It’s Sound Check! with Gavin Repton
Music and soundscapes are what initially interested me to get into sound for film. When I was younger I enjoyed playing on MIDI keyboards, using drum machines, software synths to make soundscapes that could bring emotion and make you feel a certain way. I studied a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television at university and wanted to focus on audio since then – I found then that working in audio was better suited to my personality and there was also more opportunity in this area at that time! After uni it took years of working on many short films with friends for the love of it (and the potential of success in the future), then low pay, to gradually building up an audio kit and gradually working on some bigger shoots. I was fortunate to work on an ABC television series called ‘The Heights’ in 2018 with a great audio team where I was then able to learn a lot more skills and work at a very different pace. Since then I’ve been working out of Perth on feature films, television drama, documentary and TVCs. I’ve had some great opportunities that I’ve taken head on and during that time learnt off some great sound recordists and friends that have all helped pave the way for me to be able to continue to work in this industry!
In 2018, I worked on a feature film called ‘H is for Happiness’ – that was probably the most memorable project for me so far. It was a family film with a good budget, friendly cast and crew, I had my first professional boom operator Andy Newton come and join me which I was able to learn a lot from him too. We filmed for 6 weeks in Albany with a great cast, with great performances, Wes Anderson style cinematography, and it turned out to be a wholesome movie at the end – also with no ADR! Working as a location sound recordist has given me many memories, experiences and taken me to many places that I constantly feel like I’m having out of body experiences. “Is this really happening?” is what I feel a lot of the time when you have put a radio mic on the talent, and you get to be a fly to the wall for the next few hours listening and watching something happen in real time – some surreal experiences. Some other experiences include flying a drone while two cameras are filming scenes at the same time as monitoring radio mics in heat, dust, flies of the outback. Also doing production mixing of a scene with 12 radio microphones on actors on a multi-cam television series is another. While filming a presenter talking to one camera with just one radio mic in a cool location is the other side of the spectrum!
If I wasn’t working in sound, I reckon I’d still be trying to work in a creative industry, though it’s not something I like to think about.
If I could have worked on any soundtrack in history, it would be a classic war movie like Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket. They are both epic films that would have been great to be a part of – that would have been one hell of an experience to work on those films in any capacity.
I’ve been given a lot of great advice and tips, but some great film industry and location sound advice is that “we’re not saving lives”. When everything is going against you in the pursuit of capturing good location audio – sometimes you just must accept that it can’t always be perfect and you can’t get too upset about it and have got to move on!