In this instalment of Meet the Creatives, we speak to sound recordist James Chatwin. He tells us how his reputation as ‘the audio wiz’ at uni led to work in stunning locations worldwide, and why no one will notice when he excels at his job…
James Chatwin is a freelance sound recordist bases in the South West of England. He works across documentary, commercial and scripted drama. His latest credits include Netflix’s Bridgerton, ITV’s Ibiza Weekender and Armoury Films Most Rewarding Journey.
What do you do?
It varies from job to job, but overall I am responsible for bringing sync sound to moving image. When working in scripted drama, I am often assisting some of the industries veteran sound mixers, with responsibilities including; boom operating, rigging stages, tuning radio transmitters, managing time code and coms. On the odd occasion I get to mix drama productions too! The majority of my work is ENG/ PSC recording, where I work ‘out the bag’ as a solo recordist. The same skills apply but are utilised in a different way.
How did you get started?
I started working in motion picture sound at University when I took a module on sound design. After working on a few student films I developed a reputation as ‘the audio wiz’. Falmouth University had recently invested in industry standard kit for location and post production sound. I was lucky enough to have a few years of using the kit and learning from some great technicians. After leaving university, I worked at TwoFour broadcast for 6 months. I was employed as a researcher but would often record on their shows. I learnt a lot working in factual entertainment and in 2017 I decided to leave the company and work on a freelance basis.
What do you like about it?
I get to travel around a lot, meet cool people and work on interesting projects.
Sound recording highlight?
In my work I’ve been to Germany, Ibiza and Nepal. A personal highlight was flying around the Himalayas in a helicopter recording on a commercial documentary. Its also always nice to see my name in Film and TV credits!
What type of productions use sound recordist?
Every production will benefit with specialists in each department. You can always tell when something has been shot without a recordist (or at least someone monitoring sound). Being freelance, it can be hard at times trying to get productions to hire you – especially with the ‘prosumer’ market making recording equipment accessible to most people. In my experience, the best productions will strive to have all their departments crewed with professionals, rather than stretching crew across multiple roles.
What can it add to a production?
Good sound recording often goes unnoticed, which is kind of the point. If the audience were to hear poor audio recordings or bad sound design it would be distracting and shatter the illusion of continuity. Sound adds so much to the peripherals of moving image, which most people will interpret in accordance with the on screen action. The important most important thing it that the overall audio/visual product sounds natural and coherent.
In the next instalment of Meet the Creatives, we speak to award-winning director and producer Junaid Faiz. He talks university mistakes, gaining recognition from Hollywood, and ‘Sticks’ — his ambitious and surreal short film, shot in a single day…