Where are you currently employed?
C5, a post-production sound facility in New York City.
Recently, I finished work on a feature called Foxcatcher with Channing Tatum and Steve Carrell. Currently I’m between jobs and actively looking.
Describe Your Job.
Using ProTools, I edit sound effects for feature films, documentaries and the occasional video game. A typical job starts with spotting the film with the director or supervisor just to get an idea of what direction they want to go or if they have specific requests. At first, I add background sounds throughout the entire film. It can get fun when you are in control of all things subliminal — whether it’s a quiet courtroom scene or a boisterous night out at the Regal Beagle. Having the right ambience is key.
After finishing a background sound pass, I start prepping hard effects. Hard effects are sound events like doors, cars, gunshots, explosions or anything that isn't covered by Foley. Usually, if someone closes a simple door in production, it’s not very eventful and can sometimes be non-existent. That's when I cover that production door with a new, better-sounding one. This way it really sells as being the actual door in the scene.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
Being an only child, young and alone, you need to find stuff to do, because it can get pretty boring. For me, conquering boredom was to take my portable Radio Shack cassette player and record just the audio from certain TV shows, literally placing the tape deck up against the TV speaker. Later that night, I relived those glorious moments from the Dukes of Hazzard again and again — with headphones, of course. I felt like I was just an audio freak at an early age. When I found out how sound was added to film, the process just fascinated me.
Who gave you your first break?
A friend of mine was working at C5 in the mid-1990s and needed someone to log his sound effects DATs. I was offered a rare paid internship and I jumped at the chance. That was the proverbial foot in the door. I later went on to a full-time sound librarian position for about sic years.
What was your first union job?
My first union job — amazingly — was The Big Lebowski. I was an apprentice and really blown away that I was actually working on a Coen brothers film. I never would have known it would become a cult classic. I later got up the nerve to ask Joel and Ethan if they could sign a commercially purchased version of the Fargo script. They obliged and left me with the words, "It was cold!!"
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I worked on a few projects with Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys and it was such a thrill to work
with someone that I had so much respect for. I grew up listening to his music and found the collaboration with Adam a dream come true. Adam's passing last year was a shock. I will be forever grateful I was able to work with such a talented yet underrated musician.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
Every film is a challenge. That's what keeps it fresh. Working on video games, however, was pretty challenging in the sense that I was not working to picture. Most of the time, I was creating a library of triggered sounds that was eventually used in the game. It took a lot of the excitement out of how I normally see the results of all my hard work instantly on the screen in front of me.
What was the most fun you've had at work?
It's rare but occasionally some jobs take me out to LA. My first trip to Hollywood was a total blast. Being from the East Coast, my only view of LA was what I’d seen on TV or in films. So you can imagine seeing Hollywood for the first time and actually working on a Hollywood film. It was quite a thrill.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I am pretty content being a sound effects editor. It's taken me years to get to a point where I can feel totally comfortable with my edits and confident that I am actually helping the soundscape of the film. So I am going to stay right where I am and be thankful that I get to work on such cool projects and meet such interesting people.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I love to get in my four-wheeler and head to upstate New York, always looking for nice long dirt roads in the wild. I also play guitar from time to time; it keeps the fingers flexible. But my passion is my family — my wife Kristine and daughter Vaughn Rae are absolutely my pride and joy.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
I'd say Amelie; it is my favorite sounding film for sure. I have seen it at least a dozen times and I still hear things for the first time. You can hear all the subtle things in the backgrounds as well as the ambitious upfront sound design. It's lathered in quality and harmonious interaction between the sound designer and the composer. It's what I watch to get inspired.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
I am not a huge TV show viewer. Lately, I really only watch news; I am a current events freak.
If I had to pick one show, though, it would be The Sopranos — and not just because I live in New Jersey. I loved it for its great writing and acting. I was a johnny-come-lately and only started watching the show around Season 3. I went out and bought all the seasons on Blu-ray and sort of marathoned myself up to the final episode. It was quite a weekend.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Once in a lifetime, you meet people who really take pride in guiding you through the proper hoops and just tell you the way it is with patience and vision. Phil Stockton and Ron Bochar are just a few of the village residents who have guided me throughout the years. Without them, I'd be playing slide guitar in a bar with chicken wire somewhere in the swamps of Jersey — which is still plan B.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
If you have a passion for film and sound, jump in head-first. Grab an affordable, hand-held recording rig and start recording a sound library. They’re the tools of your trade. Start mastering what you record and practice cutting sound effects to picture and getting your sync on. I would also caution that being freelance is a risky endeavor. There are dry spells that can take a toll on you if you are not prepared. So always have a back-up and/or wealthy parents.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
I can honestly say that because of the Guild, things have always run smoothly and I have never had any reason to plead for help.
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
We work in an ever-changing industry. “Gutters and strikes,” someone wise once said. Let's be thankful when we are busy and hopeful in the lean times. That next long job might be right around the corner.
Compiled by Edward Landler
Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on the home page of the Editors Guild website contact firstname.lastname@example.org.