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The film ‘Hugo’ has proven technically strong at this year’s Academy Award ceremony, winning over other technically visionary films without problems. Tom Fleischman and John Midgley won for their work in Sound Mixing and afterwards, the Oscar press corps had a chat with the two happy first-time winners.
Tom Fleischman: Wow, this is an incredible honor. Thanks to the Academy; thanks to Graham King and Tim Headington for producing “Hugo”; many thanks to my fellow nominees who inspire me and you do inspire me for years; Marty and Thelma, what a joy and privilege it’s been to work with you; and my wife Priscilla for her unending love and support. Everyone back in New York at Soundtrack and C5. Thank you to Dede Allen and Dick Vorisek, you couldn’t be here tonight but I know you are both smiling.
John Midgley: This is such an honor, thank you so much. Thank you to my crew, Mike and Charlotte, and thank you so much to Martin Scorsese. Thank you.
Q. It’s your first win. Just tell us how you’re feeling right now and what it means to you.
A. (Eugine Gearty) We’re feeling pretty darn good, I’d say. It means a lot to us to be here. Pretty great.
A. (Philip Stockton) Absolute honor.
Q. So, Hugo just won for visual effects as well?
A. (Eugine Gearty) Yes.
Q. So, do you think this reflects, perhaps, the Academy’s embracing of the whole ethos of silent cinema and everything that Hugo kind of represented?
A. (Philip Stockton) In a word, yes. I mean, obviously, a lot of technical skills went into this. I’m actually a little disappointed that there weren’t any actor and actress nominations for this. Obviously it was a technical masterpiece to pull off. Obviously, the tech award to have that recognized makes a lot of sense.
Q. Hi guys, I’m wondering if while you’re making the movie, are you able to look at each other at some point and say, you know, this is really good, I mean, we might win an Oscar for this. Is that something that goes through your mind?
A. (Eugine Gearty) Yes, that definitely has gone through our mind. When you work for Martin Scorsese, there’s always a chance you’re going to be nominated for an Oscar. So, yes [inaudible].
A. (Philip Stockton) I think we would have been nominated for ‘Shutter Island’ if it came out in the right year.
Q. Scorsese films have a distinct sound to them, especially with soundtracks, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, especially ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino’. Given that legacy, what was the challenge here and did you fight that trend or what how did it work as a sound editor knowing how rich his music is in his prior films?
A. (Eugine Gearty) We actually worked on all of those films, so we I guess we just had to sort of
A. (Philip Stockton) Yeah, it’s actually a really good question. It’s incredibly difficult to work with the situation where Marty is very the most important thing is dialogue, the narration and then the soundtrack, as is music. And rightfully so. When you the films you mentioned have great soundtracks, rock and roll and everything. What was great on this was Howard Shore’s score was such a masterpiece and we were very fortunate to be able to work early on together and it intertwined. Forgive me, but I think there were only two source cues on this film as opposed to the films you mentioned that have a lot more source cues.
After winning the Oscar for Best Cinematography, Robert Richardson also spoke to the waiting Oscar press corps.
Q. You did make a comment on stage about the cinematography award being first. Were you serious? Is that something that’s bothering you or do you have strong feelings about that?
A. No. It’s a fear factor. Yeah, of course. Cinematography. We are behind the lens. We are not in front of the lens. So, it made it a little complex for me to walk up there.
Q. So, what was it like for you DP’ing on Scorsese film that’s every bit as much rendering green screen as it is actually staged?
A. Oh, I don’t know if you are absolutely accurate on that part. There was not as much green screen as there was on the production side. Once you get Dante here, I think that’s conversation you should have with him. He might not take well to that one. It was a great deal of practical. The sets were phenomenal. So, I am not appropriate for that one.
Q. All right. I’m wondering if you can talk about working in 3D. This is not the first 3D film to win, but it’s unusual to get recognized with 3D.
A. You’re right. I think the odds of winning are extraordinarily small. I was the crystal ball didn’t work this way. I know it worked that way for Mark Wahlberg, but for me, I didn’t see it. I don’t know [unintelligible] a Mark Wahlberg piece, but his predictions are near two for three. Uhm, yeah, I know it’s very difficult to choose 3D, and I’m surprised by it as well. And I think it’s not just 3D. It’s a digital aspect versus a film aspect.
Q. Where do we go now, dramatically, with 3D now that you’ve paved the way?
A. That’s a huge question, but I don’t think there’s any limits for it. 3D is a very solid step. I believe it’s 15, 20 percent, give an arbitrary percentage. The advantage is a tool towards what filmmakers can use, if used, as just that, as a tool, not as a gimmick. There’s an end. I do believe it will alter that, but, technically, I don’t believe we can go into that here, ’cause I could go on for an hour [inaudible].
Q. This is the last year of Kodak sponsoring the venue for the Oscars. Can you talk about shooting digital versus shooting film?
A. Last night, I was at the Kodak dinner at The Bistro. And, of course, it’s a bit painful. I’m shooting currently on film. Uhm, I’m with Quentin Tarantino for ‘Django Unchained’. I don’t think it’s an issue of film versus digital. I’m hoping that film can survive for as long as possible. I hope Kodak sticks here, but it’s not over yet, virtually, every film, is digitized in one way or another, so we have to think about that. The digital media sweep.
Q. I’m curious with such a prominent group of cinematographers that you were nominated with, how does it feel for you now that you were the one that was called and won the Oscar?
A. I’m elated. I didn’t see this as happening. I have to say, personally, I love the work of Chivo in ‘The Tree of Life’. I, also, think he’s well overdue, but that said, I am extraordinarily happy. I do love that man, so, I would like to see that not too far in the future. Thank you all very much.
Image Courtesy of Rick Salyer / ©A.M.P.A.S.