Where are you currently employed?
Technicolor Sound Services.
I just finished Behind the Candelabra, which Steven Soderbergh says will be his last directorial effort. It’s about Liberace and stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and will air on HBO.
Describe Your Job.
Foley Artists work on a sound stage with a recording engineer using highly sensitive microphones. We create and perform live, custom and detailed sounds, specific to and in sync with picture.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I volunteered my time at a little independent sound house in Los Angeles and made myself as invaluable as possible. Through the experience of learning different aspects of the post-production sound process, I was drawn to the creativity and physicality of Foley. I come from a family of performers. My mother was a ballet dancer and an actress, and my father is still an actor in New York City, working both on Broadway and Off-Broadway to this day. In his youth, he was signed to the St. Louis Cardinals. My love for athletics and drama are a part of my genetic make-up and Foley work lent itself to both strengths.
Who gave you your first break?
I feel I’ve had many breaks along the way. Sound editor Jeremy Hoenack, now retired, was the very first person to hire me, but I also credit Foley artists Vanessa Ament, Gary Hecker, Dan O’Connell and John Roesch as people who gave me major breaks throughout my career.
What was your first union job?
First Knight, the King Arthur movie starring Sean Connery, Richard Gere and Julia Ormond.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
It’s hard to say because I feel that each crew with which I’ve had the privilege to work over the years has given 100 percent to the film we were working on at that time. Whether we thought the film was good or bad was irrelevant; we did our best. I’m proud of that.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
My toughest job was Dances with Wolves. Dan O’Connell was my partner on that. We had the silly idea to save all the horse, buffalo and wolf footsteps until the end, after completing everything else. We were bent over in the dirt pit for days on end, pounding the dirt, doing layers of tracks of stampeding buffalo, horses running at full speed, and lots of animal body falls. It was intensely dirty and we had to wear particle masks all day. To get some variety in our sound, we duct-taped stones to our hands. It was thoroughly and utterly exhausting. In the end, Dances with Wolves won the Academy Award for Best Sound, and, oh, Best Picture, too.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Not too long ago, my Foley partner, Dawn Lundsford, and our Foley mixer, Scott Curtis, worked on Sacha Baron Cohen’s film, The Dictator. There’s a birthing scene in the movie which allowed us great creativity. Due to the graphic nature of the scene, all I'll say is that it was the interior perspective of a womb — with Sacha Baron Cohen's face peering through the birth canal. Our Foley had large-cave ambience. I don’t think we’ve ever laughed so hard while working on a film. It was fantastic.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope that I will still be given the opportunity — which translates as time — to enhance the film experience by doing great work. I love the art of Foley and my hope is that audiences will still appreciate good sound quality in the future. Knowing we have contributed to a high quality film experience gives my team great satisfaction.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I have my own non-profit called Project Unleashed. I developed the program for at-risk and incarcerated youth. I pair homeless, rescued pit bulls with the youth. This teaches them about compassion and what it feels like to give of themselves and to these animals and their community. With a dog trainer and a psychologist working in tandem, we work to break the cycle of violence between humans and animals. Project Unleashed has been transformational for those in gangs and those who have been involved with serious animal cruelty. Both the youth and the animals have transformed me through this work. They are my best teachers and, I believe, have made me a better person. For more information about the work, you can go visit www.projectunleashed.org.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Lawrence of Arabia. The power of the human spirit and will is most intriguing to me. It’s a perfect movie.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Breaking Bad. The writing, the characters and the acting are superb.
Do you have an industry mentor?
My partners and the mixers I’ve worked with through the years have taught me so much and pushed me to be better as an artist and I hope also as a person. Chuck Campbell and Kay Rose taught me so much about looking at the “big picture” of a film and all its subtleties.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Follow your dream. Show up on time and keep a positive attitude — even if you don’t feel it, fake it. Have a good work ethic and stay sober.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Not so far. Foley artists as a group are a pretty independent, sometimes scrappy bunch, so we’re good at fending for ourselves when we need to.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
When I go to the MPSE Golden Reel Awards, I’m struck by how many people I know and how genuinely happy I am to see everyone. I have such respect for the fine artistry that so many bring to our world of entertainment. I feel lucky to be a part of it.
Compiled by Edward Landler
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