Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Warner Whirlwind

Okay, I admit it.  I'm one of those people who uses the word whirlwind way too much in describing frantic and/or exciting moments from my life.  However, there is no other word I can think of that accurately capture these last six months for me, so until further notice, whirlwind will continue to define my world, day in and day out.

Working at Warner Bros. has been incredibly challenging and exhausting, testing my boundaries regularly and beating me up to a bloody pulp, but at the same time, I love the rush of leaping out of my comfort zone, battling deadlines and budgets, developing new and effective ways to up my game, while still delivering soundscapes that are unique, defined, accurate, rich and client-approved.  I liken the compressed and adrenaline-laden schedule of television post production to that of the newspaper business, where it's chop-chop, mix-mix, print and deliver... right on time for the morning edition.  And there better not be any misspellings!

It's definitely a grueling, trying and nerve-wracking whirlwind, but also a highly satisfying and cathartic one.  I've bonded with a number of my WB peers while battling it out in the TV trenches, and I look forward to many more battles.  Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment.

Season One of The 100 wrapped in mid March and is currently performing at solid levels on the CW.  I'm crossing my fingers that it gets picked up for a second season!  

Since the show's end, I've had the good fortune to have found editorial work on a number of WB projects, namely some short stints on Arrow (CW) and Crisis (NBC), and am just about finished with sound design on Kevin Smith's new film, TUSK, starring Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Michael Park and Johnny Depp.

Grant Gustin as The Flash (CW)
As this work day slowly comes to an end, I am mentally getting psyched for the next phase of my journey... the whirlwind of all whirlwinds:  Pilot Season.  It beings tomorrow with The Flash (CW), and continues on at a rat-a-tat-tat pace for the rest of the month with three other incredible shows:  A to Z (NBC), Forever (ABC) and Empire (Fox).  My plate is full and I'm grateful to the TV gods at the top for helping to make this happen.  If I survive this tempest, I'll report back at the beginning of May.  Many blessings and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Gratitude, Always Gratitude"

Man, this year has been quite an exciting ride.  Not only has 2013 seen the release of a bunch of cool-sounding project that I've worked on, I was also presented with the great opportunity to start the next chapter of my audio career at Warner Bros. Studios.  In these next few paragraphs then, I'd like to thank the Universe for all its incredible gifts, and also take a moment to list a few of my favorite projects for this year.

The Warner Family
Warner Bros. has always had a sort of Wonka-esque lure for me.  As a young kid, I'd see the magnificent tower peeking up out from behind the studio's well-protected gates, and I'd often fantasize about all then wonderful and exciting things that must be going on in there.  I remember those magical and innocent feelings, and I'm happy to say the sense of awe has not yet faded for me.  On the contrary, I'm constantly inspired by the lot's rich cinematic history, particularly during the 7-minute morning backlot trek from my car to my edit bay.  Seriously, every morning I walk through the set of THE MUSIC MAN, stroll across Mike Seaver's front porch, hurry over the steps of Gotham City's city hall (television's Batman), mambo through the street where Jim Carrey performed a wild "Cuban Pete" in THE MASK, and finally take a peek into the Warner Museum before finally getting settled...  

But I digress.

Since settling into my new digs, I've had the tremendous opportunity of working on two exciting television shows:  Four episodes of WITCHES OF EAST END for Lifetime, and sci-fi adventure THE 100, coming soon to the CW Network.  I've collaborated with some awesome supervisors, two equally talented re-recording mixers, and a tremendous pool of sound professionals.  My biggest, most sincere thanks go out to Charlie Crutcher, Paul Curtis, Peter Austin, Michael Lawshe, Connie Kazmer and the incredible team of post audio individuals who have made my transition a fruitful and exciting one.  Thank you all.  I look forward to many more seasons in the trenches with you.

A Little Bit Monkey - My 2013 Favorites
I'd also like to share a little love with my old sound pals at Monkeyland Audio, all of which are outstanding sound folks as well.  Together, we've conquered quite a number of television and feature projects over the years, and this year, I'm happy that some of the more anticipated ones have seen some sort of distribution.  In what's become a tradition of sorts for me, I'd like to share a short list of my favorite ones:

Hitting theaters in a limited release on December 13th (with a simultaneous VOD release) is HOURS, a full-on, tear-out-your-heartstrings drama about one man's fight against time, man and nature, in an effort to save his newborn daughter in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  The late Paul Walker stars as Nolan, and his performance is a true testament to the potential he carried within as an actor.  I am still saddened by the news of his untimely passing, but hopeful that the film will serve as a cathartic and healing vehicle for all of Paul's fans.  On a personal note, I'm very proud of what we did sonically for this film and I consider it one of the more satisfying and elegant moments in my career.  I wrote an article about it for The Post Lab several months ago, and I'd love it if you'd revisit it.  Read here!

WWII zombie thriller WAR OF THE DEAD finally saw its American debut on the straight-to-video tip earlier this year.  Guns, roars, fights, running, running, running!  Lots of big, bad stuff, with a strong serving of environmental and moody mayhem.  This project also has a wild production backstory, as it came and went for a number of years before officially turning over for the final sound editorial and mix.  Despite the craziness of post production, the Monkey creative team and I had a lot of fun with this film.  I blogged about it in an earlier post and took a number of goofy pics with the crew.  Read here!

