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What Our Members Do - Past Featured Members

Ian Chase - Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer

March 2024

Where are you currently employed?

I work as a freelance sound editor and re-recording mixer in Burbank, Calif., but for the past few years, the majority of my work has been with Skywalker Sound and done remotely from my home studio. I will go up to the ranch in Northern California to work in person during the final mix, as it allows me to spend time with my teammates and collaborate more effectively.


Current projects?

I recently worked as one of the Foley editors on two Marvel Disney+ series called “Echo” and “Secret Invasion.” In “Echo,” there was a unique aspect with a deaf character, and a significant part of the show involved using American Sign Language (ASL) for dialogue. Typically, Foley is a background element that helps blend the soundtrack together, but in this case, it took a prominent role; the hand movements and the sound of clothing movement that was recorded to match the ASL became the dialogue of the scene.


On “Secret Invasion,” the show had a gritty spy drama vibe with plenty of intense action scenes. One memorable moment was a gunfight in a glass greenhouse. We had the opportunity to capture all the sounds of glass breaking, SWAT team gear, weapon movements, and impacts. Even after the chaos subsides and the main characters cautiously move around, the subtle sound of crunching glass underfoot can be heard. I think it adds to the tension and realism of the scene.


Describe your job.

One of the most interesting jobs I’ve had is working as an assistant sound supervisor. The job is very diverse in terms of tasks. Because of this, I have begun to learn some basic coding skills and have even started developing my own software. One particular program I created acts as a virtual assistant. It can sort files based on their names and types, move them to the right place on the show server, create new folders with the correct-version numbers and dates, and even set up Pro Tools sessions with video and audio tracks. I built this software while working on “She-Hulk,” where it proved incredibly helpful as we dealt with 286 conforms due to picture and/or visual effects updates. Occasionally, we were conforming three times a day due to the changes. Despite having two assistants on the show, myself and Melissa Lytle, the workload was immense, so my virtual assistant software was a lifesaver.


How did you first become interested in this line of work?

As a kid, I played electric guitar and collected effect pedals and amps. Instead of focusing on learning songs, I was more interested in creating strange and unique sounds with the pedals. This sonic passion carried into high school where the guidance counselor suggested that I pursue a career in sound, so I looked into the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I applied, got in, and started learning about different positions (classifications, in union-speak) within post sound for film and TV. I’m thankful that the professors had real world experience and were able to teach a lot of the skills I still use today.


Who gave you your first break?

After graduating from SCAD, I moved to Los Angeles and lived in my car for about seven months while  working for free in different post sound roles. Then Brent Kiser, a sound supervisor who owns Unbridled Sound and is a fellow SCAD alum, gave me my first paying job as a re-recording mixer. Back then, we were working on indie projects headed to festivals, so if I made a mistake, it wasn’t career ending. I took great advantage of this time and mixed on as many projects as I could. I used my time at Unbridled Sound to learn and grow as an audio professional, and now I feel confident in my work because I can spot issues early and know how to fix them.


What was your first union job?

A friend told me he had passed my name along to a supervisor at Skywalker for a Marvel TV show headed for Disney+. I remember feeling really excited and knew that if the call came through, I would be ready. A few weeks later, I was playing video games with my siblings on a Saturday morning. An unnamed call came through with a San Francisco area code, and I had to decide whether to answer the potential Skywalker call or stay online with my brothers. Tough choice, but I took the call and it was Mac Smith asking me to work on an ambitious series called “Moon Knight.” I happily took the job and a few months later even won a Primetime Emmy for the work. But I almost missed my first Skywalker opportunity because I was playing video games with my brothers.


What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?

For two years, I worked with Wylie Stateman and Eric Hoehn at Post 2.0 mixing the foreign dubbed version of movies. Since dubbing usually happens after the project is done, there wasn’t any pressure from directors or producers during the mixing sessions, so I was free to take my time and explore. This allowed me to experiment with different mixing techniques and plugins. We would also get copies of the original Pro Tools session, and I would go through them very thoroughly, dissecting and analyzing all the automation and trying to pick up little tips and tricks. 


