Performing Arts Scholar – Drama, In Honour of Tom Gunning
Stage Management and Sound Design
Sound exists everywhere around us, and so too does the fundamental concept of sound design: ‘layered sounds to create a scene’.
Whether it be inside a home, or outdoors sounds are layered for our ears to receive, and thus, generally what we see – or expect to see – is what we hear. However sound design itself – and what interests me about sound design – can play a role in altering this for the listener.
Sound design at its core can create, add or remove a world of opportunities for the listener. An often-overlooked sense, sound can provide our ears with as much stimulus as our eyes, transporting the listener to another world and removing them from reality, albeit for a short moment in time. It’s this base concept that fuels my passion for sound design and how we use sound in our everyday life.
One field I am passionate about is documenting and telling true Australian stories. Through an opportunity such as studying abroad I would have the opportunity to be immersed in companies whose have mastered this art, and thus provide successful and innovative ways to do so.
Whilst overseas I will endeavour to learn several innovative techniques emerging in recent times. These include the use of live foley and composition as a performative element in theatre along with the incorporation binaural sound techniques – simulated distance and space through headphones – used in both pure audio productions, i.e. podcasts and radio plays as well as live theatre.
Through my BBM Scholarship I seek to gain key industry and professional knowledge from experienced leaders in their respective field in the UK, USA and Europe and learn the effective techniques and strategies used in the conceptual and realisation phases of productions. In doing so, I endeavour to return with significant knowledge into the innovation used in modern audio production, both technologically and conceptually:
Gimlet – An award-winning narrative podcast company, Gimlet produces content ranging from stories, to factual deep-dives, to children’s content. As such, Gimlet would provide the perfect atmosphere to learn the intricacies of several different forms of storytelling and how different innovative sound techniques and styles can aid these. Gimlet strives to create content that is not only enjoyable, but also tells true, raw stories, and as such, having a skill to do so would provide beneficial in increasing the level of accessibility to genuine, raw Australian stories through audio, and in-turn sustaining and growing new Australian dramatic work.
Big Finish – A leader in the field of modern-day radio plays, Big Finish produce full length audio dramas ranging from Doctor Who to original work. Big Finish utilises voiceover, composition and sound design to create a purely sound driven creative work. One of the oldest sound mediums, radio plays have stood the test of time, and Big Finish’s innovative storytelling is a testament to that. Learning from such a company would not only provide an insight into innovative practices of the genre, but also ways in which the medium is made sustainable and distributed around the world.
Foley Walkers – Leaders in the field of foley, sound design and SFX, ‘foley walkers’ work on a wide range of mediums. Their experienced composers, sound designers and foley artists would provide a wealth of knowledge into the art of foley and post-production sound design.
Paul Gatehouse – Paul Gatehouse is an accomplished theatrical sound designer, mixer and post-production engineer based in the UK. Paul-s experience with new work along with re-invigorating old work has pushed him to the top of his practice, using modern technical systems in his workflow along with innovative sound design techniques and practices. Paul’s work with re-designing older performances would be a highly valuable asset to study from, allowing me to bring back techniques pivotal in re-kindling interest in existing theatrical titles, in-turn allowing me to be a part of the resurgence, sustainability and growth of the Australian theatre landscape by playing a hand in rejuvenating old work.
Personally, I have a keen interest in the way sound plays a role in live theatre and how the integration of live foley, sound effects and composition, much like an actor, is a performative element. Based on my experience, in the Australian performing arts industry this is an under-explored area and with deeper tutelage from experienced industry leaders, I believe it could be further developed in live theatre and provide a whole new style of innovation. Similarly, SFX recording techniques learnt from a company such as Foley Walkers would allow me to bring back a wider knowledge base on professional recording techniques and provide a springboard for the creation of an SFX library to compliment my future ambitions.
With these placements I seek to learn the processes that lead to success and innovation in their areas, in-turn bringing back these ideas and implementing them into mine my own, and hopefully others’ practices in the Australian performing arts industry.
Coming back to the Australian sound industry, I seek to join a likeminded company that specialises in these fields and help in implementing these techniques and systems in order to grow the Australian standard of audio production to equal that of the rest of the world.
This experience I gain will enable me as a sound designer to work creatively across a variety of mediums, and thus it’s my goal to help develop new and innovative work that tells true Australian stories across a wide variety of genres and mediums.
This knowledge would be key in aiding my ambitions of developing radio plays of traditional and new work, and in doing so, applying these successful practices in order to sustain the creative sound industry in Australia, along with fuelling my future ambitions of education and accessibility to audio-based material, in-turn sustaining the newest generation of sound designers.
Through my secondments I seek to explore the techniques employed in sound design for theatre, podcasting and post-production. Professionally, I want to become a sound designer who has skills in areas of composition, mixing and recording techniques and apply my skills not only to professional work, but also work that benefits others. I believe it’s important for the new generation of creative storytellers to be afforded opportunities for them to explore the industry and thus, in the long term I will look at not only at providing educational opportunities, but also opportunities that provide others with something they wouldn’t normally have, in this case, sound. I have certain ideas of how this may be brought into fruition, however I am still developing these.
Professionally I seek to work in the theatre and podcasting sector of the arts industry, working on both mixing as well as sound design. At a base level it’s my goal to become a core member of an Australian based podcasting company apart of the sound design and mixing departments. During additional secondments in Australia I will seek to work in these teams and continue to develop my skills in order to join companies that encompass audio production in Australia.
Having worked on a variety of theatrical shows in and outside of NIDA, both as a sound engineer and a designer, I will continue to explore these opportunities throughout my practice and secondments. As I continue to develop my practice, I strive to incorporate variety and innovation as much as possible, creating new ideas and sparking interest in sound design for theatre.
Long-term, my goals are similar; however, I seek to further develop my ideas on educational opportunities for emerging artists. One important factor that I myself have seen in my sound production is the access to sounds and resources, and thus, I have loose ideas on developing a sound resource library for educational purposes in-order to once again help foster the next generation of sound designers. I believe as my experience grows in the field, so too will my future ambitions with regards to this. Ideas around this sound library also include recording and developing a library of purely Australian sounds which, from my experience are underrepresented in the audio field.
Throughout my career so far I have been afforded the opportunity to watch and learn from leaders in the field of audio in Australia – primarily audio engineering. In doing so, I’ve developed the philosophy that, as good as you at your practice, so to do you need to give back and support fellow practitioners. Thinking about this, I continue to develop ideas about how I can give back to both other practitioners and the next generation of sound designers and engineers.
Before current events around the closure of gatherings I was booked to return to my high school and undertake several classes with their performing arts department. Classes would have ranged from sound design and music composition to the fundamentals of sound technology and hardware. Overall, my main goal with this set of classes was to not only inspire but also promote the industry for the new age of innovation. This is something I will continue to pursue and try to evolve as I continue in the industry as I believe it’s imperative that, much like knowledge was shared with me, I share my knowledge.
Currently, I have several long term and short-term plans devised in order for me to give back and support those around me. These include building a sound library developed solely from Australian sounds, including iconic Australian wildlife and nature as well as everyday sounds. Such a platform would allow for future sound designers to have easy access to a wide variety of specifically Australian sounds and make producing Australian location-based work easier.
“Zacchary reveals ambition and a dedication to a theatrical specialism. […] He has, thorough research, connected with and planned a solid programme whilst overseas and has strong ideas about what he could contribute and how the industry could develop.” – BBM Industry Panel