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Michael Wolf Snyder Dies: Sound Mixer For ‘Nomadland,’ ‘The Rider’ Was 35

Alexandra Del Rosario
·3-min read

Michael Wolf Snyder, the sound mixer for a number of film titles, including Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland and The Rider, has died by suicide, according to a Facebook post from his aunt. He was 35.

Snyder’s aunt, Cathy Snyder, shared a post from the sound mixer’s father, David Snyder, in which he details finding his son’s body in his Queens, N.Y. home.

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“Michael took his own life sometime in the last week, and it wasn’t discovered until I went to check on him Monday after he dropped out of contact for several days,” David Snyder originally wrote. “He has suffered from Major Depression for many years. For most people, this is an illness that waxes and wanes over the years. I’m sure it was difficult for Michael that he spent most of the last year alone in his small, Queens apartment, being responsible about dealing with the coronavirus.”

Snyder, who detailed his son’s death in “The hope that it could help others,” added that his son seemed “especially joyful and invigorated” upon returning to work on a number of film projects. Unfortunately, Michael died before the Golden Globe Awards on Feb. 28, David Snyder added. At the 78th annual ceremony, Zhao’s Nomadland took home the best director and best drama motion picture prizes.

Kicking off his career in 2011 with Henry Miller’s Occupant, Michael Snyder worked in a number of sound roles, ranging from boom operator to location sound director to sound mixer. In 2014, he wrote, produced, and mixed Jodie’s Way, a short about a trans-curious high schooler who has a run-in with the local mean girls.

In 2017, he joined the team of Chloé Zhao’s The Rider as a boom operator and sound mixer. The film, which is one part of Zhao’s trilogy about being dispossessed and left behind in the modern American West, stars Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau and Lilly Jandreau. Zhao’s drama follows a young cowboy who seeks out a new identity in the heartland of America.

Two years later Snyder reunited with Zhao for her Francis McDormand-starrer, Nomadland. As production sound mixer, Snyder helped fill the narrative about modern day nomads with the atmospheric echoes of America’s natural landscapes.

In a statement Zhao said she relied on the sound mixer to ” to be my ears.”

“He would nod at me with a happy grin, or tears in his eyes, or sometimes he would discreetly signal ‘one more. ‘ During The Rider, Wolf suggested an idea we later took onto Nomadland — recording room tones longer than we need as a chance to experience silence. After hustling on each location, we sat together, in silence, tuned in, listened and honored the world around us and each other. I will always miss him. He would always be with me on set, after each take, and in the silence of every room tone. See you down the road, my friend,” she said.

For his work on Nomadland, Snyder received nominations, shared with Sergio Diaz and Zach Seivers, for best sound at both the Satellite Awards and the CinEuphoria Awards. In 2012, he won the best sound award for his work on Rockaway at the First Run Festival.

Snyder’s additional credits include HodoBuzz, Good Omens, Best Medicine, Home Sweet Home and All of Her.

See Cathy Snyder’s full post below.

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