Awards Season

84th Academy Awards: Sound Editing


The question that often comes up every year is ‘what is the difference between sound editing and sound mixing’?

In the modern era, sound editing refers to the creation of the overall sound-scape of the film, whilst sound mixing is blending of these elements together to create the final sound mix.

The award is usually received by the Supervising Sound Editors of the film, sometimes accompanied by the sound designers.

As sound in movies has evolved, so has this award, which dates back to 1963.

From that year until 2000, it was adjusted for the sound design of the winning movie, so Best Sound Effects (1963–1967, 1975), Sound Effects Editing (1977, 1981–1999) and  Sound Editing (1979, 2000–present).

The sound mixing category is the one that dates back to the early years of the Oscars.

What’s interesting about sound this year is that some of the nominees (notably Transformers 3 and War Horse) have taken advantage of Dolby’s new 7.1 surround sound.






Official Oscar site
Explore previous winners of Best Sound Editing at Wikipedia

Social Media Technology

Drive on Twitter

To promote the UK release of Drive on DVD and Blu-ray yesterday the distributors held a ‘Tweetalong’.

This essentially involved anyone on Twitter starting the film at 8pm and doing text commentary on it whilst watching.

Organised by online agency Think Jam, the official account was @DriveUK and users tweeted under the hashtag #DriveTime

Twitter commentaries on television shows aren’t anything new, but this was the first time I’d seen it used as part of the launch of a new home entertainment release.

(At the end of this article is a Storify post of what the comments looked like)

Although it is still in its relative infancy (it was first launched in 2006), the microblogging service can be a very useful tool in getting the word out about certain films.

The distribution game is still generally dominated by major studios and films with enormous marketing budgets, but beneath them are some interesting exceptions.

Just in the last year, The King’s Speech and The Inbetweeners Movie were home grown independent films that ended being the 2nd and 3rd highest grossing films at the UK box office in 2011.

Drive represents a very interesting example of a wide release.

It is essentially a stylish genre movie (LA noir crime drama) with arthouse pedigree (Nic Winding Refn) that stars two hot young actors (Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan) alongside an experienced supporting cast (Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston and Ron Perlman).

Although originally a studio project set up at Universal, it was eventually put into turnaround before being financed independently.

The US distributor was FilmDistrict, a relatively new outfit formed by GK Films, and hopes were high for its US theatrical release when it was warmly received at Cannes (where Refn won Best Director) and Toronto.

Festival buzz, generally great reviews and a hot young cast meant that the distributor opted for a wide release at 2,886 cinemas.

But on opening weekend in mid-September when it came in third behind The Lion King 3D re-release and Contagion (on its second week of release), people realised it wasn’t connecting as they hoped.

The post-mortem on widely-read industry site Deadline cited the fact that young males are a more unpredictable demographic than they used to be:

“…young guys who used to be Hollywood’s target audience are just not consistently (and indiscriminately) going to the movies anymore. The reason is either financial or too many other entertainment choices. That was the gist of internal conversations inside studios all summer when uncompelling fare like Conan The Barbarian, Fright Night, Cowboys & Aliens, and Green Lantern fell short with young guys. ”It didn’t dawn on us they weren’t coming to the malls,” one perplexed exec told me. Instead, adults did.”

Bob Berney – who has since left FilmDistrict – was also quoted in the piece:

“Some people thought it should have done $20M the first weekend, but they are crazy! Even with the great reviews and Cannes pedigree, it’s still an ‘arts-ploitation’ film. It’s out there in a new genre. It’s really a polarizing film but in a good way. The pacing, music, style, and violence creates heated debate and reaction. The people that love it, really love it and talk about it. But it’s too extreme for many.”

Berney is right – what made Drive such a critical and festival favourite was probably what put off average mainstream audiences.

But only to an extent.

