Young sound designer encourages women and girls to pursue tech jobs in film industry

  • "More young women should seize the opportunity to take up technical roles in Northern Ireland’s successful film industry."

    That is the view of Chloe Dalzell, a young sound designer from Belfast who believes more girls and women should be using their science skills to pursue a career in film production.

    Chloe, who is a Sound Effects Editor from Yellowmoon studio, has just delivered a three-day training session with young people through Into Film’s ScreenWorks Project.

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    Her impressive track record includes work on hit shows such as Derry Girls, Wreck and Conversations with Friends as well as helping to create Universal Studios Theme Park’s Halloween Horror event.

    ScreenWorks is a ground-breaking partnership between Into Film and Northern Ireland Screen that gives young people aged 14-19 hands-on experience with some of the leading experts working across film, TV, animation and games.

    When Chloe first started studying Music Technology at Queen’s University’s Sonic Arts Centre, she was one of only a few women on the course though representation in the industry is starting to improve.

    “I had the opportunity to do work experience for three summers in Los Angeles and there are many more women working in the audio industry there. When you see other women doing the job, you realise there is nothing to hold you back,” she said.

    “At first, I felt out of my comfort zone but I think that’s normal with anything new. Now I just want to encourage as many young people, particularly girls, to look at sound editing as a fantastic career choice and there are so many opportunities right here in Northern Ireland,” she said.

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    In her Sound Design workshop for ScreenWorks, the young people explored how sound is created and recorded in the movies and television, developed critical listening tools and learned about editing sound effects and foley work.

    “Almost every sound you hear in a movie or show will have been purposely created by foley artists and sound editors.  When the crew is filming on location, they are focused on getting the actors’ dialogue while other sounds can be added in post-production,” she said.

    “The aim is to enhance the audio quality of films. I think of it as painting by numbers with sound. Everything you see on screen has to have a sound attached to it. For example, if an actor puts a cup down then I need to look at what the cup is made of, what it’s placed on, is it put down with force or gently. Then we create the sound and sync it with the film.”

    She also develops sounds that are happening off screen that add atmosphere to the film, such as the wind rustling through leaves or cars passing in the distance.

    Bigger projects can take an extensive amount of time. Chloe is currently working on the massive World War Two epic World on Fire (season two), which stars Sean Bean, Helen Hunt and Lesley Manville. She will spend several weeks on each episode creating big sound pieces.

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    The ScreenWorks programme offers a range of free work experience opportunities in careers from film journalism to creating narrative for computer games to film production accountancy.

    Sean Boyle, ScreenWorks delivery manager, said: “Having highly experienced professionals like Chloe, who are passionate about their work, is the best way for young people to discover whether a career in the screen sector is right for them. It’s a huge growth area in Northern Ireland with incredible job opportunities.”

    Chloe believes projects like ScreenWorks that highlight careers in the creative industries are essential.

    The opportunity to work in California was instrumental in her professional development. She got a lucky break when her father discovered he had a distant cousin in LA who owned his own sound studio.

    He offered her summer work at Diablo Sound and she worked on the major Universal Theme Park Halloween event.

    “That was a turning point for me. This is my dream job and I am loving every minute of it.”

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