When your movie is all about a runaway train, you need sound effects that convey the mass, momentum and danger of that disaster in waiting. For Mark Stoeckinger, sound effects editor on Unstoppable, the challenge was to work with director Tony Scott to convey something of the experience of being next to the tracks when a huge locomotive barrels by at high speed, as well as to help give the train in question, known as the “Triple 7,” its own villainous presence in the film. Film & Video asked Stoeckinger, an Oscar nominee for his work on the film, to talk about making a menacing soundscape.
Film & Video: How early did you get on board the Unstoppable train?
Mark Stoeckinger: In the midst of the director’s cut, I came in and started conceptualizing and developing the sound.
Is that typical?
They’re all a little different. The commitment for me to work on this film just didn’t happen until that time. On Star Trek, as an example, we had our first meeting before they shot anything. We talked about tech settings and nomenclature, but I didn’t stay on the film at that point. I just started the process and then came back right around the end of shooting. On Unstoppable, I started later in the process. On some films, it’s later yet. I might not come on until a couple of weeks before the first audience preview. The process is forever evolving. Some people need somebody who’s going to create their sound early on. Films that don’t have as much subjective sound can wait until later in the process. Every film has different needs, but the earlier you’re on a film the more helpful it is.