A Special Guest Blog Post by Colin Grant
with an introduction By Kate Finan & Jeff Shiffman – Co-Owners’s BOOM BOX POST
The last few months, and especially the last few weeks, have been a tumultuous time for our sound community, our country, and our world at large. Just when we all thought that our entire existence had already been tipped on its head by COVID-19, we were forced to come to grips with more tragedy and further depth of feeling as protests surged following the death of George Floyd.
As always, we are proud to be part of an online community which has taken these current events seriously and is working to create not just a safe space for open discourse, but a place to ask the difficult question of “how can I help?” We are currently taking a break from posting on social media and our blog about our business in order to give space to more important voices on this topic. However, it seemed like a missed opportunity not to use our platform to try to amplify some of those voices.
After seeing our former star intern, Colin Grant, actively tweeting about current events, we asked him to share a guest blog post with our readers. Colin came to us as a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts, Music and Communications Studies, the Berklee Summer Abroad Film/Video Game Scoring Track, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Professional Studies Degree in Technology and Applied Composition. He had numerous jobs and internships under his belt before joining us, and after graduating from our internship program, has since moved on to do sound for AAA games as well as freelance post-production sound design and music.
Below, Colin shares his point of view on how our sound community can come together to create real and long-lasting change in our industry. Boom Box Post is by no means a perfect workplace. While we pride ourselves on gender diversity and inclusivity, Colin’s words showed us that there is so much more that we could be doing to help give marginalized voices a chance in our industry. We hope that you find Colin’s perspective as enlightening as we have and that you will share it with your friends, co-workers, and community members if you are moved to do so. Together, we believe that we can forge an industry that supports not just diversity, but inclusion; and further, not just inclusion, but justice.
-Kate Finan & Jeff Shiffman
On Current Events and
the State of Our Industry
With the protests that have erupted after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the countless other African Americans that have experienced police brutality, a conversation about general inequality and lack of representation in the entertainment industry has bubbled to the surface once more. It is a sore subject for many and there is no easy solution to tackle the issue, but it is a necessary conversation. When I was approached to write a guest post, I initially considered writing a general post not overly specific to the Sound Community. However, the more I wrote the more I realized that there are already hundreds of articles and tweets and videos that speak about the state of the world in much more eloquent and powerful words than I could ever hope to express. So, I decided to speak on more specific topics. While I by no means think that I have all of the answers (or even most) and certainly I don’t speak for a monolith, I hope that sharing my thoughts on the subjects can be helpful for some.
What We Can Do Right Now
The first and most pressing thing that we can do is to simply be understanding. Understanding that your African-American employees, contractors, freelancers, and friends are under immense stress right now and are trying to keep it together. Every time something like this occurs, the constant dull fear for our lives and the lives of our loved ones becomes sharp intense pains that must be managed along with everyday life. We must still work, interact with loved ones, go shopping, etc. This is on top of a global pandemic and many are confined to their homes. Some are dealing with the stress of raising kids while others are dealing with intense isolation. Have the same understanding you had when we all started quarantine. Work may be slower than usual and some may need to take some time to themselves. We are being inundated with incredibly brutal images almost constantly via news and social media and unfortunately most don’t have the freedom nor luxury to simply tune that out.
I’d also encourage you to not just say that you and/or your company support the fight against police brutality but show it. Talk is cheap and donations along with specific and detailed calls to action speak volumes. Now is not the time to be silent or vague.
What We Can Do in the Future
If you are on social media, you most likely have noticed the outpouring of offers for mentorship and the call for portfolios. This is fantastic and I hope to see this trend continue. However…
- For the reasons listed in the previous paragraph, some may not be in the current headspace to actually reach out to a stranger over the internet for mentorship. It’s difficult to put your best foot forward when the world seems to be on fire.
- This sudden spotlight brings the need for website, reel, and resume updating and again, the world is on fire.
- While people mean well, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen, only to die down just as quickly. This needs to be ingrained in our culture as professionals. This can’t happen only when a life is lost.
Rather than simply reacting, we need to be proactive. Systemic problems require attacking the problem at points, from the branches to the roots. This has to be done on the individual, company, and industry-wide level to be truly effective and long-lasting. I’m not an expert when it comes to large-scale industry organizations, but below are just a few approaches.
- Are we going into middle schools, high schools and colleges and letting people know that sound is an option, especially lower-income schools? Though we may eat, sleep, and breathe sound, we are all too aware of how many don’t even think about the role of audio-professionals. A good example of this is the community outreach that Nickelodeon does called the Nickelodeon Community Efforts.
- Are we reaching out and talking to schools about visiting our studios? While that certainly presents a totally separate set of challenges, showing kids how to record, what being a sound editor entails, and what a foley pit looks like can go a long way.
- How accessible is your internship program, especially to those coming from a lower-income bracket? If you are only offering a 40+ hour-a-week unpaid internship, you are already culling the pool. If it’s not a paid position, then structuring your internship to allow time to work a job is a necessity. Accessibility also means clearly showing how and where to apply, as well as what to expect (for both points, I’d look at how BBP lists and structures their internship). Most of our industry is word of mouth, which can create an enclosed system. If you find that your interns tend to come from the same exact schools, you might need to be more proactive.
- How accessible is your job application process? Everything I mentioned for Internships applies to jobs. If you truly want to see change, you have to be proactive, even if it means a bit more legwork on your part.
- How are you fostering mentorship and helping marginalized voices not only break into the industry but grow and flourish? I know it’s easy to think our industry is a meritocracy and those who succeed and rise in the ranks do so on their own strengths alone and those who fail simply “couldn’t hack it,” but that simply is too black and white.
I really want to thank Kate, Jeff, and the whole Boom Box Post Crew for allowing me to voice my opinion on their platform. I know things may seem bleak now, but I have faith in both the sound community and in the world at large that things will change and that things will get better.
Here are some existing resources:
Colin Grant is passionate about making worlds through sound! Whether it’s as a composer, music editor, sound designer, or dialogue editor, Colin loves crafting sounds that enhance the narrative and emotional journey in a story. This is especially true for animation and video games, two mediums that Colin has the most experience in and love for.