Supervising Sound Editor Scott Gershin talks about working with the
acclaimed director on the soundtracks for “Pacific Rim,” “Blade II” and other

Studio City, Calif.—Later this month, the Motion Picture Sound Editors will present Guillermo
del Toro with its annual Filmmaker Award at the 64th Annual Golden
Reel Awards ceremony. The Mexican-born filmmaker is being recognized for his
“outstanding contributions to the art of cinema,” and joins such distinguished
past honorees as Sam Raimi, Darren Aronofsky, George Lucas, Ang Lee, Michael
Bay, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer and Gale Anne Hurd.
Del Toro is an apt choice for the MPSE’s highest award. A
master of horror, fantasy and science fiction, the director has produced an
exceptional body of work, noteworthy not only for its captivating visuals, but
also for its imaginative use of sound, whether in the form of the thundering
robots of Pacific Rim, the creepy
predator insects of Mimic or the
fantastic creatures of his masterpiece Pan’s

and narratively, sound and image fuse in the cinematic experience,” says del
Toro. “I have spent as much time on the mixing board as I have on a stage
shooting or in a color correction suite grading the final film. To paraphrase
Mark Twain: ‘The difference between the almost right sound and the right sound
‘tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.’”

One person intimately familiar with del Toro’s predilections
for cinematic sound is Supervising Sound Editor Scott Gershin (who will present del Toro with his award at the MPSE Golden Reel ceremony). A 7-time Golden
Reel Award winner (with 21 nominations), Gershin has collaborated with del Toro
on Pacific Rim, Hellboy II and Blade II. He
has also remastered several of the director’s earlier films for home
entertainment release. “I’ve worked with Guillermo for a long time and
developed a good sense for what he likes,” Gershin observes. “It also happens
to be what I like. We’re kindred spirits when it comes to sound.”

Gershin describes del Toro as a hands-on director who takes
an interest in every detail of his films. At the same time, he allows his
creative partners room to do what they do best, giving them freedom to
experiment and add their personal creative touch. “He likes to do cool things
and wants to get the utmost out of the music, dialogue and sound design, and
he’s totally open to input from his collaborators,” Gershin says. “He’s a great
partner. He gives you a huge canvas to paint on.”
As an example, Gershin points to the towering monsters and
robots of Pacific Rim. “Guillermo
didn’t want the Jaegers and Kaijus to sound electronic or sci-fi; the
technology isn’t that far in the future,” he recalls. “He said, ‘Imagine
Jaegers as a kind of warship, a destroyer, with heavy, steel plating. They’re
like walking battleships.’ It was great to have that frame of reference.”
Inspired by del Toro’s enthusiasm, Gershin went to great
lengths to create the sounds of those “walking battleships” “In order to get
the right metal sounds, we went to the Port of Long Beach and spent a day
recording cargo containers, dropping them on top of each other,” he explains.
“They were very big. They made a sound like cannons.”
Del Toro is never short on ideas for sound or hesitant to
share them. On Blade II, the director
was obsessed with the beastly utterances of the film’s “super vampires.” “He
would call me up and say, ‘I have this great idea for a vocal, can I come over
and do it for you?” Gershin recalls. “I’d say ‘Sure,’ and two seconds later,
there’d be a knock on my door.”

Gershin notes that working with a director with such a
consuming interest in the nuances of sound can be daunting. “Guillermo can be
tough and demanding,” he asserts. “He’s challenging, but in a good way. He
makes me work hard.” He adds, that the hard work continues through the final
mix. “He uses all the tools in the sound chain. If there are surrounds, he
wants to hear them. If there’s a sub, he wants to hear that. If it’s a 7.1
Atmos mix, he wants to have fun with it and he’ll take advantage of it on a
scene, by scene basis.”
It’s exactly that passion and high expectations that makes
working with del Toro rewarding, says Gershin. “He makes me stretch muscles and
experiment,”  he notes. “He’s also very
appreciative when good sound happens. It’s all about creativity and the work. I
find that very gratifying.”
About MPSE
Founded in 1953, the Motion
Picture Sound Editors is a non-profit organization of professional sound and
music editors who work in the motion pictures, television and gaming industry.
The organization’s mission is to provide a wealth of knowledge from award
winning professionals to a diverse group of individuals, youth and career
professionals alike; mentoring and educating the community about the artistic
merit and technical advancements in sound and music editing; providing
scholarships for the continuing advancement of professional sound education;
and helping to enhance the personal and professional lives of the men and women
who practice this unique craft.
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Suite 102
Studio City,
CA 91604
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