Piero Mura has worked in the sound department on over 100 films in the last 25+ years. His list of credits include Ben Hur, Fast & Furious 6, Skyfall, Warrior, War of the Worlds, and Training Day to name a few. It was an honor talking to him about his career and sound in general.
Matthew Toffolo: How would you describe what a Sound Effect Editor does in one sentence?
Piero Mura: A Sound Effects Editor directs the attention of the audience to what he/she believes is important in terms of story and entertainment.
MT: You were the Sound Designer on the the remake of Ben-Hur. A film that did not do well box office-wise. You work on months on a film that I’m sure you’re proud of and then it quickly goes away after it opens. How does that feel?
PM: Ben Hur 2016 did not go away after it opened. As I write it is still being released in the foreign markets and it’s doing reasonably well. There is always a bit of disappointment when a movie you work on doesn’t find it’s audience but it’s the nature of what we do. We put our work out there and we move on. If I think a movie is a good movie the fact that made money or not is irrelevant. I leave the commercial aspect of our industry to others.
MT: Were there some films you worked on that you thought would not do well financially and were big hits? Or, films you assumed were going to be a big success, but ended up not doing well?
PM: As I said I leave it to others to make this kind of considerations. But I was happy when “500 Days of Summer” was well received by a large audience. Probably larger than i thought at the time.
Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “500 Days of Summer”
MT: How has sound mixing changed from a technology and creative point of view from the year you started to today?
PM: Everything in post-production changed in the last twenty years.
I believe that they were positive changes. Today the line between mixing and editing is not as well defined as it used to be.
Quite a few sound editors now seat behind the faders and a number of mixers do not hesitate to do sound design or supervise.
Personally I like the opportunity to bring to the stage coherent tracks
where backgrounds, sound effects and foley are already balanced and pre-panned. Establishing spacial relations helps me to understand the sequence better and go a little deeper with my work.
MT: Where do you see the future of Sound Designing in film?
PM: Probably it will be a good future. It’s a fun thing to do and a lot of people would want to be part of it
MT: You’ve been working in the industry for 30+ years on over 100+ productions. Is there is a film or two that you’re most proud of?
PM: If I have to pick one I would pick Training Day. I believe is one of the best movies of the last twenty years. The late George Simpson was the sound supervisor. I cut the sound effects together with a few other sound editors. There’s an important creative line that connects Training Day with Harsh Times,Street Kings and Sabotage.
Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in “Training Day”:
MT: What makes a great sound designer? What skills does he/she need?
PM: Patience and endurance. Also humility helps.
Never go for the esthetic qualities of a sound.
If it is not helping the story it’s beauty is useless.
As far as skills needed I believe that the best skill to have is to be open to learn from others.
Actually this is the same advise I was given when i started.
MT: What film, besides the ones you’ve working on, have you watched the most times in your life?
PM: The Godfather. Characters and story are incredible in this movie.
MT: Where did you grow up? How did you get into working in the film industry?
PM: I was born and grew up in Rome. I started as an apprentice in the Sound Department of the Cinecitta’ Studios. After a couple of years I I got the chance to edit something. It felt good and I liked it.
And I still do.
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go tohttp://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.