Drive cleverly fused traditional genre elements with considerable artistic flair and obviously the theatrical run didn’t conform to expectations, but why do I get the feeling that this is a film which could have a long shelf life ahead of it?

Not only are Gosling and Mulligan captured in their youthful prime but it is perfect for late night home viewing and also has a killer soundtrack to boot.

So Drive clearly has a fan base, if not one as large as the films financiers had hoped for.

How could the UK distributor (Icon) tap into the Drive love for the home entertainment release?

Which brings us to last night’s Tweetalong.

Twitter has been fascinating Hollywood ever since it exploded in popularity back in 2009.

Previously studios had to pay substitutional sums of money to market research firms so they could track release expectations.

Whilst they still do this, a quick search on Twitter over opening weekend (either through a basic search of the film’s title or relevant hashtag) yields valuable data and insights (although one should be careful to treat it as a sample of the wider audience).

That’s why everyone from studio owners (@RupertMurdoch), major actors (@RussellCrowe), producers (@JerryBruckheimer), directors (@edgarwright) are on it.

In terms of reactions to Drive we know that Russell Crowe was upset that Ryan Gosling didn’t get an Oscar nomination and that Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) is an absolute master of 140 characters as they are both regular tweeters.

You can even use it to follow box office numbers (@ercboxoffice), reviews (@reviewintel) and all kinds of related information.

It is basically a useful filter on the web itself.

But Twitter really rises above other social networks in its flexibility.

Not only can you track reactions over a weekend, but it comes into its own during live events broadcast on TV, such as the Superbowl or The Oscars.

This ‘second screen’ phenomenon is much talked about in TV circles.

The average room in which viewers watch television almost certainly includes some kind of web enabled device, whether it is a laptop, tablet or even a basic mobile phone.

Part of Twitter’s strength is that it is accessible across many different kinds of devices.

Using a hashtag related to a specific programme users can tweet their opinion and read and reply to other users.

If you all think this is trivial just remember the role social media played in the disputed Iranian elections of 2009 and the Arab Spring of 2011.

When it comes to home releases of films it is perfect, as it is a very cost effective way of getting the word out about a particular release.

Twitter is particularly powerful as it has a large user base, lots of influential users in the traditional media and messages can be quickly be duplicated and spread (“retweeted”).

Why is this important?

Well, the biggest single challenge any filmmaker faces is getting their work talked about in order to be seen by a larger audience.

This applies to a teenager who has just uploaded his first film to YouTube or the most experienced A-list director.

Like the video made in a bedroom with 4 views, the $100 million film opening on 3,000 locations could always do with a bigger audience.

If you create something good or distinctive, social media can be a powerful ally in building buzz.

Word-of-mouth has always been an elusive but easily recognisable phenomenon in cinema.

Films like Gone With the Wind, The Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., Jurassic Park, Titanic, Slumdog Millionaire, Avatar and The King’s Speech all became huge hits because they somehow connected with an audience at the cinema.

Home entertainment sales were a slam dunk because they already had the publicity of being huge hits.

But what about films that initially failed at the box office?

Although they are rarer, films like The Wizard of Oz (1939) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994) took time to build their audience.

But where it can be really effective in the modern era is for quality films that aren’t obviously ‘commercial’.

A black comedy about UK suicide bombers was never going to break box office records but Four Lions (2010) was a quality film that was loved by those who saw it at cinemas (in fact the UK distributor underestimated demand on the opening weekend).

But when it screened on UK television the actor Riz Ahmed (@rizmc) tweeted along to the broadcast.

It was a very useful exercise in audience interaction using simple tools (Twitter and a broadcast channel) and highly effective marketing as other users retweeted him and spread the word.

I’ve already written at length about the role social media played in making Senna such a success at the UK box office, but in the case of the Drive tweetalong you could sense the love for the film.

For the UK distribution people this would provide valuable insights if they decided to put out another edition of the film at a later date, either on another disc or via BD-Live (which up to now has been thoroughly useless).

