Rising Stars: Will Miller

Twickenham Studios sound man talks about the exciting start to his career, including the chance to work on Ridley Scott's 'The Martian.'
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Another pro-audio Rising Star has made himself known, and this time it's Twickenham Studios' Will Miller.

Following a period on freelance work, Miller has scored himself the permanent position of sound assistant at the London production and post facility at the age of just 22, and has proceeded to work on a range of big name projects.

Audio Media International caught up with Miller as he discussed his first experiences working with Dolby Atmos and IMAX, what tops his gear list at the moment, and his admiration for directors Quentin Tarantino and David Fincher. 

How did you start out and where did you study?

I graduated in July 2014 from The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), where I studied the Sound Technology degree course. With the overwhelming amount of audio related degree programs to choose from these days, I felt LIPA was an ideal choice for me due to the fantastic facilities and teaching that are extremely relevant to working in the industry. The three years I spent studying there have proved fundamental in enabling me to begin my career in sound. My background was purely in music production, before undertaking a sound for film module early in the course, where I discovered where my true interests lied. From this point I started focusing my time on audio for film and haven’t looked back since.

Where are you based?

I moved to Twickenham in January this year, where I am working as a sound assistant at Twickenham Studios. After graduating, I initially moved back to my hometown, Swindon, where I began working freelance for a short while. In October 2014, I got involved in some freelance work at Twickenham Studios and what primarily began as just a couple of weeks quickly turned into a month and ultimately ended with me being offered a full-time permanent position at the studios. I of course accepted without hesitation and feel lucky to have been offered the position so early on in my career. With only a five-minute cycle journey to and from work each day, I have a commute I’m sure many working Londoners would envy and to top it all off Twickenham is such an idyllic place.

Here at Twickenham we have three theatres. Theatre 1 is our Dolby Atmos theatre, Theatre 2, 7.1 and IMAX and Theatre 3 is the ADR/Foley studio. Over the past year the studio has been responsible for mixing the sound on Exodus, Legend, Amy and most recently Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated The Martian.

When did you get into the industry?

I’ve only recently turned 22 and started my first full-time job in the film industry just nine months ago. Before that I had been working on a few projects on a purely freelance basis. So, I guess I could say I’ve been working within this industry professionally for about a year now. I’m still at the start of my career, but it feels great to already have a handful of film credits to my name and I’m extremely lucky to have had the start that I’ve had.

My job as a sound assistant here at Twickenham involved a whole number of things. Primarily it’s a technical support role for the various different theatres. This involves making sure everything runs smoothly throughout the entire mixing process by ingesting media, setting up the console, outboard, playback rigs and recorders right through to delivering the final master audio.

What made you want to work in pro-audio?

Coming from a music background initially and playing in bands since my early teens, my interest in working with audio began trying to record and produce music. At the time I never considered it to be something that I could actually pursue professionally, so it’s an amazing achievement for me to be working in sound for a living.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

I’d say that the sound editors and mixers that I have been fortunate enough to work with during the short period of time I have been in the film industry influence me the most. Having the opportunity to learn from those already well-established in the industry is priceless; learning new techniques and work flows that I can apply to my own skill set is invaluable.

Do you have any achievement you are particularly proud of? What are the big landmarks of your career?

I couldn’t class my short time within this industry as a career just yet, however, there are certainly a number of things that I am extremely proud to have been a part of. During my first three months at Twickenham I was given the opportunity to work on Woman in Gold, Amy and Legend. My first experience of working in Dolby Atmos was when Legend was being mixed; it’s a fairly complex format, especially from a technical perspective, yet is an extremely powerful tool, which is really enhancing and altering how sound can be used in film mixing.

Can you tell us about any recent projects? What are you working on currently?

Most recently, TheMartian. This was an incredible opportunity to work with some amazing people on such a large scale film. In addition, I’ve recently had opportunities to work as a mix technician on a few projects including an IMAX film which was another great chance to get to grips with a different surround sound format. The mix technician role is the next step along my career path, a role which I’m progressing towards, so it’s great to have already been able to gain experience working that role.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite gear? What do you find yourself relying on for projects?

We use Neve DFC consoles here on a daily basis, so I would say we are pretty reliant on them! They’re hugely capable consoles, which are commonplace in most dubbing theatres around the world. Specifically designed for mixing films in multiple sound formats, their flexible architecture means we can build the console to suit the needs on each individual mix and can cater for projects of any size.

If you could work with one figure in the industry, who would it be and why?

I’m a big fan of directors David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino; they both make awe-inspiring films, and if I ever had the opportunity to be a part of one of those films it would be incredible.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

Mixing feature films would be the dream, but as long as I’m still working with sound for a living I’ll be happy.

To get involved in our Rising Stars column, whether you are an engineer who is new to the industry and would like to be featured, or an experienced engineer who would like to nominate a particular student/apprentice, please contact Audio Media International staff writer Matt Fellows on mfellows@nbmedia.com or +44 (0)20 7354 6001.

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