A Justified Voice

A Justified Voice

Posted by Mike Finnegan on Jan 20th 2019

His voice was distinctive, direct, dramatic when needed – and always, an invitation to pay attention for something worthwhile. Thankfully, behind it was an unfailingly alert and engaged mind fixed on illuminating the past and connecting to the present. Affection for movies, and particularly the musical richness both sinuously subliminal and symphonically overt that adorned them, characterized his speech, and fueled an intellectual and emotional devotion to detail and precision in the pursuit of his dual career passions. Brief phone chats and inquisitorial discussions before microphones had equal shares of grit, gravity and dry, cutting humor with an optimistic center. Working beside him naturally engaged one’s best efforts. Witnessing his defiant, no-nonsense bravery against baffling and crushing health problems, mirroring the combative style of his filmmaking idol and focus of curation Sam Peckinpah, couldn’t help but evoke a breathtaking blend of awe and admiration. The aforementioned voice, you see, would inevitably also convey relaxation, reassurance and forward motion. Gratefully, the voice of Nick Redman (1955-2019) abides in several deep-dive movie documentaries, and hundreds of film soundtrack restorations and home video releases that populate our audio and video libraries. That monumental body of work is why so many people who never met him are persuaded they know him, and those blessed with in-person acquaintance of and, even better, friendship with him feel as indebted and edified as he would frequently acknowledge himself as a lucky fellow who emigrated to Los Angeles from his native England 30 years ago.

There are countless Nick Intro Stories: mine, like many, centers one of the man’s two all-time-favorite movies,The Wild Bunch (1969). (The other was Zulu (1964), which he got to shepherd onto Blu-ray in 2014.) The R-rated Peckinpah classic, edited for the domestic marketplace shortly after its debut, was rereleased in theaters in 1995 in its original director-intended full-length form that international audiences saw, and its already considerable reputation was newly burnished. Working at Warner Home Video in 1996, I was part of the effort of many Warner Bros. villagers, spearheaded by Nick’s newfound friend and then Senior Vice-President of International Marketing Brian Jamieson, via which Nick was recruited – quite eagerly on his part – to prepare a restored and remastered version of the haunting Jerry Fielding score for CD release. That in turn was quickly followed by the discovery in the studio vaults of the 1968 on-set making-of footage that served as the basis for the documentary The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage, directed by film editor/Peckinpah expert Paul Seydor and produced by Nick and Paul. Nick would rightly boast that the pair’s 1996 Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject would be the first and only time that a scholarly passion project about the making of a movie and commissioned by a home video division would be so honored. The determination and dedication embodied in Nick infected all in his orbit, and I am glad to have had the good sense to keep in semiregular contact with him in the DVD-startup years that followed, where his work as a consultant for Twentieth Century Fox Music would spill over into aural and video enhancements for that studio’s output in the disc format, while his occasional forays back at the Warner ranch for John Ford’s The Searchers and the release of other Peckinpah films in the WB Corral were welcome and illuminating. So, when a long-time studio home parts company with you and get a call soon afterward from guys named Jamieson and Redman to work with them, the voices are, again, relaxing, reassuring and forward-moving, even as the company you join is somewhat noirishly named Twilight Time, tempting fate in the face of a turmoil-ridden home video landscape. Across five years and counting, one gets to labor in a good cause alongside extraordinary people, particularly Nick’s long-time, eternally curious and caring soulmate Julie Kirgo; meet cinematic idols who have shared the microphone with Nick; and service devoted film fans who share the stubbornly still vital connection to a communal cultural past and present. To use an occasional Kirgo designation, “this writer” says thanks for a justified life to Nick, whose voice forever reverberates.