Antioch Native Semanick Nominated for Oscar for
'Lord of the Rings' Work
Credits High School Drama Instructor Theresa Rossi
As Printed in The Antioch Press February, 2004.
San Francisco - Former Antioch resident Michael Semanick earned his third Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Sound for his work as a sound re-recording mixer on the "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King." Semanick received previous Oscar nominations for "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
The 76th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC Television on Sunday, February 29, 2004. Semanick has been invited to attend the exclusive Oscar Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills on February 9th.
Semanick and his ROTK sound team associates have also been recognized for their phenomenal contribution to the New Line Cinema film by many other industry groups.
Sound re-recording mixers are responsible for mixing the final sound elements (dialogue, music, sound effects and foley). In a major feature film like "The Lord of the Rings," there is a crew of three re-recording mixers (one for dialogue, one for sound effects and foley and one for music.) In the case of "Return of the King," Semanick was primarily responsible for the final dialogue mix for all the cast, creatures and characters including Treebeard and Gollum.
Prior to graduating from Antioch High School in 1981, Semanick was recognized as the Drama Department's "Best Technician" and awarded the Bank of America Achievement Scholarship in Drama. He also received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Semanick credits Antioch High's drama instructor Theresa Rossi for giving him the inspiration and motivation to pursue his interests. He describes Rossi, who is now teaching at Deer Valley High School in Antioch, as a teacher who cared about each student and who was willing to help each student individually pursue their area of expertise. "Mrs. Rossi would say 'what do you need to learn, what direction do you want to go in?,' then she would find books or material to help you perfect your part of the production. She did this for everyone, from the lead actor to the stage crew. When you're in high school and looking for direction, that kind of leadership is extremely valuable," said Semanick. "She also cared about every part of the theatrical experience, including the technical aspects, and emphasized how to make sound and lighting an art form."
While still in high school, Semanick took courses at Los Medanos College and volunteered at the Antioch Community Theater, where he continued to build upon his interests in lighting and sound. He especially enjoyed and excelled in sound design, sound effects and the musical soundtrack, and elected to perfect that craft.
Upon graduation from Berklee College in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Production and Engineering, Michael and his high school sweetheart, Cheri Baker, returned to the Bay Area, where Semanick got started in the music recording industry, first at the Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco then at Berkeley's world famous Fantasy Studios. Semanick worked with such Bay Area favorites as Ronnie Montrose, Joe Satriani, Starship, Todd Rundgren, En Vogue, Greg Kihn, Tesla, Y&T, and Grammy winner MC Hammer at the height of their fame. Semanick also contributed to the Academy and Grammy award winning soundtrack to "The English Patient." That film earned nine Academy Awards in 1997.
Semanick began working in movies in the early 1990's and has built an impressive collection of credits. In addition to the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Semanick has worked on "Stars Wars Episode II, Attack of the Clones" with director George Lucas, "Mystic River" and "Space Cowboys" with Clint Eastwood, "Signs" and "Unbreakable" with M. Night Shyamalan, "Magnolia" and "Punch Drunk Love" with Paul Thomas Anderson, "Romeo + Juliet" with Baz Luhrmann, "Fight Club," "The Game," and "Se7en" with David Fincher, and many more films.
Semanick's next projects include "The Village" with M. Night Shyamalan, and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" with Alfonso Cuarón.
In addition to frequently working at the Saul Zaentz Film Center in Berkeley and George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch, Semanick's work has taken him around the world, including South America and Europe. Michael and Cheri now live in Marin County and have three children. His family joined him in New Zealand in 2002 and 2003 for the four month "Two Towers" and "Return of the King" mixes.