I love inspiring stories of people like Dan Wallin who continue to push their creative comfort zones well into the later stages of their lives. So when I read about Danny (as his friends call him), the oldest working sound engineer in Hollywood, I was blown away for a number of good reasons. Dan Wallin is eighty-four years old and he recently finished mastering the sound track for Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. While he could be playing a lot of golf or enjoying twenty previous years of retirement, Dan Wallin continues to create, learn, and improve as a master of his sound engineering craft. Here’s my executive summary of the Los Angeles Times article, It’s Still Music to Dan Wallin’s Ears.
Dan Wallin inspires me because he is still working well into his eighties. His life has much to teach every artist and creative person about continuous improvement, artistic mastery, and using creative talents to their fullest. How’s this for a set of credentials?
- At eight-four years old, he is the oldest working sound engineer in the film industry. His colleagues say his ears still rank among the best in town.
- Dan Wallin’s career stretches over 60 years. He has worked on over 500 film and television show, even video games!
- He’s recorded the scores of composers John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and Lalo Schifrin, the composer of the original Mission Impossible TV series.
- He captured the score for all six seasons of “Lost,” as well as garnering Academy Award nominations and Emmy’s.
- Wallin’s adept with the old and new, comfortable with miking an entire sound stage, running a multi-million dollar analog board and editing with Pro Tools, the audio technology software used in music scoring and mixing.
I don’t know about you, but Lord willing, I want to be working hard well into my eighties. (I wrote about this in a similar post: Old Age, Creativity & The Art of Lastingness) There’s simply so many ideas, books, screenplays, creative people to work alongside and creative projects to accomplish, I just don’t want to putter around and lose my edge in this culturally-induced idea of retirement. I love stories like Dan Wallin who continue to push the limits of their creativity, longevity and artistic talents. His work ethic, perseverance, striving for continuous improvement and commitment to his craft should challenge every one of us to work harder and reach higher.
In conclusion, last week I took my twelve year old son to see Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. A fun popcorn movie. Not only did we enjoy watching Tom Cruise escape Russian prisons and hang off tall buildings, our ears were the recipients of a masterful score engineered by an eighty-four year old artist who refuses to call it quits. We were, literally, able to listen to the sound of Dan Wallin’s creativity.
That, Danny Wallin, is music to my ears.
Questions: What inspires you about Dan Wallin’s life? How does his creative longevity challenge you as an artist? What is one creative long-term goal you have for your life?
I’d love your comments and questions.