This post was written by Mike James Gallagher.

In 2018, I worked at a company called Defy Media, where I was the Head of Post Production. When the company suddenly shut down in November of that same year, I had already been contemplating a career change to freelance sound design, which I pursued. Fast forward through the pandemic to April of 2022, I had just returned to Los Angeles from an international trip to Ireland. That’s when my friend and frequent collaborator, Anthony Vanchure, called me.

“We’re up for the Weird Al movie, I’m gonna interview for it next week."

Anthony is a seasoned supervising sound editor. If he got the job he would hire me as his sound designer. We’ve always been fans of Weird Al and we were excited about Weird: The Al Yankovic Story even before the possibility that we could be involved. Daniel Radcliffe had been announced as being cast as Weird Al, a hilarious choice given their radically different physicalities. At that time, there had only been a single striking photo released of Evan Rachel Wood playing Madonna, but no trailer yet. We were thrilled that we might be working on the film, but we remained cautiously optimistic.

As it turned out, Anthony, myself, and the director, Eric Appel, all had connections to a monthly comedy screening in L.A. called Channel 101. That connection, along with a photo Anthony shared of himself dressed as Weird Al for Halloween, complete with a working accordion prop, likely contributed to him landing the gig.

Weird is a delicious mix of genres for a sound designer like me. Comedy, musical, drama, action, it had it all. The schedule was fast-paced but, fortunately, our amazing and collaborative team kept our spirits high.

The cherry on top was getting to work with Weird Al himself, albeit remotely. He was on tour, so he joined us over a live stream while we mixed the film, giving us detailed notes from different hotel room backdrops each day. To him, we were disembodied voices and vague pixels on his laptop screen. To us, an icon was in the room. Occasionally, I imagine if we had collaborated in person, we would have undoubtedly become the best of friends.

One memorable moment on the mix stage was in my designing the film's most surprisingly challenging sound effect. It happens near the end of the movie when Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento slowly and sadly squeezes his bicycle horn. The director and Weird Al rejected my initial attempts at using a slide whistle, trombone, and a vuvuzela. Ultimately, a dog’s chew toy provided the perfect sound and when Weird Al approved it, my colleagues in the room erupted in unironic applause.

The film premiered at the 2022 TIFF Film Festival in Toronto as the opening midnight movie. The experience was unforgettable. A flash mob of Weird Al impersonators all danced outside the theater, and I got to finally meet Weird Al.

The film’s first real audience was electric and I watched the film simply as a fan, laughing uproariously at all the same goofs and gaffs I had seen so many times before. My eyes occasionally shifted from the big screen to Weird Al's iconic curly hair, seated just in front of me. Anthony and I, still relatively early in our careers, jokingly questioned if we had already peaked. Hopefully not, but I’ll now measure each career milestone against that wonderfully weird experience.

This post was written by Mike James Gallagher.