Christian Buenaventura’s Emmy is nestled in a small nook – originally made for a light fixture – above the mantle in his living room. It’s the perfect home for any Emmy. Buenaventura, a 2005 LMU alum, won his statuette for Outstanding Sound Editing on “American Horror Story: Asylum” in 2013. Incredibly, his degree is in recording arts and his focus began on music production.
The veteran sound editor advises recording arts students to “work hard and be kind.” Originally a Conan O’Brien quote, Buenaventura has carried this mentality throughout his career. He was again nominated this year for Outstanding Sound Editing for a limited or anthology series.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Buenaventura fell in love with the idea of music production while viewing a Beatles documentary, which showed the group recording their albums in the studio and exercising creativity throughout the sound editing and recording process. Buenaventura played in bands and became obsessed with recording music, deciding he wanted to pursue a career working in a studio with artists. He was drawn to LMU as his mom wanted him to get a college degree and it was one of the few universities offering a recording arts program. When he toured the campus, it immediately felt right. Eventually his love for music production turned into a love for post-production sound for film and television.
Buenaventura said that depending on the project, finding the “right sound” looks different. In order to establish the appropriate atmosphere within a scene, sound is imperative. Looking at the story as a whole and how the material is shot and edited provides an establishment for the world it takes place in.
From there, specifics help tell the story from each director and filmmaker’s personal style. It is the sound editor’s responsibility to convey the vision for a specific character, such as Matt Murdock in Marvel’s “Daredevil.” Buenaventura explains how sound editing is in the discussion from the beginning of a project: Matt Murdock is blind, causing his other senses to be heightened. Sound editors and mixers are responsible for conveying what the world looks like from his point of view.
In order to create eeriness in the world of horror, Group ADR (Automated/Additional Dialogue Replacement) plays a big role in recording background noise and screams. Buenaventura shares, “In Season 10 of ‘American Horror Story: Double Feature,’ Group ADR played a big part in recording the vocals of the ‘Pale People’ and helped augment the sounds and eeriness coming from those characters.” Sound editors and mixers’ creativity in the studio directly affects the way the audience perceives the mood or story of a scene.
As some final advice, Buenaventura illustrates the importance of learning and the lessons that come from experience, especially as a student. “Immerse yourself in the craft and once your name gets called to go on a big opportunity, you have experience under your belt to tackle the job with confidence.”