In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Sound Designer, Paul Guiver, about the rise of technology, the dark arts of the Foley Artist, and creating sound effects with coconuts.
How would you explain the role of the Sound Designer to a layman in one sentence?
Storytelling with sound: creating mood, light, shade and adding dynamics to the soundtrack.
What made you want to pursue a career in sound production, and what was your first job?
I was a musician in my teens and early twenties, this gave me experience of composing, recording and eventually making records. During this time, I was producing my own music and becoming more and more interested in the technical side. When I saw an advert in one of the national newspapers recruiting people for a television production course I jumped at the chance. I absolutely loved it; a perfect marriage of technical and creative skills and knew this was the direction for me.
My first job was working for Radio City in Liverpool as a Music Mixer / Engineer. It was a fantastic first job – recording both the shows and live performances.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about the world of sound design?
Ha! Probably the use of coconuts to create sound effects! Seriously, good sound design, ADR and foley is often transparent, people are only aware of the art if it is badly performed. It’s a backhanded compliment if a scene where the sound has been totally replaced goes un-noticed.
In this edition of Word of Mouth, we talk to Producer/Director, Terry McGough, on his career as a film maker: working with leading brands, superstar musicians, and embracing the rise of branded content.
You originally started out as a photographer; what made you want to pursue a career in filmmaking?
I was a music photographer and was asked by an artist’s management company to come down onto a music video shoot to film some behind the scenes imagery for PR use. For the first time in my life I saw what a cinematographer actually did.
The artist was a very beautiful girl but the difference between the artist sitting in the dressing room and the one that the cinematographer had lit was just an incredible optical illusion; playing with light, he had transformed this girl into a superstar. I had never seen anything like it, it was like watching a magician paint with light.
I literally had a light bulb moment and fell in love with cinematography and just knew that this was the art form for me, as it just resonated with me. I began researching cinematography and taking any chance I could to get on set, paid or unpaid, just to be able to watch and learn. Then as I got into fashion photography, I took all those things and got to practice my lighting on models. I didn’t always get it right, but in time it just clicked – now my lighting skills are the cornerstone of everything that I do.
In this edition of Word of Mouth, we talk to Grierson-shortlisted Series Producer & Series Director, Colin Rothbart, about his career highlights, including a six-year self-funded documentary project, enjoying the locations on Holiday, and catching slugs for The Big Breakfast.
How did you first become a filmmaker, and what would you say was your first big break?
I definitely took the long hard route, as I didn’t know anyone in the industry. From the age of 16, I’d done unpaid work experience at The Sun and Time Out in my school holidays and then luckily got a job as a hospitality runner at TV-am, making tea for everyone from Kylie to Thatcher. This would have been great if it had lasted – but TV-am lost their franchise six months later! So I suppose my first big break after studying at uni and doing a Journalism postgraduate degree was as a Runner again on The Big Breakfast.
You were shortlisted for a Grierson Award for your self-funded documentary, Dressed As A Girl. How did that project come about?
That was something I did in my spare time over six years. I had many friends on the alternative arts scene in East London, so one of them said we should be documenting this for posterity – so I did! But with no funding and a full-time job, it took a while to come to fruition. In the end, the fact it was filmed over six years meant the storylines had much more substance. It’s played around the world in film festivals and is currently on Netflix.
In this edition of Word of Mouth, we talk to Drone Camera Operator, Will Davies, on how the drone revolution is changing the way TV is made, and what the future holds for the technology.
How did you end up becoming a drone pilot?
Technology led me into it – having always been someone who dives into new technology at the earliest opportunity, when the aircraft started hitting the professional mainstream market, I put a toe in the water. A vast amount of flying experience later, and an even vaster amount of money spent on new aircraft to keep up with the demands of TV and film production, and here I am today – four pro-aircraft and about sixty batteries that need constant charging.
What are the main advantages of using a drone over more traditional aerial filming?
This is a great question, because for a while production crews were using drones in place of helicopters because of the cost savings. The beauty of using drones now is that everyone can afford to add that extra dimension to their production – independent companies have us available on tap, and by the day if necessary.
But by far the best thing about using an experienced drone pilot is that you can (for example), have the drone film a chase on foot through a multi-story car-park, through trees, or other awkward spaces – something a helicopter would never have been able to do – and also there’s no running out of tracks, no cranes, jibs, or dollys required. Just a huge amount of flexibility and quick-turnaround shoots.
In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Development Producer, Charlotte Davis, about her career in TV, eating doughnuts with Chicago cops, and easing Jimmy Nesbitt into a wetsuit!
What made you want to pursue a career in production, and what was your first job in TV?
