Where are you currently employed?
Todd Soundelux, where I am vice president of Engineering & Technology.
We just finished Pacific Rim and 2 Guns, but I am currently focused on preparing budgets for some of the significant upgrade projects we will be doing next year.
Describe Your Job.
I manage the technology utilized by our staff and creative teams and ensure that it anticipates and consistently meets their needs.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
There wasn’t a position like this when I started in the industry. Ironically, back then I was told that learning to fix Moviolas meant I would never be unemployed. Before Pro Tools, we used to cut sound on mag and we used Moviolas to do it. I learned to fix Moviolas because they needed to be fixed. When computers started appearing in the industry, I had already started learning to fix them at home, which was largely a skill acquired while pursuing my interest in playing better video games.
Who gave you your first break?
Lon Bender gave me my start in this industry. Lon was one of the founders of Soundelux. My interview was for a three-month transfer job. My roommate worked at Soundelux at the time and arranged the interview. I really knew nothing about the film industry or how it would change my life.
What was your first union job?
My first union job was working in the Audio Transfer Department at Soundelux. This was back in 1984. I was fresh out of high school and really didn’t understand the post sound industry. Before I started working in the industry, I never really thought about why filmmakers couldn’t just record the required sound on the set.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
My recent credits on Skyfall and Iron Man 3 both come to mind, but for “most proud” I would have to say my credit for Audio Support in the Sound Department of Underworld: Evolution in 2006. It was the first time my son saw my name in the credits for a movie and expressed how cool he thought I was: “I can’t believe my dad did that. You are so cool.” It meant the world to me to hear him say that.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The best thing about this job is that there are new challenges every day. I never have time to be bored. For example, during a recent security audit for a high-profile film, I was told the client’s requirements meant that I would have to do three weeks of work before we could qualify to receive picture. It was quite a challenge, as we had to build a separate network completely isolated from our standard network. In that network we had to duplicate everything that’s in our standard network: A backup server, an active directory server, a sound effects library server, a show server and a license server. It was a lot of work but, as we often say, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I recently flew to Florida with a sound team to record a rocket launch at NASA’s Cape Canaveral. We all got our pictures taken with the shuttle Endeavor before it left for LA.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I love what I do and I hope to be doing more of the same.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
My wife and I really enjoy traveling as our schedules allow. Last year we went to the Coral Sea to see a total eclipse of the sun.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
The Princess Bride — I did dailies transfers on it, so I listened to this very quotable movie for months before ever seeing a frame of picture. Before the movie came out, it turned out that walking around and saying things like “inconceivable” or “as you wish” made people think I was strange. To quote the film, “Has it got any sports in it? Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...”
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
My current favorite would be Game of Thrones. Why? They have dragons! How cool is that? It’s really some compelling TV. My old school favorite would be Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you don’t understand why, I just can’t explain it.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Soundelux’s other founder, Wylie Stateman. Although I have learned a lot of things from a lot of people, Wylie’s faith in me and true mentoring over the years has really helped me to grow both professionally and personally. As much as what I do is all about tech, I would really say this entire industry is about people and relationships. Wylie has really taught me that. To this day his insights and advice help me — from small things like “I enjoyed this book” to big things like “This project may go wrong and this is how.” He has continued to help me evolve and grow.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Since I spend more time at work than I do at home, I would say it’s important that you really enjoy what you do and the people you do it with. I know for me it is what I plan on doing for the rest of my career.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
There have been a few. But really, they help me every time I go to the doctor, work in a safe environment or get a day off.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
After all the budgets, people, TMZ quotes and technology, for me it comes down to one simple fact: We are making Art.
- Compiled by Edward Landler
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