remembering david yewdall Asbjoern Andersen

Hollywood sound design veteran and author of the hugely influential ‘Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound’ sadly passed away this week. Charles Maynes remembers him below:

Wow – to write about Dave Yewdall is like trying to make a short essay about the creation of the world… He was a remarkable figure who casts an enormous shadow, and yet so many in the general sound community probably aren’t that aware of who he was, or what he did…

In my experience with him, which was pretty late in his career, I was always amazed at how incredibly well prepared he tended to be in approaching his work. He and Warren Hamilton, another absolute titan of Hollywood Sound, were longtime friends and shared so much in common with their intellects, and their commitment to giving every last bit of themselves to the projects they involved themselves in. So really, just to recap, here are SOME of the films David was involved in:

Phantoms (1997) – sound effects editor
Jackie Brown (1997) – sound editor
Starship Troopers (1997) – sound effects editor
The Fifth Element (1997) – sound effects editor
Dante’s Peak (1996) – sound effects editor
Jingle All the Way (1996) – sound effects editor
Chain Reaction (1995) – sound effects editor
Return of the Living Dead III (1993) – supervising sound editor
One False Move (1991) – supervising sound editor
Shakes the Clown (1991) – supervising sound editor
Kadunlakaisijat (1990) – sound effects
Kiljusen herrasväen uudet seikkailut (1990) – sound effects editor
Predator 2 (1990) – sound effects editor
Lionheart (1989) – supervising sound editor
The Winter War (1989) – co-supervising sound editor
Halloween 5 (1989) – co-supervising sound editor
The Punisher (1988) – supervising sound editor
Purple People Eater (1988) – sound designer
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) – sound designer
Flowers in the Attic (1987) – sound designer
Deadly Illusion (1987) – sound
Near Dark (1987) – sound designer
Slam Dance (1987) – sound designer
Hot Pursuit (1987) – supervising sound editor
Campus Man (1987) – supervising sound editor
Evil Dead II (1987) – additional sound effects
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) – sound designer
Salvador (1986) – sound designer / supervising sound editor
Transylvania 6-5000 (1985) – sound designer
Crimewave (1985) – sound designer
Dreamscape (1984) – supervising sound editor
The Philadelphia Experiment (1984) – sound designer
Moscow on the Hudson (1984) – supervising sound editor
Christine (1983) – supervising sound editor
The Dead Zone (1983) – supervising sound editor
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) – supervising sound editor
Lone Wolf McQuade (1982) – sound effects designer
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – supervising sound editor
The Thing (1982) – supervising sound editor
Halloween II (1981) – supervising sound editor
Smokey Bites the Dust (1981) – sound effects
Escape from New York (1981) – sound editor
Lovely But Deadly (1980) – supervising sound editor
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) – supervising sound editor
Humanoids from the Deep (1979) – sound editor
Fyre (1979) – sound effects
They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way (1978) – sound effects editor
Piranha (1978) – sound effects editor
Deathsport (1978) – sound editor

David started out working on low budget films with Roger Corman – as a number of the leading Hollywood sound legends did – and moved to becoming a longtime John Carpenter collaborator, working on some of Carpenters’ most iconic films. A book could and should be written documenting those exploits, as they made an indelible impression in the fabric of modern film sound.

In working with David in his later years – as we met in 1997 when his fellow mentor Steve Flick added David to our crew for the film Starship Troopers – I, being just a couple years into my film sound journey, was immediately smitten by his generous and lovely passion. David was a bit of a force of nature, as even though we were all working on specific facets of the film, David would always be offering his insights into possibilities which were outside his assigned tasks, and provided terrific levels of support to the editors who were working alongside him. One of the most salient things I recall about was that David had his “gun book” which had photos and specifications of a wide number of guns which he had run across in the films he had worked on. David was a former Army member, so this didn’t surprise me, but he always kept that book close to him as a reference volume to be able to speak authoritatively on the weapons that were being used in one film or another. David also was rather obsessive in how he managed his vast sound library, spending hours on its upkeep weekly. He used to actually watch films after we were done with them and groom the library – which back in the mid-nineties was far less convenient than today, as hard drives were limited to about 9 GBs of space, and back then David (and a lot of people) were using the old Iomega Jaz drives for their offline storage (which were 1gb in capacity). It is truly amazing to think of how fast the technology has expanded since that time!

David had no end to amazing stories, as a casual look at his credits can easily suggest. His stories about working with his long time friend Bruce Campbell were always incredible, and his recollections about working on the Carpenter films were similarly incredible. Some of those made it into the various volumes of his book, “The Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound”, but it seemed they were unending and always incredible.

David, in his later years, did migrate into academia, taking a position at the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts where he touched a great number of present film sound notables. The consistent theme in anyone’s comments regarding him was always that he imbued his passion for the art into every class lecture and experience that the students participated in, and that his mentorship for those who chose to enter the sound field was issued in great enthusiasm.

It seems a million words could be written regarding David, but I will stop here.

We have lost a friend, advocate, and inspiration in his passing…


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One thought on “Remembering David Yewdall – by Charles Maynes

  1. Very nice tribute, Charles. I truly enjoyed those conversations we all had in the halls of Creative Café. I’d always hoped to have some more time to hang with Dave, I had no idea he’d be leaving us so soon. It makes me appreciative of the good friends I’ve made in this business, present company included.

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