I Origins

The Dolby Institute has partnered with the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund to create the Dolby Family Sound Fellowship, a direct grant to a filmmaker to use in postproduction for a feature film project -- either narrative or documentary -- that uses sound as a storytelling tool. The first-ever winner of the fellowship is writer-director Mike Cahill's "I Origins," about a molecular biologist and his lab partner who discover evidence that could have dramatic implications for society. Cahill wrote, directed, produced and edited the feature, which stars Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Steven Yeun and Archie Panjabi and will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014.

Launched at last year's Sundance Film Festival, The Dolby Institute has a goal of providing technology and training to creators in order to teach them to use sound and picture more creatively in storytelling.

"Part of our mission is to educate and inspire artists in the use of these tools," Dolby Institute director Glenn Kiser said in a statement. "But we also realized that there will be artists out there already pushing boundaries with sound and picture, but in need of some support to accomplish the potential in their projects."

The fellowship will allow Cahill and the "I Origins" team to augment the film's sound design and mix time already underway at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, California. "This grant will allow the film to be designed with immersive sound in mind, and the mix will be done in Dolby Atmos from day one," explained Kiser. "That approach is creatively much better for the film than taking an existing 5.1 track and remixing for Dolby Atmos later."

Cahill said: "The film begins as an intimate, personal story and expands both visually and conceptually as it drives toward its climax. Dolby and the artists at Skywalker Sound will allow us to chart that expansion through sound in a way we never would have been able to otherwise."

Sundance Institute provided Dolby with a short list of films to consider for the fellowship. In consultation with sound designer and rerecording mixer Skip Lievsay, a committee from both organizations selected "I Origins." "I was very intrigued by the scale of I Origins and the potential for sound and music design,” Lievsay said. “There’s a great task in store for the sound team, to rise to the epic challenge of the world Mike Cahill has created."

David Dolby, a member of the Dolby Laboratories board of directors, said: "We were looking to support the next generation of independent filmmakers by identifying new films with potential for a really inventive use of sound, but lacking in the resources to accomplish their creative vision. I Origins is exactly the kind of film that we were looking for: it needed to achieve an immersive and detailed sound environment to communicate the director's vision, and we’re providing a boost to get it across the finish line. We hope that Ray Dolby's love and appreciation for great film sound will inspire independent filmmakers to focus on sound design and mixing during the creative process."
Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories, died in September 2013.