Sound perspectives from the other end of the microphone

La Reva Myles, Contributing Writer

Amongst an eager audience, the dynamic duo of Patrushkha Mierwza and Mark Ulano laid out the importance of everything in filmmaking, from masterful work of directors and producers to more overlooked jobs like boom operator and sound mixer on March 27.

Mierzwa and Ulano visited the intermediate digital filmmaking class at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Petaluma campus. Both have distinguished careers as boom operator and post production sound mixer, respectively.

Mierzwa is recognized as the first female boom operator in Hollywood, while Ulano has been nominated for many Oscars for his work and is president of IATSE Sound Local 695 and the Cinema Audio Society in Hollywood.

Mierzwa and Ulano both see filmmaking as a collaborative art and all professionals who contribute toward this creative process as filmmakers. Sound, an important part of an award winning-film mix, is what this couple is most passionate about. Sound in a film is something that should not call attention to itself, but rather remain invisible because of how seamlessly it is interwoven with what the audience sees on the screen.

Listening to their professional perspectives on sound and filmmaking makes one think of a film director as a skilled conductor of an orchestra. Ulano considers all professionals he works with as filmmakers, collaborating for the good of the project.

“[We are] stewards of one of the oldest things humans do; storytelling,” Ulano said.

Mierzwa knows that many students would like to be directors, producers and editors.

“Most people say I want to direct or I want to produce, which is all good.” Mierzwa said. “You’ll be happier if you know what everybody’s job is, because you really shouldn’t be directing in a medium you don’t understand.”

Mierzwa’s career experience points to the time and dedication required of anyone wanting to become a veteran in the film industry. Producing films includes mastery of everyone’s job and having the ability to put together a team of award winning professionals, including financiers, to get the film made.

“You’re going to be asked to make countless decisions about money, time, people and safety,” Mierzwa said. “You’d better know, because a lot rides on that, including whether you get your next job and people like working with you.”