Our thanks to Tom Kenny and the staff at Mix Magazine, Tom McCarthy and the team at Sony, and all of the attendees of the Sound for Film & TV for their gracious reception during Wylie's keynote at the annual Sound for Film &TV event hosted by Sony.
Most audio people pursue show business because they connect with sound. Working in sound is not a random choice. It is a passion; a lifestyle.
Today I am going to share with you the four most important words of advice ever given to me by a mentor. It came from a director, producer, writer and showrunner. His name is William H. Brown. Bill would say that when a director, producer or virtually anyone on the production asks you for your opinion, whatever the question is, the answer should always begin with “in terms of sound”.  
~In terms of sound, we add intensity, rhythms, and all manners of acoustical style.
~In terms of sound, we can reach out and literally touch the audience. Sound heightens the senses and gives additional context to picture.
~In terms of sound, we can help an actor's performance.
~In terms of sound, we can make creatures big and small into believable, dynamic characters.
When film directors ask: “What do you think of the script?” They are not really asking you about the script. They are seeking input about how it might be imagined by an expert in sound. You might say: “Well, in terms of sound, I hear multiple themes,” or “In terms of sound, I see these as pivotal moments, or worthy of exploring beats.”
If picture editors ask: “How do you feel about the pacing, or the visual effects?” They are not asking you about the cut. The answer should always be: “Well, in terms of sound….”  
I went on to collaborate on more than 20 feature films with Bill, starting with John Hughes’ Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, then moving seamlessly onto The Doors, JFK, and Natural Born Killers for Oliver Stone. With genuine thanks to those directors, their great bodies of work became the heart of my early creative resume and development as a sound professional. Bill Brown’s advice helped me articulate my thoughts and always direct the conversation towards sound.
This journey brings us to today's keynote, in which I offer this room a big picture idea for achieving respect in terms of sound: the “Sound DP/D.”
DP/D stands for Director, Producer, Designer – that is “Sound Director”, “Sound Producer” and “Sound Designer”. This idea is a compilation of three very different mindsets, and the result of my one hundred thousand hours of in-the-thick-of-it industry experience. Many talented people are trained in only certain specific aspects of sound. Connecting the DP/D dots will help you to form the bigger picture. Doing so serves to validate the importance of sound to filmmakers and studio decision makers.
The sound director is a role that begins where it should – in pre-production. It involves breaking down the script, studying the shooting schedule, outlining sound-related action moments, and building an audio-specific mission list. The sound director discusses big picture expectations with all applicable department heads, and consults regularly with the production mixer, editorial, sound designers, and final re-recording mix teams.
In terms of sound, every film project has some kind of novel idea at its core. It is the sound director’s job to pitch a sonic vision to the director and the editor, refine it, and guide the sound team towards those goals. This involves considering the entire process in sequence.
As an example, I was in charge of sound on Wolfgang Petersen’s film “The Perfect Storm”. Early concerns included how the production was going to navigate shooting on location versus on a stage and how these decisions would affect the sound. Huge set piece action scenes were shot entirely indoors – imagine the challenges. We shot in a dump tank on Stage 20 at Warner Bros. An olympic-size swimming pool could be spilled on the set at will, flooding everyone and every piece of equipment. Recording was obviously going to be a technical problem. Making the film feel as though it took place on the open ocean was a challenge that would have to be addressed by visual effects and sound, shot-by-shot, throughout post. The issue here is that the film director does not always have to think – in terms of sound. The sound director does. So does the sound producer.
While nobody makes a movie just to save money, sound producers manage the cost of creative opportunities against their budgetary draw down. From the sound producer’s point of view, filmmaking is a business, perhaps not in its heart but for sure in its execution. We should never forget, they call this show business, not show friends or show patience, and definitely not show restraint. A well-managed sound department is a beautiful thing and a worthwhile insurance policy. Standing up for good sound at the start saves money downstream. Solving problems early brings creative relief when most needed – at the finish line.
Sound producers must be precise communicators. They discuss schedules daily with the production team and continue until the project is delivered. They are the keepers of the ”sound” calendar. Using “R.B.S.” (i.e., Reality-Based Scheduling), you eliminate “B.S.” scheduling. Sound producers are accountable in real-time, making scheduling adjustments that reflect what is happening in the production, in post, and throughout the final sound deliverables process.
Sound producing also means advocating on behalf of the sound team. This means protecting the financial options available for solving sound-related problems, and protecting the creatives’ need to “call an audible” from the trenches.
The final “D” in “Sound DP/D” stands for sound designer. This part of the sound making process emphasizes the creative presentation.
As a sound designer, for years I have been working with teams experimenting with a process we call “Post 2.0”. It starts with “ABC”, always be cutting, and then “ABM”, always be mixing. These two things seem self-explanatory and yet, can be approached very differently by different people.
Every sound designer will be asked at various points to deliver temp mixes – not rough mixes. This means “ABP”, always be prepared to version out a sound track that demonstrates the full dynamic range and spatial capabilities of the sound team’s creative work. Approvals will take place wherever the client wishes: on a laptop, at an audience preview, in the cutting room, screening room, or large unforgiving theater. Your process should be flexible enough to readily accommodate these changing needs.
Whether you are making sound for film, television or streaming media, you are involved in the process of creating sound, and the business of finishing it. International localization is the final challenging sound issue. Key issues to understand include:
~Will localized language be recorded in territory?
~How will it be mixed?
~Will the international recording work be supervised?
~Most importantly, is it creatively consistent with the “OV”,  the filmmaker’s original vision.  
It is a business – your business, my friends.
Sound is a form of art, governed by science and subjectivity, worthy of individual recognition, elevated compensation, and respect. There is an art to making movies, and quite possibly, a lesser appreciated art to finishing them.
Mixers are transforming themselves into great sound designers. Sound designers are becoming excellent mixers. There is a new seamless workflow now possible. Work your skills. Refine your taste. Be brave. Be curious. Be open-minded. Whether you’re looking at new content, new software or a new piece of equipment, acquire every edge and work to sharpen it. Own the title of the “Sound DP”, or “Sound Designer”, and make it work for your clients.  
Ordinary people focus entirely on outcome; extraordinary people focus much of their time on process. Define these processes for yourself.
Manufacturing content, working in show biz, making movies…it is a wild and wonderful ride.
Never forget to enjoy it.
Back to Top