Full disclosure, I haven’t seen Edgar Wright’s first film (A Fist Full of Fingers) but his two other theatrical releases(“Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz)” I enjoyed immensely and were both very sound friendly. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” follows suit and interviews with Wright confirmed my suspicion of his love for sound. Below is an excerpt from a Cinematical.com interview with Edgar.
Cinematical: I had a conversation with a friend who mentioned that there is a sound effect that comes from Sonic the Hedgehog, which I actually didn’t know or recognize. How much are people supposed to be identifying the specific little sounds and details like that, and how much is meant to be just a part of the overall pastiche?
Wright: I think it’s not the central part of that joke, but the Sonic the Hedgehog noise is, and I feel like those things are kind of to create almost a pavlov’s dog response for people in the audience who have grown up with those sounds. I think it’s more that I wanted to create – those sounds and audio references and motifs are not supposed to stop the film dead. If people don’t recognize them, it’s not what the scene is about or even the joke is about. It’s more that what I kind of figured is that with some of that music, and even like Mac and PC and Blackberry noises, is that they’re the kinds of sounds of the last 15 years. So it’s sort of like a pavlovian response to like a Mac error sound is that you know you’ve done something wrong (laughs). Because I think if you actually put a microphone in somebody’s apartment that uses a lot of technology, there would just be a number of sounds that we take for granted that are just part of our lives – vibrating cell phones, Mac errors, the sound of trash.
Basically, Scott Pilgrim is like living his life through the pop culture he’s consumed over the last 30 years, so there’s like this endless jumble of resonant sounds. So to the character and to me, it’s like the Sonic the Hedgehog noise is basically just like 1993’s lightbulb sound, do you know what I mean? Ding! That’s it – there’s nothing and not extra jokes written in that, and it’s sounds that you recognize and have grown up with over the last 20 years. I love that it has that sort of pavlovian response; I mean, some of them are very kind of buried in the mix, but it makes me laugh because we went through all of the Windows and Mac sounds of the last 15 years, and just when somebody wakes up it has the sort of startup sound, so that it just happens to be in the background. But a lot of them are diegetic as well, and I’ve done that in Spaced as well; I always find that interesting, trying to soundtrack things rather than raid the Hanna-Barbera sound effects. You sound diegetic from the technology we use.
I’d love to share more examples of Edgar’s thoughts on sound (There’s plenty more) but I’d better get on with our interview with sound supervisor Julian Slater. Slater has been working with Edgar since 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead” and I actually interviewed him for 2008’s “In Bruges”. Anyway, Thanks to Julian for answering some questions about his work on “Scott Pilgrim v. The World” and you can see him in The Soundworks Collection’s interview for the film too.
DS: When did you start working on the film and what were the initial conversations about sound with director Edgar Wright like?
(Julian Slater) JS: Edgar first approached me around December 2008 to talk about the project and what he felt would be the overall ‘feel’ of the soundtrack. He actually showed me some test footage they already shot which turned out to be very accurate to the finished film. I started on some initial sound work around May of 2009 which included new video game and 8 bit sounds to send to the cutting rooms over in Toronto while they were shooting.