Bin Lin creates emotion through sound in drama ‘This Will Destroy You’

Bin Lin creates emotion through sound in drama ‘This Will Destroy You’

Jun 28, 2020, 4:10:39 AM Entertainment

When it comes to being an industry leading sound designer, China’s Bin Lin does not simply see his role as enhancing the sound in a film; he is a storyteller, playing on the story’s emotions to captivate an audience. As half of the movie watching experience, he knows the importance that sound plays in transporting the viewer from their seat and into a scene, how every creak in a horror can terrify, and every subtlety in a comedy can bring out the laughs. No matter the project, Lin first aims to understand the director’s emotional intention, and then he sets out on translating that intention into the sound language.

Throughout his esteemed career, Lin has proven time and time again why he is so revered in his industry. His work on films such as Clean, Growing Pains, Caroline, and more have allowed the projects to see great acclaim at many prestigious international film festivals, and his constant approach to keeping the story at the forefront of his work means the films resonate with their audiences.

This is just the case for one of Lin’s most recent projects, This Will Destroy You. This impactful drama tells the story of Amanda, an army soldier who, on holiday, hides her dark past from family and friends during a Memorial Day barbecue. Amanda has a complicated history, coming from a military family, with a deviant brother and strict father, and as the eldest sister, the responsibilities she bears of her father’s expectations and setting an example for her younger brother take a toll. Written and directed by Michael Hyon Johnson, This Will Destroy You packs a lot into its story, which is just why Lin wanted to be a part of it.

“As Amanda's character unfolds in the story, you will gradually discover her inner struggle in her communication with her brother and uncle. This struggle doesn't just come from the matter of being ordered to abuse a prisoner, it also comes from the fact that she has been accustomed to taking orders from authority and obeying orders since she was a child,” said Lin. “It's easy to point the finger to Amanda for what she does to the prisoners. However, it is difficult to recognize the problems behind this phenomenon and prevent it from happening again. Michael realizes this, so he uses a more indirect way of getting his point across in his story. And that's an important message I hope to reinforce and convey through my sound design.”

Lin and Johnson spent a great deal of time together, aiming to understand exactly what they wanted the film to convey. They went through every plot point and emotional beat, something Lin does on every project, as he knows the importance of understanding a director’s vision. It is after this that he feels confident making every narrative decision in post-production sound design.  

In this spot session, Johnson and Lin began by developing an emotional curve that would first depress and then rise. As the audience enters Amanda and her family, the intensity of the emotions increases a little bit, until finally, Amanda reaches her first emotional high after the scandal of military prisoner abuse comes to light. After Amanda's first emotional high point, the emotional narrative moves into a slightly softer but actually slowly improving state. This slow curve is not particularly sharp, but the intensity and density of the emotions should be much stronger than before, and this was the guideline for Lin’s sound design.

“What impressed me the most about this project was very smooth communication. Whether it was communication between Michael and me, or between the different post-production departments. Not only does this fluid communication make every step of post-production more efficient, but it also gives each of our departments more time to devote to the creative process,” said Lin.

This Will Destroy You has yet to have its official premiere, but it has already been a Finalist at the List-Off Global Network Session 2020, the Los Angeles CineFest, and the Canadian Cinematography Awards. It was also an Official Selection at Focus International Film Festival 2020 and took home the award for Best American Film at the Los Angeles Cinematography Awards. Lin is proud to have played such a large part in the film’s continued success.

“I hope that my sound design will help everyone understand the characters better and even add a reflection on human nature. For this particular film, I treasured Michael's perspective as an Air Force veteran. He did add more layers and thought to the story surrounding the prisoner abuse scandal. I think this is very important because when people have become accustomed to black and white moral judgments, they often lose the desire to explore the facts themselves. This can lead to communities with differing views and perspectives, finding it increasingly difficult to understand each other and become more alienated from each other. I hope that the success of this film will at least awaken more thought within people,” Lin said.

Be sure to keep an eye out for This Will Destroy You when it premieres later this year.

Published by Prashant Agarwal

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