Interview: A Man Called Otto Music Editor Shinnosuke Miyazawa

By | February 18, 2023

ComingSoon’s Jeff Ames had the opportunity to speak with A Man Called Otto music editor Shinnosuke Miyazawa, who worked with composer Thomas Newman on the film’s incredible score.

Jeff Ames: What led you to become a music editor?

Shinnosuke Miyazawa: My path to becoming a music editor was an unexpected one. The pandemic brought about changes in the way music production was done, and I found myself being asked to not only mix scores but also take on the role of a music editor. It was through my long-term collaboration with Thomas Newman as a score mixer that he came to trust my ability to understand and edit his compositions in relation to the visual elements of the film. My understanding of his composing style and sensitivity allowed me to seamlessly transition into the role of a music editor, where I could effectively represent his music during the dubbing stage. It was a combination of circumstance and skill that led me to become a music editor, but I am grateful for the opportunity and enjoy the creative challenge it brings.

How has your technique/style evolved over the years?

Since becoming a music editor, I have learned a lot from Tom about how music can add depth to a film. I have also learned how to better understand the storytelling in his compositions and how to accurately convey that story through my editing. Additionally, I have gained a deeper understanding of how music can change the sync points in a film, and how to quickly adapt to those changes to ensure that the original storytelling is still conveyed effectively.

As a score mixer, I have long been experienced in how to best express music in a film – musically, sonically, and efficiently. But as I work more as a music editor, I have learned to look at the overall flow of a film’s story, and how all of the music in the film is affecting the overall effect.

Through the process of listening to my own mixes on multiple dub stages and creating multiple final products alongside sound effects and dialogue, I have also learned how to mix more effectively as a score mixer.

What was it about A Man Called Otto that made you want to work on it?

It was a great pleasure to work with Mark Foster again in a different film after our collaboration in 2021. His films always convey powerful messages about society and leave the audience feeling warm and uplifted. Through the excellent performance of Tom Hanks playing the role of Otto and Thomas Newman’s music accompanying the storyline – I think these factors would make it really hard to NOT work on A Man Called Otto. And sure enough, it was one of the most enjoyable projects that I have been a part of.

You’ve worked alongside Thomas Newman on 1917 and The Highwaymen — what is your collaboration like?

Collaborating with Tom is always an enjoyable experience. He is an open-minded collaborator who is always willing to take on new challenges. His approach to music composition is similar to that of a Japanese kimono maker, carefully crafting each element with precision and delicacy. This same level of attention to detail is also required when music editing and mixing music, which is a process that requires a delicate touch.

What was the most challenging aspect of A Man Called Otto, and how did you overcome it?

As I always feel, it is physically and mentally hard to do both the job of a score mixer and a music editor. Sometimes I process each musical element that Tom created with care and precision, like a microscope, as a score mixer. The next moment, as a music editor, I need to see the impact that all the composed music has on the film, like a satellite, with a broad perspective. After the mix is finished, I need to go to the dub stage and listen to the music I mixed for a few weeks with a fresh mind, overviewing it. I think that switch was the hardest. However, when I successfully did it, I felt an unparalleled joy, both when I was able to express the important parts that Tom wanted to express on the screen with fine details and when I was able to make sound effects, dialogue, and sound design coexist well.

Do you have any fun, behind-the-scenes stories about the making of A Man Called Otto that you can share?

One of the most memorable moments while working on A Man Called Otto was the experience of collaborating with the talented British staff during the dubbing phase. Chris Burton and Gilly Lake, the re-recording mixers, did an exceptional job in blending the music and sound effects seamlessly into the film. Being in London, a city I adore, and being able to work alongside such skilled British film-making professionals was truly inspiring on a daily basis. The WB’s De Lane Lea Studio situated in the heart of SOHO was a great location, surrounded by a variety of delicious restaurants which led me to gain a bit of weight during my one-month stay in the UK.

Describe your collaboration with Marc Forster? How challenging was it to accomplish his overarching vision?

My collaboration with Marc Forster has been a stimulating experience. He is a filmmaker who is driven by his vision and trusts his instincts. He has a unique approach to storytelling and is always willing to take risks in order to achieve his overarching vision for the film. This often leads to big changes in direction, which can be challenging to keep up with, but ultimately results in great final product for the film. Working with Marc requires a high level of adaptability and flexibility, both in terms of physical and time management, as he is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible in order to achieve his vision. Despite the challenges, it has been a rewarding experience to collaborate with a filmmaker who is so passionate and dedicated to his craft.

Were there things you learned from working on A Man Called Otto that you’re excited to apply to future projects?

Matt Cheese, the film editor, had an impressive knowledge of music and a unique approach to finding and incorporating existing tracks into the film. His approach was incredibly intriguing, and I am excited to emulate his technique in my future projects as a music editor. It has opened my eyes to new possibilities and new ways to enhance the storytelling through music.

Do you have any other projects coming up that you can share with us?

From 2021 to 2022, I collaborated with Mark Foster and Thomas Newman as a Music Editor and Score Mixer on the best-selling book Wonder by the author- the film adaptation White Bird: A Wonder Story will be released this winter. On Star Trek: Prodigy, I have been collaborating with young composer Nami Mulmed, who has handled the music for films such as Thour and American Pickle, for two years as a Score Producer. Season 1 ended in December, but Season 2 will soon be starting.