The Patriot
By Tom Kenny





The Sony Pictures Entertainment lot was abuzz at the end of May with the controlled rush to bring Mel Gibson and the drama of a family caught up in war to the big screen. From the remodeled Cary Grant to the William Holden and all-new Burt Lancaster theaters, with Foley and ADR working overtime and John Williams sessions in the historic scoring stage, the sound crew was, to quote re-recording mixer Kevin O’Connell, “all blazing.” The goal, from Lee Orloff’s production recordings to the preparation of tracks at Soundelux and the final mix at Sony, was to support picture and story in a natural way.

by Chris Michie

For the film score, the producers were fortunate to secure the participation of two-time Oscar winner John Williams, whose many screen credits include original scores for the historical dramas Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List and Amistad.
Shawn Murphy
Scoring engineer/mixer Shawn Murphy took a rare break from the console at Sony Pictures Scoring Stage.
In fact, Williams has been nominated three dozen times since his first in 1967 for Valley of the Dolls, and hardly a year goes by without his name appearing on the Oscar ballots.

Orchestral scoring sessions took place in mid-May at the Sony Pictures Studios scoring stage in Culver City. To record and mix, Williams brought in his longtime studio collaborator Shawn Murphy, an independent engineer who has recorded more than 190 film scores over the past two decades. In consultation with the producers and music editor Ken Wannberg, Williams and Murphy decided to record the 7.1 and stereo CD mixes “live,” a working method that requires considerable accuracy and decisiveness in the recording process.

It seems so obvious that it makes you wonder why it hasn’t been done before: A big-budget action-drama about the Revolutionary War, with an A-list star, opening just before the July 4 weekend. (Okay, there was the 1985 turkey Revolution, with a miscast Al Pacino. Hollywood has a long memory when it comes to grosses.) But the possibilities appear endless, the landscape immense, with sweeping battles of red vs. blue and the inherent promise of the birth of a nation. Yet, when Columbia Pictures bought the screenplay for The Patriot, it was the family drama inside the historical drama that attracted the talent and pushed the picture beyond the typical summertime fare.

The Patriot balances the intimate and the epic on every level, from script to photography to acting, and certainly with sound. Mel Gibson plays Benjamin Martin, a guerrilla hero of the French and Indian War who has put his brutal past behind him and adopted the life of widower family farmer in South Carolina raising his seven children alone.
© 2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved

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