Time is often the best judge for any film and in the case of tweeting along to Drive last night, it not only reminded me of how good it was but the value of seeing it on Blu-ray.

It was one of the first films to be shot with the Arri Alexa digital camera and even Janusz Kaminski (Steven Spielberg’s DP and a die-hard advocate of film) has admitted he was deeply impressed by the imagery put on screen by Newton Thomas Sigel.

The tweetalong reminded me what of how great the film looked and allowed me to spread the word via a very powerful social platform.

We live in an uncertain age of declining DVD sales and massive commercial pressures on the likes of HMV.

Surely this kind of online activity can only help films of all types find new audiences?

It is certainly preferable to them breaking the web with misguided legislation.

> Original review of Drive
> More on Twitter at Wikipedia
> Social Media and Senna

N.B. Here is the Storify stream of what the comments looked like:

DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 30th January 2012


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (StudioCanal): Tomas Alfredson’s impeccably crafted Cold War thriller finds new resonance in the current era of economic and social crisis. Set in the murky world of British intelligence during the 1970s, retired agent George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is hired to find out the identity of a Soviet double-agent inside ‘the Circus’ (in house name for MI6) and solve a looming crisis. [Read our full review] [Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD]

Drive (Icon Home Entertainment): This ultra stylish LA noir not only provides Ryan Gosling with an memorable lead role and cleverly takes a European approach to an American genre film. When an enigmatic stunt driver (Gosling) decides to help out his neighbour (Carey Mulligan) and her family, he finds himself caught up in a dangerous game with a local businessman (Albert Brooks). [Read our full review] [Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD]

The Tin Drum (Arrow): Volker Schlöndorff’s 1979 adaptation of the Günter Grass novel shared the Palme d’Or with Apocalypse Now and won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The story explores the rise of Nazism through the eyes of a young boy (David Bennent) who receives a tin drum for his 3rd birthday and decides to stop growing. A magical-realist classic the film is filled with striking imagery and has gained new resonance in light of subsequent revelations about Grass. Arrow have have the original theatrical version and the new Director’s Cut, which is the version that was seen at the Cannes premiere. Highly recommended. [Buy the dual format Blu-ray and DVD edition]


Alien (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Alien 3 (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Alien Resurrection (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / 10th Anniversary Edition]
Aliens (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
An Affair to Remember (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Ca$h (Metrodome Distribution) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Cleopatra (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Crazy, Stupid, Love (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Eldorado (House of Fear) [Blu-ray / 3D Edition]
Four Flies On Grey Velvet (Shameless) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Great Barrier Reef (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Highlander: Endgame (Miramax) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Rolling Thunder (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / with DVD – Double Play]
Samurai Girls (Manga Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Star Trek the Next Generation: A Taste of the Next Generation (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
What’s Your Number? (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Win Win (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Yamada – Way of the Samurai (Showbox Media Group) [Blu-ray / Collector’s Edition]

Recent UK cinema releases
The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2011


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 23rd September 2011


Crazy, Stupid, Love (Warner Bros.): Romantic comedy about a man (Steve Carell) who breaks up with his wife (Julianne Moore) and then gets dating tips from his womanising neighbour (Ryan Gosling). Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, it co-stars Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon. [Nationwide / 12A]

Drive (Icon): Stylish drama about a nameless Hollywood stuntman (Ryan Gosling) who moonlights as a getaway driver at night and gets drawn into a web of crime involving his neighbour (Carey Mulligan) and a local businessman (Albert Brooks). Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, it co-stars Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman and Oscar Isaac. [Nationwide / 18] [Read our full review here]

Warrior (Lionsgate UK): Drama about two estranged brothers (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) in Pittsburgh who end up fighting in a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) tournament for some much needed cash. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, it was co-stars Nick Nolte and Frank Grillo. [Nationwide / 12A]

