Friday, July 08, 2011

Sound Mixer Michael Semanick Talks ‘Magnolia,' ‘There Will Be Blood'

Quiet week for news on "The Master" as we hear filming has moved to LA for the remainder of the shoot so it looks like we've seen the last of our set images until Paul decides to release one of his own. If you follow us on Twitter you'll see we had heard from one of the extras working on the final days of the Bay Area shoot that Paul was "very hands-on, very present" while filming and not content to hang out in video village.

In lieu of any new news, site contributor Zablotny recently pointed us to this video interview with two time Academy Award winning Sound Mixer Michael Semanick who has worked with Paul on all of his films since "Magnolia." You can check out the full video above though we've transcribed the PTA-related bits. At about the 32:45 mark, Michael spoke a little bit about working with Paul on "There Will Be Blood"

The first screening I saw of "There Will Be Blood" Paul always does this thing where he has me see the film at some point, [the] rough cut of it. So I went to see it and in the first, I think at that point it was almost 30 minutes, there's literally no music and there's no dialogue. It's a long time. And you guys all know movies, Hollywood's like "C'mon man, you gotta get this thing going!" It's like MTV, let's go "Cut, cut cut." "Where's the music to help support it?" [like in] all these action movies.

And I watched that scene and I was captivated by him digging in the hole and the whole thing, the well, the whole thing. I don't know if you know the film but it was captivating and I found it very interesting. And it wasn't like it hadn't been done before but it hadn't been kinda done in a long time. I mean, I think "The Birds," Hitchcock's movie, doesn't even have music in it. So it was something that I came out of the screening and the producers ran up to me and said "isn't it boring? Don't we need to add music in the beginning?" And I was like, "No, I was captivated by it. What are you talking about?" [They said] "We need music we need music."

I told Paul [about it] and he cut the scene down and Jonny Greenwood did add some tonal stuff but it's very tonal. It's not really music, I mean it's music, I don't want to say it's not music. Which worked very well for the movie and those are kind of the things, I knew what Paul was trying to do. I could feel what he was trying to capture and I thought he grabbed it. And Daniel Day Lewis just being so captivating onscreen, it was there. We didn't need to add a whole lot of sound. We added things to fill out the track and make it sound [better]. There's a lot of things in "There Will Be Blood" sonically, like in all the movies, that was an example of taking a chance a little bit, Paul was.
Semanick was then asked if people thought they were crazy and he said "Yeah, but it worked out" and went on to talk about working with an exuberant 29 year old Paul on "Magnolia"...
Hey man, I've had some good times with Paul and we were both pretty young and it was a lot of fun. When we were mixing "Magnolia" at Warner Bros., we were just kids still, it was like, "Dude, can you believe we're here at Warner Bros.?" "Yeah, man. We're mixing movies!" I said, "Yeah, we're making movies." He goes, "I'm a famous director now and I like in the Hollywood Hills and this is cool! I've got a rock star girlfriend..." And I said "it's pretty amazing." [Paul says] "And they pay us!" And they're paying us to do what we love to do. I thought that was "you know Paul, you're right." And we loved it. And times change and now it's like, still having fun, had fun on 'Blood.' [It was] a great time, I had a good time.
Happy Friday everybody!

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