We provided another interesting sound job on the straight-to-video summer release, THE ADVENTURES OF MICKEY MATSON AND THE COPPERHEAD TREASURE.  Part INDIANA JONES, part NATIONAL TREASURE, this film follows the wild journey of a reluctant young boy who discovers a deep-rooted Confederate plot to take over the nation, and learns about his late grandfather's involvement in the movement to thwart their plans.  The film is chock-full of sound design moments, and despite a tight deadline and minimal resources, the Monkey crew put their noses (and ears!) to the grindstone and made it work.  Down and dirty and sonically satisfying!

Some of the Monkey editors and I had the pleasure of teaming up with our friends from Juniper Post on based-on-a-true-story thriller, THE FROZEN GROUND.  The film stars Nicholas Cage, Vanessa Hudgens, and John Cusak, and chronicles the intense investigation to uncover the truth behind a string of murderers in Alaska in the 1970s and early 1980s.  Despite the grisly and sad subject matter, I had an excellent experience working on this film.  It saw an extremely limited theatrical release this Fall, but was thankfully available simultaneously On Demand for the whole world to see.  Big thanks go out to Dave Kitchens and Dave Barber for letting me be part of this show.

And lastly, there's MANHUNT, the second Bin Laden-based project I've had the honor of participating in.  This EMMY Award-winning HBO documentary not only follows the twenty-year search for Osama Bin Laden, but also chronicles the US government's intricate study of Al-Qaeda's complex and multi-tiered network.  This is a truly fascinating project.  MANHUNT premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival before airing in May on HBO.  Check out my write up on the Monkeyland crew's "mad scramble" to get it ready for it's Film Festival debut!

In Conclusion...
Looking back on my 2013, I feel a sense of completion knowing that to some extent, I've accomplished exactly what I had set out to do this year, and that is to stir the pot and keep it interesting.  I've enjoyed a number of ups and faced a number of challenges, but always meeting the tough times with a level head and a cool disposition.  In moving forward, I aim to continue striving for excellence at every stage but, all the while, holding on to that sense of innocent wonder I felt as a young kid.

And as per usual, I will always stop and give thanks to the bountiful Universe for all the blessings that come my way.  Just as Don Lockwood's philosophy was dignity above all, my motto follows a similar phrasing:  "Gratitude, Always Gratitude."

Many blessings to you all in the coming new year!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Au revoir Monkeyland, Bonjour House of Warner!

I look back at my ten years as a sound editor, and I smile.  I smile because every day was a great day for me.  Every project a new adventure, and with every experience, I gained new knowledge, made new friends, and overcame new challenges.  I also lost a lot of hair in the process, but the hair I've managed to keep has greyed up quite nicely.  Still, everyday was truly a blessing, and I am grateful.

In my first blog for 2013, I said that the month of January "... was a long month to say the very least, but each day was an interesting adventure in and of itself, and if the daily adventures keep comin', then I'll definitely have lots to report on in 2013."  Well, there has been quite a bit to report on this year, and as the Autumn chill marks a slightly noticeable change of season here in LA, I will take this opportunity to announce that change too has come to Lagosounds.

With bittersweet anticipation, I will be bidding adieu to the crew from Monkeyland Audio in early October, and commence writing the next chapter of my sonic career from the studio lot at Warner Bros.  In mid-October, I will join Emmy-winning sound supervisor Charlie Crutcher and his wildly talented crew on the new and exciting television show, "The Hundred" (based on the novel by Kass Morgan).  I am deeply honored for the opportunity of joining Charlie's team, and I look forward to sharing my sonic madness with them! 

My journey to now has been an amazing one, and I credit Trip Brock as one of the individuals who has been instrumental in getting me where I am today.  Monkeyland Audio provided an amazingly creative springboard for me, allowing me the chance to wear many hats throughout my career there.

Edit 4, my home for many years
At Monkeyland, I grew to be more than just a sound editor.  I developed into a more compete storyteller, a problem solver, a collaborator, a copywriter, a blogger, a social media liaison, a Post Lab-er, an award nomination submitter, and on a few occasions, a speech maker.

With Trip and the Monkeyland crew, I won two Golden Reel Awards, and was nominated for several others over the last few years.  Recently, we were honored by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a Primetime Emmy nomination for our work on SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden.  Overall, I'd say these last ten years as a Monkey have been quite successful ones, and a little Emmy nod seems to be the most incredible way to wrap up this decade with my beloved crew.

THE HUNDRED - Coming Soon to the CW Network
Indeed, 2013 has turned out to be one interesting year.  One hell of a year.  A year of flux and anxious anticipation.  Lots of highlights, a number of ups, many downs, and memories to last a lifetime.  I look back at my Monkey years with fondness, but I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that tomorrow will have in store.

As always, I send out my positive thoughts and blessings to all my friends in sound.  To the Monkeyland crew, keep up the great work.  I hope to work with you all again in the future!  And to Charlie and the WB crew, I hope to meet and surpass your expectations.
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