Tom Ozanich Q&A: ‘Sully’ sound mixer
“We had to make you feel like you’re on the plane,” said “Sully” sound mixer Tom Ozanich about recreating the “Miracle on the Hudson” in Clint Eastwood‘s fact-based drama, but it was easier said than done. You’d think an emergency plane landing in the Hudson River would be a thrilling opportunity for any cinema sound designer, but “Sully” posed unique challenges. Ozanich was part of a “Meet the Experts” panel presented by Gold Derby at the Landmark Theater in L.A. on Nov. 16 to spotlight great achievements in crafts. Watch him discuss the film in our video below.
“Sully” tells the true story of Chesley Sullenberger (played by Tom Hanks), a US Airways pilot who in 2009 had to land an airliner in the Hudson River after the plane experienced catastrophic engine failure right after takeoff as the result of a bird strike. Remarkably all 155 passengers and crew members survived.
“When it’s flying it’s a completely computer generated effect,” Ozanich explained, so “a big part of [making it feel authentic] is good sound support.” But there was a “big problem” in trying to generate sounds for a malfunctioned plane: “You have this giant jet, and it’s broken, so it’s not making jet sounds.” There are certain sounds that most people associate with flight, so what do you do when “that’s the one thing you can’t use”?
So research and first-hand accounts were important to the process. “We talked to Sully himself about it, asked him questions about what kinds of sounds he was hearing at the time and what his experience was. A lot of it was based on what he told us,” Ozanich said. “We did a lot of research looking at interviews with passengers — things they were describing and what they were hearing and experiencing.”
Ozanich came to “Sully” with an extensive resume. He worked in the sound departments for Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” in addition to “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003), “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” (2004), “Serenity” (2005), “The Incredible Hulk” (2008), “Prisoners” (2013), “Birdman” (2014), “Sicario” (2015) and “Live by Night” (2016). He also did sound work for the TV series “Sense8” (2015) and “Limitless” (2015-2016), as well as popular video games “Saints Row 2” (2008), “Need for Speed: Undercover” (2008) and “Batman: Arkham Asylum” (2009). To date his work has won him four Golden Reel Awards from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, so will “Sully” earn Ozanich his first Oscar nomination?