Killer Elite (Entertainment): Thriller about a retired SAS soldier (Jason Statham) who goes on a mission to kill three assassins. Directed by Gary McKendry, it co-stars Robert De Niro and Clive Owen. [Nationwide / 15]

Soul Surfer (Walt Disney): Drama based on the true story of teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) who lost her arm in a shark attack and decided to return to the sport. Directed by Sean McNamara, it co-stars Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt and Carrie Underwood. [Nationwide / 12A]


Page One: Inside The New York Times (Dogwoof): Documentary charting one year in the life of the NEw York Times through the lens of the media desk. Directed by Andrew Rossi, it explores how an established newspaper makes the painful transition to the digital age. [Selected cinemas / 15] [Listen to our interview with Andrew Rossi]

Mademoiselle Chambon (Axiom Films): French drama about a blue collar worker a blue-collar worker (Vincent Lindon,) in a provincial town who is gradually tempted by another woman. Directed by Stephane Brize, it co-stars Sandrine Kiberlain, Aure Atika and Stanislav Ianevski. [Nationwide / 18]

Tucker & Dale Vs Evil (vertigo Films): Horror comedy about two people on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they get attacked by a group of preppy college kids. Directed by Jason Mather, it stars Eli Craig and Alan Tudyk. [Selected cinemas]

> Get local cinema showtimes at Google Movies or FindAnyFilm
Recent UK DVD & Blu-ray releases including United 93 and Attack the Block


Nicolas Winding Refn on BBC Breakfast

Director Nicolas Winding Refn was promoting Drive on BBC Breakfast when he used some rather creative language to describe the violence in the film.

The look on Carey Mulligan’s face at 0.11 is priceless.

Although some cynics may smell a calculated publicity ploy here, it seems to me like he was tired and after doing rounds of press discussing his latest work just got muddled as to where he was and what kind of language he should be using.

But what’s interesting to note how quickly parts of the British media – especially the dead tree kind seize on this kind of slip up.

Haven’t we all seen The Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy, Helen Mirren’s recent use of the s-word or Jane Fonda drop the C-bomb live on US morning television?

It seems strange that British newspapers act shocked at this when some have supported facism and hacked the phones of murder victims, but maybe I’m just being old fashioned.

Note the obligatory use of the phrase ‘choked on cereal’ or ‘choked on cornflakes’ in any story covering this world-shattering event.

Plus, what exactly can the presenters or broadcaster actually do apart from apologise and move swiftly on?

I know that as we speak there is some poor soul deep within Television Centre filling out a compliance form, which have been enforced on shows since the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand voicemail affair, which is listed in Wikipedia with the hilariously concise title of “Russell Brand Show prank telephone calls row“.

But let me save them some time and encourage them to fill a blank sheet of paper or empty web form with the following:

Danish director of cool new film swore live on air. Presenters apologised. Move on.

By the way Drive is really good, if a little violent in places, and apparently the violence is a little like… [REDACTED].

> Full review of Drive
> Very funny Stars Wars vs Drive mashup trailer
> BBC Breakfast slip up when unedited audio of Christian Bale was aired

Cinema Reviews Thoughts


This ultra stylish LA noir not only provides Ryan Gosling with an memorable lead role but cleverly takes a European approach to an American genre film.

When an enigmatic stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) decides to help out his neighbour (Carey Mulligan) and her family, he finds himself caught up in a dangerous game with a local businessman (Albert Brooks).

Hollywood driver by day and getaway driver at night, the nameless protagonist finds his spartan existence threatened by his emotions and an increasingly tangled web of criminality.

The opening sequence sets the mood as we hear the Driver explain his code of rules and then assist in a getaway which shows both his mastery of cars and the backstreets of Los Angeles.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn shoots the city with a coolly detached European eye: his images are steady, composed and artful, whilst jolts of violence and sparse dialogue make it feel like a modern day update of a Leone western or a Melville crime drama.

