Where are you currently employed?
I am currently with Larson Studios.
I recently worked on The X Files reboot and am currently working on a new Netflix series called Lady Dynamite.
Describe Your Job.
I’m responsible for the set-up and management of the sound mix. I make sure all files are imported and routed correctly for the mix. Then I make sure that the mix is recorded and delivered according to spec. I also interact with clients one-on-one, so a sense of humor and a calm sensibility helps tremendously.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
In undergraduate film school at Penn State, everyone wanted to be a writer and director. No one wanted to do sound. I was always interested in music, sound and the technical aspects of video production and ended up doing the sound on most of my colleagues' films. It turned out I had a good ear, a great work ethic — from all those years of working on a golf course, cutting grass at 5:00 a.m. — and a sense of humor. The fact that I’m a pretty chill person who can work on tedious tweaks for hours on end helps a lot, too. I find all of this really fun. I feel very fortunate to do what I love and get paid for it.
Who gave you your first break?
When I was in college, I had a job working stage crew at Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts. One of my supervisors knew the chief engineer at c5 sound Inc., in New York City. I went and interviewed for an internship and moved to New York before I graduated. That led to working under Skip Lievsay on many union films.
What was your first union job?
Men in Black II. We went to Barry Sonnenfeld's offices in the Hamptons for a series of pre-mixes. They had a basement full of aliens. That felt as cool as it sounds.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
The DVD Video Anthology for the Beastie Boys. I’m a huge fan. I got to work side by side with Adam Yauch and he was so cool. Kinda blew my teenage mind… And on O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Joel and Ethan Coen were so down-to-earth and fun to work with. Those are some of the best times that I've had working in a mix.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
Every mix has its challenges, but one thing that is consistent is that I have to be in the studio both before the mix and after; first in and last out. So if someone wanted to start at 7:00 a.m., I would have to be there at 6:00 a.m., which means I leave my house around 5:00 a.m., which means I get up at 4:00. I solve this challenge by going to bed early — or at least I try. Sounds logical, but my younger self would often try to convince me that I only need three hours of sleep.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I've had a lot of good times at work, but it’s always because of the people involved. Working with people who are passionate about the work and the stories makes this job fun and very satisfying. One year, director Ang Lee sang “Happy Birthday” to me; he was part of a crowd whosang to me when I was working at c5. I’m sure he doesn't remember this, but I always will.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to continue to work in the industry in sound with features and television.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
My wife. We met at Penn State and she was one of those many directors for whom I did sound. She’s working on a few feature scripts that I hope to sound design someday (wink). But I’m also a big fan of nature. California is a beautiful state and I love going to Yosemite, the Sequoias or even sitting at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. There is something about nature that helps keep things in perspective, which is really important to me. I enjoy a good burger and I’m so excited that LA is getting a Shake Shack, one of the many things I miss dearly from New York. I still can’t find a decent slice though...
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
The original Tron, Dune, Eraserhead, 2001: A Space Odyssey…almost anything sci-fi. I'm such a sucker for sci-fi, especially if it's plausible and based in real science. And anything Pixar. I love sound designing from scratch and the freedom that comes along with animation is so creative sonically.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Probably The Simpsons and The Daily Show. They always make me laugh and they have so much commentary about the world we live i Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Silicon Valley, Downton Abbey and Sherlock on Masterpiece Theatre. They are well done shows with great writing.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Not really. The closest was Skip Lievsay; he was the biggest influence on my career — more than I think he knows. He showed a young, impressionable guy from central Pennsylvania what could be done and how well it could be done.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Always be on time, even at 4:00 a.m. Don’t complain. Be friendly. It’s a small circle and you’d be surprised how many familiar faces you see again and again.
Have patience. Do as much as you can and don’t get discouraged. Try to become an expert at schedule management. There are really long days that turn into long weeks and sometimes months.
Make sure you schedule time for those you love and the other parts of your life, especially when things get busy. Life goes by quickly. So never forget the wife and family. They are the other puzzle pieces to life and happiness.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Yes. I have a congenital heart condition, so health insurance is vital. Without the way the Guild banks hours, I would not have had health insurance during the slow times in my career. I am very grateful this exists.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
You have resources. The union is one of them. Don’t lose sight of this.
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.