Scott Martin Gershin interview: ‘Pinocchio’ sound
“When I first saw the image of Pinocchio I was like, ‘oh, is he going to be likable?’,” admits sound designer Scott Martin Gershin about “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.” For our recent webchat he explains, “Visually it’s a very distinct look. It’s like branches and sticks. I didn’t really know it was working until right before the mix.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
The film retells the classic Italian tale of a wooden puppet who is brought to life. It is directed by two-time Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”). The film is made with stop-motion animation where wooden puppets were moved and filmed. It creates an authentic but surreal fairy-tale.
Gershin is the sound designer and supervisor on the film. He describes, “On the one hand, animation has no sound and everything has to be created from scratch. It’s the same thing with this. There is no production sound. Every little nuance, every little movement, everything has to be created. I was so blown away by the visuals. I wanted to put as much detail into the audio that was put into the visual. At the same time, straggly enough this isn’t animated. It’s shot live. It was about 60 teams in 1,000 days shooting this. There were these two world’s coming together.”
During the sound design process the designer reveals, “All the characters have their little quirks. For, Sebastian J Cricket, Guillermo made a comment that it felt too normal. So, we started getting crab shell and a little lobster tail to give a crustaceany feel when he walked. We then used some dry celery for the wings. We tried to find sounds to enhance the character.”
The film mixes humor and heart with dark themes. Pinocchio faces a fascist wanting to use him as a weapon, a businessman who monetizes him and a priest who mocks him. Gershin says, “Guillermo likes to state that this is not a child’s show, this is an adult show that children can watch. In this world everybody is pushed to conform, Pinocchio won’t do it. And what’s interesting is people actually conform to Pinocchio. It’s nice that the show has so much depth if you want to look for it. And if you don’t care about any of that, that’s ok too.”
Working of the sound mix, Gershin describes, “We start in mono. Guillermo wanted to start it as an intimate puppet show. But as the show evolves, by the time you get to the re-education camp and the dogfish, it’s surrounds and atmos. Everything’s moving around. We wanted it to evolve in a similar arc to Pinocchio. Everything was done strategically. Everything was done emotionally. It’s nice to be able to do that.”