I love creative sound design. I love music. I love nature. I love to travel. So how did I get to where I am today?
I have had a passion for music and singing since I can remember. When I reached A Level, I decided to try Music Technology and Media Studies. To get some more experience, I joined a short film project called 23 Pieces, as the sound recordist. This project was being run by PVA Medialab (now DIVAcontemporary). We had a team of enthusiastic students and a great director, Peter Snelling. We learned about scriptwriting and storyboarding, then filmed on different locations. I learned so much from the experience and knew I wanted to continue down this route.
The finished film was a great success and went on to be screened all over the UK, including film festivals in Edinburgh and Belfast. It was shortlisted for a National Lottery Education Award, and went on to win Best Screenplay at the First Light 2007 Film Awards.
I then discovered sound recording, design and editing at Royal Holloway University, where I studied Media Arts. I focussed on creative sound design, particularly 5.1 surround sound. I was introduced to foley recording and enjoyed being creative with it.
After university and with some work experience under my belt, my boyfriend Neal and I decided to move to Australia. We felt like a change. I have family there, we both enjoy surfing and nature and knew work would be easy to find, so it felt like the right time. For the last 2 years, I have worked as a video production manager for JPL Media and have also set up my own sound recording workshops for kids. We live on the Gold Coast where there is an emerging cultural scene for local artists. The local councils and community are open to new ideas, which is very encouraging.
My inspiration for teaching kids about sound recording came from a Ridgeway Seasonal Sound Walk that I went on last summer, organised by Mandy and David at DIVAcontemporary. I was visiting from Australia so took my mum and sister along with me. We walked from Portesham to Hardy’s Monument, stopping along the way to record the sounds of our surroundings in the beautiful countryside with views of the ocean. We learned about the historical sites and plants with archaeology guide Victoria Pirie. It was a perfect time to enjoy nature and capture moments together with a microphone, instead of a camera.
Now back in Australia, I can listen to the sounds we recorded rather than looking at photos. Cows, bees, sheep, plants and hay bales rustling in the wind, wellies trudging through the grass, the ocean, my mum and sister chatting away in the background. These sounds have created a sonic album of memories. I can shut my eyes and the recordings take me back to that warm summer day and remind me of the familiar, comforting sounds of home.
I wanted to share this experience with people back on the Gold Coast so decided to introduce similar sound workshops to children. I want to encourage young people, who are often lost in screens, to use their ears to capture and appreciate their surroundings.
My first workshop is with a vacation care club in my hometown Currumbin during the Easter holidays. When I shared the workshop idea with the club coordinator Vikki, she replied
“The programmes look fantastic and something really unique for us to introduce in an Outside School Hours Care environment.”
Vikki booked a class there and then. I am excited to start my first workshop that could have between 20-40 children involved.
I will share the sounds recorded from my Sound Walk in Dorset with the children so they have an idea of the task. Then in groups, they will learn how to use the recording equipment and set out on a journey around the school to listen out for and record sounds. We’ll play their recordings back to the group so their classmates can guess the sounds. If we have time, I will also teach the children how to edit their recordings, create soundscapes for storytelling and upload their sounds online.
Their recordings will also be shared with Piddle Valley School in Piddletrenthide where my mum is a teacher. The topic at Piddle Valley after the Easter holidays is ‘Living World’ so it will be a perfect opportunity to share and compare sounds from Australia with pupils in Dorset.
As if this isn’t enough to look forward to, I am also collaborating on another exciting project called Heart of Fire with Neal and our good friend Elijah Cavanagh. Neal is a professional fire dancer and director of Energy Entertainments and Elijah is an incredible filmmaker and director at Films Co. Together we are creating a documentary about traditional Polynesian fire dancing and discovering the history of this art form. I will join the guys as the sound designer. The project is currently in its pre-production phase. We are raising money by holding events to help fund the project so we can produce an insightful and educational documentary to share with as many people as possible. We plan to have outdoor screenings of the documentary on balmy evenings under the stars on the Gold Coast and beyond!
I have my encouraging family, teachers, friends and artists I’ve met along the way, including DIVAcontemporary, to thank for where I am and what I am doing today.
Now, it’s a nice warm day and the waves are small so I’m going for a surf and ponder on these exciting projects I have in the pipeline…excuse the pun!
Watch the Heart of Fire trailer
Follow the Heart of Fire project as it unfolds
We will be sharing episodes from the documentary whilst on location here
Watch another amazing fire dancing video by Elijah and Neal
Gabrielle Fry, 26 March 2015