Dolby Institute Fellowship
Hunt for the Wilderpeople, written and directed by renowned New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, received one of the year's Dolby Institute Fellowship grants in support of its launch at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
"Wilderpeople was exactly the kind of film we look to support with this grant," explained Dolby Institute director Glenn Kiser. "A brilliant filmmaker making a fresh and inventive film with the potential for very creative sound work, but needing some support to execute at the level of his or her vision." The Dolby Institute Fellowship allowed the film's sound and music teams, working at Park Road Post in Wellington, New Zealand, the time and resources to enhance the sound design and finish the film in Dolby Atmos®.
"The film is 80 percent exterior, out in the bush," said writer-director-producer-actor Taika Waititi. "You really become aware of all the sounds around you, like from animals and bird life, but also the sound of wind and rain and water on the trees. There's so much more aurally out there that you never really think about. So this opportunity to use [Dolby] Atmos was really huge for us because we put the audience right in there."
It's one thing to have the audience root for the characters but quite another to really feel like they're out there in the same environment and the freezing cold and the snow and the rain, and actually feel like they're part of the adventure.
TAIKA WAITITI, WRITER AND DIRECTOR, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
Wilderpeople's comedic tone, in particular, gave the film's creative team license to playfully experiment with using sound and music in a much more assertive way than they would have in a typical dramatic film.
Rerecording mixer Mike Hedges, a two-time Academy Award® winner for his mixes on Peter Jackson's films King Kong and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, explained, "The benefits of Dolby Atmos are that it allows you to place sounds wherever you like. And in this film, it's telling a story, but it's also enhancing the craziness of the story. For a humorous film, it allows you to get really caught up in the craziness of it and really live the experience."
In particular, the film's composers, Luke Buda and Sam Scott, made inventive use of the Dolby Atmos technology to move the music off the screen and into the cinema. "[Dolby] Atmos gives you the option as a composer to be in a different place from where the effects are happening," Scott said. "So often music is fighting with the effects, but because you've got an extra dimension of where sound can be, the effects can be more in the [Dolby] Atmos, or the music can be more in the [Dolby] Atmos, and you can sort of divide yourselves around the room a little bit."