MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS TALK TO...
2018 Jury Member +
Sound Designer & Engineer
FACTORY STUDIOS, London
Jon has over 10 years of experience that has seen him work in some of London's top audio facilities.
Since joining Factory in 2009, Jon's cutting edge work has seen him pick up a whole host of award wins and nominations, with gold awards for Sound Design at the British Arrows and Ciclope, plus numerous MAS Awards and further accolades at Kinsale and the Clios. Most recently he worked on Home which not only picked up a MAS Award for his sound but the 2017 BAFTA for Short Film. Jon has gained a global reputation for sound design excellence across all platforms.
Jon is also a talented composer and has just completed his debut feature film score for Kissing Candice directed by Aoife McArdle. Produced by SIREN, this emotively charged score was premiered at the 2017 Toronto Film festival.
Hear what he had to say...
Can you tell us a bit about your career path to date?
My background in sound began with musical beginnings from a very early age. As a classically trained violinist, I went on to study music at Cardiff University, majoring in composition and performance. It was there that I decided to explore a move into sound engineering. After studying audio engineering for a year, I got a job at Trevor Horn's legendary SARM West Studios as an assistant. This role saw me working on recording and mix sessions for a number of different bands and pop artists. I learnt a huge amount at SARM, but quickly figured out that mixing other people’s music wasn't really want I wanted to do. As I was beginning to develop a real interest and love for film, I decided that working to picture might be a better fit for me. I wanted to find a way to combine my passion for creating sound design and writing my own music. After a few years working my way up the 'Soho audio ladder', I finally landed a job at Factory Studios where I’ve been creating sound design and music ever since.
Are there any recent projects you’ve been involved in that have been particularly challenging / rewarding?
I've recently finished my first original film score for Aoife McArdle’s debut feature ‘Kissing Candice'. Produced by SIREN, the score is set for release later this year as the film hits the cinemas. Alongside the music, this project saw me working closely with Factory's Anthony Moore to create the sound design for the film. Aoife allowed us a fantastic opportunity to combine music and sound in a really fresh and interesting way. By bouncing ideas back and forth, we worked really closely with Aoife to construct an unsettling and hostile soundtrack that helps drive the narrative of the film. The film premiered at TIFF at the end of last year and has its European premiere at Berlinale in February. It's really rewarding to be part of such a big project and exciting now to see its release.
You won a 2017 Music+Sound Award for Best Sound Design in a Short Film with your incredible work on ‘Home’. How does working on a film differ from working in advertising?
The principles are the same, but just on a slightly grander scale. With long form projects, you can really see how sound affects everything within a scene. Having more time and space to work with, allows sound design concepts to evolve and tell the story in a very effective way. In 'Home' the director Daniel Mulloy didn't want a traditional score so the soundtrack needed to create the tension and support the narrative on its own. We spent a lot of time creating atmospheres and 'off camera' sound cues that would give small story clues to the viewer as the film progresses. With advertising projects, time constraints often mean the sound design has to work quicker and harder. That said, the attention to detail often steps into new realms as you're perfecting each second of film. There's a real skill to fine-tuning and distilling the sound design dependent upon which format you are working in.
What tech / tools do you rely on most heavily?
ProTools HD is my go-to these days. I’ve worked in all the other DAWs, but ProTools is now second nature to me, I couldn’t be without it. Plugin wise, Pitch and Time Pro is an amazing plug-in that I use all the time. It allows me to create the sounds I am hearing in my head, plus the variable pitch function is great for sound design. Also loving some of the vintage filter plugs that are about at the moment like the Moog Mulitmode filter and Air vintage filter. I add them to SFX to give them more character. I recently got into synthesisers and bought a Prophet '08 which I use a lot for pads and also it's great for creating sound design textures. Finally, I rely massively on my piano as this is where I start the majority of my composition work.
What’s the best ad campaign you’ve seen recently in terms of sound?
I really like the FIFA 18 film that Factory's Phil Bolland created last year. I think this project might slip under the sound design radar due to the huge Run The Jewels music track that's on it. But, despite the massive track, Phil's sound design is really impressive. He manages to integrate all the animation and social media content in a really musical way, pitching it and rhythmically syncing it into the track. You can really hear the attention to detail throughout the job. I think advertising has been at a point where music really has been the driving force in the majority of briefs, but underneath those big tracks are some great sound designers applying their craft. Having said that, I saw Will Cohen's Audi's RS 4 Avant 'Cooling Down' spot a couple of days ago and the sound design is fantastic. The film is incredibly well executed and it's great to see a brand providing a brief which gives sound design the centre stage. More of those please!
What one piece of advice would you give someone relating to approaching sound in their project?
Attention to detail is key, you can really hear the difference it makes in peoples work. Also, never lose sight of the story as a sound designers main job is to enhance the narrative. I'm not a fan of sound for sound’s sake, so I always try to think about the rationale for why I'm adding something into a scene. It has to be there for a reason and mean something.
And lastly, what does the next year or so hold for yourself and Factory?
I’m currently finishing up the sound design for a major feature film project which is currently in production here at Factory. I've also got some really interesting ads which are due to break over the coming months but unfortunately, I'm not allowed to divulge any further info on those just yet!
Musically, I’m working with SIREN with regard to another film score, plus I've just completed some bespoke compositions for Barclays and the Red Cross. I've also got an electronic side project on the go, and I'm hoping to release some more of my own music later this year. Exciting times!
Hear Jon's composition at www.jonclarke.org. Jon Clarke is a Sound Designer at Factory (www.factory.uk.com) and is represented for composition work by SIREN (www.siren.uk.com).