In the March/April edition of Hillingdon People we ran a short interview with Mark Paterson, a former pupil at Northwood Hills' Haydon School, who was one of the winners at this year's BAFTA and Oscar awards.
He and his sound colleagues were recognised for his work on the Les Miserables film. Here you can read some more about Mark, in an extended interview. We spoke to him after the BAFTAs, just before he flew out to Los Angeles for the Oscars.
Talking about the evening of the BAFTA awards, Mark said: "As soon as we came off the stage [at the BAFTAs] we were thrust straight into a night of interviews, cameras and pictures; there were three to four events to go to and as you go to each event there are more photos.
"It was a really fun night, but you were always aware that you had work to do, but everything you are doing is really fun."
He explained that sitting in the hall where the awards happened was quite intimidating, with cameras and cranes hovering over them.
He continued: "You have dinner for a couple of hours, but it wasn't until about 2am when we made the Universal after party we all said 'cheers' and held up our glasses and it started to sink in.
"I didn't think we would win, I was thinking 'it's 50 years of Bond', I thought it was going to be their year. With the first award that came up, on the night was British Film Achievement and Skyfall won that one we all thought 'here we go', which was my hunch."
Les Miserables was successful in the Sound in 2013 category at the BAFTAs, alongside Django Unchained, Life Of Pi, Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It won the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing later in February.
The film used a new method of sound recording, where the songs and dialogue were recorded live, rather than being recorded later. Mark said this had added a new element of challenge to the project, and meant there was more talk about the sound than there would usually be in a similar film.
He said: "I'll never work on another movie where there is so much press about the sound, it was done in a way that has never been done before. That was a big thing; you heard all the cast, like Anne Hathaway, talking about the sound."
Mark said the team had looked quite closely at the theatre version of Les Miserables, to see how the sound and the production worked. He said: "We wanted to be respectful of the stage production, we saw it [Les Miserables] quite a lot [at the theatre]. We wanted to find out how an audience reacted - where the emotional bits were; what worked on stage and what didn't work on stage; what we could try and translate from the stage into the film, and so on."
He added that they also worked closely with Cameron Mackintosh, who has produced Les Miserables for the theatre, and Claude-Michel Schonberg, who wrote the music for the theatre production, who made some suggestions about how they could do certain things. He said that feedback from die-hard fans of the theatre version had been generally positive.
He added that working on Les Miserables had been a fantastic opportunity, for him and the rest of the crew, to work on something in a completely new way: "It was a chance to be part of something that set the bar of how things are going to be done in the future. Going into this was certainly one of the best opportunities I have had, and I think the whole crew could say that."
Mark has always been interested in music: "I was one of the music guys at school, performing in bands in assembly and things. I did play professionally for a bit, but I never really had the desire to make a living from being a musician; I wanted something more solid.
"I thought I would start to learn what happens on the other side of the mixing board. I realised I could work in that business but in a more structured environment, which is mixing films, and I migrated towards that."
He still works on music projects, including with Led Zeppelin, Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers. He said: "It takes a little while to get back into doing the music stuff. Music is usually one of the elements you have to work with. When I go back and do something that's just pure music, like the Led Zeppelin thing earlier in the year, you think 'I can have the music loud throughout the whole thing', rather than adding in dialogue or so on."
He has also worked on other projects, including The Gruffalo, an adaptation of the popular children's book, and an animated film he worked on, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists, was nominated for an Oscar in a different category.
Mark also told us a bit more about how the Oscars work, with several different events. The two main events are the awards you see, and a lunch which is held before the main event. All the nominees are invited to the lunch, where the main outcome is a photo of everyone nominated, like a school picture. He said the lunch was very relaxed and a good opportunity to meet with peers and talk in an informal setting without any media there.
He continued he was excited about the whole experience, rather than expecting to win, and that winning at the Oscars would be a bonus.
In between the BAFTAs and the Oscars, was the Cinema Audio Society awards, which are voted for by sound engineers. Les Miserables won the Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture - Live Action category.
As you would expect for someone working in the business, Mark loves films, but says he finds it hard going to the cinema if he's working on a film.
He said: "Watching a film is like research for me; to keep on top of what other people are doing, keep inspired. After all, it is a creative process."
He does, however, like to enjoy films rather than analysing how they've been made, and thinks it's important to switch off and enjoy them.
So, next time you are watching a film, check the credits and see if Mark and his team have worked on the sound and if they have; feel proud that there's a Hillingdon connection in Hollywood.
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