Celebrating 40 years with the company, Skywalker Sound’s Sound Editor & Director of Sound Design Randy Thom joins an exclusive group of Lucasfilm luminaries, including fellow 2019 honoree Supervising Sound Editor & Sound Editor Ben Burtt.
A respected voice in the field of motion picture sound for decades, Thom’s Lucasfilm career stretches back to the pioneering days before Skywalker Sound’s formal inception, when our sound division was known as Sprocket Systems.
In this exclusive interview, Thom looks back on his past experiences and ahead to the future in the ever-growing medium of sound design…
To a layman, how would you describe the role of a sound designer?
Ideally, the job of a film sound designer is to work with the film’s director to develop a sound style for the movie they are collaborating on, to design a strategy for making sound a full collaborator in storytelling, and to fabricate or supervise the fabrication of specific sounds to be used in the film. As an example, for the Robert Zemeckis film Contact, I had meetings in pre-production with Zemeckis to discuss the overall sound of the film, and we talked about how sound ideas could affect the visual design of the film. During production and post-production I designed and fabricated the sound for the device that Jodi Foster’s character uses to travel to another dimension, among many other sounds.
Growing up, was there a particular film or other piece of art that inspired you?
Honestly, I was mostly unaware of art until I was in my twenties. I think spending a lot of time as a kid in the forest where I grew up in Louisiana probably shaped my later artistic sensibilities more than any movies I saw, music I heard, or art I was exposed to.
Do any memories stand out in your earliest days working here?
I remember being ecstatic to be working with Ben Burtt, and fascinated by the collaborative way he worked with George. I think very few sound people have had that kind of relationship with directors, and it was inspirational to say the least.