February 28, 2020

Dolby Institute Fellowship supports the making of Wendy

Glenn Kiser, Director of Dolby Institute

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WENDY Winner of Dolby Institute Fellowship
Dolby congratulates Dolby Institute Fellowship winner, Wendy

Dolby® created the Dolby Institute several years ago to reach out to the next generation of content creators to inspire them to use sound and image more creatively in storytelling. One thing we quickly realized: there were already a lot of filmmakers out there who understood very well how to use sound, especially, as a compelling storytelling tool. Instead, budget constraints barred them from having access to the tools to use sound to fully realize the worlds for their characters and transport and immerse their audiences. Dolby partnered with Sundance to create the Dolby Institute Fellowship, which is a direct post-production grant that allows filmmakers to significantly enhance their sound design resources, mix their films in Dolby Atmos®, and complete their grading process in Dolby Vision®.

The Fellowship criteria is simple — we select filmmakers who are using sound and image in a unique and distinctive way to tell their stories, but need a little help to achieve their vision. The Dolby Institute Fellowship steps in to provide time, technology, and resources to support the realization of those filmmakers’ visions. Over the years, Dolby Institute Fellowships have supported Alma Har’el’s Honey Boy, Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Dee Rees’ Mudbound, Carlos Lopez Estrada’s Blindspotting, the Daniels’ Swiss Army Man, and several other amazing films. This year, we selected Benh Zeitlin’s Wendy as one of the winners. Hear the creative inspiration behind the sound design, music, and Dolby Atmos mix of Wendy from writer and director, Benh Zeitlin, and his creative team.   

Benh Zeitlin’s Wendy immediately stood out among the films Sundance sent us this year to consider for the Fellowship. It’s nominally a retelling of the familiar Peter Pan story, but Benh’s unique take on the material, expressing the story through the eyes and ears of Wendy, called for a bolder approach to sound than would be possible through a conventional 5.1 sound mix. When the characters arrive on the mysterious island where aging and time become unglued and meet the magical character of The Mother, sound design, music, and image grab the steering wheel and take the audience on a wild ride for the senses. We were immediately excited to put the tools of Dolby technology in the hands of such a talented filmmaker as Benh, and to let him and his team push their story in new directions.

“The Dolby Fellowship was an absolute miracle for me,” said Benh. “They stepped in at a point where the film stuck on the edge of something beautiful. The pieces were all there but they weren’t singing together in the way I knew they could. It was only through their generosity and incredible Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos technologies that we were able to spread our sound and color into another dimension and truly realize the potential of Wendy.

Wendy, from Searchlight Pictures, opens in select theaters today.