Sound designer and editor of '90s remake of 'Psycho' talks to college students
HUNTINGDON - Marion Crane steals cash from a man whom her boss is in business with. On the way to see her boyfriend, she stops at an old motel, run by the odd Norman Bates. She is murdered in the shower. Her sister, boyfriend, and a private investigator try to find out where she is.
If that story line, as summarized by the Internet Movie Database, doesn't conjure up the recollection of the movie titled "Psycho," the sound effects in the scene of the shower murder probably will.
The shrillness of the sound effects for that scene have become famous.
Last week, the sound designer and editor for the late '90s remake of "Psycho" as well as award-winning films including "Good Will Hunting," "My Own Private Idaho" and "Far From Heaven," spoke at Juniata College and visited the college's film classes. Kelley Baker opened his visit to the campus with a lecture that drew film students from Penn State, as well as Juniata.
Senior Penn State film student Darian Stransburg asked several questions of Baker during the lecture.
"I'm here to hear his experiences as a sound director, to get insight that I cannot in a book," he said.
While Baker spent much of his career as a sound director for Hollywood movies, he said he was disgusted by the millions of dollars spent excessively to make a movie that takes no risks, and the nepotism that seeks to keep no-name artists out of Hollywood and so-called independent filmmaking.
Baker's lecture was informal and students had many opportunities to ask questions of the man, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans.
Baker's known for his website, angryfilmmaker.com, and recently published his book, "The Angry Filmmaker's Survival Guide: Making the Extreme No Budget Film." He has written, directed and distributed three full-length feature films and eight short films. He also has made several documentaries.
He is currently producing and directing a documentary film on Kay Boyle, a novelist political activist and author.
Baker brought 30 years of experience working in the film industry to Juniata College.
"Film is all about emotion," he said. "Think about the great films you've seen. And nothing carries emotion like sound does."
Story, however, not sound, is the most important part of a movie, he said.
Although he shared his negative views of the business side of Hollywood, he said it doesn't detract from his passion to make movies.
"Film is a business, but it's also an art form. Thank God for that," he said.
But to make the movies he wanted to make, he had to abandon Hollywood.
"I am a punk," he said.
Punk rock stars made the music they wanted to make, they built their audiences one person at a time, he said.
Baker's career path in film is like a punk rocker's he said.
"Wherever I can show my films, I do," he said, adding that he's shown his work in taverns.
Baker earned a bachelor's degree in 1980 and a master's degree in film in 1982 from the University of Southern California and studied at the American Film Institute in 1989.
When a student asked him to share some advice, his words may have seemed cliche, but after hours of answering questions and sharing honest stories about his life and his work, students knew he was sincere.
"You can do anything you want to do," He said. "You just have to figure out what it is and do it."
After the lecture Stransburg felt satisfied with the information he received.
"I appreciate his honesty, his bluntness and I felt like he kept it real," he said.
Students of a variety of academic disciplines attended the lecture.
Juniata Environmental Science student Mitch Stanton said he was curious about Baker.
"It's a different perspective for me," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.