23 May 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Interview with Mark Henry – Sound Mixer of ‘Corp & Anam’ and ‘Love/Hate’
11 Dec 2014 : Seán Brosnan
Based in Windmill Lane’s Number 4 Sound Recording Studios since leaving college, sound mixer Mark Henry has amassed an impressive filmography over the past 14 years.

With an IFTA award to his name for his work on the documentary ‘Am an Ghátair’, Mark has also worked on acclaimed Irish television shows such as ‘Moone Boy’, ‘An Bronntanas’ and the award-winning ‘Love/Hate’, plus ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel’.

His most recent contribution has been to TG4’s drama ‘Corp & Anam’, which goes out on Thursday nights at 9.30pm. IFTN talks to Mark about his work on the show, as well as his IFTA-nominated work on ‘Love/Hate’.

IFTN: Tell us about your work on your ‘Corp & Anam’ and ‘Love/Hate’?

MARK HENRY: ‘I've been lucky to be involved in both series as they really are a pleasure to work on, different experiences but both rewarding in their own way. ‘Corp & Anam’ is a collaborative effort with the director Darach who gives us feedback and notes right from the start, from the effects edit right up to the last minutes of the final mix. The guys from ‘Love Hate’ tend to give us some key pointers for each episode, let us go ahead and do our thing and then give us final notes after a screening. It's the same sound team on both shows - Fiadhnait McCann, Fionan Higgins and myself - so we've built up a good understanding and workflow over the years.

What training/education did you receive to get into Sound?

‘I did a Masters in Music Technology course at the University of Limerick with the idea of getting into music engineering as I've always been a huge music fan. So I spent as much time as I could in the studio there, recording awful sounding demos for bands or recording music for my final year composition. Along the way I learned the basics of how to work the mixing desk and operate Pro Tools so that helped when I went looking for work.’

What was your first job in the industry?

‘This is my first job! The great Paddy Gibbons was good/dumb enough to hire me here at Number 4 over 14 years ago and they haven't been able to move me since! I started as an assistant and gradually learned on the job from Paddy until I could handle sessions on my own. I had some very limited work experience setting up live PA’s and sitting in with a theatrical sound engineer before that but I think those experiences just re-enforced my belief that I was more suited to the studio.’

What do you enjoy most about being in the Sound Department? And what do you consider the greatest challenges?

‘I think I enjoy the fact that every day is completely unique the most. Given the many different types of work we do, we're constantly on our toes so it's nearly impossible to get bored. We have a great team here at Number 4 which has grown from only four of us when I started out to a team of 15 today so along with the variety of projects, it's great to be surrounded by so many talented people who are all so into their work.’

‘I'm sure you could say the same of any part of the industry but I guess time is always the greatest challenge - trying to get the work to a standard you're happy with in the allocated time isn't always easy.’

Describe your typical working day and the equipment you use.

‘It really depends - as well as dramas and features I work on TV and radio commercials, documentaries, animations, ADR recording... so it's always changing. While working on a drama or feature for example, there are essentially two parts to the process, pre-mixing and mixing. If I'm pre-mixing then I'll be working alone, going through the dialogue, effects and music with a fine tooth comb, removing any unwanted frequencies from the dialogue, making foley and ADR sound like they're in the same room as the production audio and so on. Basically getting all the elements into shape so they can stand on their own if needs be. Then at the final mixing stage I get together with the sound supervisor, director and producers and balance it all together in a way that best tells the story, scene by scene. We work on Pro Tools HD, pretty much exclusively in the box bar a few outboard compressors and a mic preamp. It suits our set up here as we need to be able to move sessions from room to room - this way we know all of the relevant settings and plug-ins for each project will remain intact.’

What filmmaker/Sound Mixer has influenced you?

‘Ben Burtt, Randy Thom and Gary Rydstrom are all amazing sound editors/mixers whose work I would have admired over the years. I've listened to talks with Burtt and Thom where they discuss audio for film and it they're both incredibly articulate on the subject.’

What Irish film or TV show would you have loved to have worked on?

‘I guess ‘Adam and Paul’ would have to be up there…anything by Lenny Abrahamson in fact! ‘Paths to Freedom’ and ‘Bachelor's Walk’ were both shows that really convinced me we could produce excellent TV in Ireland.’

What films and TV shows did you enjoy growing up that may have encouraged you to work in the industry?

‘I feel that I kind of fell into this industry so not sure how much I was inspired but I liked a lot of British TV when I was growing up - shows like ‘Spitting Image’, ‘Whose Line’, ‘The Fast Show’, ‘Reeves and Mortimer’, zany comedy primarily. As I got a little older I got into more art house or indie films but when I was 14 I thought anything with Jean Claude Van Damme in it was awesome so no inspiration there!’

What’s the difference between working on an Irish production and working on an international production for you?

‘I think the lines have become somewhat blurred over the years with the amount of co-productions that are happening now. Quite often we will have Irish and International clients on the same production, or else it might be an Irish client who's delivering to an International broadcaster. A few years ago I might have said that the International deliverables (different versions of the mix) were more complicated but I don't think that applies anymore really.’

What advice would you give to anyone wishing to get into Sound?

‘I think this probably applies to many fields but I would say passion and personality are the first things many employers will look for. You can take it for granted that most people will have studied sound at college so the qualification is taken as a given, it's how the person can relate to people in the workplace and how hard they're willing to work that will set them apart from the rest. There are many genuinely talented people out there who know the gear inside out but unless you can make a client feel comfortable while you're working with them then you'll only have the gear for company!’

‘Corp & Anam’ is airing on Thursday nights on TG4 at 9.30pm. Check out our interviews with:

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