Platinum Sponsor Apple TV+ presents “The Sound of Greyhound” on Friday, September 25, at 10:50 AM PDT in the virtual Cary Grant Theatre.
The curious route of the Tom Hanks WWII action-drama Greyhound to a July 2020 release on Apple TV+ is both emblematic of the changes wrought these past six months by the pandemic shutdown and the concurrent surge in demand for quality streaming services—and quality original content.
Demand for entertainment didn’t stop when the 2020 worldwide audience was forced to stay at home. But the means by which that entertainment is produced, post-produced and distributed certainly did. Greyhound production began nearly two years ago under the guidance of Hanks (writer and lead actor) and his longtime business partner, producer Gary Goetzman, as a Playtone Production distributed through Sony Pictures Entertainment/Stage 6 Films.
It was scheduled for release in the Fall, in the heart of awards season, with a final mix essentially done though visual effects were still in process. Then the shutdown orders came, theaters were closed, and studios began juggling release schedules, not knowing when exhibition would return. Long story short, Apple TV stepped in with some much-needed funds, the visual effects work was finished, Mike Minkler finalized the mix, and Greyhound premiered in early July as an Apple Original Film
Distribution models are changing, and while theaters are just now slowly reopening around the country, streaming services are stepping up to fill the need for content. Business issues aside, the simple fact is that Greyhound is an exceptional film, with an exceptional soundtrack.
In this special Day One presentation, presented by Apple TV+, Mix editor Tom Kenny sits down with three-time Academy Award–winning re-recording mixer Michael Minkler to talk about the pulsing, rhythmic, sometimes frenzied and always authentic soundtrack of Greyhound. From the outset, however, Minkler makes it clear that he was there for the finish, but many others contributed greatly, including composer Blake Neely, production sound mixer David Wyman, and especially supervising sound editor Warren Shaw.
“Warren worked on this film longer than anybody, and the sounds he recorded, the authenticity of his sound textures, and the fast pace he created are all at the heart of this sound track,” Minkler says. “Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit and the film was in a holding pattern, he was called to another job. But he was responsible for the weapons, the various squawk boxes, radios and communication devices… I was there from the very first meetings with the producers, mixed the movie in three different sessions, and then I supervised at the end. But Warren created the core.”
Minkler also played his own part, with tales of recording water, wind and waves, nestled in a net in the bow of a 210-foot Clipper ship doing 10 knots—for an hour! He tells of how production and post-production sound was granted access to the USS Kidd, the last working Fletcher class destroyer, along the shores of the Mississippi in Baton Rouge, where a select set of scenes were filmed (the majority were filmed in a sound stage). While unique sounds were recorded aboard ship, the real value was in gaining a sonic sense of just how tight the conditions were, and then translating that to the audio tracks.
“You realize that when they are barking commands, they are all right there, face to face, in a small pilot house,” Minkler says. “There are commands being sent down the chain, the crispness of the dialog has to be heard; lives depend on it when you’re being chased by a U-boat. We tried to be true to both the authentic sounds, and to the chaotic environment of a Destroyer under attack—and on the attack.
“Tom Hanks is an incredible actor, and this is his screenplay; he’s a well-known WWII buff, as am I,” Minkler concludes. “I was told that when he walked into the first meeting in pre-production he announced, ‘I’m going to make a 90-minute war movie!’ And he did! It’s fast-paced, full of action in the North Atlantic, and yet it’s simply a great story about this guy who rises to the occasion.”
Be sure to visit the Cary Grant Theatre on Day One for an exclusive Apple TV+ presentation on The Sound of Greyhound.