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2014 Sundance Institute Music & Sound Design Labs: Sandilands & McNicol, Marc Silver, Mike Day & Ross Bros. to Make Sweet Music

Take a look at the end credits of any given Sundance preemed title, and you’ll more than likely find the name of Michelle Satter in the “special thanks” portion. Just how all encompassing is the Sundance Institute support in helping spread filmmaker’s wings? With a whopping fifteen yearly labs, it goes without saying, that there are many folks that got a leg up thanks to Satter and co.

Fittingly and not surprisingly, the month of September is when the festival portion (programming) gets into high gear, and it’s also when the 2014 Sundance Institute Music & Sound Design Labs (Sundance Institute and Skywalker Sound) help out with the docu branch. Now in its second year, lucky folks Marc Silver, Mike Day, Anna Sandilands and Ewan McNicol, Bill Ross and Turner Ross (see pic of duo above) are being paired with some audibly cool folk.

Here is the press release (and projects to keep an eye out for).

Los Angeles, CA — This will be the second year the Music and Sound Design Labs take place at the Skywalker Ranch in northern California. This is one of 15 residential Labs Sundance Institute will host this year, collectively representing 20 weeks of residency support and mentorship for the most promising new independent film and theatre projects and artists from the United States and around the world.

At the Music and Sound Design Lab, a joint initiative of the Institute’s Film Music Program and Documentary Film Program, composers, sound designers and directors will explore the collaborative process of designing a soundtrack for film. Fellows also participate in workshops and creative exercises under the guidance of leading film composers and film music professionals acting as Creative Advisors and who this year will include: composers Todd Boekelheide and Miriam Cutler; re-recording mixer Lora Hirschberg; and editor Vivien Hillgrove. The Composers Lab for narrative films took place in July and was hosted by the Film Music Program and Feature Film Program.

In addition to the Music and Sound Design Labs, the Institute offers labs throughout the year and around the world for independent directors, screenwriters, documentary editors, composers, playwrights, producers and New Frontier artists.

Artists and projects selected for the 2014 Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab – Documentary (Sept. 15-23) are:

All filmmakers selected for this Lab have been supported by the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.
Marc Silver (director) / 3 1/2 Minutes: 3 1⁄2 Minutes dissects the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, the aftermath of this tragedy and contradictions within the American criminal justice system.

Mike Day (director) / The Island and the Whales: The pilot whale hunters of the Nordic Faroe Islands believe that hunting is vital to their way of life, but when a local doctor makes a grim discovery about the effects of marine pollution, environmental changes threaten to end the controversial tradition and change the community forever.

Anna Sandilands and Ewan McNicol (co-directors) / Uncertain: On the shores of a dying lake, neighbors in the once outlaw town of Uncertain, Texas, are haunted by their pasts and battling for their future—a tender, humorous southern gothic tale.

Bill Ross and Turner Ross (co-directors) / Western: Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico are border towns and a harmonious vision of the modern frontier. Cowboys and lawmen share the desert landscape while international business and multicultural bonds flourish across the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends, two men in Eagle Pass face a new reality that threatens their way of life.


Kent Sparling is a San Francisco Bay Area composer and improviser who employs techniques of manipulation and montage on a wide range of natural sounds, traditional instruments and home-made electronics. He’s released seven CDs of experimental music,and created original scores for feature films by Wayne Wang, Eduardo Sanchez, and Frazer Bradshaw. He sound-designed and mixed Lance Hammer’s Ballast, Braden King’s HERE, David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves and Ira Sachs’ Love is Strange.

Linda Oh is a bassist from Perth, Australia, based in New York City. She performs with Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, Kenny Barron and has released three albums to critical acclaim. She received an ASCAP Jazz Composer’s award, 2nd place at the BASS2010 Competition and was the 2012 Downbeat Critic’s Poll “Rising Star.”

Ross Garren is a Los Angeles-based pianist, harmonicist, and composer. He received his B.M. from the University of Southern California where he was named Outstanding Graduate in Composition. In addition to an active freelance career, he has released numerous solo records, has written music featured on a number of television shows, and has served on staff at the Musician’s Institute.

Sage Lewis is a Los Angeles-based composer who has frequently been writing music for US productions filmed in foreign countries including India, Cuba, Pakistan, Haiti, Iran, Italy, Indonesia, Peru and Colombia. His scores have been presented by Havana Film Festival, LA Film Festival, Palm Springs, Telluride, and Slamdance. He also composes for the NYC fashion brand Maiyet.

The Sundance Institute Film Music Program is supported by BMI, Time Warner Foundation, The Film Music Foundation, and Republic Records.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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