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Categories: Interviews

Veteran sound editor Eddy Joseph will give students in a Cinema Jam Short Course the benefit of his 40+ years in the business. 

Eddy Joseph

“Telling the Story Through Sound: From Batman to Bond with BAFTA-Winning Sound Editor Eddy Joseph” will be held at Cinema Jam HQ at Collective Temperance Hospital on Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29, from 10:00 to 18:00. Tickets are £249 for two full days of instruction. The Spread readers, for a 10% discount, please use the promotional code “SpreadJam”, or better yet, if you want to double your discount for 20% off, join Cinema Jam today!  Click here for more info

Remember believing that witches and wizards were actually playing an airborne sport in Harry Potter because of the realistic ‘woosh’ of the broomsticks? That was Eddy Joseph.

Remember the beautiful onslaught of sounds that made the construction site parkour scene in Casino Royale so exciting and introduced us to Daniel Craig’s James Bond? That was Eddy Joseph.

Now, having worked on more than 70 titles in various sound editing roles since 1971, the 70 year old double BAFTA winner – for best sound in Casino Royale (2006) and Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982) – will be imparting his knowledge of the art at a “Bite-Size Course” with Cinema Jam at the end of May.

His work has led him to brush shoulders with Neil Jordan and Tim Burton, as well as get pecked on the cheek by Julia Roberts for making a Saturday of rerecording dialogue for Michael Collins particularly easy.   

The number one thing Eddy Joseph wants to impart seems facile, but he insists is essential and is being overlooked by filmmakers today.

“I want to teach the people to listen, and how by just doing that you can enhance a soundtrack.” he says “You have to be able to read a script and tell from that what the film is supposed to sound like in the end. I believe that now-a-days people are not being taught that.”

“You have to be able to read a script and tell from that what the film is supposed to sound like in the end.”

An over-reliance on softwares like Pro Tools have given young filmmakers the impression that all they need do is look at the screen and start laying down sound effects. See a car? Put in a car sound. See a bike? Ring a bell. Jacket blowing? Put in wind.

This is the wrong starting point.

Eddy Joseph believes this is the last thing that should be done; the first step is to look at the piece of work and imagine how it should sound in the end. The risk, otherwise, is a situation where dialogue can’t be heard properly. This is often attributed to mumbling actors and poor direction for not catching it. 

“So to illustrate this, I’ll be showing clips from films that I have worked on. The reason for this is because I know them. When I’m working on a film, in the end I’ll have seen it a few hundred time so I know every frame.”

In this way he will instruct participants to stop, look and listen and above all think what does the director want from this film and how can sound help to deliver that.

Eddy Joseph - Harry Potter

He and his team nailed down the ‘quidditch’ sounds in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone so perfectly that they were used throughout the series. “But I particularly liked the sound of the giant chess pieces – I think I got the gravitas right.” The pieces themselves were made of plaster and wood but needed to sound far more substantial. “You need to make the audience believe, and we did.” 

If you’re wondering if this area is right for you, Eddy is of the opinion that his musical background played a huge role in honing his sound editing facilities. Before joining the movie business as a production running in 1967 at the age of 22, he was an aspiring musician.

“If you were to analyse the top sound editors in the world, most of them would play musical instruments.”

He goes on to explain that every scene has a rhythm, and if you are of a musical mind, you will find that rhythm far easier to identify and will be able to give more shape to the film.

Within a few short years he had moved from running to editing, first considering being a picture editor but, on realising there were three sound editors to every one picture editor, he played the numbers and went down that career path.

Eddy Joseph - Angel Heart

During this time he is particularly proud of his work on Angel Heart with Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke. “The process was very mechanical then. You couldn’t twist sounds or reverb them easily, in fact you couldn’t do it at all. So I was very pleased with the strange and weird sounds we came up with creating that atmosphere.”

“If you were to analyse the top sound editors in the world, most of them would play musical instruments.”

He still watches Casino Royale three of four times a year, so happy with how it turned out. “It sounds cracking, even now. It does what I talk about; it helps the storyline.”

Outside of his own films, Eddy suggests any Coen Brothers film for sound inspirations. “There’s a lot less music in their films. Watch No Country for Old Men – all those footsteps were rerecorded, I don’t think there is a single original one but you totally believe it.”

Other innovators he suggests include the sound teams on the first Total Recall, Star Wars and The Matrix, who all did things we hadn’t heard before.   

In the meantime, “always think, how is what I am doing helping to serve the story? Think and listen.” 

Ian Donegan

I crossed the Narrow Sea to do an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University London. Imagine an Irish accent when you read my stuff. Wasted my childhood watching movies and am now cashing in on it. Billy Zane is my spirit animal. Updates available @iandonegan

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Posted on May 2, 2016

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