Go for the Gold

Out and proud, Lora Hirschberg is nominated for her first Oscar for sound mixing on The Dark Knight. Her gig at Skywalker Sound allows her to work on projects big ( The Prestige ) and small ( Shortbus ).

BY Regina Marler

February 19 2009 1:00 AM ET

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On
The Dark Knight

, Hirschberg's mixing partner was Gary Rizzo, who also worked
with her on
The Prestige

.

"I mixed sound
effects and music on
The Dark Knight,

and my partner mixed dialogue and foley. That isn't a typical
division of labor, but we like to try different things," she
says.

Hirschberg, Rizzo, and
colleague Ed Novick have been nominated for the Oscar as a
team.

Some sections of
The Dark Knight

were shot in IMAX, and Hirschberg and Rizzo first produced a
temp mix for that format -- a short film of the bank heist, and
the Joker being revealed -- and then, about six months later,
mixed the film as a whole. It was by far their biggest project
to date.

"It's a huge
soundtrack, a big music score, a lot of fun," Hirschberg
recalls. "The sound team was relaxed. None of us had any idea
it was going to be as massively successful as it was. Chris
Nolan is an amazing director. He oversees every aspect of the
production and postproduction. He was with us the whole
time."

Although Hirschberg
doesn't like to pick favorites among the films she's worked on,
she's especially proud of some of the smaller films,
documentaries like Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's
Paragraph 175

and lower-budget narrative films, such as her friend Nicole
Holofcener's forthcoming
Please Give

, starring Catherine Keener. These are films that might not
ordinarily have been able to hire a mixer with Hirschberg's
experience and expertise, and her involvement can make a big
difference.

She's also one of the
angels who brought John Cameron Mitchell's beautiful
Shortbus

to life. Hirschberg came to the project through her work on
Jonathan Caouette's
Tarnation

, which was produced by Mitchell. Everyone had been talking
about
Shortbus

, and she offered her services to Mitchell for the film. After
production, she spent a week and a half in New York mixing
sound with her friend Brandon Proctor, but the work felt rushed
and frustrating: "With these little films, you don't have the
time or money that you need."

Hirschberg arranged for
the
Shortbus

team to come to Skywalker and mix for another week. "It was
wonderful," she recalls. "With most films, there's usually
one scene that really gets you. In
Shortbus

, that whole beginning montage was so brilliant. And I loved
all the actors' performances. When I'm mixing I get to watch
movies over and over. If it's a good movie, that's an
incredible experience."

Tags: film

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