For an independently made film, Amazon’s Sound of Metal has some remarkably complex and sophisticated technical challenges, including its intricate sound design. “We went for it, “ writer-director Darius Marder says of the unique sound work the film called for. “My brother said he wished we had a documentary crew covering because it was such a crazy process. We really pushed the boundaries. It is hard to understand what it really took to get it to work.”
Marder was joined by his cast during a panel for the Amazon Studios portion of Deadline’s Contenders Film award-season event. Riz Ahmed plays a heavy metal band member who discovers he is going deaf, Olivia Cooke as his bandmate and girlfriend, and Paul Raci as a man who runs a rehab center for those in the deaf community, many who are also addicted to drugs.
Ahmed said he had to learn to play the drums, master American Sign Language, get heavily tattooed and more in order to play the role. “I was looking for something that would be really immersive. I wanted to be kind of overwhelmed,” he says. “I sometimes think when you are out of control and have to submit to the process, that is when something interesting happens. I think we were at the point where we just wanted to jump into the deep end,” he added, his thought echoed as well by co-star Cooke.
Real deaf addicts were also part of the cast during the rehab scenes, and Raci, a stage actor for 40 years, brought his own life experience along with him.
“Both my parents were deaf. American Sign Language was my native tongue. I learned to speak actually thanks to an understanding aunt later on… It was a gift to be part of this project, and for the most part the deaf community loves the movie,” he says.
Check back for the panel video.