‘Birdman’ & ‘The Revenant’ Best Sound Editing Oscar Nominee Martín Hernández Says Category Is Tough One To Call This Year – Qumra

Mexican supervising sound editor Martín Hernández, who was Oscar-nominated for Best Sound Editing for Birdman and The Revenant in 2014 and 2015 respectively, says the category is wide open this year due to the variety of movies in the running.

Features nominated in the category span The Zone of Interest, Oppenheimer and Maestro as well as surprise short list entries The Creator and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

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“Isn’t that unfair? I mean, they’re so different and the work in every one of them is equally good. That’s gonna be tough,” Hernández told Deadline in a one-on-one at the Doha Film Institute’s Qumra event in Qatar this week.

Hernández, who has been a voting member of the Academy since 2015, refrained from saying anything else about the films in the running for the Best Sound trophy on Sunday for fear of breaking the org’s rules for voters.

The award-winning sound technician, who is one of Alejandro G. Iñárritu oldest collaborators going back to his debut 2020 feature Amores Perros, was attending talent and project incubator Qumra this week as one of its so-called Qumra Masters.

“The name sounds a little bit cold, supervising sound editor, that’s like a taxi dispatcher,” he said in the opening to his masterclass, before explaining his philosophy around the hierarchy in movie production.

“Every collaborator, actors, DPs or Art, everyone involved in the work of an auteur, a director, we are translators. Our job is to translate the world that is being created by the writer, by the director. Whatever is been placed from there into the screen, we have to do same,” he said.

“Sound is a coherent part of whatever we do. We can’t see things without hearing, but we don’t have to be aware of this. It just happens. It’s natural,” he continued. “That’s a good thing and a bad thing about doing the sound, because when you do the work right, sound should not be noticed… That’s when you have done a good job. If you hear a lot of the sound, it’s like a bad actor, who is overperforming.”

The unscripted talk saw Hernández delve live into his sound archive on stage, to reveal the process of creating the soundscapes for works such as Iñárritu’s Amores Perros, The Revenant and Birdman as well Sean Penn’s Into The Wild.

Hernández, who first worked with Iñárritu in radio at Mexico City’s WFM969 station and went on to collaborate with him on his early shorts and commercials, recalled how the director’s first feature production Amores Perros had been a painful process and huge learning curve.

“The first part of the painful process is that I’m in Mexico with one guy, a mixer, a good mixer, but the really good one, he hated us. Now he is my dear friend and I love him. His name is Jaime Baksht and we later did Pan’s Labyrinth. But at that point, he hated us because we did commercials and now, we were being pretentious enough to do a film. He said, ‘I worked with Cazals, with Ripstein… I don’t work with you guys.’ He was right. It would have been a nightmare.”

Nearly 25 years later, Hernández has more than 80 credits to his name with recent productions including True Detective and upcoming Netflix series The Master Of Monarchs about the real-life figure of environmental activist Homero Gomez who was murdered in 2020.

Despite his renown, Hernández remains grounded about his role in the production chain.

“My job is very low profile. I don’t see myself as an artist in the way I visualize artists like Jim Sheridan or Claire Denis,” he said referring to other 2024 Qumra Masters.

“I’m a person who understands art and can have a conversation about that with an artist and I can serve that purpose. I don’t have a problem with not being an artist. The problem for me would be thinking I’m an artist, when I’m not.”

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