Where are you currently employed?
Warner Bros. Studios
Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction and the latest Christopher Nolan project, Interstellar.
Describe Your Job
I record Foley, which is sync sound effects — that is, sound effects that must be recorded in sync with the picture. I work with two of the best Foley artists in the world, Alyson Dee Moore and John Roesch, who create and act out the sounds according to what we see on the screen. That includes all footsteps, where it is important not only to match the surface and the type of shoe you see on the screen, but also to act out the emotional attitude of the actor. Footsteps are going to sound different when a character is happy, sad, or angry.
I can help out with adding or subtracting weight and resonance using microphone placement, EQ and level. I also record other sounds, which can be as subtle as hand pats, kisses and jewelry movements or as huge as debris falling from car crashes and explosions. We are also asked to create sounds for imaginary things, like creatures from other planets or giant robots.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I started in wardrobe, working at Disneyland while going to college. I left Disneyland to work on the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Soon after, while working wardrobe on a low-budget movie, I met the production sound crew who offered me an apprenticeship to work with them. I loved recording stuff when I was a kid and watching the sound crew work fascinated me.
Who gave you your first break?
Mark and Patrushkha Ulano were the sound production crew on that low-budget movie, but I got another break through Toni Spadafora, one of the women I worked with in wardrobe. She was married to a Foley mixer, Tim Sadler, who gave me a job as a runner at Taj Soundworks, where he was part owner.
What was your first union job?
Taj Soundworks got me into the union as a recordist (Y-9) in 1985.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
Those would definitely be two Spielberg projects — Schindler's List and Empire of the Sun. Such powerful films gave me such great opportunities for Foley mixing, as well as the opportunity to work with the legendary supervising sound editor, Chuck Campbell. Also The Matrix was a fantastic and interesting project that ended up winning an Oscar for its supervising sound editor, Dane Davis.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The biggest challenge these days is to get quality work done with shortened schedules. Some films still can afford to give us enough time to get the best work done, but they are few. We do the best we can and, so far, we have not had to compromise quality too much.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
It's always fun when we are working with great people! Some projects allow us to be more creative than others, but it is always the personalities that make the job enjoyable.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to be retired! I've been doing this job for 24 years and have been working since I was a teenager.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Travel, travel, travel! I've been to over 35 countries so far and I feel like I'm just getting started. I also play the ukulele and love to knit and crochet. I'm planning a trip to Iceland in October and hope to combine that with a knitting weekend with a famous designer there.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Most anything directed by David Fincher or Christopher Nolan. They both make films that can be enjoyable and intriguing and never predictable. I also love the old Merchant and Ivory movies. They are so beautiful to watch.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
I never miss Nova on PBS. I love how they investigate things in science and history. I also always watch Modern Family. Such excellent writing!
Do you have an industry mentor?
I have several. I learned most of what I know about sound from the mixers and supervisors I worked with early in my career. Those would be Tim Sadler, Jim Ashwill, Greg Orloff, Chuck Campbell and Ren Klyce.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
The advice I'd give anyone interested in getting into the film business is to meet as many people as you can. You never know who is going to give you the next job or who can recommend you to someone else. I never thought I'd be working in sound, but the connections I made while working in wardrobe paid off!
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Not really. I do appreciate the Guild being there to make sure we are paid as we should be and respected for what we do.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Pretty much what I have already said. I hope that this interview has given some insight in my part in the process of film making.
Compiled by Edward Landler
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