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Meet the… re-recording mixer

Molinare's Helen Miles tells TVBEurope how she started her career working on an antiques newspaper, before taking the plunge into freelance sound recording; and why technical and creative skills are just the start of working in a similar role

Helen Miles, re-recording mixer, Molinare
Talk us through an average day in your role

My role at Molinare is quite varied. Whilst day-to-day I am predominantly mixing; I might also be booked to edit dialogue or sound effects. Occasionally I work on the restoration of films from the BFI archives, which is really interesting and rewarding work. 

At the start of a pre-mix, I’ll tackle the technical challenges first: blending the work of the dialogue and FX editors, ADR mixer, Foley, and music departments to create a balanced soundtrack ready for the final mix with the client. 

During the final mix, I’ll work creatively with the director and producers to bring their ideas to life. I love this stage of the process as it’s the point where the clients’ vision comes together with both sound and picture elements.

How did you get started in the media industry?

I moved to London from Edinburgh in 2010 with no money, equipment, or network to speak of, so it was a bit of a slow start. Over my first two years in London, I had a full-time office job at an antiques newspaper and spent my evenings, weekends, and holidays taking sound editing and recording roles, working on independent films and corporate videos. 

Having spent those two years building up my CV kit and a client base, I made the move to full-time freelance sound recording and editorial in 2012.

After several years of freelance editing, mixing, and recording, I took some work freelance editing at Shepperton Studios in 2018 and through that work ended up in the mix theatres at Pinewood Studios. Having been very much a one-man band for so long, I then found myself surrounded every day by a talented team of creatives on some fantastic original films. Several of those team members are still my colleagues today at Molinare and their expertise and support has been invaluable in terms of my own professional development. 

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I was at the University of Edinburgh for both my undergraduate music degree and then post-graduate Master’s degree in sound design. I started learning about recording in the honour’s years of the music degree. That covered location and studio recording, mostly covering classical music. However, this later branched out into radio drama in the studio and electro-acoustic composition, which is one of the things that really put me on the path to a career in sound. 

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

I love the variety and creativity that comes with my role. I really enjoy the collaborative nature of filmmaking; taking a client’s idea that we’ve discussed in a spotting session and being able to play it back to them fully formed in the final mix is especially rewarding. I’m a big believer in teamwork. Working alongside my colleagues in an artistic and supportive environment really gives us the space to produce our best work.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

It’s very much a people industry so technical and creative skills are just the start. Everything we do is a collaboration, so your ability to work with your clients and colleagues with respect and consideration is just as important. If you can stay calm under pressure and keep your sense of humour, then the long days and short deadlines can fly by! A good manner and work ethic will be your greatest asset.