Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ben Burtt Talks About Why He's Not Involved in the New 'Star Wars' Films Anymore

By: Dominic Jones

One person who was instrumental to the history of Star Wars is sound designer Ben Burtt.  Burtt was responsible for the sounds of iconic Star Wars elements like R2-D2 and Darth Vader.  Burtt was originally announced as being involved in The Force Awakens, but since then he has not been involved in The Last Jedi or Rogue OneBurtt was recently profiled by Vanity Fair, where he discussed his career, and spoke briefly about how the industry has changed and why he's not involved in the new films.

Burtt did some early work on The Force Awakens, before the baton of sound designer was passed to Matt Wood, who worked with Burtt in the sound department on the Star Wars prequels.  While he hasn't worked on a film since then, he has done a little Star Wars work having worked on the Forces of Destiny animated micro-series and a cancelled video game (Project Ragtag?)

When speaking about how working on blockbusters now compared to working on films with George Lucas, Burtt said,

"It wasn’t always easy working with George, but at least it was one voice. And you could get his attention and have your say and present something and get a yes or a no. But it was just one person you had to get past. Not banks of different people who want to have a say."

When asked about why he hasn't worked on the newest films, he said,

"I don’t know if there’s bad blood.  Nobody . . . I was just never consulted or hired to do any of them. No one’s ever told me why. No, I was told—on the new regime, I was just told, ‘Just stay in your room and make sounds and just send stuff to us. We’ll decide what to do.’"

He also spoke about how the world of sound design had changed, saying, "They know there are big libraries that people can just click and drag things out of and make a lot of noise."  Burtt's preferred method was to go out and find new sounds for new films, than just use the ones in the libraries (although many of those sounds are ones that Burtt collected at one point or another during his career).

In a way it's sad that Burtt is no longer involved in Star Wars given his importance in the history of Star Wars, which is not to take anything away from the work that Matt Wood and his team have done.  So much has been made about making the new Star Wars movies the same way they made the old ones, but they don't seem to care about the sound design as much as they do about making it seem like all the effects in the new films are "practical". 

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