I graduated from Glasgow University with an MA in Film, TV and Theatre studies, but I never wanted to get into telly really. I wanted to be a football journalist, but after a few months doing just that at the Daily Record, I realised just how tough that was. I got very confused. I was RUBBISH!
So, instead, I lucked out. I got a place on the Carlton production training scheme, and spent a year making a magazine programme called Shift for the (now defunct) Night Network. Heady, awesome, brilliant times. Alex Menzies (now a commissioning editor at C4), Anne Mensah (Head of Drama, Sky) and Asif Kapadia (ruddy well Oscar winner), were all knocking around the Carlton CPU at the same time. None of them return my calls now though (ha ha ha!).
In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Producer and Series Producer, Silvia Sacco, about her work on shows including Italy Unpacked, and the BAFTA-nominated Art Of… strand.
What is a typical working day for you as a series producer?
That depends which phase of the production we’re in. At the very beginning, reading a lot and meeting possible directors, and meeting with the commissioners to understand what they expect. In the middle, scripting with the directors, talking to possible contributors, working with the researchers, fixers etc. Then on location (I am on location most of the time) while filming, following by viewings in the edit and also fully editing at least one of the films in the series at the end.
You graduated with a master’s degree in Philosophy & Ethics. What made you want to pursue a career in filmmaking?
Good TV is the best tool to democratise culture! There is no point in studying a lot if you are going to spend the rest of your life keeping it to yourself or communicating it with only a few people from a similar background.
This week, we chat to CSC Media’s Creative On-Air Manager, Scott Pickup.
What made you want to pursue a career within this industry?
I’ve pretty much known what I wanted to do with my life since around 14 years old, which is handy! I have always loved watching films – going to the cinema and renting videos was always a regular thing growing up. My brother and I used to watch a film on the Friday night and then get up at 6am the next day to watch it again. It sounds crazy now but that passion for all things moving image is what drives me still today.
What would you say was your first big break into the industry?
I tried for an age to get funding for short films and so many different jobs in the media industry. The only stuff I could get was expenses only work on a few feature films, great experiences but in no way a career! One day, I’d just had enough of rejection and decided to make something myself. A script idea for a short came to me pretty much fully formed and I just paid for the production myself. When the next job came up I had something real to show and it helped me get the chance to be a Junior Creative at ITV. That broke me into this world and I’ve been slowly battling my way up through the industry ever since.
This week, we chat to The Big RD’s head, Ryan Dean, about switching careers to join the world of telly, running his own production company and balancing the creative side with the endless admin.
What made you want to pursue a career within this industry?
I always wanted to be a writer. I started my professional career as a journalist but got tired by the demand to constantly churn out news when sometimes there was none. I moved across into film production as it offered a great opportunity to continue being creative but without the daily grind of writing vapid news stories.
The Big RD was founded quite early on into your career, how did this come about?
I worked as part of the client facing team at my first production company. I was successful at winning contracts but felt sometimes that the production model that company was using was out of date. I felt there was an opportunity to setup a new type of company that could respond to the problems of the day in a more creative and cost effective manner. Within a year we had opened our studio in Shoreditch and a couple of years later we moved across to Covent Garden.
This week, we chat to Arise’s Global Executive Studio Director, Neil Stainsby, about dealing with deadlines in New York, setting up studios in Johannesburg and making time to see Norwich City play at home.
How did you get into your first role at the BBC?
After 4 years at art college, I gained a BTEC Diploma in Audio Visual Studies and an HND in Visual Communications. My first job was at a small production company in Norwich, where I worked as a Camera Operator/VT Editor. After a couple of years experience, I got my first break at the BBC as a Regional Station Assistant in Plymouth. A great job which gave me an excellent grounding in live TV news production. Two years later, I trained to become a Studio Director at the BBC in Manchester.
You’ve worked within television and media for over 25 years – what has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?
I’ve been lucky to work on a number of channel launches but the most satisfying for me personally were the launches of Wizja Sport and Arise News.
This week, we chat to ON Broadcast’s Head of Production, Jon Collins, about logistical planning and paperwork to kitting out a trendy London bar with hidden cameras.
What made you want to pursue a career within this industry?
Well, I’d love to say my passion for storytelling got me into it; but in reality I kind of fell into it, whilst trying to pursue a career in live-sound. Looking back now, it was one of the best accidents that could have happened.
How did you get into your role as Head of Production at ON Broadcast?
I spent 6 years working for a small corporate/events agency, which really gave me time to grow and learn my trade. I’m so thankful for that but there was only so far I could go with it. A friend of mine, told me about one of her mates who runs ON, Joe Dyble, and how they were looking to build up a Production department. As soon as I came to the office, I knew that this was what I wanted to be doing.