Tim Prebble’s Career advice


An extract. Complete here.

“It is not how good you are, it is how good you can be in the time available”

So here is a typical path to becoming a film sound designer:

step 1. do some film and audio education (one to three years)
step 2. do work experience (one week to one year)
step 3. attain trainee position (six months to one year)
step 4. become assistant sound editor on TV series (one to three years)
step 5. become sound editor on TV series (one to three years)
step 6. become assistant sound editor for film (one to five years)
step 7. become sound editor for film (three to five years)
step 8. become sound designer for film

Do you have a team of people that you work with such as a Foley Artists/Dialogue Editor/Composer Etc? If so how did this team come about? If not, does this mean you do all these elements yourself?

Of course yes. An example NZ feature film by a first time director might have say a budget of NZ$2.5 million. With that scale of film making, the minimum sound team involved would be myself for 3 months, dialogue/ADR editor for 3 months, assistant sound editor for 2 months, foley editor for 4 weeks, foley artist & recordist for 3 weeks. There is no way I could, would or should try to do all of that work myself – that would be insane. Occasionally on a short film I have done all the sound editing but we still need foley – both creatively and because every film made in NZ must deliver an M&E mix along with the full english mix. Otherwise the film cannot be sold into non-english speaking territories. But each person in a team is a specialist in their chosen field. I am not a mixer, I like to collaborate with someone who is a mixer and who is as dedicated and experienced at their role as I am at mine.
With regards to teams, like most people I am loyal. I have worked with the same dialogue/ADR editor on the last dozen or more films – he is a dear friend and the best dialogue editor I have ever worked with. There is only one reason that I would work with a different dialogue editor and that would be if he wasn’t available. The same is true of other members of sound editorial team. One you have done a number of films together the shared experience is very important.

Do you have any advice for me regarding how to layout my CV?

No, sorry – a CV is really not much use to me, so I do not feel qualified to comment on how you should lay it out or what it should contain. Credits are what I am interested in – what have you actually done? And where can I see & hear that work? If you were approaching me to do work experience a CV is not that important to me. My theory is also that people skills are one of the most important attributes and a CV does not convey any of that. You could have the best CV ever, but if you have an ego problem or personality problems, aren’t a friendly & open collaborator then we won’t be working together. FWIW I would never, ever hire someone or have them be part of a team unless I had met them & known them for a while i.e. established what kind of person they are. There is simply too much at stake. I remember I had one young person come & see me and within five minutes they had stressed me out more than an entire film project does. Now why would I want to spend time with someone like that?

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