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Contender – Sound Editing, Wylie Stateman, Wanted

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Russian director Timur Bekmambetov has made a number of extremely successful films in his native land, but the graphic-novel adaptation Wanted is his first mainstream Hollywood outing. And who better than veteran sound editor Wylie Stateman to take the film to the next level, with killer sound that’s led to two Oscar nominations for the film (for sound editing and best sound).

“The interesting thing about Timur is that he is a very well-rounded and creative director,” says Stateman. “He has very keen sensibilities about visual effects. He goes from visualization to finished effects remarkably quickly with a group of people that are very keen on collaborating with the editing team, and in our case, with the sound team.”

The film features moments where time is manipulated and slowed down. “The cliché for slowing down time is to slow down the sound,” says Stateman. “We didn’t follow that. We worked largely with real-time sounds and real-time acoustical effects. For instance, there are scenes where the dialog is layered and echoes are applied, manipulating the track in ways that are detached from reality and time. All those things were pulsed to visual-effects enhancements such as blood in somebody’s face or a ripple in the image. The timings of these things are critical, so that a visual effect can be fortified by sound design.”

In postproduction, Stateman worked closely with the film’s editor David Brenner, the visual effects team, composer Danny Elfman and the film’s music editor, and a uniquely symbiotic relationship was formed. In collaboration with Brenner, Stateman and sound designer Harry Cohen took an unenhanced picture and created a beat map of the sound design rhythms, which they gave to the VFX team who in turn animated to that map, adding visual enhancements to the frame in rhythm with the beats.

“That is very unusual. Most visual effects houses work independently of sound,” says Stateman. “We worked collaboratively. Timur, because of his sensitivity as a filmmaker, understood that it should all be integrated and developed together. We worked between Moscow and Los Angeles on that singular vision. Shots were constantly sent back and forth to be further improved and refined.”

Stateman is quick to credit his sound team: sound designers Harry Cohen and Ann Scibelli, ADR and dialog supervisor Hugh Waddell, dialog editor Michael Hertlein, foley editor David Stanke, sound effects editors Margit Pfeiffer and Jon Title, and assistants Branden Spencer a n d Jane McKeever, for their hard work and dedication to the project.

As in all his work, Stateman followed a guiding principal on Wanted: “To always look for opportunities to create sound as one cohesive element.” Dialog sets the benchmark level, he says, “and from there the music needs to be the appropriate loudness. Then sound provides the reality, punctuation and rhythmic elements that complete the visual and make it believable.”

Previous Noms and Wins

2007: Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in sound effects & foley in a feature film, World Trade Center; Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in a feature film: dialogue & automated dialogue replacement, World Trade Center; 2006: Nominated, Oscar, best achievement in sound editing, Memoirs of a Geisha; Won, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in a feature film – dialogue & automated dialogue replacement, Memoirs of a Geisha; Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in feature film – sound effects & foley, Memoirs of a Geisha; 2005: Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in domestic features – sound effects & foley, Kill Bill: Vol. 2; Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in domestic features – dialogue & ADR, Kill Bill: Vol. 2; Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in foreign features, Troy; 2004: Nominated, BAFTA Film Award, best sound, Kill Bill: Vol. 1; Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in domestic features – sound effects & foley, Kill Bill: Vol. 1; Nominated, Golden Satellite Award, best sound, Kill Bill: Vol. 1; 2003: Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing in domestic features – sound effects & foley, We Were Soldiers; 2002: Nominated, BAFTA Film Award, best sound, Shrek; Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing – animated feature film, domestic & foreign, Shrek; 2001: Nominated, BAFTA Film Award, best sound, The Perfect Storm; Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing – sound effects & foley, domestic feature film, The Perfect Storm; 2000: Nominated, MPSE Golden Reel Award, best sound editing – dialogue & ADR, For Love of the Game; 1994: Nominated, Oscar, best effects, sound effects editing, Cliffhanger; 1993: Won, BAFTA Film Award, best sound, JFK; 1990: Nominated, Oscar, best sound, Born on the Fourth of July; 1985: Nominated, Emmy, outstanding film sound editing for a limited series or a special, Space

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