Jul 14, 2016
If you’re a fan of the iconic films: The French Connection, M.A.S.H., Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Young Frankenstein, it’s likely that what made a lasting impression was not just what you saw but also what you heard. And if you were lucky enough to see these groundbreaking features in the theatre, what you heard was a sound design that inspired countless cinematic storytellers. The man largely responsible for all that sound is veteran sound editor, Don Hall. Don has seen this company town go through an incredible technical change but as anyone who has ever spent time with Don will recognize- class and professionalism never go out of style. Don has been a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 52 years having served as a Governor of the Sound Branch for 18 years, he’s been a member of countless committees and is now serving as the CO-Chair of the Student Academy Awards.
Photographed at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Sound Department where Don is a Professor of Cinematic Arts.
VG: Tell me how you got started in sound? What attracted you to this particular industry?
DH: It was not my intention to enter the sound or another motion picture field. My aim was to become an Architectural Photographer at the end of WW II. I attended The Art Center School in Los Angeles and during the first semester, the instructor asked the class “who is interested in filmmaking?” I raised my hand and noted only one other student responded. That is how Hal Stegman and I became the first film class at Art Center (1947).
Upon graduation I was employed by a small but very successful film company that specialized in industrial films and the budding television commercial business. This attracted the eye of the guilds (unions) and they made Mercury International Pictures into a union company. I was given the choice of joining 2 unions, camera or editing, and I opted for editing because I could not afford to join camera.
Then I learned about the seniority system that banned new members from editing until they were in the union for 8 years. I was allowed however to go into sound and that’s where I started. I fell in love with the medium and I never once wanted to move to film editing.
VG: What was the most personally fulfilling project that you worked on?”
DH: This is a simple answer: All of them. Each and every project, no matter how large or small, had challenges and all were rewarding.
VG: Were you influenced by films when you were young, before you got in the business?
DH: I never saw any movies when I was young. I grew up during the depression and the only time we went to a movie was because they were giving a “dish” to all who attended. This is how our family got dishes to eat on. So I was not influenced by any films.
VG: You’ve worked with greats like Mel Brooks, William Friedkin and Robert Altman just to name a few. Can you tell us a little about those experiences?
DH: Mel did not want the Fox Feature Sound Editing department to cut Young Frankenstein. Mel had a very bad experience with a studio crew on Blazing Saddles. He finally committed when I said I would supervise and actually do the work. It was the start of a very good relationship and continued to Silent Movie his next Fox commitment.
The studio execs did not understand the stylized overlapping dialogue in M.A.S.H. No studio representative was present for the mix and I was asked to handle it all. I enjoyed working with Robert Altman who strived for what he wanted to achieve. I continued on to supervise the TV version for the first 3 years.
On The French Connection, William Friedkin was probably the most demanding director (from a sound viewpoint) I’ve ever worked with. I was supervising with the Fox “feature” crew and sound editors. Grueling! Recorded all car FX with Hal Needham on the Fox back lot.
Author Side Note: For anyone unfamiliar with the car scene with Gene Hackman, it is the car chase sequence. Click HERE to see it. Every filmmaker going forward knew that this was the action standard to beat second only to Bullitt with Steve McQueen. Click HERE to see a breakdown of the sequence as told by William Friedkin on the DGA website.
VG: I know you as a highly respected artist in your field. Can you share any thoughts for anyone who has visions of becoming a top sound mixer?
DH: I appreciate your comment but so many things go into suggesting ways to be successful. I was not a sound mixer but a Sound Editor (before Sound Design became the vogue). And I worked as a Post Production Supervisor for 8-10 years, rounding out my career.
My suggestion is to be the best you can be in your field! But be mindful that this is a collaborative medium with many people to satisfy (artistically and financially) so there’s lots of give and take. In other words, whoever you offend will never become your friend and can hurt your career in the long run.
This is a small industry and every one knows every one. Be the best you can, respect your co-workers and rewards will come your way!
Mar 18, 2016
Amazing couple of days & nights in Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley. Recent rains produced vivid color and plant life on the desert floor. Can't wait to go back.
Feb 9, 2016
Jan 12, 2016
HBO put on their Golden Globes after party at Circa 55 (formaly Trader Vic's) again this year hosting winners and losers. Here's a few.
