1993 Recording Arts grad Drew Weir has been a staple of the Chicago post production industry for over a decade, carving out a successful career with Vagabond Audio, a facility he co-founded in 2003 with wife Risé Sanders. The studio has handled the audio for a range of high profile projects, including director Steve James’ feature length documentary The Interrupters, for which Drew has received a Golden Reel Award nomination.
The awards are voted on by the Motion Picture Sound Editors, and have honored the best achievements in film and television audio for the past 60 years. Drew’s work is nominated in the category of Best Sound Editing Long Form Documentary (TV), and with the winners being announced this weekend, we caught up with him to learn more about his involvement on the film.
Full Sail: Steve James is well known in the documentary film community. What were some of the highlights of working with him on The Interrupters?
Drew Weir: Steve really appreciates sound and appreciates what it does for film, so it was working with him to bring out a lot of the emotional qualities – the tension and drama on screen. That’s documentaries, but that’s especially Steve’s style as well.
FS: Do you find that people don’t realize how much audio post work goes into a typical documentary?
DW: I think it is something that’s overlooked a fair amount. People go ‘Oh, you just have to go with what’s there,’ but there’s a lot of editing in a documentary. For The Interrupters there were times when we really had to bridge gaps and enhance the audio because certain things didn’t feel right. Unlike a narrative feature, anything that calls attention to itself in a documentary just zaps you out of the story instantly.
FS: How did it feel to have your work on the film nominated by your peers?
DW: We’re thrilled. I feel really rewarded that people were able to look at Steve’s film and go ‘I can understand what sound did for this.’ Sometimes it feels like it hasn’t really set in. I’ll be working on something, and be like ‘We’re up against a Rolling Stones movie and a Sean Penn movie, how is that even possible?’ But it’s a great film, and I’m really proud of the work.