INTERVIEW

Richard Simms - Sound Recordist

Richard Simms – Answer our questions!

What is your background and how did you get in to your profession? I started working in Sound Recording way back in 1995, fresh from completing a Btec in Media Studies at South Bristol College. One of my lecturers put my name forward for a trainee position with a small Independent TV company in South Wales. It was all on the job training and I was thrown in at the deep end but it was a great way to learn. I worked as the Sound Recordist alongside the Cameraman as a two-man crew that would be hired out to cover anything from news feeds to short films. For a 19 year old it was a great opportunity and gave me the chance to learn skills in an area that I found very fascinating.

How did your involvement with Horizon come about? I worked on a short film in October 2013 and met Paul and Layan. Paul was the DoP and we struck up a good working relationship throughout the shoot. I also reminded him that I attended one of his earliest film premiers – (‘Den of Thieves’) around about 1994 and we also shared a connection in both completing courses at South Bristol College. Paul mentioned something about a Sci-fi web series based in Bristol and asked if I’d be interested in doing the Sound. I didn’t realize then the huge scale of the project but I was very happy to have been asked to get involved.

What is your process? How do you approach each episode or shot? What is my process? Is quite difficult for a Soundie as usually on most sets the sound is often overlooked or an after thought. I think my approach when shooting is a simple one: Always be ready. No one will wait if the Sound guy isn’t ready when the action starts. I watch and listen to what is going on around me so that I am there, focused and ready to go when the Director wants to shoot. I’m looking out for potential issues that might hinder me from getting my Mic in close and I’ll always speak my mind if there is a problem.

‘Horizon’ Episodes were made up of a variety of locations and each one offered different challenges for all involved but what stood out from everyone was the professional approach we all took to get the job done and that’s how I approach anytime spent on set – be professional – though I do like the odd giggle here and there!!

What software/hardware do you use and why? When it comes to kit I’m a little old school and most often than not I use an SQN Mixer with a 416 Sennheiser Gun Mic and boom pole. This is tried and tested gear and its what I was trained on way back in 95! It’s uncomplicated, robust and never really lets you down. It’s also very versatile which is exactly what we needed on ‘Horizon’ as the locations changed so much – one moment your recording sound outside on the top of a multi-storey car park in the centre of Bristol and then an hour or so later you’re recording inside a small cellar – the shooting of ‘Horizon’ was fast and furious and the kit needed had to be reliable and stand up to the demands of such an ambitious shoot.

What does sound bring to the episode? Sound always punches above its weight because it is the easiest and cheapest way to add really great production values to any production. We had some really dedicated and great Actors involved with the show and sound helps to bring their Characters to life by allowing the audience to follow the story through the dialogue shared onscreen. I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face but sound is as important as any other part of film making and on this show it’s probably more so because of the story being told – An Alien invasion! I did the location Sound Recording but I know how much fun and depth the Post Production Sound work of Alex Hudd and Josh Wynter’s Score has added to the overall scale of the show. Bad sound can destroy a show but get it right then it will help blend everything together.

What have you learnt during the time working on the show? The greatest thing I’ve taken with me from working on the show is that anything is possible. If you have the desire and passion then you can achieve great things. ‘Horizon’ really is evidence of how dedication and talent can come together to create original content. It was such a pleasure to have been part of the whole production. Don’t get me wrong, the schedule was pretty tough going and relentless but it showed me that I can not only survive something of this scale but I can be an effective member of a crew that achieves what it sets out to do. It took me out of my comfort zone, pushed me to my limits but at the end of the day it taught me so much and gave me some wonderful memories, which is what its all about. Boom!

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