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Sound of Story 2016 - Women in Sound Report

By Anna Sulley on Friday, 25th November 2016

The Co-host and co-programmer was Anna Bertmark AMPS "Emily and Skillset, who fund the symposium, wanted to run a day event before the main symposium kicked off, that was aimed at a female-only audience, with four masterclasses by female sound practitioners at the top of their game. The aims were to make them more visible, to inform and inspire other women in the industry and to help to equalise the gender imbalance in the sound professions. We are also running a mentoring scheme launched for women who are at their start or a few years into their career in sound. Mentors will be both men and women."
The programme began with a bang with Ann Kroeber (Blue Velvet, Dead Poets Society), who played some early contact mic recordings from a microphone she had specially designed, including a capture used in David Lynch's Dune. She also talked about how to get the best from your subjects when recording wildlife. Ann went on to speak in further detail at the Friday symposium.
Second on the bill was Anna Bertmark in conversation with Production Sound Mixer, Judi Lee-Headman AMPS (Homeland, The Bible). They spoke about the differences between working on film, TV and commercial and several near death experiences they'd had on location. Judi also revealed the best way to befriend other departments for their cooperation - cake!
Next up Supervising Sound Editor Catherine Hodgson AMPS (Atonement, Jane Eyre, The King’s Speech ), talked about entertaining early experiences at the Beeb and Pinewood and the beginnings of Boom. She showed the wonderful post-battle scenes from Atonement and spoke on the importance of sounds selection.
Bringing the day to a close was new AMPS member Jo Jackson (Long Walk to Freedom, Suffragette). Jo talked about mix teching at Halo and had fascinating observations on human interaction in the studio! She also spoke about current work including mixing the SD heavy short ‘Dirt’ directed by Darius Clark Monroe, and other drama work. 
It was a truly inspiring day for all involved. Commenting on the event afterwards speaker Catherine Hodgson said:
"What a great event it all was. I got such a buzz from it all. And I absolutely loved Thursday - Women in Sound! Wow! Who would have thought? And to be able to talk alongside such amazing and inspiring ladies. I felt very humbled to have been invited and so strengthened by such a positive day. To all of my fellow sound women - it was so great to meet you and hear your stories."
Editor and Mixer Jo Jackson commented: 
"I feel absolutely honoured to have been asked to be a part of such an inspiring and amazing day, I'm still on a high several days later. To be up there talking amongst three complete legends was incredible, and to be able to talk about my story so far to other passionate women in sound was just awesome. I'm so grateful to have been asked to be involved!"
Judi Lee-Headman said:
"It was a great privilege to meet Ann and Catherine and Jo. I found it very interesting listening to each of the speakers explaining the path they had taken to make a career in sound, and no two stories were alike. I wanted to share my experiences as a sound recordist over the last two decades. I really enjoyed the experience, an hour flew by. I'm used to being the quiet one so it was quite difficult at the beginning to try to compress 30 years experience into one hour long talk!"
From Anna Bertmark:
"It was a privilege to be involved in helping Emily and Lighthouse to organise The Sound Of Story again this year and especially the Women's Forum day, which was an unique event, inspiring for all."
Paul Davies joined the panel at the end of the talks taking questions from the floor and sharing the aims of AMPS.  Audience members were also encouraged to share their stories. 
The next two days of the festival were open to all, with both selling out fast. The 232 seated Dome Theatre Studio was packed out on Friday to watch presentations including Paul Davies AMPS, Sue Harding, Mathew Herbert and talks on 'Notes on Blindness', a film for the sighted and the blind and 'Akiha Den Den', part radio play part audio art. The more intimate workshops took place on Saturday with Martin Pavey, Larry Sider and Sue Harding who treated us to some live foley preforming, sharing a few secrets comparable those of the magic circle!! 

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