You know, the common perception about people who work in the sound industry is that we're kinda quiet geeks who hang out quietly in the back, and then occasionally blast loud noises to unsuspecting people in front of us. For the most part, we live in the shadows and never try to steal the spotlight. This is true.
Man, what a week it has been to prove that theory wrong! Sound people have lost their minds!
First, there was Brice Carrington. Brice is a Hollywood sound effects guy, who's name was supplied to a reporter for consideration for an article about him. Brice had a quite a story to tell, too.
Brice had come up from humble beginnings, selling records at swap meets and then eventually was able to get his foot in the door as a sound effects person.
He had received 3 commemorative Oscars for “King Kong,” “Ghost and the Darkness,” and “Jurassic Park.” He has created sound effects for 41 blockbuster films, including "Jurassic Park 3", "Blade, The Blood Hunt", "Rush Hour 2", "Van Helsing", "Superman Returns", "Spiderman", and the "Mummy Returns" sequels.
It was Brice Carrington who gave King Kong his roar, the T-Rex and other dinosaurs their menacing sound in the movie "Jurassic Park", put the hiss in "Snakes on a Plane", the swoosh in Superman’s flight and the swirling sound in Spiderman’s web-shooting. Carrington is the man behind the pops, bangs, booms and blasts of the firepower in "Miami Vice", "True Lies", "The Fantastic Four" and "The Incredible Hulk", etc.
Wow, right? This guy is clearly a Hollywood sound legend.
Only one problem. It was all completely untrue! This man had never done of those things that he had claimed, he just made it all up!
Slowly, other sound designers began to realize that this guy was claiming credit for their work! When the reporter contacted Brice to confront him with these claims, he responded with this admission:
"I am Brice Carrington. I am writing this note to address comments made about me and to state some facts about my work. All the statements made that say directly that I have NEVER worked on a film or have won an academy award for sound is absolutely true. I have never worked on a motion picture nor have I ever won an academy award.
The fact is, I am a sound designer, and I make recreations of sounds found in films and sell them to the public through a brand called Ultimate FX. I am completely responsible for all the misleading or incorrect statements made about me in the press. My effort was to create press for the brand Ultimate FX, which I am the author. I did this foolishly. This is a library where I have made my OWN versions of movie sounds. I have no association with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. I commemorate the Oscars by creating a version of the main characters in films that win Oscars. Like in Jurassic Park, we make a T-Rex using hogs in water, lion growls, a lawn mower and elephant roars. That is My version. I sell this and other sounds complete with the stems to consumers. This is a lawful enterprise, but misleading the public or allowing mis-characterizations is wrong.
I am issuing an apology for making all of the misleading or mischaracterizations of my work. I apologize to those in the sound industry and the makers of the original works and studios that distribute them for this offense. To correct this, I will ask for retractions were appropriate in the press. I will also refrain from any further public comments and allow the brand and the product to speak for itself through traditional means of sales and marketing. To those in the sound industry and those specifically I have offended, you have a right to be upset, and I offer my sincere apology. I am sorry that you had to spend one minute of your time addressing this. b"
Well, at least he came clean about it, but still! That takes balls, kid.
BUT! That's NOTHING compared to the balls of sound mixer Michael Minkler. Minkler, along with his two colleagues Willie Burton and Bob Beemer, won the Oscar this week for their mixing of "Dreamgirls". Among the people who they beat out for this award was sound mixer Kevin O'Connell, who had been nominated for his mixing of "Apocalypto". O'Connell had recently gotten a lot of press as he's the Susan Lucci of sound mixers: he's been nominated 19 times for an Oscar without ever winning. 19 TIMES! Who can't empathize with that?
Well, clearly, Michael Minkler had heard enough about this by the time he reached the press room backstage with Burton and Beemer after he had won his Oscar. A question was thrown to the trio about what advice they had for the losing Kevin O'Connell. While Burton and Beemer had conciliatory things to say -- "Hang in there, Kevin, you'll get your chance," Burton said -- Minkler's words were the opposite. "I think Kevin should go away with 19 nominations, and find another line of work." he said without cracking a smile. "We work really hard, and if we stumble upon an award, we are so grateful. I just wonder what Kevin's trying to do out there by trying to get an award by using sympathy. And Kevin's an okay mixer, but enough's enough about Kevin."
Reporters have a hard time trying to figure out whether Minkler is serious or not. Turns out he was.
But wait! Is Kevin O'Connell there so we can ask him for a response? No, he's not! Where is he?
Wait for it.
That's right. He's with his dying mother. That's right, his mother who was on her death bed, and died immediately following the Oscars telecast.
BOOM would be the sound that I would put here.
O'Connell responded the following morning through email: "As you may or may not know, my mother Skippy passed away on Sunday night right after the Oscars. I was holding her in my arms when she died. I was not made aware of Mr. Minkler's comments until Monday morning. I have not seen them personally and at this point I have no intention of looking at them or reading about them. I'll get back to you when I get that far down on my list of what is important to me. Take care, Kevin."
Certainly a dignified response. Other sound designers remain completely shocked and aghast at this whole thing. O'Connell's sound mixing partner for "Apocalypto", Greg P. Russell, was pissed to say the least as he spoke to Incontention.com about whether or not Minkler was serious about his comments:
"He was absolutely sincere with that BULLSHIT. That man has lost whatever respect he had from a ton of people. Kevin, mind you, left the ceremonies right after our award and went to the hospital where his mother passed away in his arms at 11:32 pm. As if Kevin didn't have enough to deal with. He wakes up to this bullshit."
"It's been a really weird couple of days. I've been fielding all the calls because Kev has been out. The head of our studio came in to say he blasted Minkler for his assault. I even kicked myself for being congratulatory that night. Minkler said to me when I congratulated him that I was always a classy guy and he appreciated that a lot. Integrity is something that means everything to me and this man has absolutely NONE. He stood backstage representing the entire Sound Community in front of the world, only to disgrace us all."
OH, LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YOU, MY FRIENDS. There is one rule in Hollywood that you must never never break. That rule is BE NICE TO EVERYONE PUBLICLY, even if they're screwing you. Especially if they're screwing you. Because you never know.
You never, never know.