Walter Thoma Talks sound of “Estelle” and the Academy Gold Rising program
About Insider had the honor of chatting to Los Angeles based sound designer and composer Walter Thoma to chat about working on the “Academy Gold Rising” production track for sound program where he learned and honed his skills from the most renowned professionals in the world including Teri E Dorman, Gary C Bourgeois, Bill Kaplan, and Thomas Giordano.
HELLO WALTER THOMA, WELCOME TO ABOUT INSIDER! CONGRATULATIONS ON THE HIGHLY PRESTIGIOUS “ACADEMY GOLD RISING”PROGRAM.
Thank you, yes!It’s crazy to think that this year there were 7,449 applicants this year! I still can’t believe it to be honest, I’m still blown away to have been one of the lucky few92 who got picked. I must thank Bettina Fisher and her incredible team for giving me the opportunity to take part in this program.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM.
“Academy Gold Rising” is a summer program where you take part in an internship through “The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” and get to be part of one of the most amazing educating experiences in the film industry.Academy Gold Rising is essentially a back door to connecting and learning with the biggest people in the industry, and it changed my life.
The program lasted all summer, and I had the opportunity to work on “Estelle” the first ever short film produced by the academy.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SOUND IN “ESTELLE” AND YOUR ROLE IN IT?
Estelle took us over a month to finish and polish, there were so many moving pieces to the puzzle,and we also worked with industry legends such as Teri E Dorman, Gary C Bourgeois, Bill Kaplan, and Thomas Giordano (Tommy G).
I had the pleasure of working on Estelle as a dialogue editor and effects re-recording mixer, as well as being part of an amazing team whom all worked as production sound on set.
Teri acted as supervising sound editor and I have to say that she was beyond amazing, she connected us with even more incredible professionals including: Del Spiva, and Matthew Harrison. Teri coordinated the entire sound postproduction process. It was through Teri that everything happened, and I’ll never stop thanking her for how much she’s helped our careers.
I feel like I should also mention how much work Dan O’ Connell and Tavish Grade did, they recorded the entire foley for the short film and it was an honor to mix it!
Working in Estelle gave me the opportunity to also work alongside Gary C Bourgeois, we both mixed Estelle together: he mixed dialogue and music, and I mixed the foley, effects, and backgrounds.
Gary was an incredible teacher, he never treated me as a student, but as a fellow professional, and always brought his insight and knowledge into the equation at the perfect time. We mixed Estelle at “Periscope Post & Audio”, this was my first time mixing in a dubbing stage, which was unreal.
All in all, the experience was beyond incredible, and the program not only taught me things that I’ll never stop doing, but also introduced me to an amazing group of collaborators that I’m now proud to say are good friends of mine.
Academy Gold Rising changed my life, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
HOW DID YOU MAKE YOUR WAY INTO ACADEMY GOLD RISING?
I heard about it from other friends who had previously applied to the program, if you’re a student filmmaker in L.A. you will most likely hear about it eventually.But ultimately it was through my university:“The Los Angeles Film School”how I got in.Their continuous support has also been incredible and key to my success until this day!
Rudy Amezcua from career development told me about the program, and I remember I said: “yeah, it sounds amazing, but do they actually have a sound category for the program?” when he said “yes” I fell out of my chair.We wasted no time and applied as fast as we could!
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO ANYONE TRYING TO DO WHAT YOU DO?
Doing what we do isn’t easy, there will be a lot of roadblocks in the way, that’s why I believe most of the work is not really done professionally but personally as well. This business will test your limits, and you will ask the question that everyone eventually asks themselves: Should I keep doing this?
I believe that the best piece of advice I can give someone is: Stay focused and have patience.
Once you choose a path concentrate on it, don’t try to do several things at the same time, I understand how it’s exciting to explore many things as filmmakers, but the real key to success is being amazing where your skills are needed the most.
If you have the skill, it will only be a matter of time until success will come to you, just keep working hard and focus!
WHAT’S YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA? HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR WORK?
I’m on Instagram as @walterthoma_sound, feel free to drop by!