Jane Fallon, Ricky Gervais and Richard Plepler
Bryan Cranston, HBO's Richard Plepler and Glove winner Jon Hamm
Bryan Cranston and HBO's Michael Lombardo
Comic actor Matt Walsh and Jon Hamm
Brad Hall and Jon Hamm
Harrison Ford and David Oyelowo
Han Solo & Ally McBeal smooching
Ricky Gervais holding court with director Jay Roach
Liev Schreiber, Andy Samberg and Michael Lombardo
Rob Lowe hooks up a fan with an autograph
Rob Lowe and wife Sheryl Berkoff
Even Mel Gibson made an appearance
Larry David having a laugh
Niecy Nash and Michael Lombardo
Actor Sean Bean in a selfie huddle
Michael Lombardo and Emilia Clarke from "Game of Thrones"
Funny ladies, Zoe Lister-Jones and Angelique Cabral
Fashion blogger Oscar De Las Salas with Micheline Etkin
From "Silicon Valley," Zach Woods, Thomas Middleditch and Sam Richardson
"Bones" actress Michaela Conlin with friend
My favorite shot of the night. Fresh off her win from "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" Rachel Bloom glowing with writer/producer Dan Gregor
Huge thanks to HBO's Adraina Fernandez for helping navigate the room
Party over! Even waiting in line to get to my car seemed glitzie
Dec 14, 2015
We finally got to return to our island paradise. After a very busy end of year it was geat to spend some down time on Kauai. I'll let the pictures do all the talking.
Flowers, flowers, flowers. Couldn't get enough of the variety
Abandoned Aloha Theatre in Hanapepe
Once a grand stage
Tried shooting flowers at night with only a flashlight
From our balcony another perfect rainbow
Keeping them safe at Lydgate Beach
Chick and mamma
Wailua River valley
What are hicles?
Lighthouse at Ninini
Lavaflow at Brennecke's. Yes please.
Chilled fresh cocunut prepared by a local
End of day colors
Another perfect sunset
Bannanas growing right outside of our room
Flower and color overload at McBryde Garden Botanical Garden
Monk Seal getting some sun
Mom with little ones greeting us every morning
THE spot. Another walk at Shipwreck's Beach
Turtle in the surf
Playing with long exposures with flash.
Taking in our last day
Another perfect flower
Good night Hawaiian stars. See you soon.
Nov 6, 2015
I had a such great time shooting with Hope, Tom and Sam for my White Winter Holiday Portrait series that I featured them in my November flyer. Since this is LA, no boots or parkas here. See below for a few of my other favories:
Oct 21, 2015
Excited to see filmmaker Joselito Seldera wearing my “213” tee in the newly released Israel Nash music video “LA Lately” directed by Haroula Rose. Check it out below. Get your own 213 here: vinpixstudios.com
The official "LA Lately" music video by Israel Nash
Joselito in Venice Beach
With cinematographer Johanna Coelho
Like a boss JS getting real ink in front of the lens.
Yes. Pictures, tacos & curbs.
Oct 20, 2015
Thrilled artist and illustrator Grace Tame joined me for my White Party Shoot series. Someone is channeling a bit of Grace Kelly, eh? You can see more of her work on Instagram: @alienbeachpunk
Sep 25, 2015
So I walk into the Pacific Design Center in the middle of what seems like an unending Los Angeles heat wave to discover the theme of HBO's after party is.... fire. Not kidding. The event was super crowded with everyone hyped up off the network's big wins.
Funny ladies Shannon Woodward, Whitney Cummings, Zoe Lister-Jones looking- well... very serious for some reason
My new friends from accross the pond, British actors Richard Glover and Angela Peters
HBO's Michael Lombardo and supercoolrockgod Dave Grohl
Veep's Juia Louis-Dreyfus, HBO's Richard Plepler and Scandal's Kerry Washington
The legendary Mel Brooks and JLD
SNL's Vanessa Bayer and Colin Hanks
Table of Emmys
Funny folks, Will Sasso and Alex Borstein
Apparently winning two is a downer
Kyle MacLachlan pitches Laser Cat sketches to SNL's Lorne Michaels
Michael Lombardo and actress Arielle Kebbel
You won too?
Feb 12, 2015
The photography of Tech Art featured on InspireWire's Hard at Work web segment. Had a great time spending the day with Feeln's host Iris Ichishita. Thanks to Mariana Flores, Caleb Nelson, Nare Mkrtchyan, Iliana Guevara and Halley Georgeson.
On location with InspireWire's host Iris and hard working crew. Thanks to Priscilla Taylor for providing an amazing shoot space.
Framed Tech Art pieces in studio with hosts Iris & Jeff during the show's recording