There’s nothing we enjoy more at Screen and Film School than hearing about the success of our graduates. Everything that we do is geared up towards helping our graduates succeed, and to enter the world of film in a sustainable and successful way. More than ever, our students are achieving just that.
Matt Wilkinson graduated from Screen and Film School Brighton in 2016 and has gone on to become a prolific and sought-after Sound Recordist.
Since finishing his degree, Matt has worked on a variety of feature films, television productions, commercials, shorts and corporate films, and in the last twelve months alone he has worked on BBC’s Doctors, first as a Boom Operator and more recently as Production Sound Mixer. He also regularly booms on Coronation Street and Doctor Who.
We sat down with Matt recently to discuss all things sound, the screen and film industry, as well as his memories of studying at Screen and Film School.
How did you first get started in your career?
Prior to working in the film and television industry, I had trained as a musician and those courses always had an element of sound recording. I found that I really enjoyed those modules and enjoyed sound engineering for my friend’s band. Once I decided that I wanted to change careers (I’d had enough of touring and working away for long periods of time) I thought that I would put my interest in sound to good use. I was torn between live engineering for bands and festivals, or cross training to work in film and TV. Once I’d compared the average salaries and how much equipment I needed to transport, the film industry won! I initially invested some money in the basics for location sound recording and began working on ultra-low budget projects in the local community to gain experience. I was also very lucky to have been put in touch with a Sound Mixer who mentored me as a Boom Operator and the jobs have just kept getting bigger and bigger.
What were the most valuable skills you gained at Screen and Film School?
Learning how all the other departments come together and collaborate to make a project work, from pre-production, production and post-production, was really useful. Learning set etiquette and the language of production was also very valuable in my early career.
Why is now the right time to pursue a career in film?
The industry is literally booming right now. With masses of investment in new studios and production facilities opening, there is a skills shortage across all departments. Since the pandemic, the demand for content has gone through the roof which means there are so many more productions taking place across the country that all need experienced and reliable crew.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
Own your mistakes. If you make a mistake or break something (and you will) then own up to it, apologise and learn from it.
Is there a particular sound specialist in the industry whose work you admire?
Probably a Sound Mixer called Simon Hayes. He’s been a bit of a pioneer in the sound department and now specialises in big musical productions such as Les Misérables, Cats and The Little Mermaid. Although Cats didn’t receive the best reception when it was released, the technical aspects of capturing the performances are mind blowing.
From the perspective of sound, what are some of your all-time favourite films?
Predictably… Star Wars. Soundtracks and sound design had never seen (or heard!) anything like it prior to 1977 and it completely revolutionised sound for film, both technologically and in terms of audience expectations. I still get goosebumps when I hear a TIE Fighter.
What do you love most about your job?
It sounds cheesy but the people. I love being part of a team that has to triumph over adversity every day and the camaraderie it brings is just amazing. Also, I like getting paid for doing something I love!
What advice can you give our new students as they launch their Screen and Film School journey?
You will only get out of it what you put into it. You will have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals; listen and ask questions!
Thank you to Matt for his time and his words of advice and encouragement.
Matt’s success story is a clear example of how Screen and Film School offers students the chance to enter the world of film and television after graduating. We aim to give our undergraduates all of the skills and experience that are required to do so.