‘Nomadland’ Production Sound Mixer Michael Wolf Snyder Dies at 35

“Nomadland” production sound mixer Michael Wolf Snyder has died by suicide, according his father, David Snyder. He was 35.

Snyder’s body was found in his Queens, N.Y. apartment by his father on March 1 after friends and family had not heard from him for several days.

David, a psychiatrist, posted a message on Facebook on March 4. “Michael took his own life sometime in the last week and wasn’t discovered until I went to check on him Monday after he had dropped out of contact for several days,” he wrote. “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. In spite of this, 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.”

Snyder also worked with “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao on 2017’s “The Rider.” “On ‘The Rider’ and ‘Nomadland,’ I always looked at Wolf after each take,” Zhao said. “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.”

“Nomadland” star Frances McDormand said in a statement, “Wolf recorded our heart beats. Our every breath. For me, he is ‘Nomadland.’”

A statement released on behalf of the entire cast and crew of “Nomadland,” reads, “While our hearts break with Wolf’s loss, we hope it is a comfort to know that his spirit will live forever in every laugh he recorded, every breeze, and every gallop of a horse. He was part of our little movie family and his kind soul touched us all. Wolf truly brought life to our film. We send our condolences to his family on behalf of the entire ‘Nomadland’ company. See you down the road, sweet friend.”

Searchlight Pictures said in a statement, “We extend our deepest condolences to Wolf’s family and to our friends, the company of ‘Nomadland.’”

Snyder began his career in 2011 as a boom operator on the thriller “Occupant.” On the television side, his credits include Amazon’s “Good Omens.”

“Sad to learn that Montana sound man M Wolf Snyder has passed away,” “Nomadland” star Charlene Swankie wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday morning. “Wolf had great focus, a kind heart, and an indelible spirit. He did the sound on ‘Nomadland.’ So if you watch that magnificent film, take a moment to pause, close your eyes, and listen to all the beauty he captured.”

Director Yuval David also took to Facebook to express his condolences. “Take a moment of room tone in loving memory of M. Wolf Snyder,” he wrote. “Michael Wolf Snyder was the super-cool award-winning sound mixer who recorded on set audio for the latest feature film I directed. His tragic loss is painfully heard. No matter the noise or the silence, check in on people, to ensure that nobody feels alone. Depression pulls people into dark despair. Be the light to help them out — even if you think they already have a light, give them extra light of love, kindness, and hope.”

Read David Snyder’s full Facebook post below:

Hello again. I am David Snyder, Michael Wolf Snyder’s father. His mother, brother, and I are so touched by the outpouring of love and support that we have seen on Facebook. We have always known how much Wolf loved his work in film; it was the brightest spot in his life. We had no idea how many people he had touched and how many held him in such high regard. I would like to share a little bit more about what happened in the hope that it could help others.

Michael took his own life sometime in the last week and wasn’t discovered until I went to check on him Monday after he had dropped out of contact for several days. 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. In spite of this, 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.

Unfortunately, we believe he was gone before getting to see the Golden Globe awards.

We will never know what changed in the last month or two, but even his love for his family, as well as his love of film and his movie family, was not enough to conquer his demons. People have asked if his death was Covid related. I think we can assume that it played a role in the form of increased isolation and loneliness, but it was certainly more than that. Major Depression is a severe disease, causing people to suffer dark feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness, convinced that nothing can help them. And this is not a rare condition, affecting at least 15% of all of us at some time in our lives. In this day and age, it is nothing to be ashamed of, and there many successful therapies available.

I am a psychiatrist who was not able to save his own son, partly because he would not share the depth of his pain. But I know that most people with this condition will recover with the proper help and support. I hope that the shocking nature of Michael’s death will alert others to speak up, risk being vulnerable, and seek the help that they need. It is such a tragic waste that a temporary heightening of despair can end a life with so much promise. 

Thank you all so much for sharing the love and respect you had for Wolf. It has helped us more than we can say.

If you or anyone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

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