Karen Baker Landers is no stranger to working on several hit films in a year.
In 2005, her work on Ray and The Bourne Supremacy got her recognized by BAFTA and her peers, the Motion Picture Sound Editors. This year sheÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s going for the hat trick as a contender for her work on Ridley ScottÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s American Gangster, Paul GreengrassÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ The Bourne Ultimatum and Susanne BierÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s Things We Lost In The Fire ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ all in a year in which she also worked on the remastering of Blade Runner, a career highlight, she says.
ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½All three films were very different,ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ says Baker Landers. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½Things We Lost in the Fire is very though-provoking, emotional and sensitive. The director wanted a raw and real non-Hollywood sound job.
ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½With Bourne Identity, having worked on the two previous films in the series, we were familiar with the characters and the filmmakers. That was all about keeping up the energy, making it exciting, creating big chases and a lot of backgrounds for the many different locations. American Gangster is a really powerful film, and Ridley Scott likes a rich, full sound job. ItÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s also a period piece, so we were replacing backgrounds and adding rich sounds of the city with appropriate sounds from the ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½60s and ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½70s.ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½
Baker Landers says that all three directors were very different to work with. Bier, a Dane, left decisions up to the sound team, while her editor Pernille Christensen was more involved and had precise views on how the sound and editing meshed. Greengrass gave her and her partner, Per Hallberg, free range to do what they do best. Scott, on whose films sheÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s worked many times in the past, became involved mainly during postproduction, insisting on elevating the importance of sound above and beyond what most directors do and ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½having fun with it.ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½
While each film presented its specific challenges, the experience of working on Things We Lost In The Fire ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ a lower-key style of movie ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ was particularly different in its approach, which afforded the sound team an opportunity to stretch out creatively. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ItÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s exciting to me to see how, tonally and with detail, you can create subtle moments with specific sounds,ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ says Baker Landers. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ItÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s almost the polar opposite of something like The Bourne Ultimatum, because youÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½re trying to be as gentle and subdued as possible to support the emotion and help tell the story. ItÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s one of my favorite things to do.
ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½We played with subtleties,ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ she adds, such as hearing drips of water in a shower from the characterÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s point of view, not the audienceÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s, and counterbalancing an outdoor morning scene with sweet birdsong that playfully weaves around the melody in the musical score. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½Sometimes you sit there on the sound stage and think, if someone wrinkles their bag of peanuts theyÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ll miss that!ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½
In contrast, in The Bourne Ultimatum the sound is ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½always dictated by whatÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s on the screen,ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ says Baker Landers. The fun part on the Bourne films, she added, is approaching new sounds for the new technologies, such as this installmentÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s camera gun, as well as the different chase scenes.
The quest for realism extended to the filmÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s different locations. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½You have to be accurate, for example, in recording the correct call-outs at train stations, because people familiar with those locations will be seeing the movie,ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ says Baker Landers. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½We try to logistically know where weÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½re at and be authentic at all times.ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½
On American Gangster, the sound team was dealing with a specific time period. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½The biggest thing in a period piece is making the backgrounds authentic: the vehicles, sirens, sounds of the city,ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ says Baker Landers. The car chases in that film were ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½the most fun,ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ she says. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½You had big V8s, a Mustang Fastback, and some awesome-sounding vehicles which were a character of their own.ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½
Baker Landers credits her sound team, many of whom have been with her for 10 years or more, for making it all come together. ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ThereÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s a core group on every film, pretty much: Chris Asselles, Dino Dimuro, Dan Hegeman, Chris Jargo, Peter Staubli, and Fred Stahly. We have great assistants too; they free us up. WeÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½re very fortunate we get to work with these people.ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½
ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ Sam Molineaux-Graham
BAFTA, Best Sound, Ray
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Dialogue/ADR, The Bourne Supremacy
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Dialogue/ADR, Ray
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Sound Effects/Foley, The Bourne Supremacy
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Dialogue/ADR, Seabiscuit
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Sound Effects/Foley, Seabiscuit
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Dialogue/ADR, The Bourne Identity
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Sound Effects/Foley, The Bourne Identity
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Sound Effects/Foley, Black Hawk Down
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Dialogue/ADR, Black Hawk Down
Written by Sam Molineaux