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HomeAwardsContender-Karen Baker Landers-Sound Editing-Bourne-Gangster-Things We Lost

Contender-Karen Baker Landers-Sound Editing-Bourne-Gangster-Things We Lost

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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 she�s going for the hat trick as a contender for her work on Ridley Scott�s American Gangster, Paul Greengrass� The Bourne Ultimatum and Susanne Bier�s Things We Lost In The Fire � all in a year in which she also worked on the remastering of Blade Runner, a career highlight, she says.
�All three films were very different,� says Baker Landers. �Things We Lost in the Fire is very though-provoking, emotional and sensitive. The director wanted a raw and real non-Hollywood sound job.
�With 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. It�s also a period piece, so we were replacing backgrounds and adding rich sounds of the city with appropriate sounds from the �60s and �70s.�
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 she�s 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 �having fun with it.�
While each film presented its specific challenges, the experience of working on Things We Lost In The Fire � a lower-key style of movie � was particularly different in its approach, which afforded the sound team an opportunity to stretch out creatively. �It�s exciting to me to see how, tonally and with detail, you can create subtle moments with specific sounds,� says Baker Landers. �It�s almost the polar opposite of something like The Bourne Ultimatum, because you�re trying to be as gentle and subdued as possible to support the emotion and help tell the story. It�s one of my favorite things to do.
�We played with subtleties,� she adds, such as hearing drips of water in a shower from the character�s point of view, not the audience�s, and counterbalancing an outdoor morning scene with sweet birdsong that playfully weaves around the melody in the musical score. �Sometimes you sit there on the sound stage and think, if someone wrinkles their bag of peanuts they�ll miss that!�
In contrast, in The Bourne Ultimatum the sound is �always dictated by what�s on the screen,� says Baker Landers. The fun part on the Bourne films, she added, is approaching new sounds for the new technologies, such as this installment�s camera gun, as well as the different chase scenes.
The quest for realism extended to the film�s different locations. �You 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,� says Baker Landers. �We try to logistically know where we�re at and be authentic at all times.�
On American Gangster, the sound team was dealing with a specific time period. �The biggest thing in a period piece is making the backgrounds authentic: the vehicles, sirens, sounds of the city,� says Baker Landers. The car chases in that film were �the most fun,� she says. �You had big V8s, a Mustang Fastback, and some awesome-sounding vehicles which were a character of their own.�
Baker Landers credits her sound team, many of whom have been with her for 10 years or more, for making it all come together. �There�s 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. We�re very fortunate we get to work with these people.�
� Sam Molineaux-Graham
2005 Nominations
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
2004 Nominations
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Dialogue/ADR, Seabiscuit
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Sound Effects/Foley, Seabiscuit
2003 Nominations
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
2003 Win
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Sound Effects/Foley, Black Hawk Down
2002 Nomination
MPSE Golden Reel, Best Sound Editing, Domestic Features: Dialogue/ADR, Black Hawk Down

Written by Sam Molineaux

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