I'm asking this question here because I don't really know any other sound designers, or where to meet them in person.

I graduated in Music Technology from Kent, and then started working on short films by going to London film schools and offering to work for free. I did anything they needed - boom op, dialogue editing, sound design, composing. One of the pupils at one of these schools got £100,000 of investment to make a feature. I had worked with him on a couple of shorts and he put me in charge of sound. Yay! I handled the production and post production sound, all except the mix which we did at Pinewood (he secured further investment for the grade and mix). I loved the work, the sound turned out great, the film has done well at festivals and raised £6000 for the Red Cross at a special screening we arranged.

Because I was mostly the only sound guy (occasionally I had a boom operator), I didn't really make any sound contacts. Everybody involved with the film was young like me and are also trying to kickstart their careers, so I didn't make any established contacts at all really. I was hoping the director would make more films and get me on board, but he has got a job in advertising now.

I have since realised to my dismay that there are no sound editing jobs advertised anywhere like normal jobs are. Occasionally one appears on Mandy.com which I apply for, but I guess so do 10,000 other people as I never hear back. I can't really work for free anymore, though I have been doing so occasionally to keep my hand in. I have been to Soho a couple of times with my demo reel on DVDs to ask at post-pro houses there for work experience, but have had no luck so far.

I wonder if anybody can offer me any advice on how to go about getting paid sound work? It doesn't have to be well paid. I am doing web design at the moment to pay the rent, which is thankfully very low, but I don't like this work. After all this I don't want to give up on sound design/editing because I love it, but I'm not sure how to proceed and don't know who to ask. There don't even seem to be any UK sound post production forums to ask on, though maybe I am missing one.

Thanks, Joe

3 Answers 3


There are already some proper advises and analyses by georgi and internet human. Just adding my 2cents in the form of a questionnaire:

  1. Why did you get started doing sound in the first place?
  2. What has kept you interested over time?
  3. In what way are you different than all the others?
  4. Do you need to be in London to do this?
  5. What do you need to feel confident about your skills/expertise?

Ponder about this a bit.

I'm asking these questions, because you seem to be overthinking about what is bothering you. Try not to focus on the problem, but on the mechanics, you are the biggest factor (what do you want, why do you want it?). Besides that there's conjecture and markets, but those can be looked at in a different ways, because it all depends on your own perspective.

And to end with a saying by Degas (at 70yrs old)

"You must have an elevated idea, not of what you do, but of what you can one day do, without this it is not worth the trouble working"

Good luck!

  • Thank you Arnoud. The answers: 1. I love films and wa highly musically trained from age 8, so have excellent ears. 2. I always enjoy every minute of it! apart from the odd niggle. 3. I'm not the best tehnically, no good at maths, but I'm very good with the link between emotion and sound, and knowing how to alter the audience's emotions. 4. No, I could go back to Oxford. There does seem to be more work here though. 5. I could do with greater knowledge of pro tools (shortcuts etc). Apart from that I feel confident. I know you probably didn't need to hear this, but it's helped me to write it
    – Joe B
    Sep 2, 2013 at 14:44
  • That was my point :) Good luck Joe! You'll be fine! Sep 2, 2013 at 17:43

looks like post houses hire runners and promote them internally when they need. yes if they're unpaid it's unethical, but there are tens of reasons in support of this too, and it seems to be the preferred way of screening candidates for full-time positions.

occasionally houses like Radium offer sound designer internships (again, unpaid), at least they're about something other than shuttling drives and doing coffee.

on your own you're freelancing in the small and seemingly overcrowded world of sound post. film projects tend to assemble teams based on contacts, so you're after creating as many as you can, especially directors and editors.. i can't say much about "producers", there seems to be a semi-permanent stand-off between them and the production/post crews.

that, above, runs contrary to any wish to have fewer contacts with better quality relationships. i haven't found a solution to this, if anyone has, (other than lowering the bar that is), please share.

bigger film productions are subject to the status quo. high budgets = perceived high risk for the production, and more candidates to get to work on the title. => chance of getting into one without being known = nil.

the UK sound professional societies are kind of closed circles so, as much as I hate to say it, consider becoming a member.. though that may bring you very little in return.

that's all the experience i can share. you're not alone in this boat. don't give up.

  • Thank you Georgi, that's useful advice. Getting contacts is hard for me as I tend to be a bit nervous when first meeting people and then am more relaxed the next time. I make friends easily given time, but generally don't give a brilliant first impression. And don't worry, I'm not going to give up on sound! All the best, Joe
    – Joe B
    Sep 2, 2013 at 14:32

The sound market is crap. I don't specifically know why it's so, but mostly a) because sound can for some reason be worked out fast and with a small personnel (even one guy), b) because sound can in many cases be worked externally (you don't have to meet the crew that produced the thing you're laying out sound for. You can work from home and online.), c) sound sometimes comes the last and d) established studios that work fast and hard. And maybe there are just too many people.

But, what's sure is that everything boils down to contacts. Or/and being of service to more experienced sound people or people from other media disciplines. Or exceptionally exceptional work (there's not much of "exceptional" work that really sticks out nowadays). The field is insecure for everyone, but that's what reinforces relationships, but it can also lead to shallow and untrustworthy "professional friendships". Like the moment someone gets "that gig", possibly right in front of your nose, there's no friendship, because "friendship" might escalate to just trying to take advantage (because what many are really looking for is "that secure, awesome artsy job", not cooperation that doesn't lead to anything / job prospects / financial gain). See, it may be somewhat paradoxical that the field is idealistically about art, but practically a (fierce) business between its participants; the bottom or managerial point in many cases is to make money (maybe to make more art) or in other ways shoot for financial goals (e.g. to cover costs and lost opportunities). Now if it's a business, one maybe ought to take it as a business(?)

Now, the reason why the market sucks is maybe because there's too much to pick from, you're a product in the pool of n seemingly very similar (as well as subjectively valued) products.

Maybe you'd want to do some marketing, like it works out in other fields when the situation is such that there are "n seemingly similar products"?

  • I agree, the market does suck. I just have to hope the economy improves, and that things will get easier. Thanks for your input.
    – Joe B
    Sep 2, 2013 at 14:45
  • @Joe B From the big perspective it's the people's purchasing of entertainment that would have to improve. Or the amount of entertainment that's being published (which would need to be minimized or upped in quality). It's a fact that only few individuals or companies "make it big" and there's obviously also piracy that eats profits. Now the more odd question is, why are sound teams so small? Sep 2, 2013 at 16:53

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