Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The sound of ...

I'm sure many people think about what they could be doing if they had a chance to try something else.

I was riding along today on the bicycle in the sun along Canberra's fabulous bike paths (except for that little bit near the Street Theatre where ANU has bastardly removed the whole bike path and any sign of a footpath and mounted a fence across to the street with a sign that says 'pedestrians' with an arrow pointing to the middle of the road. grrrr....) and thinking about the fact that I seem to be moving along a very artsy-fartsy career path, and that if I wanted to change track quite radically, I'd probably be too old to be taken seriously in my new vocation. I mean, anyone can become an artist or writer at any age. Look at Rosalie Gascoigne or Elizabeth Jolley, or even frigging Matthew Riley! But it's a different thing doing the entire reskilling in something industry-related. It seems you need to be between 25 and 35 to get anywhere these days.

If I could go right back and start again, career-wise, I'd like to be a Foley artist. I flirt with this idea every few years, just because I like listening to odd sounds with my eyes shut and imagining other uses for the sounds. It's a great thing to do when you're bored, because you can change even boring old house creaks into a sci fi movie. Just don't let your imagination run away with you, or you might start visualising really scarey things from very innocent sounds!

I didn't know you could get paid for such thoughts (or just didn't think seriously about it) until I saw a documentary on the making of Star Wars where the foley guy was talking about walking near a high-tension cable bridge and hearing the cables hum in the wind. He got his tape-recorder thingy (I'm sure it's more complex than just a tape-recorder, but hey, it was 1976 when he did it, so maybe not) and recorded the sounds, then used them for one of the spaceships moving through space. My wee brain just flipped. Imagine being paid to walk around and record fun sounds for future use in movies?

Along this thought train (sorry about the near derailment up there), did anyone see those marvellous people who used to come to groovy cinemas like Valhalla and Electric Shadows and show old movies with alternate sound effects? There was, of course, the inimitable and tragically undone Blue Grassy Knoll, who would play their own bluegrass compositions to Buster Keaton movies, but there was another mob in the early 1990s who would show old cowboy movies and black&white space hero movies like Buck Rogers and stand up the front under the screen and play their own live sound effects. They really were impressive.

But, I shall stay on track with a life of books and just think about what can be done with odd noises, thus avoiding all of that film industry pressure and kerfuffle.

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