Sound mixer Stuart Wilson

Sound mixer Stuart Wilson

Job title: Sound mixer
Industries: Film/TV

Stuart Wilson is an Oscar-nominated production sound mixer, who has worked on many feature films including Cinderella, Edge of Tomorrow , World War Z, most of the Harry Potter  franchise, and recently Solo: A Star Wars Story

Describe your job in your own words

I am a production sound mixer, recording sound for film and television.

How did you get into the industry?

There were four steps for me getting into the industry. Firstly, by knocking on doors and doing short films either for free or for a small amount of money.

Secondly, by getting onto the Scottish Film Training Trust scheme. This was a one-year course including one week in a studio and placements on film shoots at the end of which I received my union ticket.  Before applying to the Scottish Film Training Trust course, I applied to the National Film and Television School but at the age of 19, with all the other applicants being three or four years older, I was told by the head of sound I was too young.

Thirdly, I did one-year assisting, booming and recording on light entertainment, corporate and documentaries, which is an area I became quickly disenchanted with.

Fourthly, I successfully applied to do sound at the National Film and Television School. Going to the NFTS and then concentrating on feature films were the two best decisions I've made so far.

What training or education did you find most useful?

The most useful training has definitely been assisting other sound mixers and learning from them. You can learn a great deal from practical experience. 

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Punctuality. Constantly strive to improve your standards. Determination.

Start at the bottom and work your way up. You need to try out the industry as a whole; it may not be the life for you. If you find that it is, get on some short courses or training schemes as these are helpful in focusing your skills.

The industry now seems to be much more of a free for all. There are more people working at the bottom of the industry to a lower standard primarily because low budget film making is more accessible and people don't hire sound recordists as they think they can do it themselves or with someone who has little experience but who is cheap.

This is partly due to less availability of on the job training, as there are fewer films and less opportunities for structured practical training. When I started in Scotland, it was still necessary to have a union ticket, which ensured a certain level of quality. Having said that there seems to have been an explosion in other areas of training, such as short courses which is invaluable.

How do you keep up with your industry?

I am a member of the Institute of Professional Sound and the Association of Motion Picture Sound, both of which hold meetings and seminars where I can chat to other sound people about advances in technology and tricks they have picked up on the way. I also do this via the internet where there are problem solving chat rooms for members.

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