Where are you currently employed?
Universal Studios, where I've been for seven years.
House M.D., Cougartown, The Office, Criminal Intent and various projects that come through Universal.
Describe Your Job.
I recreate the sounds for events happening on the screen by performing them on a Foley stage, which is a studio with different surfaces and props for creating sounds. This can be anything from a footstep or hand pat to a building crumbling in an earthquake. The majority of what I do, though, has to do with some sort of movement that an actor is making. It's hard to describe and has to be witnessed to be understood. I'll tell people about Foley and watch their eyes glaze over, but if I let them watch me work on the Foley stage—BAM!—they understand and never forget.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I was cutting effects on indie films and a project arose that needed Foley. My supervisor, Lydian Tone, designated me as the Foley artist and threw me in. Fortunately, I'm a drummer and Foley is a very rhythmic art, so things just sort of worked out. The beginning, though, was a little tough because I didn't have anyone with experience to turn to for advice. I just made it up as I went along.
Who gave you your first break?
Lydian. I was working as a temp in the Universal Sound Department and he was an effects editor on the TV series Sliders. I started hanging out in his edit bay and one day he turned to me and said, "Do you want to learn to do this?" He was kind enough to spend a lot of time teaching me to edit effects and then opened the door for my Foley career.
What was your first union job?
Foley artist on House M.D.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I'm proud of the work on House. I've worked on it for all seven seasons and the show has consistently challenged my team (Paul Stevenson, Foley partner; and Matt Mondrick, Foley mixer). The teasers can be very difficult and, while House is mainly a medical drama, we have had to recreate soundscapes for a wide variety of locations. Everything from the snow of Antarctica to the Persian Gulf War to the life in a video game that a patient imagined he was living in. I am the "limp and cane" for Dr. Gregory House and, in a small way, I guess I've helped create a piece of pop culture. I was also proud of my work on And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, which won both the Emmy and MPSE Golden Reel Awards. I had to recreate the Mexican Revolution. That project completely wore me out, but was very rewarding in the end.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome or solve it?
When my team first arrived at Universal, the Foley stage and recording equipment were in pretty bad shape and we were still recording to MMR8s, so Matt couldn't do any stage editing and our work went straight to the mix stage. In addition, one particular supervisor was very demanding, so we were required to step up our game in a hurry while feeling hobbled by our tools.
We started checking our work by doing playbacks, which are seldom done on TV shows due to the quick turnarounds and low budgets. In the end, everyone was happy and we grew a lot as a team. Since then, the Foley stage and mix room have been remodeled and we've now got a great space in which to create.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
There have been too many good times to pinpoint just one.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope that I'm still working steadily and making a valuable contribution. I also hope that I'm getting 400 hours every six months! It wasn't a problem before the writers strike, but these days, who knows?
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I grew up in South Louisiana and have spent a lot of time in Italy, so I love food and music. I lead a New Orleans-style jazz band, so I'm still playing drums whenever a gig arises. Last month, I performed at an event honoring former President Clinton and had to go through Secret Service security clearance. My wife and I travel whenever we can get away and I've seen a lot of the world, including Russia and China, which were life-changing events. Wherever I go in the world, I find that people are the same. It's the politicians that are the problem.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Get Shorty and Sideways. I like to laugh and enjoy witty writing and good humor. For action, I loved Gladiator––just a brilliant film all the way around.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Most recently, Bored to Death and Episodes, for the same reasons as above. Also, a show that I worked on and loved was Life. It had a great mystery, great writing and very witty moments. Unfortunately, it didn't find an audience and the Jay Leno at 10:00 p.m. experiment a while back led to its cancellation.
Do you have an industry mentor?
In the beginning, Lydian Tone and Rick Partlow were very helpful and encouraging. I also learned a lot by hanging out with Alicia Stevenson, Dawn Fintor and Dave Betancourt at the Fox stage. That team has a great work ethic and great communication skills. These days, I steal ideas from anyone who has a good one!
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
With these being such turbulent times, I would advise anyone entering the world of post sound to learn to wear as many hats as possible. Be able to fit in when a need arises and then see where it takes you. I also like to give the age-old advice of doing whatever you can to get your foot in the door––whether it's answering phones, being a runner or cleaning up at the end of the day. In my case, it was doing a data-entry job at Universal that no one wanted to do. I stuck it out and ended up getting my foot in. In any field, there is always some sort of need for good, reliable people. Being reliable with small tasks gives one a shot at handling the bigger ones.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Foley artists have only been under Guild jurisdiction for about four years and I haven't yet had any problems. Most of my union work is at Universal and my supervisors have always treated me well. In fact, Universal gave us full benefits the moment we started working there, which was unheard of for Foley artists. I hope I never have to call on the Guild for assistance, but I'm glad to know that there's someone to call in the event I need help.
- Compiled by Edward Landler
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