What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

I worked as one of the re-recording mixers on “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Brent Kiser and the editors had already done a lot of work on the mix so they asked me to start around the middle of the movie. The reel he asked me to focus on had a scene in an alley where characters talk about finding happiness even in simple things, like owning a laundromat together. It made me reflect on my own life, and I got emotional because it felt related to events in my own life.


When I met with the directors, I shared how moved I was by that scene. We had a long conversation about its importance to the film and how crucial it would be to ensure the audience experiences  a similar emotional journey. With this clear goal, we went scene by scene and discussed the emotional beats and then worked the audio until that goal was achieved. It was a new approach for me and them to build a mixing guide based on personal emotional check points, but it worked well, and I believe it’s a key reason so many audience members related to the movie in the end.


At the end of the year, our sound team was one of the ten selected for the Academy Sound Branch shortlist. It was a great opportunity to meet with other mixers and sound editors to discuss our work. A memorable highlight of the night was the chance to speak with Paul Massey, one of my favorite mixers who has inspired me with his previous mixing work. We talked about the importance of finding yourself in a project and translating that connection into artistic decisions.


What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

I used to work with two talented and funny sound editors, Danielle Price and Jacob Flack. They worked together in a small room without air conditioning. To beat the heat, they got a fan that could be filled with water to make the air cooler. Instead of using fancy water, they used tap water stored in plastic bottles in the fridge. To tell them apart from actual drinking water bottles, they drew skulls on the tap water bottles. These skull bottles still crack me up whenever I think about them, and now that Death Water is the name of a legit company, I wish they had run with the idea more.


Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

I have two distinct goals for the future, both very different. First, I’d love to supervise or mix on an action or war movie. My brothers are in the army, and I want to work on something they can proudly share with their army buddies. I’m on the lookout for my own version of movies like “The Hurt Locker” or “Fury.” Secondly, I heard Taylor Swift is working on her first feature film, and if the chance comes up, I’d love to be involved in any way possible.


What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I learned to scuba-dive in 2021 and have been going on trips to the California coastal islands via chartered boats.


Favorite movie(s)? Why?

I keep a highlight reel of sound design moments from movies I wish I had done. I go back to the list when I’m lost and looking for  inspiration. A glimpse at a few of the titles on my wish-I-had-done-that list are: “Blade Runner 2049,” “Dune,” “The Creator,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Iron Man,” “Tron: Legacy,” “Road to Perdition,” “Transformers,” and any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Each of those films has a unique sonic thumbprint and tackled a difficult genre in a fresh way.


Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

My wife and I love watching the TV show “Below Deck.” It features the interior and exterior crew working on a super yacht. Naturally, there’s a lot of workplace drama, and we always pause to talk about who we think is right and wrong.


Do you have an industry mentor?

Currently, I have been learning a lot from Justin Doyle, an amazing sound effects editor and designer. He has such great taste in sounds and is pretty much unique in his ability to select the perfect sound for a scene. He has taught me not to be tricked by visually complex, overly stacked sound editing and instead find confidence in simple, clear, well-chosen design. Since working with him, I have been trying to select one well-chosen sound rather than ten average sounds mangled together.


What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

Conan O’Brien once compared working in show biz to playing slots at the casino. He said you have to keep trying every day because you never know when you’ll hit the jackpot. I agree and have found it helpful to maintain consistent effort. I would also add that having a good life partner is key. My partner, April Lamb, is a true genius. and I really am grateful for her support, love, and business savvy.


Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

Recently, my first child was born, and the union health insurance was amazing. Anytime I had a question or issue, I would call. They always answered the phone quickly and had the right answers.


Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

When I first started freelancing, I wanted to join the union and work at a studio. I reached out to various studios in LA, asking to work as a mix tech or assistant re-recording mixer. I shared my goal with my friend Eric Hoehn, who offered to help. He wrote a great email to Formosa Group, asking them to consider hiring me as a re-recording mixer. They responded quickly, wanting to schedule a Zoom interview. I was nervous, but Eric boosted my confidence by reminding me of my skills. His support helped me ask for what I wanted, and in the end, I was hired by Formosa Group to mix. If I could offer encouragement to anyone in this industry, it would be to recognize your skills as valuable and seek out supporters who believe in you and your success.

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