J.L. Congratulations for your great victory! Sound grabs another couple of accolades in an already impressive list. You named your project ‘Sound’. That’s a very ambitious title, and all can go wrong in case you don’t quite deliver. However, you did – what was the secret behind your success?
Tawan: I feel, it’s likely good ole fashion planning, having a clear understanding of where I wanted to go narratively and having something cinematic to say. As a professional Colorist I understand a great deal about color science and how certain tones affect mood. My goal was to set a tone that would convey intimacy and tradgedy. At the same time I wanted the viewer to get pulled into Isabelle’s world. The SOUND is the anatagonist and this looming threat was created by Jeffery Alan Jones. The three of us, aka the three amigos, sat down in the spotting session and determined how to approach the sound design and score. We are seeing the fruits of our creative decisions and we feel honored that it is being well-received.
J.L. What is the origin of the idea? Did you build the plot on the sound premise, or vice versa?
Tawan: In 2014 a friend invited me to take a ride to Angeles Crest Highway. A mountain region in Los Angeles county with a spooky winding road. I had never been. The time we went was at night. As you go up the winding road your ears pop. You’re climbing thousands of feet up the mountain. At around 5,000 feet we pull over to a lookout and I got out the car. I heard absolutely nothing. Silence. No wildlife lurking, searching for food, insects…literally nothing. I said My footsteps were more pronounced. It was a bit unnerving. I don’t think it was 2 minutes out side the car when I heard the roar of a car approaching—fast! A BMW came around the bend and it was LOUD. I know that if it wasn’t so quiet that car wouldn’t sounded so loud. Then I thought—what if my ears were sensitive to loud noises. From there I started developing the concept.
J.L. It’s not a horror film per se, but it could be argued that Sound does not exactly stray far from the genre. What are your views on this?
Tawan: What happens to the chararcter Isabelle is horrifying. The idea that you can’t escape from an invisible threat is certainly scary. Horror tends to infiltrate a lot of subject matters, if the human element is truly added to the story. For example Kubick’s “The Shinning”, everything went to hell for the family when they went to the hotel. A simple idea became horrifying based on the circumstances. Hitchcock’s Vertigo, though it played mysteriously haunting John Ferguson became obsessed and nearly driven mad over Madelyn and her likeness. But after the truth was revealed the horror was her fall to death. The late French Director, Louie Malle’s “Damage” is another example of horror. Though “Damage” is a drama that’s primarily about an affair, the sins of the father killed the child…which made it horrifying. So, I don’t mind the horror label or link. I do classify ‘Sound’ as a thriller but hey, I’ll take horror too.
J.L. How did you decide on how to tackle music and sound manipulation?
Tawan: I chose to tell a story with images, sound and no dialogue exposition. The idea was to go from the subtle, and crescendo up to the coup de grâce. Jeff Jones and I discussed the layers of the sound-threat and he spun a web. He created this thing…this encompassing sound experience that when heard in 5.1 surround sound it’s a real monster. Jeff choose to make the score less obvious so that the sound design would be front and center. The biggest task was being able to use sound as the story arc. We wanted the viewer to understand exactly what was going on and why the sound is shifting and moving aggressively. Crystal Porter-Bazemore gave Jeff enough emotion and visual cues to create the sound design around her performance.
J.L. A lot of TMFF fans loved your film – so much that you also scooped up the Audience Award. How does it feel to know that your project is appreciated by critics and viewers alike?
Tawan: Humbled. This is all subjective, you know…While we had a plan and knew we had a cinematic story you never quite know if you’ve done what you set out to accomplish, until you get audience response; be it critics, filmmakers or your garden-variety movie viewer. We appreciate all the accolades, reviews and all the current success the film is having. Honestly, I just really feel blessed.
J.L. Any new projects on the line for you?
Tawan: Yes, I am developing the feature version of SOUND. I have the first draft of the script completed. I should have a polished version in a couple of months. I am also preparing to shoot another thriller, this time a feature called “A Pound of Flesh” and a comedy written by Crystal Porter-Bazemore.
J.L. Thanks for your time, Tawan. We’re looking forward to seeing your work again in the future.