Danetracks brought me to the US to be First Assistant on "The Raven". It was an interesting and enjoyable experience. Working under Eric Lindemann, I learnt new ways to explore the skill set I'd developed in London.
In early July of 2011, I met with Richard Burnette while on hiatus from the show. He expressed interest in bringing me back into the CSS-Studios family as a mix technician (recordist as it's called in the US) and I told him that it wasn't something I'd done before but I was happy to learn.
In October that year once I'd wrapped up on The Raven, David Gould (then Avid now Dolby) set me up with Ozzie Sutherland for some System 5 training. Ozzie took me through the S5 and introduced me to the "mix condom", a system of buss limiting that Todd AO had adopted as part of most setups.
Richard set me up to shadow Robert Althoff, recordist on Stage 2 Hollywood while he was working on "Chronicle". Robert set me in great standing with his summation of experience from his career. I'd like to think it was a mutually beneficial experience but you'd have to ask him about that.
Nancy Mendoza (Stropkai) was able to find a genius way to obtain a work visa for me to be employed in the US that wasn't going to take months of back and forth and meant I could start working soon after.
On January 16 2012, I began my first job as mix technician on dialog pre dubs for "The Hunger Games" with Mike Prestwood Smith. Having worked with Mike a lot in the UK it was a very friendly introduction to the role and there was Lon too, who on that first day turned to me and said "You know, Ceri, with that British accent you just sound more intelligent". I took it as a compliment whether he meant it that way or not.
My second job was a 1 day temp mix on "The Dictator" where we needed to get through 2 versions of the movie in one day. It was not a smooth experience. Andy Koyama was incredibly patient and supportive of me failing spectacularly at running the room. We made it through though and my next time working with him later that year would go much better.
The months that followed brought many different shows and mixers, different rooms, styles, scales and workflows. The first time working with Mike Wilhoit, who had been supervisor on some of my favorite movies of all time, it has been a joy to continue working with Mike up till the very last mix on a number of stages over the last couple of months. Joe Barnett and Chris Minkler were the mixers for "End of Watch", the first major feature that I did Predubs, Final mix and Printmasters on. The editor for that show? Dody Dorn who had cut Kingdom of Heaven, my first show in the industry.
Joe Barnett and Marshall Garlington were meant to be the mix team that I was to work with primarily but as it turned out in the 2 years since, we've not done that many films as that team. I've worked with Joe a lot and Marshall a lot too but rarely together. We were however all in the foxhole for "What to Expect When You're Expecting" a romantic comedy that would result in the longest single day that I've worked in my career, a 57 hour marathon. It encompassed an Easter weekend and resulted in one heck of a payday. It was also during this time that Per Hallberg recommended me to Peter Brown as a Brit accent for Game of Thrones, I would end up being a regular voice extra.
Then there was Mike Minkler. There's not a lot to be said about Mike that hasn't been said and awarded many times before. However, he is an artist. His console setup is designed for ultimate efficiency. He just seems to feel where everything is, working with him blew my mind. I still have no idea how he knew what was on which tracks on the track lay without looking away from the big screen, I had the tracks in front of me and he was kicking my ass. Working with Mike and his mix partner Tony Lamberti was an extraordinary experience. Everything that I thought I knew was challenged and refined. The show wasn't the best but the experience was awesome, it wouldn't be the last time.
In June of 2012, David Young thrust me into the mind of the editors at Soundelux once more. Pro Tools version 10 had been released about 8 months earlier and the transition to that new version was almost complete. David put me forward to give a demonstration and explanation of the new features and functions of Pro Tools 10. It gave me an opportunity to gain the trust of those I'd not worked with before. It was also good because a very quiet time was coming up and it would be my last pay day for nearly two months.
In August 2012, Onna Lee Blank would step in and save me from near bankruptcy. She had a few shows that she needed a tech for and requested me. They didn't last long but came at just the right time to bridge a very long slow period.
In October, my path would cross with a number of mixers for the first time. Kevin O'Connell was the first, we had a one day demonstration mix for the Metallica movie on Stage 1 Lantana. It might have been the first time I'd seen the inputs to the desk pushing into the red, it was loud! Awesome fun but ouch. The next was Marc Fishman, we were doing dialog pre dubs on Chronicles of Riddick, I think in the first reel there were 4 grunts and a voiceover. I know that my setup took longer than the reel took to pre dub.
By December 2012, I was back working with Andy Koyama and Beau Borders on the first temp mix for Carrie. It was my first time working with Karen Baker-Landers, one of the loveliest supervisors you'll ever meet. This experience was vastly smoother than my first time with Andy something that I was incredibly happy about. What a difference 10 months makes.
Don't worry this is all going somewhere…!!