Michael Wolf Snyder, sound mixer on Oscar-hopeful Nomadland, has died at 35 after a suicide. Snyder's father, David, confirmed the heartbreaking news on Facebook and added that his son had been battling depression for years.
"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," Snyder's father wrote. "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."
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The heartbreaking post continues by questioning the why behind Snyder's decision, cleared up its connection to COVID-19 and shared the hope that the death will help others to speak about their own struggles. "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," the post reads. "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."
Nomadland director Chloe Zhao spoke out after the news broke, reflecting on her time working with Snyder on Nomadland and her 2017 film The Rider. "On The Rider and Nomadland, I always looked at Wolf after each take," Zhao said, according to Variety. "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.'"
Zhao also told the story about how she and Wolf would record a bit extra to listen to the silence and respect their locations during their time working together. "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 also shared a statement on Snyder's passing, possibly catching the weight of the loss for those involved with the film. "Wolf recorded our heart beats. Our every breath. For me, he is Nomadland," she said. Read more from the cast and crew of Nomadland here.