Fanshawe alumnus and The Shape of Water sound editor, Nathan Robitaille inspires students

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: IMDB
Fanshawe alumnus, Nathan Robitaille gave an inspiring lecture to students of the Audio Post Production program, not long after his win for Best Sound Editing from the Directors Guild of Canada for work on The Shape of Water.

Students of Fanshawe's Audio Post-Production (APP) recently welcomed Music Industry Arts (MIA) and APP alumnus Nathan Robitaille back to Fanshawe for an inspiring guest lecture.

Robitaille is a veteran of the post-production industry who is most notably recognized for his works as the supervising sound editor on the Academy Award winning film The Shape of Water.

This film gained Robitaille international recognition, including an OSCAR nomination for best sound editing, as well as a recent win from the Directors Guild of Canada for Best Sound Editing.

APP program co-ordinator Steve Malison fondly reminisced on Robitaille's student years, remembering him to be hardworking and professional right from the start. “I remember him vividly, 20 years ago. Because he always showed up...and contributed consistently,” Malison said.

Robitaille, who graduated Fanshawe in 2000, set aside two hours to visit with students, during which he shared his journey from college to where he is now, offered advice on how students can find their own success in the industry and gave insight into the process behind his work on The Shape of Water. This included an in depth look at the creation of the voice of the Amphibian Man which included modified elements of his own voice to give a more human element to the creature.

In regards to the recent award from the Directors Guild of Canada, Robitaille shared his gratefulness for the acknowledgement he and his team received.

“It's always nice to get recognition for our workWe were up against some pretty fantastic sounding tracks,” Robitaille said, going on to joke about the irony of awards for those who prefer to work behind the scenes in the film industry. “Sound editors work in dark rooms, isolated from human contact and we thank them by putting them on stage in a huge room full of people they admire and respect, turn on a spotlight and with cameras rolling we hand them a trophy and tell them to speak coherentlyIt's a wonder that it ever goes well,” Robitaille said.

Nevertheless, Robitaille shared how proud he was to be a part of this revolutionary production and how excited he was to throw himself in to every aspect of the process.

“Every job has elements that a sound designer can sink their teeth into. Maybe Shape [of Water] stands out because I felt like every single thing it presented to me was something that I wanted a bite of,” Robitaille said.

As students eagerly sat on the edge of their chair, listening to every bit of wisdom offered, Robitaille was just as thrilled to meet the students and visit his old stomping grounds at Fanshawe.

“It's great to feel the encouragement radiating off the students and look into all those eyes and know that they are poised to blow the doors off of whatever they choose to pursue”, he said, going on to tell how impressed he was with the growth in the APP facilities since he was a student. “It is not a hand me down program, man. Those labs have better and more up to date equipment than I do.”

Students were left inspired and motivated, ready to pursue a career of their own in the audio post industry. Robitaille's biggest piece of advice to those on this path is to “Be the easiest solution”.

Although he could not yet speak on his current projects, Robitaille expressed his excitement for what's to come.

“You'll just have to stay tuned and watch for projects to appear on my IMDb page,” Robitaille said. “[There's a] couple of really cool ones coming next year.”