Chloé Zhao and Frances McDormand Remember ‘Nomadland’ Production Sound Mixer, Dead at 35

Michael Wolf Snyder also worked with Zhao on her 2017 film "The Rider."
NOMADLAND, left: Frances McDormand, on set, 2020. © Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
"Nomadland" set
Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Nomadland” production sound mixer Michael Wolf Snyder has died by suicide at the age of 35, as confirmed by his father in a social media post shared by his aunt. Snyder previously served as a production sound mixer and a boom operator on “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao’s sophomore feature from 2017, “The Rider.” Snyder started out his career as a boom operator on the 2011 thriller “Occupant.”

His father David Snyder said he discovered Snyder’s body in his Queens apartment on March 1. “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 wrote in the Facebook post (per Deadline). “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.”

“Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao, in a statement posted on Variety, said, “On ‘The Rider’ and ‘Nomadland,’ I always looked at Wolf after each take. I didn’t wear headphones on set and so I heavily relied on Wolf 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.”

The film’s star Frances McDormand said, “Wolf recorded our heart beats. Our every breath. For me, he is ‘Nomadland.’”

David Snyder added in the original post, “We all believed he was doing well, and for most of this past year I think he was. He seemed especially joyful and invigorated in these last few months since he was able to return to work on several different film projects. He was certainly thrilled about all of the accolades for ‘Nomadland’ and told us many happy stories about his work on the film and the amazing people he got to spend time with.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. The support is free and confidential.

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