Interview with Oscar winner Kevin O’Connell!

When you work on a movie lot you make lots of fun new friends who are so unbelievably talented you can’t even understand the amount of talent they have. One of the wonderful friends I made is a great fella named Kevin O’Connell. This year was a very special year for Kevin! He won an Oscar for Hacksaw Ridge (Sound Mixing)!

Watch the video below to see this amazing moment!

I am so thrilled to interview Kevin about this very win. Kevin, besides being a very talented sound mixer is also a very genuine person who never denies me a high five and always waves hello when I see him on the lot. He deserves all the wonderful praise he has gotten this year! Let’s get right to that interview!

(above photo courtesy of MSN)


First of all, I have to congratulate you on your Oscar win this year! After TWENTY nominations this was your year! Can you describe the feeling you had when you heard your name called and that moment you held that Oscar in your hands?

First of all I was completely convinced that we were going to lose. When we lost the sound editing award I thought we were doomed. There was no way we could win. When they announced the winner, they said the winner was Hacksaw Ridge and I immediately asked my wife, did they say Hacksaw Ridge? I flipped out out. I could not believe it. I was in such shock that I don’t even remember running to the stage but I know that I did. I could hear people cheering my name as I was running. When I reached the stage and looked out, it was the view I always dreamed of but was always denied. The first thought that came into my head was to tell the folks that this was the greatest feeling in the world, which i did. After I gave my speech, i walked off stage and kept asking the guys, did that really happen? I am still in shock.
(Photo: Courtesy of NBC)
For those of us who don’t know the world of movie sound, what is it specifically that you do? FX? Dialogue?
I am part of a 2 man post production team responsible for the blending of dialogue, music and sound effects to create the soundscape for motion pictures. I handle the dialogue and music.
(Photo: Courtesy of NPR)
You have over 200 credits to your name in the sound department. That is an amazing accomplishment. What made you fall in love with the world of sound (re-recording/ mixer) and movies and decide to pursue a career in that world?
I was an LA county firefighter when I was 18 years old assigned to the brush fire division. It was an extremely difficult and dangerous job that was very physically demanding. I lived at home at the time and my mother Skippy, who worked in the sound department at both Century Fox, urged me to come down to the studio and check out the world of sound because she was fearful that I would get injured and wanted me to get into a safer line of work. When I saw what was involved and how interesting the world of sound was I quit my job in the fire dept. and took a position as a machine room operator at The Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood. I was fortunate enough to work on films like Grease, Animal House, The Empire Strike Back and Raiders Of The Lost Arc. At that point I was hooked and realized that this was what I wanted to do for a living.
I have been told by a few folks in the industry that if you ever hold someone else’s Oscar then you will never win your own. So my question(s) to you are…Have you heard this “urban legend” and did you yourself ever hold an Oscar before winning one?
I actually never heard of this urban legend but I always made it a point to never hold anyone else’s Oscar. I thought it was bad luck. Perhaps if I did, I may have won sooner. 
Do you have a favorite moment in your career that has stood out to over the years? Other than winning that pretty great trophy?
One Friday night while I was mixing a film for Barbra Streisand, she leaned over and asked me if I would like to come over to her house for dinner over the weekend. She said I was welcome to bring my girlfriend Heather so on Sunday afternoon we drove out to her home in Malibu. I was told that Barbra often entertained groups of people on occasion so I had no idea what to expect. When we arrived, we knocked on the door and to my surprise Barbra answered the door herself. She gave us a tour of her house and then just the three of us sat down for dinner. It was great listening to her stories and hearing about all of the many adventures in her life. 
After dinner, she asked if we wanted to go see a movie at her friend Sandy Gallons house. It sounded like fun so we agreed. Barbra said that she did not drive and asked if I could drive us down there. Unfortunately at the time i was driving a Porsche Speedster and it was only a 2 seater. I looked at Barbra and she said “let’s go for it” and all three of us jumped in the car and sped down the coast highway. Barbra was sitting half on Heather’s lap and half on mine and I was reaching underneath her to shift the car. It was very surreal but fun and exciting at the same time. I found Barbra to be one of the coolest director’s I have ever worked with.
Do you have a movie that you have worked on that is your favorite over the years? If so, what made it so special?
Top Gun has always been my favorite film. I was only 25 when I mixed it but it was the first time I had the opportunity to work with Tony Scott who I would go on to have a 30 year relationship with. He was a good friend and a great filmmaker.
You have worked with so many film makers over the years. Is there a film maker out there that you have not worked with and would be honored to do so?
I think it would be fun to work on a Chris Nolan film. I think he is a very talented filmmaker and his films always sound cool.
You are quite the busy bee! What is it like having a family while having to much on your shoulders with these movies? It’s amazing to me personally to watch folks accomplish so much and balance life and work. It is a goal of mine to do the same.
Thankfully I have a wonderful wife that takes such good care of my family. Since budgets for film have shrunken so much over the last several years I no longer work such long hours and weekends. In the old days, you could be working 7days a week, 16 hours a day for months at a time. Nowadays that seems to be the exception rather then the rule. I am actually thankful for that. I am glad to have the heavy overtime days behind us.
(Photo: Courtesy of The Oscars)
Can you tell the readers any new projects your have coming up that you are excited about?
I am very excited to be working on Jumanji, Welcome To The Jungle. It’s a great film and our director, Jake Kasdan, is the son of Larry Kasdan of whom I mixed many of his films dating back to The Big Chill when Jake was only 4 years old. That’s kinda cool.
What advice would you give anyone who is looking to pursue their dreams in Hollywood?
NEVER GIVE UP!! No matter who tells you you can’t or your not good enough just hang in there, do your best and keep persevering. You WILL get there one day. Also, show up at work with a good attitude ready to work every day. Don’t just do the minimum, ask if there is anything else you can do and do it without complaining. It’s so easy to complain and so refreshing when people appreciate their jobs and are grateful for the opportunity to do it….And the most important thing is treat EVERYBODY with respect whether they are an intern or the head of the studio. Everyone deserves to be treated as you would like them to treat you, with respect. If you live by this rule you will never go wrong. Last thing..if you do not enjoy what you are doing, find another line of work. Life is too short to hate your job. Find something that makes you happy!!!
Thank you again to Kevin for this interview! Thank you to the readers for taking time to read and support my blog! 

Keep on dreaming’ ya dreamers! You never know what could happen!

– Christie Gee-Kellems