The Companions: Sounds for a Lost Screenplay

The Companions: Sounds for a Lost Screenplay is a cinematic audio environment composed by Skywalker Ranch sound designers Gary Rydstrom and Josh Gold, working in collaboration with visual artist Anthony Discenza. As the first commissioned artist project for this iconic observation floor, the piece makes full use of the sweeping views as a series of filmic “frames” with accompanying immersive soundtracks. Based on Discenza’s research into The Companions, an unrealized screenplay from the early 1980s, the work functions as a type of “auditory cinema” that explores the vital role sound plays in shaping narrative and affective space in film.

For this project, Discenza — whose work frequently makes use of withheld or incomplete information, and who also incorporates aspects of fictional narrative into his practice — approached Rydstrom and Gold to resurrect the lost screenplay by moving the audience through different thematic, narrative, and atmospheric components of the story. Discenza shared materials on The Companions with Rydstrom and Gold the way an actual film director might provide the sound design team with a storyboard or footage. In this case, however, Discenza notes that “there’s no film or visuals; the audio drives the entire experience. So the fragmentary information we have on The Companions’ storyline becomes a stepping-off point for them to play with the vernacular of cinema sound itself, and the extent to which it’s possible to use the tools of the sound designer to produce a film without moving images, using the views from the tower as establishing shots to contain the action instead.”

Read more about the project and its development in Part I and Part II of the backstory.

Customized sound solution developed through a partnership with Meyer Sound. Produced in collaboration with Skywalker Sound, with additional support from DTS. Organ played by Jonathan Dimmock, principal organist at the Legion of Honor.

Admission to The Companions is free and open to public.

In the news

  • The work functions as a type of ‘auditory cinema’ that explores the vital role sound plays in shaping narrative and affective space in film.

    Diablo Magazine,


Audio trailer

Hear a preview of The Companions.

Audio Trailer for "The Companions" installation at the de Young museum

Currently on view