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Behind the Scenes: The Art and Craft of Cinema with Randy Thom, Sound Designer

November 21, 2013 - November 24, 2013


With the muffled end to silent cinema, the movies began sounding off, discovering in their newfound voices great expressive effect. Originally, sound design was a simple mix of dialogue, music, and rudimentary effects enlisted to advance the picture’s mood and veracity. As audio technology advanced, so too did the concept that the soundtrack might constitute a sonic sensorium seductively engaging the viewer’s focus and feelings while constructively supporting the director’s aesthetic ends.

Our guest, sound designer Randy Thom, is the recipient of two Academy Awards and fourteen nominations. He began his career apprenticing with Walter Murch on Apocalypse Now (1975), the film that ushered in the term sound designer to acknowledge Murch’s elevated contribution to the film. Thom went on to create even more complex soundscapes that add aural artistry to the presentation of cinema with his work on many of the innovative films of the eighties, including The Empire Strikes Back, Rumble Fish, Koyaanisqatsi, The Right Stuff, and The Thin Blue Line. His integral contributions continued with such films as Starship Troopers, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and War of the Worlds. In the past decade Thom has specialized in animated features, designing the aural exuberance of Coraline, The Polar Express, and most recently The Croods.

We are delighted that Randy Thom will visit BAM/PFA to take us behind-the scenes of sound design with a presentation focusing on David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, whose notable soundtrack relies on an exaggerated aural poetic. He also introduces Dennis Hopper’s Colors, a starkly realistic police drama, and Brad Bird’s Oscar-winning The Incredibles, giving Thom the opportunity to talk about sound for synthetic worlds.

Steve Seid, Video Curator

Thursday, November 21, 2013
7:00 p.m. Behind the Scenes: Randy Thom on Sound Design, followed by Wild at Heart
Two-time Academy Award recipient Randy Thom speaks on the art of sound design, and his own working experiences on films like Apocalypse Now, The Empire Strikes Back, The Right Stuff, and The Incredibles. Followed by David Lynch’s crazed neo-noir, Wild at Heart. (127 mins, plus presentation)

Thursday, November 21, 2013
7:00 p.m. Behind the Scenes: Randy Thom on Sound Design, followed by Wild at Heart

Saturday, November 23, 2013
6:00 p.m. Colors
Dennis Hopper (U.S., 1988). Introduced by sound designer Randy Thom. East and South Central L.A. supply the streets on fire in Dennis Hopper’s gritty police procedural teaming veteran cop Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall) with brash rookie Danny McGavin (Sean Penn). (120 mins)

Sunday, November 24, 2013
3:00 p.m. The Incredibles
Brad Bird (U.S., 2004). Recommended for ages 7 and up. Introduced by sound designer Randy Thom. Meet the Incredibles, just a normal suburban family except for one thing: they’re all superheroes. This joyous Pixar pic won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing. (115 mins)

Behind the Scenes is a collaboration between BAM/PFA and the San Francisco Film Society. Major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.