Feb. 27, 2013 - Issue #906: Tegan and Sara - Pop goes their world
FAVA Profile: Micah Henry
The 20-year-old works as part of a team of three: the third—or utility sound—the boomer operator and a mixer who make sure microphones are hidden, the boom is out of sight and the director's vision comes to life.
"A lot of sound is being as ballsy as you can without getting busted," explains Henry, who also works as a maintenance temp with FAVA. "That's with everything. The actual decibels, you want to get as much as you can without distorting it. With microphones or a boom, you want to get it as close as you can without seeing it."
Henry graduated from the film and video production program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary only last spring, but he has been working with sound since he was 15, which is also when he began working at FAVA. While attending Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts, the students were working on a film with professional keys—one of which happened to be filmmaker Katrina Beatty from FAVA. Henry says she scooped him up, in a sense, and got him involved in numerous indie projects around Edmonton before working on sound for her television film I Think I Do, which led to Henry landing a job as a third on the set of the hit TV series Heartland.
"The first couple weeks were pretty tough. There's little room for error and every time you make a little mistake, they find it," he says, but adds he enjoys the long days that come with working on a professional set. "They take it seriously, but they don't take it home with them. The biggest thing I learned was after you have a bad day, just go out in a field at the end of the day and scream. You feel a lot better."
Despite the fast-paced and at times stressful environment, Henry wouldn't have it any other way and notes he was always attracted to the technical side of the industry rather than the creative.
"It's a craft, y'know? It takes a really special kind of person to direct a film or write a film, just writing in general ... I mean, I might as well be doing a trade, but I think mine's a little cooler than a machinist," he laughs, noting good sound can be the difference between a film being perceived as low budget or not. "It's a good feeling just because nothing really rides on your artistic meaning behind something; it just rides on how well you know what you know. I think the world needs both kinds of people."
Henry's sound work has extended into music as well, working on music videos and the soundtrack for the upcoming film Agophobia directed by Benjamin Hayden. Henry worked with an experimental music ensemble from Calgary, spending a day and a half in a drainage tunnel with 15 microphones to record the tracks, employing a great deal of trial and error, recording reel-to-reel before outputting to digital.
"We would record one mic onto two tracks and completely distort one of them and bump the bass on the other, and it creates this weird mix of weird rumble to high-pitched distortion ... once you split it then in a stereo track you can manipulate it more," Henry explains.
Aside from film and television—which Henry will be picking up again with season three of Blackstone—he has begun working on documentaries, recently wrapping up filming in the Dominican Republic with Compassion Canada.
"There's definitely a culture shock, but I sort of did my best to distance myself from that—stick to the job at hand," he says. "I want to do my part to help in the way I know how to."
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