Issue: August 1, 2009


SANTA MONICA, CA - Margarita Mix ( recently provided final mixing services for new films from directors Ron Shelton (Bad Boys II, Tin Cup), Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough, Coal Miner's Daughter), Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job, Dante's Peak) and Brandon Camp (Brand New Day). But don't expect to see them at your local Cineplex: the four short films - with their rich, cinematic soundtracks - debuted on the Web, the latest installments in Liberty Mutual's "Responsibility Project."

Conceived by Boston agency Hill Holliday, the Responsibility Project aims to promote social responsibility through inspiring stories of people doing the right thing. The campaign began with a series of television spots that showed people helping strangers. It has since migrated to a Website ( where more than a dozen well-known filmmakers have contributed short films on the subject of responsible action.

The new films include Home Run, directed by Shelton. Based on the true story, it's a tale of incredible sportsmanship as members of a women's softball team carry an injured opponent around the bases to complete a home run. The other films include Party Guest, directed by Apted, about a man and a woman who meet at a dinner party; Lawyers, directed by Donaldson, about an attorney whose ethics conflict with his love life; and Prodigy (PICTURED), directed by Camp, about a young man torn between the aspirations of his father and his grandfather.

Beautifully written, acted and directed, the films exhibit feature-quality production value in every respect, including in their soundtracks, mixed by Margarita Mix's Jimmy Hite and Michael Jesmer in 5.1 surround sound.

"We went full blown with all of them," recalls Hite. "We were working with four highly accomplished directors who are used to mixing on a stage in 5.1 - that's what they wanted and we accommodated them. Although the films are intended for the Internet, we produced versions that could screen theatrically."

Hite worked directly with composers J. Peter Robinson, who wrote original scores for Home Run and Lawyers, and Carmen Rizzo, who scored Party Guest. "A lot of emotion from the films comes from the music," Hite says. "J. Peter Robinson worked with me right at the board. He went for certain instruments in certain passages and knew exactly what he wanted to bring out the emotion. I rarely have a composer work with me like that and it was a great experience."

The films also employed complex dialogue and sound effects elements. "There was a lot of ADR done for Home Run," says Hite. "We did a lot of balancing of perspectives to get it to sound like it's coming from behind you or from the dugout, and to let certain things cut through. The final scene, where the girl is carried around the bases as the umpires discuss the play, occurs against a building music track and we spent a lot of time to give it the right emotional impact."

On Prodigy, Jesmer worked with music editor Curt Sobel, whose credits include The Bourne Ultimatum and My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Sobel arrived at the mix session with some 85 individual music tracks. "The direction I received from Curt and Brandon Camp was to make it emotional," Jesmer says. "The music was beautifully composed and the story itself is very compelling. My job was to augment the work they had done - creating good transitions and bringing the music up when it needed to punch."

Jesmer took advantage of the 5.1 surround environment to add a spatial dimension to certain scenes. One such case is a scene where the image of a boy playing a trumpet on a porch dissolves to an image of the same boy ten years later. "The camera pans around the boy and I panned the sound of the horn in the 5.1 environment in the same way to make it seem more real," he notes.

Jesmer adds that he was impressed with the quality of the films and that he and Hite were inspired by the opportunity to work on the project. "Filmmakers of this caliber know exactly what they want," Jesmer says. "The challenge is to connect with them on a creative level in order to give it to them. When you do it, it's all high fives. That's why we're here. We love collaborating."