Sound editors’ work can’t be seen so it can be misunderstood, but if you leave a movie theatre happy, scared or exhilarated, they’ve done their job right.
Humber graduate Katie Halliday does her job exceptionally well, and she has the Emmy to prove it.
“The award hasn’t shown up yet so when it shows up, it might feel real. It was amazing,” she said, reflecting on her 2020 Primetime Emmy win for her work on the hit Netflix series Stranger Things.
Her role in production is sound effects editor, but in practice, it means she holds the sound department together. She helped wherever she was needed, sitting with the creators of the show, taking down their notes for the edit and adjusting to last-minute visual effects.
“That on its own was a full-time job. We’d constantly get updates if they changed the movement or synch of a monster,” said Halliday.
Her work ethic is part of what makes her successful and it factors into the advice she always gives to people new to the industry.
“There’s no magical process I do that is different from any of my peers. It’s just persistence, perseverance and patience. It’s a matter of continuing even when you want to quit. Success is doing that when others have given up.”
Bringing projects to life
Halliday never set out to work in the sound department. When she was admitted to Humber College’s Film and Television Production Advanced Diploma program, she wasn’t sure where she wanted to focus.
The program accepts 100 of approximately 900 applications each year.
“You get practical experience in so many aspects of the industry. You could be writing a script, but you could also direct or be the sound editor or picture editor on a project,” said Halliday.
That’s how she discovered sound editing.
“It felt like whatever it was I was working on really came to life once you added sound.”
From placements to employment
One of Halliday’s instructors, Michael Glassbourg, remembers the work ethic that has served her so well. He also recalls her talent.
Halliday’s work placement was with a well-known post-production house and it was supposed to last 160 hours.
“After the first week they offered her a full-time job. That’s not unusual for graduating students. A lot of our former students are now doing the hiring,” said Glassbourg.
Graduates of the program have roles in all facets of the industry, from marketing to technical specialists.
Glassbourg eventually hired Halliday for a project of his own, a documentary called ‘Policy Baby.’
He wanted a student to do an initial sound edit, then send the material to an editor at a high-end production house to be edited further.
He brought Katie’s work to the industry veteran and explained that he wanted a second edit from a seasoned professional. They watched the film and the editor turned to Glassbourg,
“It needs almost nothing,” she said.
He wasn’t surprised when the editor added, “I don’t know who did this job, but she’s fantastic.”
The Academy agrees.