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Natick Resident Adjusting to Academy Awards Spotlight

Sound designer and composer Dan Golden says Oscar nomination for short animation film 'Feral' is 'a great feeling.'

Natick resident Dan Golden is an Academy Award nominee for the short animated film 'Feral.' Courtesy photo
Natick resident Dan Golden is an Academy Award nominee for the short animated film 'Feral.' Courtesy photo

Dan Golden admits his comfort zone is behind the scenes and doesn't mind seeing his peers and friends shine on stage.

But if the Natick composer's name is called on March 2 during the 86th Academy Awards, he says he'll be just fine stepping up on the stage where so many great actors and directors have stood before him.

Golden, along with longtime friend Daniel Sousa, are among those who were nominated recently for an Oscar for best animated short film.

"I didn’t think much about it (at first)," said Golden, who found out their film "Feral" was among the 10 the Academy put on a short list for consideration in November. "Thursday morning my wife (Robin) went on the computer to check (the nominations). It's a cooler feeling than I was anticipating. My wife finally said 'You’re in the middle of the Oscars.'"

"Feral" is going up against:

  • "Get a Horse!" 
  • "Mr. Hublot" 
  • "Possessions" 
  • "Room on the Broom."

"Feral" is a fictional animated film that draws on historical accounts of abandoned children, how they might have survived in the wild and how they were re-assimilated into society when they were found. 

The film tells the story of a wild boy found in the woods by a solitary hunter and brought back to civilization. 

The 13-minute film took the duo five years (off and on) to complete, but their labor of love paid off with the Oscar nomination.

"He’s a one-man operation with me coming in to help with sound," Golden said of Sousa, who became friends with him while they attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the 1990s. "It’s a unique relationship. We’re close friends. We can speak informally. Then I do my duty and he becomes director."

Golden's duties are completed in his home studio on LaGrange Street, carefully coordinating sound with drawings. For every second of film there are 24 drawings he needs to synchronize.

"I've always been passionate about music," Golden said, adding he still plays bass in bands after dropping music as a potential career. "I applied to RISDE to study painting/illustration. Dan got involved with animation." 

It didn't take long for their friendship to evolve. 

Years after graduating in 1994, Sousa completed his first animated film and asked his old college buddy to conduct the score. They haven't stopped working together since.

Overall, the duo have completed five animated films together:

  • "Minotaur"
  • "Fable"
  • "Windmill"
  • "Drift"
  • "Feral."

"Feral" won three awards at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France last year. 

But win or lose at the Oscars, Golden, a father of 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Sydney, said life will go on as usual.

"If opportunities come up, fantastic," he said. "I try not to get my hopes up too much. But I would welcome any opportunities."

Come March 2, the two buddies will be seated next to the likes of Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt and others who are accustomed to the spotlight.

So what happens if "Feral" wins the Oscar? Will Golden really step out of his comfort zone?

"If Dan wants me to go up with him, (I will)," he said. "The company we’re going to be in, it’s fantastic to think about it. It was great for him to put me there besides his name. But it’s his film. If he wanted me to go up, of course I would."

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