WonderCon 2019: Learning How to Craft Heroic Characters in Film



On March 30th, 2019, Impact24 PR brought together composers, film editors, VFX producers and sound designers to discuss all the different ways they tell stories. Film is such a collaborative, complex medium, and it was fascinating to hear from each individual.

Photo Credit – Steven Chou, Impact24 PR

I was especially eager to hear from editor Debbie Berman, who has recently come off a run of incredible work on Captain Marvel and Black Panther. As we’ve talked about on Episode 241 of Skywalking Through Neverland, Captain Marvel is unique because it drops you in the middle of her story, and you are left to puzzle the whole together. Debbie Berman shared, “I think it was a fun spin on it to meet Carol with her powers.” This created a challenge for her as an editor, in terms of the audience’s relationship with her character. “You ultimately want the audience to feel connected to the protagonist. One of the most important skills you can have as an editor is the ability to adjust, and I think we succeeded with this project.”

Please read the Press Release below for more great quotes from the panel. I was able to interview several panelists individually in the press room immediately after the panel, and you’ll be able to hear those conversations on forthcoming episodes of Skywalking Through Neverland and Fangirls Going Rogue. Stay Tuned!

Photo Credit: Impact24 PR

From The Press Release:

Anaheim, CA – At WonderCon 2019, enthusiastic fans swarmed the “Zero to Hero: Behind the Camera with TV and Film’s Top Creatives” panel. The conversation included editor Debbie Berman (Captain Marvel, Black Panther), VFX producer/supervisor Cory Jamieson, co-founder of Barnstorm VFX (The Man in the High Castle), composers Zach Robinson and Leo Birenberg (Cobra Kai), David Norland (My Dinner With Hervé), sound designer Derek Vanderhorst (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hidden Figures), and composer Casey Edwards (Devil May Cry 5). The panel was moderated by voice actor Piotr Michael (Kung Fu Panda: The Maws of Destiny, Kingdom Hearts 3) and actor Xolo Mariduena (Cobra Kai).

Kicking off the conversation on how their contributions make a character feel heroic, Zach Robinson said, “Music is one of the most effective ways to elevate a character. For Cobra Kai, it communicates to the viewers the same drama and urgency that you would hear in the biggest blockbusters.” Leo Birenberg added, “When you have superpowers in play, the world that you’re watching can support color and busyness, so you can make things more colorful musically.”

Discussing his work on The Man in the High Castle, Cory Jamieson said, “The most fun part is the world-building aspect, because it takes place in an alternate history. We did a lot of research on what could have existed in that world based on the past. We looked at tech that existed in the ‘60s and ‘70s and reversed that into what the Japanese and Nazis could’ve invented in World War II. We work very closely with the production designer, director and producers to create that world.”

Derek Vanderhorst shared a career highlight, “My favorite part of working on X-Men Origins: Wolverine is working on a character I loved as a child. It’s my childhood dream coming to life.” He added, “As the sound editor, I got to chop down tress in a forest, go to a military base and record the vehicles.” Laughing he continued, “Using a chainsaw in the forest was the best part.”

On Devil May Cry 5, composer Casey Edwards said, “Getting to work on a video game I grew up with was a true honor. It was extra stressful and scary, but equal parts rewarding especially when fans come back and tell me they love the music.” Edwards added, “Something fans may not know is that I used heavy metal screens as a transitional material between the orchestra parts. It really keeps the energy up when you use stuff like that.”

Elaborating on his work for My Dinner with Hervé, David Norland said, “What people don’t know is that a lot of the ambiances and washes in the score are in fact my voice. One of the ways I work is I set up a microphone next to my work station, and since I have a background in choral music, I harmonize with the cue, and then process those recordings so they’re unrecognizable. It creates a very distant, indistinct, slightly religious feeling and wash of sound. It makes it haunting and evocative, while still very impressionistic, type of sound.”

Closing out the discussion, Norland reflected on the hard work it takes to reach the finish line on the project, “It was magic was seeing the film come together, and knowing it will exist in the world forever, after it taking nearly 20 years to come together. This film and all the other projects featured on the panel required a lot of talented individuals, with distinct skillsets, coming together under a collective vision. Despite the hard work, I know we all feel it is a real honor to be able to contribute creatively to these visual stories.”

About Impact24 PR:

This panel was produced by Impact24 Public Relations and its team members, and was a part of the inaugural Behind-The-Camera Superblock panel series. Impact24 PR is dedicated to capturing the spotlight for the talent behind-the-camera and behind-the-curtain, and supports many of the industry’s leading creative artists, including composers, cinematographers, VFX companies, production designers, makeup artists, VFX, and more. For more information on the company and panelists, visit www.impact24pr.com or on facebook and twitter (twitter.com/impact24pr.)

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