Filed in: Featured, Film, News, Sound

Nomadland Production Sound Mixer Michael Wolf Snyder Dead by Suicide

March 6, 2021 02:27 | By
MIchael Wolf Snyder

Michael Wolf Snyder (photo courtesy Searchlight Studios)

The very sad news came out today that Michael Wolf Snyder, the Production Sound Mixer for Chloé Zhao‘s Nomadland and her previous film, The Rider, has died at the age of 35, according to father, David Snyder.

As reported by Variety, Snyder’s body was found by his psychiatrist father in his Queens, New York apartment on Monday, March 1, after friends and family hadn’t heard from him for several days.

Snyder’s father posted a message on Facebook Thursday informing others:

“Michael took his own life sometime in the last week and wasn’t discovered until I went to check on him Monday after he had dropped out of contact for several days. He has suffered from Major Depression for many years. For most people, this is an illness that waxes and wanes over the years. I’m sure it was difficult for Michael that he spent most of the last year alone in his small, Queens apartment, being responsible about dealing with the coronavirus. In spite of this, we all believed he was doing well, and for most of this past year I think he was. He seemed especially joyful and invigorated in these last few months since he was able to return to work on several different film projects. He was certainly thrilled about all of the accolades for Nomadland and told us many happy stories about his work on the film and the amazing people he got to spend time with.”

The people who worked with Snyder were quick to offer condolences and thoughts on the late soundman, including Zhao who said, “I always looked at Wolf after each take. I didn’t wear headphones on set and so I heavily relied on Wolf to be my ears. He would nod at me with a happy grin, or tears in his eyes, or sometimes he would discreetly signal ‘one more.’ During ‘The Rider,’ Wolf suggested an idea we later took onto ‘Nomadland’ — recording room tones longer than we need as a chance to experience silence. After hustling on each location, we sat together, in silence, tuned in, listened and honored the world around us and each other. I will always miss him. He would always be with me on set, after each take, and in the silence of every room tone. See you down the road, my friend.”

Nomadland‘s star Frances McDormand released a statement saying, “Wolf recorded our heart beats. Our every breath. For me, he is ‘Nomadland.’”

Another star of the film, Charlene Swankie wrote on Facebook, “Sad to learn that Montana sound man M Wolf Snyder has passed away.“Wolf had great focus, a kind heart, and an indelible spirit. He did the sound on ‘Nomadland.’ So if you watch that magnificent film, take a moment to pause, close your eyes, and listen to all the beauty he captured.”

Searchlight Pictures said in a statement, “We extend our deepest condolences to Wolf’s family and to our friends, the company of ‘Nomadland.’”

And then the entire cast and crew of Nomadland released their own statement: “While our hearts break with Wolf’s loss, we hope it is a comfort to know that his spirit will live forever in every laugh he recorded, every breeze, and every gallop of a horse. He was part of our little movie family and his kind soul touched us all. Wolf truly brought life to our film. We send our condolences to his family on behalf of the entire ‘Nomadland’ company. See you down the road, sweet friend.”

Director Yuval David also expressed condolences via Facebook: “Take a moment of room tone in loving memory of M. Wolf Snyder. Michael Wolf Snyder was the super-cool award-winning sound mixer who recorded on set audio for the latest feature film I directed. His tragic loss is painfully heard. No matter the noise or the silence, check in on people, to ensure that nobody feels alone. Depression pulls people into dark despair. Be the light to help them out — even if you think they already have a light, give them extra light of love, kindness, and hope.”

Snyder began his career in 2011 as a boom operator on the thriller Occupant, and he also worked on the Amazon series, Good  Omens.

Snyder’s entire original Facebook post can be read below:

Hello again. I am David Snyder, Michael Wolf Snyder’s father. His mother, brother, and I are so touched by the outpouring of love and support that we have seen on Facebook. We have always known how much Wolf loved his work in film; it was the brightest spot in his life. We had no idea how many people he had touched and how many held him in such high regard. I would like to share a little bit more about what happened in the hope that it could help others.

Michael took his own life sometime in the last week and wasn’t discovered until I went to check on him Monday after he had dropped out of contact for several days. He has suffered from Major Depression for many years. For most people, this is an illness that waxes and wanes over the years. I’m sure it was difficult for Michael that he spent most of the last year alone in his small, Queens apartment, being responsible about dealing with the coronavirus. In spite of this, we all believed he was doing well, and for most of this past year I think he was. He seemed especially joyful and invigorated in these last few months since he was able to return to work on several different film projects. He was certainly thrilled about all of the accolades for Nomadland and told us many happy stories about his work on the film and the amazing people he got to spend time with.

Unfortunately, we believe he was gone before getting to see the Golden Globe awards.

We will never know what changed in the last month or two, but even his love for his family, as well as his love of film and his movie family, was not enough to conquer his demons. People have asked if his death was Covid related. I think we can assume that it played a role in the form of increased isolation and loneliness, but it was certainly more than that. Major Depression is a severe disease, causing people to suffer dark feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness, convinced that nothing can help them. And this is not a rare condition, affecting at least 15% of all of us at some time in our lives. In this day and age, it is nothing to be ashamed of, and there many successful therapies available.

I am a psychiatrist who was not able to save his own son, partly because he would not share the depth of his pain. But I know that most people with this condition will recover with the proper help and support. I hope that the shocking nature of Michael’s death will alert others to speak up, risk being vulnerable, and seek the help that they need. It is such a tragic waste that a temporary heightening of despair can end a life with so much promise. 

Thank you all so much for sharing the love and respect you had for Wolf. It has helped us more than we can say.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to anyone with suicidal thoughts or knows others suffering from depression at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com.