The following article is a guest author contribution from Cristen Reading. Cristen worked as a post production assistant on ‘Last Passenger’, location scouting for pick-ups, editing VFX plate footage, and recording additional sound effects for the movie.
Renowned for a highly attuned sense of rhythm and fluid composition, Joe Walker is now an award-winning film editor but he originally trained as a classical music composer at the University of York. He is much feted for his collaboration with Steve McQueen on Shame and Twelve Years A Slave, and is currently cutting the latest Michael Mann thriller.
In this exclusive interview, Joe talks about his most recent project to hit theaters, the Indie thriller, Last Passenger. Directed and co-written by first-timer Omid Nooshin, Last Passenger tells the story of a small group of everyday passengers on a speeding London commuter train battling a sociopathic driver. According to Joe, “It was a very bold, British movie. It had ambitions to tell an action story but also be rooted in very strong characters.”
“That’s the magic of movie making and good continuity, you can try and blend [disparate elements] together.”
Joe’s sense of streamlined rhythm is evident throughout the film but especially during the nail-biting ‘train-surfing’ scene where one of the passengers climbs outside the train in a desperate bid to free everyone from the clutches of the driver. The sequence was one of the movie’s most complex set pieces, utilizing pre-vis as a “way of checking the objects are where you would like them to be.” The scene was shot in four locations, two studio and two location, over several months, with some shots featuring the main actor and others substituting a stunt double. According to Joe, part of the fun was seamlessly merging these disparate elements. “That’s the magic of movie making and good continuity,” he says “you can try and blend these things together.”
When editing was almost complete the film was scheduled for an important financier screening but the sound still needed a great deal of work. Joe asked an old friend, Glenn Freemantle of Sound 24, to contribute sound elements for the screening and, even though Glenn’s team was stretched to the limits on Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Glenn still managed to deliver. His contribution was so impressive that Omid insisted on hiring his team for the final sound design.
“It’s a lot of fun to create big explosions and loud things…it’s really nice to build dynamic sounds, starting off very quiet and then hitting you with an impact.”
In this second exclusive interview, Sound Effects Editor Eilam Hoffman explains how the team went about creating a language for the train so that it would become as much a character in the film as any of the passengers. A major creative choice was to use animal sounds such as lions, tigers, and cobras, morphed with the train sounds to give the locomotive an animalistic quality.
“It’s a lot of fun to create big explosions and loud things” Eilam smiles, adding “it’s really nice to build dynamic sounds, starting off very quiet and then hitting you with an impact.” Hear some of those sounds here.