’ll hear “just the footsteps of our detectives walking in the forest. I love that there that’s all you hear — maybe an occasional bird. We just really had to play up the quiet and I think that actually added to the tension a lot.”

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UPLOADED Jun 4, 2022 1:59 pm