Hello To Everyone,

I come from a music background and am starting out in sound design and dont have a show reel. I realise that this is paramount for new employers, they want to see what you can do, right?

The problem is that I dont have any video or films to work from. So I thought I'd ask you folks here.

I have thought about taking scenes from movies and television, stripping the sound and rebuilding it myself.

Is this something that is viable, I know that there maybe a copyright issue there, but what about future employers, is this something that they want to see or would they prefer something original?

Thanks in advance for any help!!

4 Answers 4


Hello and hope you'll like your new direction! :-)

I myself was originally a music producer, mainly in industrial, synth pop, different kinds of rock/metal/goth, and ethno. The transition to sound editor was not painless, the approach to sound in music is very different from that in film, but for me the very naturalistic ethno (mostly African, Latin American and Indian) gave me a good understanding of keeping diegesis (making it sound genuine and true), and the sometimes extremely complex industrial/noise-music trained me in layering and maintaining order in chaos. The next step, developing into sounddesigner, was easier, as I already by then knew how these things worked. Though I do have a diploma as a professional sound engineer, mastering technician, and producer, I had to learn everything about film for myself.

I started out by joining a casting-site for the full business, and for years I jumped on every amateur project I could get, till I finally felt I knew what I was doing. Of course some kind of school would've been a tremendous shortcut, but frankly, Swedish film-schools doesn't have a history of taking sound very seriously... Now I work both as a "one-man-army", as an employee of others, and sometimes as a supervisor.

What I say now is my own opinion when I hire people to work with, and it might very well differ from others opinions. For me, getting served a reworked clip from a movie makes me immediately compare it with the original. I don't want to, but I do. It also gives me a nagging worry that the person in mention is not used to working in collaboration with others, and when I hire additional crew I must know for sure I can trust the ones I coordinate to be able to think beyond their own very task, or I will be the one getting all the crap.

If I instead gets an amateur movie that might perhaps not exactly look like the matrix, but with a well balanced and interesting sound, I tend to take it for what it is and can see through the imperfections, focusing on the very thing I'm looking for people for.

  • Thanks Christian, thats very insightful. I come from a classical/psychedelic/ambient background. I will look to steer away from taking the pre-existing movies approach and go for amateur projects. You're right, the comparison is bound to be made, and I think your opinion is something to be considered 'worthy', having already made the transition many years ago. Any hint on some of those full industry boards? I have a couple already. mandy.com etc... but just wondering if you knew of others that could be a help to me and other individuals in the same position. Thanks again, T Aug 2, 2012 at 15:24

Don't rework audio from an exiting film. Agree with previous responses...

A suggestion: Contact your local graduate programs in Film/Video (MFA tracks), and offer your sound design work up for free (just a few for free, for now... Build your reel!). You will find many that will need your services. As you already have some experience with audio, you can use this as a great starting point-the rest will come quite easily as you mess with the different options and mixes. The other benefit of this method is that it will allow you to be very selective in the footage you choose to work on (obviously not all footage is worth your time, even when just getting started out). Also, this will connect you into the local film/video scene more tightly. It's a win-win situation this way.

Best of luck to you, t


I think it's a fantastic idea to rebuild the sound design of an established movie scene. Copyright isn't an issue if there's no performance involved. As long as you are upfront with your prospective employer about what it is and what you did.

ALSO if you own a smartphone you can make your own footage; If you don't want to create a drama scene, you can just head for the city and record something of what is going on around you. Go to a park where there is some action and record that.

If you can sound design a very ordinary scene and make it sound special then I think you would find some interest from an employer.


I also think that the most negative point about re-designing the sound of a movie is that people who will be watching it as a show reel will automatically compare it with the original picture + you yourself will be influenced by the original.

Though I do think it is a great way to practice and to make a of demoreel of, which you could send to amateur/student filmmakers to get to do some sound design for no/low budget productions.

By doing no/low budget productions you get original material to work with and start to learn how to work within a production team, what i think is most important when trying to get into the ¨real¨buisness.

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