An Interview With Director of Audio Michael Thor Lengies


Michael Thor Lengies is a Director of Audio; here is a link to his website:



Q:  What does a Director of Audio for film do?

A: A Director of Audio for Film creates a distinctive sonic signature.
It’s basically similar to what old school Music Producers did for
recording Artists of the day, allowing them stand out of the crowd.

Although popular in a bygone era, Director of Audio is a position that
seems lost in today’s world of breaking down disciplines into its
smallest tasks.

However, someone with a unique sonic vision can really open up this
untapped frontier in Filmmaking. Unfortunately I can’t come up with a
more recent equivalent but think of what producer George Martin did
for the sound of The Beatles.

Q:  What kind of training have you had?

A: Well, I started life as a Rock Star and it’s been pretty much downhill
from there.

Joking aside, in my youth I toured extensively, then owned and
operated several Recording Studios, working professionally as a
composer and Music Producer before entering the world of Film and
Television a few decades ago.

With the experience gained in various film making disciplines, I
understand the complete process. My decade in military electronics and
education in business management, helps me understand production
issues and cost reduction, as few can.

Q:  What is Sweeps about?

Sweeps is a sarcastic poke at reality television. Its flamboyantly gay
lead, played by Drew Droege, imagines the various tedious causes for
his dismissal from Trial Network and eventual fall from grace. It’s
clever and a well-written piece by Patrick Tobin.

Q:  What was the most challenging thing about directing the audio for that film?

A: Unlike most productions, Sweeps went smoothly and since the audio
portion was a one-stop-shop, I had no one to blame but myself for any
sound issues. Aside from the usual distractions of planes, trains and
automobiles, the shoot was a total pleasure thanks to the talented
crew whom I’d worked with before.

Q:  Why should my readers hire a Director of Audio instead of just
doing their own sound?

A: Audio is the real untapped frontier in Filmmaking.

Unfortunately, Film audio remains a piece meal process, largely as it
has for most of cinematic history. The results are, for the most part,
boring and predictable.

The potential impact of the film’s audio, is clear to me from the
first time I read the script. From those pages, I create a unique
vision that respects the full array of emotions and dimensional space.
These elements are reflected in my location audio recordings and,
combined with ambience, tonal flavors, special effects, and the music
score, undeniably embellish the final Mix.

The biggest benefit to my approach is that film production costs
rarely increase and in fact, can sometimes be significantly lowered.
Bottom line, you’ll get a bigger (ROI) return on investment by simply
allowing your Director of Audio control, direct accountability and

Q:  What is your oddest behind the scenes story?

A: I don’t want to mention names or the production but shooting a rape
scene, with a real 45 magnum ,in a highly patrolled LAPD area at 3pm,
without lights or permits, comes to mind. Loaded guns pointed at me
always remain an oddity, regardless of the frequency of occurrence. It
seems to happen to me in Texas quite often. Must be my charm.

Q:  What do you like about the film industry?

A: I like the opportunity for real artistic creativity. With a small but
talented crew, the potential to create a cult masterpiece is always

It’s like a drug, I need continuous hits of creativity to keep going.
Thankfully, I’ve been lucky to hook up with a few producers that have
seen the light.

Q:  What would you change about the film industry?

A; How do you change solid rock? Without trying to offend anyone, I feel
this industry and the related film schools create masses of generic
clones that barely understand an ever-shrinking part of the process
and extremely little about the big picture.

I’d recommend that new comers to the film industry avoid film schools
and union productions, until they’ve spent at least a few years
creating their own films with cheap cameras, a laptop with basic
editing and an absolute minimal crew. Do not recreate what already
exists, but explore the unknown and let an audience find you because
you are that “one of a kind” film maker.

As for spreading the good word, I try to educate whoever will listen
on every production I encounter. If you’re curious, just ask.

Q: Is there a particular film that you have seen that made you want to
fix the sound? (which one?)

A: Tough question. Only one? I’ve heard audio disasters in everything
from your average Independent Film on Netflix to James Bond on the big

I prefer to worry about films that I’m directly involved with.

Q:  What is your favorite sound?

A: Silence.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)




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