The Compressed Interview #11: Manuel Montaño

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to Manuel Montaño. I consider Manuel to be one of my greatest teachers and influences regarding sound. I met Manuel about 6 years ago when I assisted him on the studio; now I talked to him about his experiences as a dialogue & ADR editor, and re-recording Mixer. He specialized in dialogue editing, and he is constantly collaborating with renowned sound supervisors. Some of his recent credits include: 30 for 30, Las crónicas del taco and Roma, movie that gave him the Motion Picture Sound Editors award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR for Foreign Language Feature Film.

This is what we talked about.

 Threshold: Getting Started
J: How do you prepare yourself before starting any project?

M: Any project has a different approach, but the first thing I do is to watch the film and feel it. Then, I watch it many times in order to make a map of it in my head, while taking notes. And finally, I check all the information and audio files that were recorded on set.

Attack: Things to discuss
J: How did you know this was the industry that you wanted to work in?

M: To be honest, at first, I didn’t know. I knew audio was easy to me, due to my musical ear and other skills… But it took me at least 6 years find out that my true vocation was on “Cinema”.

Release: Talking about the good stuff
J: What’s the most memorable moment in your career so far?

M: I have a collection of moments, and all of them are special. Some examples are: the first time that I listened to a 5.1 sound in a THX mixing stage; that’s where I realized what I really wanted to do with my life. Also, every time I listen to my work on screen… it is memorable, and I enjoy listening how the work I did, mostly remains in the final mix. Then, being able to meet two of my sound heroes: Skip Lievsay and Mark Mangini. And finally, being honored with the “Golden Reel Award” of Motion Pictures Sound Editors for my work in the film “Roma”.

J:  Can you let us know a little about your creative process? Anything about the technical process?

M: In short, I would say two things: about the creative process… experiment without fears; regarding the technical process… always keep it simple.

The Gain
J: What are the biggest life lessons learned in your personal and professional career?

M: I would definitely say, on the personal side: I am my own limit. Every day is a battle to break each one of them, also that impermanence is the only constant in life and letting go is the hardest thing to do, but it will also be the most important thing. And, on the professional perspective: passion and love for art are not enough to reach your goals, hard work is essential and without methodology and discipline, talent is useless.

I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did. I really admire Manuel, so if you want to learn more about him or contact him, you can visit his LinkedIn.

We’ll read each other again in a couple of weeks!

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