Adapted from a 2005 novel by James Sallis by screenwriter Hossein Amini, it was originally going to be a bigger budget film with Hugh Jackman in the lead and Neil Marshall directing.

However, the decision to rebuild the project as a sleeker, lower cost model has proved inspired as it manages to successfully combine satisfying genre elements within a stylish European exterior.

Attired in a satin jacket, Gosling is borderline iconic in the lead role, channelling the likes of Steve McQueen in Bullit (1968) and Alain Delon in Le Samurai (1967), but also displaying an undercurrent of emotion as he quietly seeks human intimacy.

In a male-dominated crime story Mulligan is given less to do, although she has a tangible screen presence, and in a minor supporting role Christina Hendricks feels almost unrecognisable from Mad Men.

Brooks has the stand out supporting role as a wily crime boss and he’s brilliantly cast against type, injecting the role with just the right blend of geniality and menace, whilst Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Oscar Isaac offer solid support.

Refn often opts for enigmatic silence or music, instead of clumsy dialogue to reveal emotions: sequences involving drives, hallways or lifts are expertly handled and the help connect the dazzling visual artifice with a deep emotional core.

The pacing is lean and mean, without a scene being wasted as the narrative plays around with the heist movie form; establishing, overhead shots of LA unusually focus on the cars and there are some genuinely surprising moments sprinkled amongst the genre elements.

Newton Thomas Siegel‘s widescreen cinematography paints a striking vision of LA as a neon-soaked den of crime but also frames the domestic interior and driving sequences in fresh and interesting ways.

Using the digital Arri Alexa camera, the LA night time visuals are strikingly alive (superior in quality to the digitally-shot Collateral back in 2004) and the tasteful, considered compositions feel like gulps of fresh air in an era of chaotic action visuals.

The sound design by Lou Bender and Victor Ray Ennis also really sells the action, be it the squeak of Gosling’s driver gloves, the roar of his car engine or the cracking of bone, even though conventional set-pieces are kept to a minimum.

A dramatic car chase stands out not only because it is expertly put together but because in an age of over reliance of green screen trickery, the filming of real cars on actual roads seems to be a dying art.

The soundtrack blends tracks from the likes of Kavinsky, College and Desire with Cliff Martinez‘s pulsating electronic score, creating a rich sonic backdrop which chimes in perfectly with the visuals.

This all provides the best musical backdrop to an LA crime movie since Heat (1995), where Michael Mann recruited Elliot Goldenthal to provide a dramatic score, whilst utilising invaluable contributions from Brian Eno, Michael Brook and Moby.

The film builds on the noble tradition of European directors filming crime movies in California: Point Blank (1967) and Bullit (1968) are obvious touchstones, but there is also a strong American influence of films such as The Driver (1978), To Live and Die in LA (1985) and Manhunter (1986).

This blending of European and American sensibilities is what makes Drive such an intoxicating mix: like the central character, it is stylish creation of few words but has a lasting impact on those who see it.

It is no wonder the audience at the Cannes premiere were beguiled by the fusing of transatlantic sensibilities which have fuelled the festival since its inception.

The question mark that hangs over the film is whether or not US distributor FilmDistrict can get people to go and see it: some may be put off by the flashes of violence but if art house and mainstream audiences keep an open mind, this could be a richly deserved hit.

Drive opens in the UK on September 23rd and in the US on September 16th

> Official Facebook page
> Reviews of Drive at Metacritic
> Reactions to Drive at Cannes 2011
> Excellent Cinema-Scope interview with Refn on the making of Drive

Amusing Viral Video

Star Wars meets Drive

A YouTube user has cut a rather brilliant trailer mashup of Star Wars (1977) and Drive (2011), with Hans Solo in the role of Ryan Gosling’s Driver.

For reference, here is the official trailer for Drive:

Now, here is the Star Wars remix:

The film opens in the US on September 16th and in the UK a week later on the 23rd.

> IMDb
> The real Drive trailer