Juliane contacted you to do the sound design for Unsecured Loan II after having seen your work on youtube. What was your first reaction and why did you decide to join the project?
I was pleasantly surprised. I’m an Australian living in California & I just received an email from a film director in Jakarta about a film shot in Malaysia. That doesn’t happen every day. It’s cool that by simply putting up some samples of my work on youtube, I’ve been given the opportunity to be a part of a great project that was a lot of fun to work on. I’ve always been interested in martial arts and martial arts films. When I was younger I studied Tae Kwon Do for 12 years and taught for about 3, so when the opportunity came up to work on a Martial Arts short, I jumped at the chance.
Unsecured Loan II involves a lot of fight sounds. Many people in the indie film scene have difficulties to find good sound designers on a low budget and end up doing the fight fx themselves. Do you have any tips and tricks you’d like to share for proper fight sound fx?
I guess I’d have to say that sound design (and mixing) are specialized fields that require various skill sets, just as is the role of the DOP, or Makeup Artist, for example. Anybody can pick up a camera, point it and press record, but might not end up with a shot that is technically or artistically adequate. I could pick up a brush and apply make-up to someone’s face, but the results might look frightening. The same goes for sound design. It’s often forgotten about until the last minute, or a lot of people try to do it themselves, but it’s a craft just like any other and it requires a lot of technical audio engineering knowledge to create great sound, as well as the creative aspect of it. Unfortunately there are many more great sound designers out there than there is enough work to go around, so I’d suggest contacting someone who’s work you admire and discussing your project and budget limitations. Quite often they’ll be willing to work within your limits. If you plan your production schedule out far enough in advance, you might be able to negotiate that your project is worked on during their down time. You may get your deliverables slowly over time, but it’s one method to consider if you’re well organized and can give a clear brief.
Unsecured Loan’s post wasn’t easy: you are based in California, composer Paul in the Netherlands and director Juliane lives in Jakarta. How did this affect your work?
This certainly presents some challenges. When we need to make a creative decision it’s not as easy as all listening together in the same room & discussing our options. It generally involves emails, sending temp mixes for review, or a quick video conference. Sometimes the time differences can be a blessing in disguise. While I’m sleeping, a composer or editor is working during their daytime, so when I wake up the next day I have an update waiting for me in my inbox. The same goes for when I finish a temp mix, the director wakes up the next day to an update waiting for her. With iChat (or Skype) and a fast FTP site or other method of transferring files, it’s not so difficult to achieve a good result. With the tight deadline we had on Unsecured Loan II, in reality we were mostly awake through the night anyway, so as soon as I sent something out, I received feedback very quickly.
Is there something like a dream project you have, something you’d say I’d die to do the sound fx for?
I love any action based project, and I also love working to animation. You can get away with pushing the boundaries of reality just that little bit further. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a dream project recently, as cinematic sound designer and mixer for the game “Darksiders”. We were given a lot of creative freedom and the quality of animation to work with was outstanding, as was the script and voice acting. To choose another dream project, I’d say to be part of a Pixar project would definitely be rewarding.