Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound has been directed by seasoned sound editor Midge Costin, which explains a lot.
The documentary whisks audiences through the different phases of sound design; from its birth in “talkies” through to its experimental, technological, and narrative advancements. Various sound editors, designers, and mixers are interviewed as well as ADR supervisors, foley artists, and film composers. They all play key roles in the cinematic Circle of Talent, a trifecta of music, sound effects, and voice. After a tour through film history, this Circle is broken down and each individual element is dissected using memorable scenes from some of Hollywood’s biggest movies. Each subject Costin interviews takes pride in their work as they speak about their appreciation for their craft. Some even talk about their relationships with directors who are hands-on in their field (some of these filmmakers are also given time to speak for the documentary).
I found the most interesting parts of Making Waves were the exclusive stories and memories dished out by those who worked on classics (most notably Star Wars and Apocalypse Now). Outside of the cool stories, nitty-gritty details of sound design, along with some “shop talk”, is spoken in layman’s terms – allowing viewers of all ages to learn from this passionate documentary. But sometimes, that passion blinds Costin; allowing herself to get too swept up in her own topics.
The honour each interviewee feels about their work often drifts into self-importance; as if sound design is the backbone of the film industry and the invention of it is akin to discovering the fountain of youth or time travel. There isn’t much modesty in Making Waves which is a problem if Costin is trying to earn appreciation from the audience. The interviews are insightful, but some subjects seem as if they’re moments away from turning towards the camera, waiting impatiently for vocalized gratitude from the audience.
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound will make film buffs go gaga, but others may be drawn away by the film’s excessive ego.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie