One the biggest keys to a compelling story is the sound behind it. In our latest interview, we had the chance to interview Nick Offord, the re-recording mixer of Hulu's hit series Pam & Tommy starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan and Paramount+'s The Offer, about the making of The Godfather, starring Miles Teller, Giovanni Ribisi, Matthew Goode, and Juno Temple.
He gave ProductionHUB insights about his work on these shows and how he incorporated nostalgic and unique sounds to drive characters' stories, as well as distinquish sound in different locations.
PH: Hi Nick! Can you share a bit of your background and dive a little deeper into sound mixing?
Nick Offord: Hello! So excited to be talking with you. I’ve been a Re-Recording Mixer for about 10 years now. Growing up I always wanted to be in a music studio, then one day I figured out I could mix music in movies! From that point on I had my mind made up that I wanted to pursue a career in film, specifically sound mixing. I might be biased, but I think it’s the best job ever. I primarily handle the dialog and music, and my mixing partner Ryan Collins handles all of the fx, backgrounds, & foley. First and foremost we want to make sure all of the dialog is intelligible, then we start constructing the rest of the soundtrack around that. I would add in music to help support or drive a scene depending on what it’s calling for. Then Ryan can start to add in all of the environmental sounds to make it feel more real. We will work together to balance everything during a final pass. We also try to do our own playback so we can address any notes we might have before we playback for the showrunners.
PH: How do you determine what projects to say yes to? Do you have specific criteria?
Nick Offord: I am fortunate to have worked with a lot of very talented people over the years. A lot of my work is from repeat clients & colleagues, I’m very thankful for that. When a new project comes up, we like to meet with everyone involved to make sure we are the best fit. One of the biggest criteria is the schedule. Everyone is so busy, and projects are constantly on the move. Sometimes that’s the biggest hurdle.
PH: Who would you say are some of your professional influences?
Nick Offord: There have been so many people that have been influential to me. Everyone has been very generous with their time, letting me sit in on mix sessions. Paul Massey & Greg Orloff are two people I look up to in this business. They are incredible mixers, and wonderful people. Both have been very supportive throughout my career. I’m very grateful to ALL the people that have opened the door for me.
PH: How did you become involved with Pam & Tommy?
Nick Offord: Ryan and I had a previous relationships with the sound editorial team (Mandell Winter & Becky Sullivan) so we reached out to them. When we talked, it seemed like all of us were equally excited to work together. Once the schedules were all worked out, we got started!
PH: What was your approach to achieving sound this season? How did you choose which 90s music to infuse?
Nick Offord: Well, I wish I could take credit for the music choices, but that was decided before it arrived to me. Music was a big driver of the whole series. It really took you right back into the 90’s. Finding places to really push it to give certain scenes energy, or hold it back subtly to make room for the more emotional performances was a delicate balance. Integrating the source music seamlessly from diegetic to non diegetic was the most challenging.
PH: How did you work with Matthew Morgason's score to balance music with what was happening between characters?
Nick Offord: Matt absolutely killed it on the score. This might be my favorite score I have ever had the privilege of mixing. There are so many themes he was able to come up with, as well as creating an arc to the score that followed the timeline of the story. In the beginning of the series, he incorporated a lot of analog tape sounds, the chunky loading sounds a vcr would make, & the wind up and down of tape. As the show goes on, he started to use more modem and internet dial up sounds. We mixed the show in Dolby Atmos, so I was able to move a lot of the music around the room and really open up the score. It created a really dynamic track we were all very happy with in the end.
PH: Can you talk about some of the challenges you encountered and how you handled those?
Nick Offord: In all honesty, this show went very smooth. We had a fantastic sound editorial team. The post producer Mike Manning and his team were amazing. We were still dealing with Covid protocols at this time, so we had to do a lot of remote playbacks. I have to thank Robert Siegel & DV DeVincentis for allowing us to be a part of this project. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
PH: Switching gears a bit, you also recently worked on The Offer. Can you share how you got involved with this series?
Nick Offord: This show is so cool! Actually, Ryan and I were approached for this show while we were mixing Pam & Tommy, by Mandell. We met with the post producer Amanda Barnett to talk about the show, the vibe felt right for everyone so we came on board. I’m so happy it came together, being able to work with Nikki Toscano, Russell Rothberg and everyone else involved was such and enjoyable experience.
PH: What was the sound approach for this?
Nick Offord: Mixing a show like this is very refreshing because it takes us back to the 70’s. There is hustle and bustle when the characters are on the Paramount lot, but when we are with the mob it needs to be darker and scarier. Contrast was a big theme for the series. We also wanted to be very careful to make sure all the sounds were 1970’s appropriate (cars, phones, tv’s, ect.). It’s also nice not having to mix in text messages!
PH: How did you achieve sound to represent New York and Los Angeles?
Nick Offord: They are two very different sounding cities. New York has a lot of traffic, horns, & trains. We spent a lot of time on one specific scene getting the sound of the car driving over the Brooklyn Bridge. Making sure that sounded right was important. When the characters are set in LA, for the most part they are on the Paramount lot, so that needed to have a very busy feel with a lot of activity. I think you can feel the buzzing of the city with how we constructed it. It also helped having Isabella Summers score, she did a great job! For example when the viewers are Introduced to Bob Evans she came up with the perfect 70’s vibe that sets the tone for him walking around Paramount, made you want to yell “Yeah baby!” Then, cut to dinner with a group of mobsters, she brought the viewers back to little Italy with a darker classic Italian sounding cue.
PH: How did this series present challenges? Do you have a favorite sequence you can highlight?
Nick Offord: One of the biggest challenges was making sure we know what location the characters are in each particular scene. The show goes back and forth between a lot of locations, so establishing where they are is key. Staying true to the 70’s was also very important. The characters go through a lot in this series, it was a delicate balance supporting the story without taking away from any of the performances. In episode 108, there is a scene where the juxtaposition of these two worlds comes together. Isabella provided a fantastic music cue that sets the tone for what is about to take place and the chaos the viewer has been brought into. The blending of music and sound design really came together to create an epic moment.
PH: Can you share any upcoming projects you have in the works?
Nick Offord: There are so many great projects coming up! Next up is a show for HBO Max called Love & Death. From what I’ve heard, it’s going to be really fun for us sonically. I’m very excited to get started!