On Tuesday, April 27, Brane Živković’s, Music for Film and TV class welcomed a special guest to the class: Richard Beggs, a painter, sound engineer, and Academy Award-winning film composer. What followed was an engaging conversation that almost spilled well over the 45-minute slot allotted to it – ranging from the synthesis of painting and music composition to the anatomy of his creative process for films such as ‘Lost in Translation’ (2003). Mr. Beggs was incredibly insightful and exciting across all of them.
In the class’ interaction with him, questions about what he calls the ‘Kyoto montage’ in the film ‘Lost in Translation’ were raised. These had to do with how he had used authentic ambiance sounds in the sequence to create an immersive and authentic viewing experience. Mr. Beggs smiled and modestly whispered, “not too bad.” He continued to answer that he had made a memorable trip to the shooting locations to capture the ambient sounds at the time at which a scene was shot. This engagement with minute details, he believes, was the reason the ambient track was able to, in some ways, capture the city’s essence.
Another interesting question was whether he thought his training as a visual artist impacted his work as a sound engineer and composer in the motion picture industry. He replied, saying that a painter’s complex understanding of how texture and color are manipulated on a two-dimensional surface influences his expression of emotions through sound and music – they both represent the representational manifestation of abstractions and are remarkably similar. Elaborating further, Mr. Beggs said that art school (while considered by many as a ‘youthful indulgence’) is a critical element of gaining an artistic maturity and connecting with other minds interested in similar things – a heartening response.
Talking about his long association with the Coppolas, the class saw a clip from the climax of the movie Rumble Fish (1983), hearing the visceral effect of the score upon the tension in the scene. Richard Beggs also spoke about the tremendous impact of luck in the industry, reminiscing Francis Coppola’s surprisingly asking him to work on a film of his: Apocalypse Now. He won an Academy Award for that film. Maybe it is the sparking of talent with opportunity that creates the magic, so many millions go to the silver screen every year to witness. One without the other just wouldn’t make the massive impact.
Overall, meeting and speaking with someone at the very top of their industry is always significant. It sheds light on some of the crucial details of a profession that remain shrouded until they firsthand. More than anything else, it’s inspiring and motivating. The process and uncertainty of pursuing education to work in an industry can be stressful and anxious. Such interactions re-affirm for so many students why they are so passionate about the arts in the first place and the impact they wish to have on the world at large. The class, thus, was incredibly grateful for the opportunity.
-Written by Aryan Kumar Bhattacharjee