There is a long and circuitous story, with only a couple degrees of separation, behind the appearance of composer Tom Holkenborg on this month’s cover of Mix. It’s a story that began, oddly enough, on the Disney dub stage in the early 1990s, where I met Oscar-winning supervising sound editor Mark Mangini on the final mix for Beauty and the Beast. I was still new and just happy to be in the room; Mark was building his legend.
Then in the 2000s, the parent company of Mix launched the late, great Remix magazine, which ultimately fell under my editorial umbrella. An early cover featured the internationally renowned artist/producer/DJ Junkie XL, who at the time might have had a Number One hit in more than 20 countries while playing to crowds of 100,000 at Ibiza. I wasn’t hip enough to realize the depth and inventiveness of Junkie XL’s productions at the time. But it was clear that this was Talent, capital T. And I do listen.
Then in 2015, when putting together the second annual Mix Presents Sound for Film event at Sony, I asked Mark to give the keynote speech on sound design. While milling around at the podium and catching up before his [brilliant] talk, hearing the tales of the emergency call to Sydney to work on Mad Max: Fury Road and how he was now finishing up Black Mass, he kept interject- ing, “You have to talk to this guy Tom Holkenborg. Junkie XL. He’s unbelievably talented. I’ve never had so much fun working back and forth with the music side.” Mark is a guitar player, Holkenborg a multi-instrumentalist. They did the two films together. Four months later, in his Oscar acceptance speech for Best Sound Editing on Mad Max, Mark thanked Holkenborg.
Now, on September 16, Holkenborg will deliver the keynote speech at the fourth annual Mix Presents Sound for Film event, and Mark will be in the audience, later in the day moderating an expert panel on sound editing and sound design. The relationships continue.
Here, now, is the side road in that circuitous route, where I was reminded of the importance of building real relationships. Not just business or professional relationships, but real relationships. It also, tangentially, involves Mr. Mangini, who will likely be embarrassed to read so much about himself.
While putting together the feature story on Formosa Group (Mark was one of the first eight supervisors to sign up) and talking with Bob Rosenthal and Matt Dubin, they both kept saying how much the film industry, in all of its many facets, is based on relationships. Enduring relationships. When they launched Formosa Group four years ago from a small office on The Lot, they had no facilities. They went after talent first, approaching top-shelf supervising sound editors and offering them a home. A place to be creative.
To be sure, there is a long and strong history of independent sound facilities in Hollywood, but the rapid rise of Formosa as a bona fide force has been remarkable. They have five brand new television mixing stages (and dozens of editorial rooms) to go with their existing facilities in Santa Monica and on The Lot, all new headquarters, a high-end audio presence across Features, Interactive, Music, Commercials and Broadcast, and a supportive group of like-minded owners. Talent first. Relationships matter.
I miss my heyday in film sound, when the magazine was fat and we could fill pages with stories from the highly creative teams working across Hollywood. While at Formosa, I ran across Per Hallberg, whom I met years ago on Gladiator. I also ran into An- nalee and Mat from the Game of Thrones mix team, wrapping up season 7 on Stage 2 in the new 959 Seward facility. I didn’t run into Mark this trip, but I will see him in September.
I miss this atmosphere. The dub stage. Lots of relationships, and they all matter.