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Garret Farrell - Sound Re-Recording Mixer
28 Jan 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
Garret Farrell spent seven years mixing sound in Galway before joining Screen Scene, one of Ireland’s major post production and visual effects facilities. Since then, Garrett has been working in the post-production sound department for many national and international feature films and television series. His credits include TV series ‘Raw’, ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel’, ‘Vikings’, ‘Ripper Street’ and ‘Game of Thrones.’ He has also worked on feature films ‘Albert Nobbs’, ‘The Last Days on Mars’, ‘Mister John’, ‘Kelly + Victor’ and ‘The Summit.’ He has been nominated for three IFTAs and won for Best Sound for ‘Citadel’ in 2013.

How did Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology prepare you for your career in post-production in sound?
“I joined the GMIT Film and Television course on its inaugural year. In that respect, it was a learning curve for both students and lecturers. We were all finding our feet in both deciding what the scope of the course was and how we could practically utilise the equipment available to us from the Galway Film Centre in our film making. Every student worked on each other’s films in a different capacity – as director, on sound, editing, etc. In this way, I learned what each job entailed and it really gave me a great insight into the thought process of each different department. That has helped me to this day.
“In particular I specialised in sound and editing which I believe are inextricably linked. For me, a good picture editor always has their eye (and ear!) on how the soundtrack is going to underpin the visual. More often than not when I receive something from an inexperienced editor, this tends not to be the case and sometimes we can run into unforeseen problems. Having done both on the course I can see where solutions are possible and issues can be fixed.”

Were you offered practical experience/work placement/work experience as part of your course? If you were, how did it benefit you?
“As it was the first year of the course, work placement around Galway was scarce but we all had a tendency and passion to do our own work outside the college curriculum. We would all meet up and come up with ideas for films and documentaries and then assign ourselves to the departments and just go out for some guerilla film making! There is nothing like learning on the job and flying by the seat of your pants to get you focused! Some of the wannabe directors also got to attend the Moonstone Labs which were held in the summer I believe.”

What areas in training for film/TV production do you feel are lacking? What improvements could be made?
“There is always room for more courses! What I actually think is lacking is a course for directors on the importance of sound to their film. What I see a lot is sound getting side-lined on set and little to no thought going into it in the editing process either, Some people see it as purely a technical thing that just needs to be ticked off at the end when in reality, I would say it is of equal importance to the film as the picture (with exceptions on both sides). There is nothing more off-putting to an audience than poor sound! An audience will put up with poor pictures if the story and sound are engaging but it doesn't matter how amazing your visuals are – if the audience is struggling with horrible sound it won't be long before they switch off! Remember the old saying: ‘Sound without picture is radio; picture without sound means a technical problem!’”

How did you make the transition from education to paid employment?
“I was very lucky. As I was in Galway, there was really only one post production company to work for and that was Telegael. I popped my CV in and I got a call. I was to start dubbing the cartoons into Irish for TG4. Perfect, except I had no Irish. I didn't let that stop me though! I did that for about a year while devouring any audio books I could get my hands on and researching on the internet basically learning anything I could about audio and mixing so that if I got the call up to mix something, I would be ready to impress! And I did get the call up. Impress I did not! But I obviously did a passable job as I was allowed to continue to mix. I didn't really look back then. I worked there for seven years mixing animations for the American market. We did the full sound post on all of these animations and a few of them even won Emmy awards so that was a proud moment for everyone involved. I also mixed a whole assortment of dramas, documentaries and cookery shows. It was a fantastic learning experience.”

What are you currently working on?
“I just finished mixing Ripper Street for BBC. It is a fantastic show and a lot of fun sound-wise as we were creating Victorian London and sound is always a crucial element to the believability of period dramas. Hopefully it will return!”

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