Hollywood designer, ASU alumnus holds Q&A

Hamilton Sterling, ASU alumnus and sound editor and sound designer, speaks with ASU students after a screening of "The Dark Knight." (Photo courtesy of Naveen Selladurai)

The prospect of obtaining a career after graduating college may appear bleak, but a true example of success after college was presented on Nov. 8 at the new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV when Hamilton Sterling came to speak with students.

Sterling, an ASU alumnus, is a sound editor and sound designer who has worked on multiple films. His impressive cinematic repertoire includes the latest Men in Black movie, “The Dark Knight,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and the 2005 remake of “War of the Worlds.”

The ASU Film Association and the ASU Programming and Activities Board sponsored the evening that is part of a series of events called Hollywood Invades Tempe. These events often entail a film screening and a Q&A session with a professional from the set of the featured film. Thursday evening’s event enabled the crowd to speak with Sterling in person, a deviation from past events that could only offer a Skype chat with Hollywood professionals.

Students and the public were treated to free refreshments, a screening of the blockbuster 2008 hit “The Dark Knight” and an intimate Q&A session with Sterling.

At approximately 6:15 p.m., attendants streamed into the lobby in anticipation. A long maroon and gold table held a variety of dinner foods and fruit. Students crowded around to take advantage of the free food while they waited for the screening to start. Dignified members of the public also mingled with one another, matching the building’s sophisticated ambiance.

Some took the time to amble around the first floor’s exhibits. The exhibits that received the most attention were television screens that displayed records of recent earthquakes, and a tank of water that was home to a mobile robot.

After a brief opportunity to explore the new building, guests were ushered into the Marston Exploration Theater for a screening of “The Dark Knight.” The theater is generally used for various Earth and space science discussions.

The film provided a seamless transition for Sterling. The audience profusely applauded after “The Dark Knight.” They expressed delight when film professor Adam Collis escorted the sound effects and lighting designer to the stage. Collis quickly interviewed Sterling before students were able to ask questions.

The first half of the Q&A session mainly covered the technical process behind each step of the filmmaking sequence. Sterling also explained that his contributions in “The Dark Knight” were predominantly the scenes where destruction of establishments, fighting and flying took place.

“It was a bit exhausting,” Sterling said.

Two microphones attached to stands were placed on each side of the Marston Exploration Theater for student inquiries. Sterling explained that the path he took for his success was time-consuming and difficult, but ultimately worth it.

Sterling humbly shared with the students that at one point, he was working 12-hour workdays for two weeks straight. Sterling told the audience that his line of work is subjective. He claimed that today’s professionals are at the mercy of corporations.

“It’s important to work relentlessly with complete determination. It all starts with the self. You have to differentiate yourself from the crowd. For instance, do not use cliché sounds, such as ‘whoosh,’” he said.

The Q&A session concluded with a student who asked Sterling about his favorite movies. Sterling noted that working on “Tree of Life” was a dream come true and that he loved the drama and tension of another film he worked on, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” While Sterling was not a part of the creation, he called “2001: A Space Odyssey” a “touchstone” film.

Hollywood Invades Tempe will provide another event next semester as well. There is a screening of “Sinister” planned along with a Q&A session with the director, Scott Derrickson.

A similar event titled Anatomy of a Feature Film, will occur on Jan. 26, 2013. A screening of “Juno” will accompany a talk with the key people involved in the making of the 2007 hit.


Reach the reporter at lrogoff@asu.edu

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