'Chicago 7' Sound Team On Taking An Urgent, Modern Approach For The Period Drama

When director Aaron Sorkin kicked off production on The Trial of the Chicago 7, one of his surprising recommendations to his Oscar-nominated sound team of Renee Tondelli and Julian Slater was to not make the film necessarily about the 1960s. The sound did not need to feel mired within the era. With the modern day movement of Black Lives Matter happening during their work, the parallels between our modern reality and the period-set film were not lost on Tondelli or Slater. “We wanted the those demonstrations and riots to feel not overly polished. To sound very visceral and real. I think [Sorkin] was very key for things like the demonstrations and the riots to have a kind of rawness to them and to be very real.”

To inspire their take on the 1968 riots around the Democratic National Convention, Tondelli introduced Slater to Haskell Wexler’s 1969 drama Medium Cool. Filmed during the 1968 riots, the film includes scenes of Wexler’s actors actually navigating the convention and the riots. Another key focus of the sound team during the riot sequence was to isolate moments of quiet within the madness. Chicago 7’s riot sequence, while pivotal to the film, only provides a fraction of the film’s emotional pyrotechnics.

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