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larry long

Jeff and Don

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Jeff,

Although I think most of us kinda understand your relationship with Don.

Could you describe your relationship as working partners, what you expect from each other and how you've remained friends through the years.

LL

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There is not just one simple statement to be made on this subject, Don's and my working relationship (30 years as of January 2007), but I will point out a few things from our collective history. We both started working on movies around the same time and we first worked together fairly early in our careers. In the beginning, as to be expected, it worked well for both of us because we were able to get hired on to some pretty good movies early on, so even at the level of employment, it was good to know we could get the jobs and do them well together. We were new enough in the business that we were both still formulating (do we ever stop?) our fundamental ideas about what film sound should be, and both Don and I seemed to have very definite, and similar, feelings about our work. I think we both had a real passion for the work, a strong desire to make a real contribution to the projects, large and small, this contribution from our efforts to record really good meaningful sound. Don also brought to our partnership a strong work ethic (which I am sure he developed way before either of us were doing movie work) and a total commitment to the projects --- Don really taught me to never give up on a shot, on a scene or on the movie, even if we had already given the production more than they deserve. We both almost always agreed that we owed it to ourselves, to our craft, to do the absolute best job that could be done.

As for the longevity of our working together, I think it just happened, year after year, movie after movie, because we really liked working together. There is of course the sort of shorthand that goes with having done so many movies together --- we really don't have to discuss too much about how we are going to approach a movie, or any given scene --- there comes a time when you have done so many pictures that there really isn't a shot or a setup that you have never done before --- so, we just do it the way we've always done it (and for the most part we are both rewarded by getting the sort of results we can appreciate). From a personal and professional perspective, I could not ask for nor even hope for anyone else as knowledgeable and talented as Don. Some may question my use of the word knowledge, but this is all important ultimately in producing really good soundtracks --- not so important if your only goal is to produce good sounding tracks. The goal for both of us has always been to provide for the project the important element of sound --- to provide recordings that serve the movie, the story, the characters, in the most meaningful way.

Because Don and I developed our sense of what good sound is and also developed what we feel are truly viable techniques and procedures to achieve this, we know that as a team this is all possible. The people we work with, the directors, producers and fellow crew members, tend to really respect us both, as a team, because we both understand and respect the jobs they do --- the understanding of production jobs, lighting, photography, set design, and of course acting, all are important factors. There have been times when I have asked Don, usually after an early rehearsal, why does everything sound so awful? His reply, many times, is that when the acting improves, the lighting is refined and the camera composition makes sense, everything is going to sound great! Over the years this still holds true although all too often the acting does NOT improve, the lighting is still rough, the choice of camera composition will not cut smoothly and so consequently the sound really doesn't get much better. It is Don's and my understanding of these dynamics, and many other things after over 50 movies together, that makes for a good partnership.

I can actually think of many more things to say in answer to your question, but I am tired now after sitting through an overly long Academy Awards show (at home on TV...  I was not nominated) and a 7 am call tomorrow on "Rush Hour 3". I will write some more later,

Regards,  Jeff Wexler

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Jeff,

What a great post.  I recently worked with someone who is just starting out booming, as I am mixing.  I have shared with him my philosophy on how to get good sound, and he understands it and at least pretends to agree with it.  Some of that philosophy I adopted listening to Don when I had the honor of working with him pulling cable for just one day on a TV second unit not long ago.  This boom guy has a work ethic rare to find in someone in his early 20's, even as a second generation sound man, and has a great attitude.  I was lucky enough to meet him on a job he and I did for nothing.  He was there every day, for no pay, on set with a collection of inexperienced morons, yet managed to keep a cool head and helped me get a track far better than they could have expected.  It gives me great hope, reading your article, that perhaps as our work experience grows, so will our careers.  And I won't post his name here, beacause I don't want any of you stealing him!

Hope Rush Hour 3 is going well (almost over?).

Robert

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Hey Jeff, great post. Larry, thanks for asking, good question. As a team member from back in the day, and friend for way to many years, I think the short answer is that you are both different, but on the same page. Filmmakers who record the dialog, but love and respect all of the crafts that make the whole movie. Three Jeffs on a sound crew, three Don's, or god forbid three Crews, wouldn't produce a great sound crew. We all bring different skills to the game and thats for me what makes a great film crew and project. Everybody working on the same movie. No one does it better than you guys. When I retire from commercials, I'm comming back to torture you guys as your third man.

CrewC

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When I retire from commercials, I'm comming back to torture you guys as your third man.

CrewC

Let's see who can retire first --- I've only been trying for about 10 years. If you retire first, Crew, I can think of no one's presence I would rather be tortured by --- you were a terrific part of our team, me and Don, in the early years when we were really just beginning to be a team --- I would have you back anytime (but of course you know Don makes all the important decisions, so ... )

Regards,  Jeff Wexler

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  Jeff,

Thank you for that. I was inspired to ask because I was envious of your partnership and wanted to know more about how you worked in concert and depended on each other.

Thanks for sharing,

LL

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