Most of us are highly aware of the visual language and aesthetics of a film but far too often the sonic personality and style of these productions are taken for granted. Deep within the complex audio layering of sounds and dialogue lies an artistry that is covertly channeling and directing our emotions about the story; it’s an arena that Daniel Molina masterfully exists within. The fact that during the near industry wide shutdown of Covid 19, Molina has stayed as busy as ever; this vets the respect and admiration his talent has garnered among his peers and fellow professionals.
His astute perception of the proper approach to different types of films, one which seems instinctual, has made Daniel the first choice of many directors and producers throughout Hollywood. While humbly avoiding any statement that might reinforce his popularity among those with whom he collaborates, Mr. Molina concedes that working throughout the past year or two is an experience many were unable to achieve and of which he is proud.
Daniel entered into a career as a sound mixer for the diverse opportunities it afforded. Rebuking the notion of sitting in a dark room behind a sound board, being on set allows Molina to experience multiple scenarios and the challenges that they bring. None of us expected the challenge of working during a global pandemic but Daniel confirms that spending the last two years working while many did not was both an enlightening and educational experience.
On Amanda Kramer’s Please Baby Please, Daniel had to expand his responsibilities and find “work arounds” when others on the production team became ill. The film stars SAG Award-Winning Actress Andrea Risenborough, Primetime Emmy Nominated Actress Demi Moore, and Harry Melling of the Harry Potter films in the tale of a young married couple’s carnal awakening. In contrast, Greg Pritikin’s The Mistress is a horror film about a threat which dwells in the supernatural world coexisting in a newlywed couple’s dream home.
Filmed in a series of “oners”, the setting of a large Victorian house led Daniel to concoct a series of cables that allowed the sound to be captured while the cast (John Marago of Oscar Winning film The Big Short, Chasta Harmon, and Paul Schackmannof Primetime Emmy Winning Series Insecure) to navigated multiple floors without the need for interrupt filming for a reset.
Set! is an award-winning (awarded Best Documentary at the Newport Beach Film Festival) documentary that’s unlike any you’ve seen before. Depicting the competitive world of table setting, the film is imbued with heart and humor. Daniel confirms that working on this production as sound mixer was a constant delight. He relates, “In documentaries, most of the times, things happen completely out of your control. You have to ‘keep your head on a swivel’ all the time, and your gear set up has to cover all the possible situations.
There is a scene in the film SET! when two of the characters decided to show the table to their friends to see what they think about it, and the scene was planned to be quite easy: 6 friends around a table chatting and then the reveal. But, what happened was that the 2 characters decided to bring a belly dancer and a Darabuka (percussion instrument) player, and reveal the table with a dance show. So I ended up miking 7 people plus the music instrument.
Far from what was planned.” Set! cinematographer John Salmon attributes a fair portion of the final version of this film to Daniel and proclaims, “Even on the incredibly meager budget of a documentary, Daniel outshines any other Sound person I know with his professionalism and perfectionism.”
That high level of skill and professionalism has led to Daniel’s work with such industry luminaries as Nicole Kidman. Again filmed during the pandemic, directors Tim Cronenweth and Jeff Cronenweth asked Molina to take on the role of sound mixer for a mini production featuring the Oscar Award Winning Actress to lure audience back into AMC theaters. Shot in one day, Daniel felt the pressure of the timetable as well as the importance it had in supporting the industry he has become so immersed in.
From his early days in Buenos Aires to his professional days in Madrid Spain to set days in the US with the most recognizable of actors, Daniel Molina feels gratitude and the gravitas of being a professional in present day. Over discussions of his upcoming work on a documentary about rodeo clowns and other productions, Daniel communicates, “The first TV series I worked on was ‘Los Hombres de Paco’ (Pacos’s men) where I met my wife and that was an amazing start. Since that time I’ve always been eager to see what new experiences and gifts are possible when you strive to do your best along so many like-minded and talented people.”
Writer: Coleman Haan