BAFTA Honours Ray Merrin

BAFTA Honours Ray Merrin

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has honoured legendary re-recording mixer Ray Merrin with a BAFTA Special Award for his outstanding contribution to sound design. The Special Award was presented to Ray Merrin’s wife, Hazel, at a BAFTA Tribute event yesterday evening at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly in London. The event had been scheduled prior to Ray Merrin’s death on Monday 15 January and continued as planned at the request of his family.

Marc Samuelson, Chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee, commented: “Ray Merrin’s contribution to film is truly outstanding. Through his unstinting dedication to his craft, he produced sound mixes for many of the finest and most memorable films from the past 50 years. We’re honoured to pay tribute to his career through this Special Award.”

At the event, hosted by film journalist and writer Ian Haydn Smith, the audience revisited some of Merrin’s most well-known work, and heard from a selection of his most esteemed collaborators including directors, producers and fellow crew members.

Amongst the industry figures who gave tribute to Merrin were: Sir Ridley Scott, Barbra Streisand, Sir Alan Parker, Lord David Puttnam and Walter Murch.

BAFTA hosts a small number of Tribute events each year to recognise major figures in the film, games and television industries who have made a significant contribution to the moving arts and demonstrated excellence in their field. In recent years, BAFTA has paid tribute to writer-producer Henry Normal, editor Terry Rawlings, journalist and broadcaster Peter Taylor OBE, factual filmmaker Roger Graef, broadcaster Delia Smith, costume designer Phyllis Dalton, production designer Sir Ken Adam, producer Betty Willingale, cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, animator Ray Harryhausen and director Nicolas Roeg.

Ray Merrin’s career in film spanned five decades, during which time he brought sound to many of the most celebrated films in cinema history.

In 1953, when he was 15 years old, Merrin started working as a lighting operator at a cinema and variety theatre in St. Leonards-on-Sea. In 1959 Merrin secured a job in the re-recording room at Elstree Film Studios in Borehamwood, following his national service in the RAF, during which time he became the chief projectionist of the sole cinema at his base in Aden. After a five year apprenticeship at Elstree, he was appointed as re-recording mixer, working with Len Shilton and Eddie Haben, who had given Merrin his first job a decade earlier.

Merrin worked at Elstree for 25 years, and during this time he helped bring state-of-the art sound to countless box office successes and award-winning films, as well as popular TV series such as Danger Man, The Prisoner, The Saint and The Avengers. It was on the latter two shows that Ray began his creative partnership with Bill Rowe. Amongst the many acclaimed films they worked on together were A Clockwork Orange (1971), Tommy (1975), Midnight Express (1978), The Killing Field s(1984), The Mission (1986), The Last Emperor (1987) and Memphis Belle (1990). It was on Tommy (1975) and then Watership Down (1978) that Ray Merrin began working with Terry Rawlings, who had moved from sound to a successful career as an editor. Their collaboration resulted in a lifelong friendship, and in 2014 Merrin presented Rawlings with his own BAFTA Special Award.

From Elstree, Merrin was invited by Ridley Scott to become the re-recording mixer at Shepperton. His work there saw him receive four BAFTA nominations, for Hilary and Jackie and Little Voice (both 1998), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone(2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). It was also during this time that he embarked on another creatively rich collaboration, with Danny Boyle. He remained at Shepperton until he retired in 2003.

BAFTA Honours Ray Merrin

Hazel Merrin and Terry Rawlings at the ‘Tribute to Ray Merrin’ event held at BAFTA’s 195 Piccadilly headquarters. Hazel holds the Special Award presented to her earlier in the evening.

Ray Merrin’s Special Award was agreed by BAFTA’s Film Committee in October 2017.

Selected Filmography:

2004 The Blue Butterfly

2003 Johnny English

2002 The Hours

2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

2002 28 Days Later…

2002 The Count of Monte Cristo

2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

2001 Strictly Sinatra

2001 Bridget Jones’s Diary

2000 Greenfingers

2000 The Beach

1999 Mansfield Park

1999 eXistenZ

1998 Hilary and Jackie

1998 Little Voice

1997 G.I. Jane

1996 Brassed Off

1996 When Saturday Comes

1996 Trainspotting

1995 The Neon Bible

1994 Shallow Grave

1994 Tom & Viv

1994 Being Human

1993 The Baby of Mâcon

1992 City of Joy

1990 Memphis Belle

1990 Everybody Wins

1989 Batman

1988 The Land Before Time

1988 The Lair of the White Worm

1987 The Last Emperor

1986 An American Tail

1986 The Mission

1986 Clockwise

1986 F/X

1985 Return to Oz

1984 Birdy

1984 The Killing Fields

1983 Yentl

1983 Never Say Never Again

1983 Krull

1983 The Hunger

1983 Local Hero

1982 The Dark Crystal

1981 Chariots of Fire

1981 The French Lieutenant’s Woman

1981 The Great Muppet Caper

1980 The Shining

1979 Alien

1979 Quadrophenia

1978 Watership Down

1978 Midnight Express

1977 Cross of Iron

1977 Jabberwocky

1974 Stardust

1974 Murder on the Orient Express

1975 Barry Lyndon

1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show

1975 Tommy

1971 A Clockwork Orange

1970 The Railway Children

1968 The Birthday Party

1968 The Devil Rides Out

1965 The Brigand of Kandahar (uncredited)

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