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Hello all,

I have enrolled and commenced studies on a BA (Hons) in Film & Moving Image Production degree course here in the UK.

I am 24 & will finish my studies at 27 years of age.

The course covers all aspects of Film making and analysis. I study at an Arts University so our study is fairly practical and hands on.

Anyway, I plan to be a professional (i.e. paid) sound designer working in the film industry.

Just wondering, now that I have started a course in Film, what should I be doing as far as contacting people in the industry to let them know I want to work in post production sound for them?

Are internships/work placements a good option? I would also love to spend some time working abroad in Europe during my career.

EDIT Part of me is leaning towards getting some work experience in the industry during summer breaks, but how to go about getting a quality placement is tricky, and part of me wants to study a masters degree at NFTS in Sound Design...

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4 Answers 4

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I am doing my final year in Interactive media design. I spent last three years studying different types of media and what I have discovered is that what fascinates me the most is sound. Since I remember I was fascinated by sound and music, but I never thought I could go that far with it. Due to the nature of my course, which is not only dedicated to sound, I sometimes feel like standing in front of a huge mountain, that I have no idea how to conquer, because I don'tspend as much time with it, as I would like to. Sound is a heavy bit to bite. I started with doing soundtracks for university projects and eventually some people have noticed and appreciated my work. I am rather a realist, it is not my style to apply for serious productions, unless I'm sure that I possess necessary skills in order to accomplish the task. I believe that a strong portfolio is the key to sound designer's future. Portfolio is pretty easy to build, simply post on a vimeo forum that you are willing to create sound design for some film. Sometimes you will get paid for that, sometimes not and you should be prepared that at the begging you wont get paid (that's the way it is). It's kind of a symbiosis, a mutual benefit for both sides: the film creators and you. They get sound, you enrich your portfolio. Of course working for free doesn't mean that you don't know your value. But a good portfolio gives you a good basis to start earning money. Usually at the beginning you will be required to bring your equipment. You need it anyway to record sounds that you can use later. Cheap and reliable Shure SM58 for vocals, shotgun, capacitor and hyper cardioid capacitor if affordable (also a contact mic to do magic) but this is a dream team for the beginning. The basic is a recorder. I use Marantz PMD661 and I am pretty happy with it, as for the start. I find the student loan very useful in this subject. IT IS worth to invest this money. Remember, every kind of media needs sound! There is plenty of work to do. If you want work specifically on film, start with shorts. the big ones will come in the right time. and yes, pro tools is an industry standard. make sure you know shortcuts. This will speed up your flow which you don't want to loose. Good luck!

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This is just me coming off-the-cuff, but imho if you plan on becoming a "professional sound designer" then I'd skip that masters degree. I doubt very highly that having that degree will get you any more jobs than you would've gotten without it, and it will surely put you into a great deal of debt. However, if your aim is to pursue your dream into the realm of academia and become a teacher or professor, then by all means go for it. Maybe having that masters will benefit you.

Use the money you would have spent on further studies and invest in a home studio setup. Become a master of your tools through practice and patience. Then, go out and find some work. And don't limit yourself to your geographic area; there are many companies who are happy to contract out work to people who live thousands of miles away and are never seen face to face, only corresponding through emails and the occasional phone call. Of course, gaining those contacts and convincing them to hire you is another hurdle altogether, but once achieved you are off to the races.

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I think it's good to keep in mind that in arts one's degree is highly likely to be totally irrelevant for any industry position that one may apply for. Everyone wants to see the portfolio first, and maybe/likely even only the portfolio. Additionally, formal education in arts has its drawbacks (forced coursework, practically irrelevant coursework, debt). University experience can be valuable for contacts of arts people of the same age group and possibly pre-organized internships, but just for personal skills development and career development in this field I don't consider it relevant at all. –  Internet Human Oct 23 '12 at 1:40
    
@ Jay I agree and have had the same distilled thought. If I ever want to teach sometime way in the future, considering looking into the Masters at that time. Otherwise the degree isn't of any use for our line of work. –  Stavrosound Oct 23 '12 at 6:34
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There is a distinct advantage of University over learning on the Job, if you make a mistake, all you lose are marks. I became a sound engineer, and later a designer, at 18 and any mistakes cost me jobs and reputation, which meant that I learned everything fast. I just realised that I am arguing in favour of on the job training, instead of University. –  Iain McGregor Oct 23 '12 at 15:36

Do everything you can. If you wish to work as an freelancer, or even if you want to work in a company, your contacts are and will be everything, because they are, if any, those that generate projects for you. If you have no contacts, you won't have projects other than those that you generate by yourself.

There are many ways to go on doing this, just as there are many ways to socialize and be involved with people in general. But the main point is to get to know people that you can work with, because you cannot really work alone in the media field. Get to know film makers, media producers, other sound people etc., anyone who works on the stuff that interests you and to which you want to and can contribute. Then it's pretty much just getting involved and making projects, just like everyone else you know are always making or seeking new projects.

Also, especially for applying to companies, but also in general, start building your portfolio. And set up a personal website, so you can direct people there so they get an idea of what you do.

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thanks :) i appreciate that advice! –  Digital Endurance Oct 22 '12 at 23:21
    
Oh, and be as humble as possible. You can have ambition of course, but don't think that anyone in the industry is especially looking for "you" to work for them, and don't plan on "getting that internship" or anything, because as long as you haven't established yourself (so that your contacts know you for what you do), no-one really cares what you do. And it's possible that you don't have an idea of how much competition there is in the field (there's a lot). So do everything you can and start building those relationships and that portfolio. It can be a long process before things start to roll. –  Internet Human Oct 22 '12 at 23:34
    
Yeah, I try to be humble. I don't think anyone is looking for me... the fact is they don't know about me! I do plan on getting an internship though. If I don't I don't know how I am going to break into the industry... But yeah, my priority is to build a portfolio and contacts. Im already working on that actually. –  Digital Endurance Oct 22 '12 at 23:51
    
Should've said "don't rely on", rather than "don't plan". What I meant is that you may likely have to compete even for internships, if it's from some reasonably well-known place or a person. I think it's good to realize that in this type of industry (entertainment/media), whatever one does/tries, someone could likely be trying and thinking about doing that same exact thing, and you would end up competing with him/her. Everyone that isn't already established is trying "to break in" and the industry doesn't have shortage of skilled people. –  Internet Human Oct 23 '12 at 0:45
    
OK I see what you are saying. I agree, it is fiercely competitive. "But the hotter the battle the sweeter the victory" –  Digital Endurance Oct 23 '12 at 0:53

Make sure you know how to use Pro Tools. Most places here in the UK use it and wont have the time or money to start training you up.

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Thanks, I have been meaning to get myself Pro Tools for some time now, I plumped for Logic 9 a while back because I have used it for a few versions. But yeah, I should definitely get myself Pro Tools as and when I can afford to. At the moment I am focusing on writing a CV to send to sound designers here in the UK. Thanks for your reply. –  Digital Endurance Oct 23 '12 at 15:56
    
If you're still in Uni it might pay to see if you can get it as an educational discount, it's FAR cheaper if you can. Feel free to get in touch off this board, I live and work in the UK and will happily answer any questions you have. Which Uni are you at by the way? –  ianjpalmer Oct 24 '12 at 14:29
    
Norwich University College of the Arts. Studying Film & Moving Image Production.Its a great Uni, as far as I'm aware at the moment there arent any truly sound design related courses out there, so its a good general background I think to understand film making as a whole before I specialise fuly in my chosen field (sound design) –  Digital Endurance Oct 25 '12 at 23:09

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