Oscar-winning ‘Apollo 13’ sound mixer set for career achievement honor

09.29.14 2 years ago

Whether you knew it or not, you've been listening to sound mixer David Macmillan's work for years. There's early stuff, like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Birdy” and “SpaceCamp” (yes!). There's recent stuff like “Twilight,” “Hancock” and “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin.” And there's the Oscar-winning stuff scattered throughout, like “The Right Stuff,” “Speed” and “Apollo 13.” The guy is a legend in the field, so of course he's a great fit for the Cinema Audio Society's (CAS) Career Achievement Award.

Macmillan began his career over half a century ago as an apprentice in Canadian television before eventually connecting with Francis Ford Coppola. The “Godfather” director was in the process of building American Zoetrope in San Francisco and hired Macmillan to run the company's mixing facility. From there, his career took off. He has more than 80 feature films to his credit, the three aforementioned Oscars (he won every time he was nominated), collaborations with Oliver Stone, Ron Howard, Alan Parker, Lawrence Kasdan, Sydney Pollack, Philip Kaufman, Tony Scott, Mike Nichols, Kathryn Bigelow and more – a who's who.

As of late, he's been passing his trade on to students at UCLA, USC, Chapman University and Loyola Marymount University, and he has also put on master classes and workshops across Europe. Macmillan “represents the high standards we all aspire to, as a sound mixer, a mentor and an educator,” said CAS President David E. Fluhr.

Last year HitFix happened to talk to Macmillan about his esteemed career. He told anecdotes of “Natural Born Killers,” “Falling Down,” etc. Here's what he had to say about “The Right Stuff”:

“The Right Stuff” was really difficult. [Producers] Bob Chartoff and Irwin Winkler had ordered a projection system and it wasn”t ready in time for the film [so] we were watching the dailies in the American Can Company on 3rd St. in San Francisco. It was this cement building with cement floors and cement ceiling. We put a screening room in and [it] had these old 1935 Acme projectors with 35 watt A500 speaker and it sounded terrible. I couldn”t believe how badly it sounded and I was getting kind of worried. I thought I was going to be fired. Caleb [Deschanel] came up  to me, he was having problems as well. He was the cameraman. So he was angry. I was angry. So one day, Caleb and I got into it. We”ve been good friends ever since, but, mind you, he was sort of complaining about the sound… of course, we never did get a projection system. So they took all my stuff and ran it through a Finley Hill box and they decided by listening to it that all the stuff they thought was happening wasn”t. It sounded great and everything was fine. It was the concrete. I won an Oscar and Caleb didn”t (laughs).”

The award will be presented at the 51st annual Cinema Audio Society Awards to be held at The Crystal Ballroom of the historic Millennium-Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.

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