NYU Steinhardt News

Meet Alumnus Ryan Cole

Ryan Cole, 34, received his master’s degree in Music Technology in 2007. Since graduating from NYU Steinhardt, Ryan has worked in film and audio postproduction. Currently based in Los Angeles, Ryan’s career has taken him to Australia, and he has worked on some big name films such as Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens, Bridge of Spies, and Lincoln. Ryan answered a few questions by email about what his career has been like since graduating.

Could you tell me about your job?
I am the recordist for the Howards Hawks Mixing Stage at 20th Century Fox. The recordist position has changed through the years but at Fox I help run the room with the engineer.  I work with the sound editors and the mixers to make sure everything is getting where it's supposed to and that all of the machines are doing their jobs. I also work with the picture department to make sure that everyone is up to date with all of the material. It's as much about organization and media management as it is about the technology, for my job at least. And every film is different as far as setup and what needs doing.

You were the recordist for the latest Star Wars film-- what was that like?
Star Wars was a very special project to work on. The originals were what got me interested in the filmmaking process to begin with. I was (am?) a total fanboy. It was a surreal experience to hear the main titles of the film for the first time on the mixing stage. As for the actual work it was a very intense two month final mix.

What's the coolest thing about what you do?
I don't know if it's the coolest thing but I think that one of the most interesting things about being on the mixing stage is hearing the soundtrack of the film built one piece at a time. Since the mix will typically start and finish on our stage I get a chance to hear it from beginning to end with all of the different elements building on one another.

Where have you worked and what have your jobs been like since graduating from NYU?
A few months after I graduated I heard that they were building a new mixing stage in Sydney, Australia. So I moved there and ended up getting a job when it opened, working on the film Australia. The mixers on that film came from Fox in Los Angeles to mix it in Sydney and ended up hiring me a few months after the film wrapped. I've been at Fox since 2009 and have also done little stints up at Skywalker Ranch when work was slow at Fox.

How has what you learned at NYU helped you in your career?
I think that one of the best things I learned at NYU was how to learn on the fly. So many different technologies and ideas are thrown at you in school and you have to juggle and learn every one of them in a short amount of time. Working in this business is the same. When I started work in Sydney I had never really worked on a major mixing stage but I had to figure it out quickly. I was never afraid to ask for help though, something else I learned at NYU.

What advice would you offer current students here?
Be a Swiss Army Knife and have a good attitude. What I mean is try to learn as much as you can about everything you can. Nobody does just one thing anymore and the more you know the more valuable you will be. And a good attitude goes a long way, especially when you're frustrated or struggling with something new.

 

-Caroline Lagnado Miller