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Production Sound Department Case Study

Chris Gayne, Sound Recordist | September 2016


BAFTA New Talent nominated Chris has been working in the industry as a sound recordist on a variety of projects.

What inspired you to enter the film industry?

A love of film, storytelling and the chance to do a job that offers a bit of creativity. A job where every day is different and there is the chance to meet interesting people and possibly see some interesting places in the world.

Did you take on any unpaid positions to gain experience?

I have taken a few unpaid positions. I think it comes down to what the project is. If it's something that you yourself are passionate about and offers something in return for your work then I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I would still work on certain films/projects that offer me some creative input, or a chance to express myself creatively or even just to work with people I admire/enjoy working with. I was nominated for a BAFTA New Talent award for sound design which was an unpaid project. I enjoyed working on it and with the director as there was a lot of space to use my own creativity. I don't believe that working for free is always a great option. You have to value your craft and yourself as well. As a sound recordist you should always be charging For your equipment at least and be wary that you may be undervaluing your job and other professionals out there by accepting unpaid roles. Again I feel it comes down to the project. If someone else is making money out of it you should be compensated also.

How long did it take you to get your first permanent paying job, and how long did it take you to consistently find paying work?

I have only recently gained full time employment as a sound recordist however I was quite lucky to not go more than a month without some paid work. I think I was in the right place at the right time at the start of my career. Sometimes it has been tough and it's not always been ideal projects, it is very difficult to come by sought after positions and the path into this industry is not always clear however I think the best approach is to let your work speak for itself and maybe your attitude also. This job is all about working with people and I think that comes into most jobs. But attitude and good work ethic will surely take you far.

What was your first impression of a film set?

It can be a daunting place and there is always a lot of people running around in their own world, however, most people are just people and as long as you are friendly, considerate and know what you are supposed to be doing and where you are supposed to be to do your job there shouldn't be any issues.

What are your responsibilities as a sound recordist?

I have never really worked as a sound trainee. I've always operated as a one man band or occasionally with a boom op or as a boom op. The responsibilities change but as a sound recordist you are in charge of any dialogue or wild track that has to be recorded on set. This means knowing where to be and when, (being there a little early always helps). Miking up the talent in a polite, professional and speedy manner. Locking down the set from any potential sound issues, AC, fridges, clocks etc. And monitoring the sound during takes flagging up any issues there me be such as traffic and planes or sometimes other crew! Having a positive attitude will always help, offering teas, coffees to other crew if you're free, making sure you've doubled checked every potential issue before turning over and being prepared for issues to occur anyway! But being positive and speedy I think will get you far.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

It's a hard one. I value how lucky I am every day doing this job. I think either recording the wildlife on Orkney is up there. Or possibly working with Wes Anderson whose films inspired me before I ever thought that I'd work in this industry.

Being a trainee with some experience under your belt, what advice would you give to those just starting out?

Don't give up. Persevere. Work hard when you are given the opportunity. If people like working with you and you deliver results you'll always get asked back.

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