Mixin Sound on a short film in Vietnam, 2011
In 2009 I began NYU's Grad Film Program. When we took turns directing and crewed for each other's projects, I found that I loved doing sound. In 2010 I bought my first sound rig and started making money working primarily on narrative short films and features. In my time working as a non-union Sound Mixer, I had the pleasure of recording sound for wonderful works such as the first episode of High Maintenance, Nelson George's Finding the Funk documentary, and the indie feature films Towheads and Nasty Baby.
In 2013, I joined NYC's IATSE 52 in the sound department and continue to work as a Boom Operator and Sound Utility. In case you were wondering, I no longer want to be a Sound Mixer because I make more money than I did as a non-union mixer, and I don't want to buy a full sound rig. My indie rig is worth 20k, but proper union sound rigs cost about 100k, an investment I don't want to make right now. Sound is one of the few departments where you are required to own your own gear. They pay a rental fee but ... I'm in film to be a director. You didn't ask, but now you know!
In 2016 I joined LA's Sound Union, IATSE 695, so I'm now also able to work in Los Angeles.
Now that I'm primarily a Boom Operator and Sound Utility, I get to be on set and in the middle of some of the most exciting productions filmed today. My favorite productions to work on so far were Marvel's Daredevil, and Baz Luhrmann's The Get Down.
I've learned so much from being on set on the big stuff. I now understand what it takes to make major motion pictures, wild special effects and stunts sequences, and what it's like when big stars are in a room performing a scene. These things no longer intimidate me as a filmmaker and I didn't learn that in film school nor from the indie film world.
I'm grateful to sound for opening doors, paying my bills, and most especially inviting me to experience the work of some of the greatest living directors, writers, actors, and cinematographers.
Being part of the crew will forever shape who I am on set.
Anyhoo I'm available to work as a Boom Operator or Sound Utility on both the east and west coast! I no longer do sound for non-union productions but I do keep a list of recommended non-union mixers, and have this handy guide for filmmakers to use when they hire sound people:
WHAT'S A SOUND UTILITY?!
Ok so on films with a proper budget, there's a 3 person sound department:
Sound Utility (or 3rd)
The Sound Mixer sits at their sound cart off set or to the side of set, and receives the transmission of all the different microphones being used. They also send sound to various headsets so that people can listen to it. They mix and record the sound as well. There's actually a lot more too it than that, just look at all the buttons on the carts! But I don't want to explain all the buttons right now so BYE it's time to learn about ...
The Boom Operator is not just the person who physically holds and operates the Boom Pole and microphone. They are the eyes, ears, and body of the sound department on set. They are one of the few people in the room with actors and camera. They report to the mixer what is going on and give an assessment of what strategy they should use to record sound for a given scene.
The Sound Utility is several things, but one of them is a go between the Sound Mixer and Boom Operator, both on and off set. They set things up and run them around, they may wire actors with wireless microphones. They may be the 2nd Boom Operator in scenes that need 2 booms, which is a frequent responsibility. They may take over for the Sound Mixer or Boom Operator if they need to step away or take care of something else. They listen for sound problems and work to quiet and fix them. They run cables and batteries and things like that. The Sound Utility is also the person who gives the people at Video Village (where the director and producers sit and watch and listen) their headphones and comteks for listening to what's being recorded.
LEARNING IS FUN.
Anyhow yeah that's what I do to make a buck.
Working as the Boom Operator on SNL, 2016