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Peter Albrechtsen is the sound designer for the Amazon film Generation Wealth with a career that includes enriching scenes with subtle sounds in projects like Dunkirk, Antichrist, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009).

Monkeys Fighting Robots spoke with Peter about his career designing sounds for film and television.

“Images walk in through the front door and
sound creeps in through the back.” – Walter Murch

Generation Wealth

Peter’s most recent project is the documentary Generation Wealth which aims at the heart of our consumerist societies “It’s a really ambitious documentary with a lot of layers. It’s about the way we’re so focused on money and society is focused on money.”

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Generation Wealth is directed by Lauren Greenfield who uses still images to tell much of the story “It was a movie where, sonically, we had to be very creative. How do we make sounds for still images? Lots of layers and experimentation was done. It was an exciting process.”

Monkeys Fightings Robots readers are fans of pop culture, and the sounds for Generation Wealth were put together at a very familiar place “We mixed at Skywalker Ranch with Pete Horner.”

Generation Wealth does not hold back when it comes to its commentary on our modern world “It’s a movie that’s very timely. Even Donald Trump is in it.”

As much as it hones in on reality, there is creative license taken to create those emotional peaks and valleys “Artistically there was a lot of experimenting. Sound really has its own dramaturgy; has its own story. It was a great creative experience.”

Approaching Sound

Peter’s sonic career cuts through many different genres “I think for every project you have to find the sort of sonic island you have to build. And it may be made of many different things. For Dunkirk, I recorded a specific ship for the film. It was a ship that wasn’t in the US anymore. But we had to find it.”

The story of Generation Wealth is one that affects the entire globe “In Generation Wealth, there are things taking place all over the world. I spent a lot of time recording all these different sounds from around the world.”

The challenge of finding the right sound is never consistent “Sometimes you can spend a lot of time on the smallest sound. You want the right sound. The right kind of leather couch,” Peter laughs. “There’s always this kind of thing where things that seem difficult are easy and things that seem quite easy that end up being a challenge.”

When it comes to his latest project “Generation Wealth demanded a lot of specific work was a great challenge.”

How does working on something like Generation Wealth contrast with other shows “Bill Nye was a lot of fun. Also a lot of intricate sound design. We had access to the entire sound library of the old Bill Nye show, so there was a lot of fun elements with very dynamic sounds.”

The Power of Sound

What is it about sound that’s so important to the cinematic experience? “In many ways, sound makes images three-dimensional. It creates space, and it also creates emotion; a rhythm. Sound has all these amazing abilities.” Like many aspects of filmmaking, sound is like the Force and is only understood by those tuned in to it “… the amazing thing is that most of the audience is unaware. There’s so much manipulation going on through sound, and no one notices. Subconsciously it’s so vital for the experience.”

Sound is a vital part of the cinematic experience but it’s also a complicated topic “Sound is very difficult to talk about. With images, you can talk about color, framing, and the rest. You can’t talk about sound in the same way.”

Names like Steven Spielberg or John Williams are household names for directors and composers. But who are the legends of sound design? “For me, the kind of titans of sound design were people like Walter Murch, Ben Burtt, or Alan Splet they made these amazing sounding movies.”

Generation Wealth is in theaters now (TRAILER), so what’s next for, Peter? “I’m doing a fantasy film, a sort of Danish Harry Potter.” Consider my interest Huffle-pumped.

Thanks to Peter Albrechtsen and Impact24 PR for making this interview possible.

Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.