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Past Featured Members

SHARI JOHANSON - MUSIC EDITOR

July 2011

Where are you currently employed?

 

I work Freelance.

 

Current Project?

 

Most recently, I worked on So Undercover and the critically acclaimed series Lights Out on FX.

 

Describe Your Job.

 

Editing music for films and TV. 

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work? 

 

I grew up in a very creative household outside of Philadelphia.  When I was a little kid, my mom had a dancing school in the basement of our house.  My dad had an advertising agency.  My older sister was an artist and a manager at a coffee house in the ‘70s where people like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Jackson Browne and Tom Waits played before they were big.  Clarence Clemons was a dear family friend.  I'm very sad about his death.  My brother worked with a local theatre company. 

 

We had a big house so the musicians and actors would rent a room when they were in town.  There were actors, musicians and dancers in and out of our house constantly.  It was a very creative atmosphere to grow up in.  I always loved to record everything.  I would run around town with my bubble Panasonic recording everyone and everything.  When I was about 13, I would be in situations and envision the correct music to play under whatever "scene" I was in.  When I was in college my family migrated to New York.  My brother worked on Broadway as a production stage manager (he is still on Broadway) and my sister worked in the music business.  

 

It seemed as though the logical choice for me was to work in film, since no one else had gone that route.  I graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor’s degree in Film.  I took an audio production class and loved it––and aced it!  That was the moment I decided I needed to work in film sound/music.  I decided I needed to find the best film sound studio on the East Coast. 

 

Who gave you your first break?

 

Bill Nisselson at Sound One.  I started as a messenger.  He has unfortunately passed on.  I would not be here if not for him.  I lived in Philadelphia right after graduating from Temple University, and I went to New York City looking for a job in film sound.  I heard that Sound One was the best film sound facility on the East Coast.  When I heard that, I went for it.  I was given Bill's name at Sound One and went to Sound One to talk to him.  "You look a little small to be a messenger, but if you really want to work here, you can just keep on bugging me," he said.  I called him every day for the next three days and on the third day he said, "Be here tomorrow at 8:30."  I started that next morning as the first female messenger ever hired at Sound One. 

 

The first actual film work he put me on was in the machine room for the mix of The Last Temptation of Christ.  I remember doing cheers with Dom Perignon at 4:00 a.m. with Martin Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker, Peter Gabriel and Tommy Fleischman, to name a few, upon finishing up a 110-hour work week to rush the film out due to all of the controversy surrounding it.  Pretty good for being fresh out of film school…  I thought I was dreaming!


What was your first union job?

 

Apprentice sound editor on Silence of the Lambs.

 

Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?

 

I am most proud of Dan in Real Life directed by Peter Hedges.  This was my most gratifying experience.  For this film, I was given about 200 demo tracks from composer and Norwegian pop star Sondre Lerche.  My job was to place the tracks where I felt they worked best for the temp.  This temp score worked so well that it became the final score.  It is so gratifying every time I watch that film knowing that I had such significant creative input.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

 

Romance and Cigarettes, directed by John Turturro, was very challenging.  This film was a musical in which the actors would break into dance and sing along with a pre-recorded popular song.  The thing that made this so challenging was that John wanted the playback music to play on set, as opposed to a click track or headphones, so the actors could "feel the song."  This posed a problem: When cutting the dialogue, there was music married to the track.  Not only that, but when I was cutting the music master for the mix, it had to match exactly the music behind the dialogue.  If there was a bad edit I had to make it work within the limitations of the production–– and there was no room to move.  I basically had to dialogue-edit music.  It turned out great! 

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

 

Working on Dan in Real Life.  I was able to be so creative and, when you are given that freedom to go with your instinct, the job is fun and fulfilling.  It really shows in the outcome of the project. 

 

The TV series Lights Out was also very fun and fulfilling.  We had no composer and we used 240 songs as score.  The music supervisor and I worked very well together and we had a lot of freedom in choosing what worked best for the show. 

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

 

Doing what I love: Being a music editor.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

 

Music, writing, vacationing with my family.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

 

Back to the Future, Boogie Nights, Pulp Fiction and Goodfellas—I love the use of music in this film.

 

 Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

 

I like Entourage.  I can relate to it and I love the music in the show.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

 

Go for the best.  You have the same chances at succeeding with the top as with the bottom. 

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

 

I worked on a film, which was under the low-budget agreement, but they ended up going over the designated budget.  One year later, I received a check from the film for the money they owed me—thanks to the union. 

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

 

You can succeed in this business as long as you put your mind to it and remain persistent and committed.  Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't.

 

-- Compiled by Ed Landler

 

Editor’s Note:  To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on the home page of the Editor’s Guild website, contact edlandler@roadrunner.com.

 


Interested in Being Featured?

Tomm Carroll
Publications Director
323.876.4770, ext. 222
tcarroll@editorsguild.com