In the last post, I profiled our director of photography. For this one I'd like to introduce you to the guy who holds one of the most important jobs on a film set, our sound guy, Jacob Drew Varley.
Handsome devil right? Yeah, after mixing drinks or if you've lost your glasses.
Joking, I'm joking. You don't need to be drunk or blind. Still kidding!
I'm too lazy to write this bastard's bio, the following is from Jacob's résumé:
Extremely motivated, passionate for awesome results, and hypercritical over mundane details – three terms I use to describe my work in sound. As a sound mixer and boom operator I know what my job is, but I take it one step further by focusing on that extra step that will make the work of the post production team easier and better, and will allow the director to manipulate all aspects of audio that he wants the audience to hear. Sound goes beyond hearing; sound builds your environment and mood, creates feelings for situations either through music or design, sound is more than what you know you hear, and I love sound.
I have been doing location sound since exactly January 1st of 2012 and loved every second of it. The ability to travel on someone else's dollar, meet new people, and see amazing things makes this job much more than I could ever hoped for it to be. I have met some industry professionals that I keep in contact with who are more than happy to offer their knowledge, assistance, and guidance. I have a direct line with, and send my works to, Kirk Francis (Academy Award winning mixer who did the Bourne ID movies, and MUCH more). I never stop learning, I'm always looking to improve, I analyze my work and compare it to massive budgets and until it sounds the same I won't stop.
I'm not just a sound guy, I'm a professional dedicated to creating on the best I can.
Did you read all that? Yeah, me neither, but now I have to for the sake of this blog. One minute please...
Okay, done, and ooo watch out, we gotta a badass over here. "Look at me, I'm a sound guy, I work on movies," and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I guess I'll share a few questionable– I mean notable projects he has worked on:
"Moment of Clarity Tour" Zedd Documentary
Sound Mixer and Boom Operator
Temporary ADR/VO/Test scenes with actor Tobey Maguire and director Baz Luhrmann for "The Great Gatsby" (2012). Unfortunately, he was uncredited for this.
Originally I was going to post the entire list of projects he has worked on but it's quite extensive so I settled for the videos above. We all know he's lying about that last one though, right? He probably did his Tarantino impression and both Tobey and Baz didn't like it. By the way, did I mention he does a killer Quentin Tarantino impression? Sorry, I digress, back to the matter at hand: Jacob has worked on countless features, shorts, webisodes, promos, music videos and TV pilots. Simply put, he has thee experience. He also provides sound design and sound mixing services when he's not on Hollywood Boulevard impersonating Tarantino and taking selfies with tourists for five bucks.
Still not impressed? Well, hell, we should rename the film Super Jacob. I mean it. There's a reason I titled this The Legend of J.D. Varley. When he's not proclaiming he is a God and we should all bow down at his feet (true story, first day on set of Super Gabby) – okay, not in those words but close enough – this man is a lifesaver in addition to his awesome sound recording skills.
El hombre, el mito, la leyenda.
Ejido Erendira, Baja California, Mexico. 2013.
It all goes back to the summer of 2013 in Mexico – cue the harp music – where we met working on the indie feature "A Father's Journey." You might recall, if you've been keeping up with this blog, it's the same project I met our D.P. on.
A Father's Journey
Jacob instantly reminded me of Quentin Tarantino. I don't know if he gets that a lot but his impression of him was spot on, a nice little rant that ended with telling me to "f---- off."
This a-hole is HILARIOUS. I came to appreciate this man's humorous side on set and off. On the first day, the director asked us all to gather in a circle to introduce ourselves. Jacobo (ha-koh-boh), which I would call him later on, introduced himself as the sound guy and "token white guy" amongst our all-Latino cast and crew. Ah, he fit in immediately, why do you think I'm even (wasting my time) writing this? He's like my brother, although he'll probably say "Adrian who?" just to be a dick.
Here I am with the legend himself, he was so elated to take this picture, can you tell?
Anyway, on the first day of filming, the grip truck wouldn't start and this was right before we started filming the very FIRST scene! Already off to a bad start. No one could figure it out until Jacob stepped up, wearing a Mexican poncho instead of a cape, heh heh. Boom, day one and he saved the day.
The night of a major scene that involved many extras inside the town hall, our generator would not work. We needed it to power just about everything. Again, Super Jacob and others stepped up to get that sucker running. Whew!
Working with Jacob on AFJ I came to see how knowledgeable he was about many things and I learned so much from him. I had questions and he had the answers.
I took a Flip Cam to record the adventure but silly me never thought about where I was going to save the footage since it only held one hour worth and I didn't own a laptop. Jacob offered to save the footage at the end of each day on his laptop (by making room and deleting some of his XXX video collection) and upload it to an online drive for me to download later back home. What a pal, eh?
Again, I'm just messing around about his XXX collection. I would hope that by this point you've picked up the faux sarcastic tone of this post and had a few chuckles. It's all to give you an idea of how he and I get along. The only collection I'm aware of is the Mexican candy he loved and had to buy while we were there. He probably smuggled a piñata stuffed with candy back into the States.
At the U.S./Mexico border, heading home. "Excuse me, sir, why is this piñata heavy?"
I knew it! Jacob was probably sh------ a brick in the backseat. Off to second inspection!
When we were assembling the crew for Super Gabby three years later, I knew I wanted Jacob on the team. I'd wanted to work with him again ever since Mexico. I reached out to him via Facebook and asked him what his schedule was looking like summer 2015? Everything worked out and he drove up from Los Angeles to Antioch (Northern California).
I have to credit Jacob for giving me the motivation to keep filming SG after we pulled the plug after the second day of filming due to some unforeseen technical issues that slowed down our flow and guaranteed that we were not going to be able to complete the short on time.
A few of us, including Jacob, sat together later that night and talked about what went wrong and what we should do next. I wanted to keep filming so we could at least put together a teaser trailer.
Jacob maintained a can do attitude and sparked our determination to shoot what we could for the trailer to get the project off the ground again in the future. The next morning, we rolled out the whiteboard and had a quick production meeting to outline the new shooting schedule. We chose to film scenes that would work for the trailer and that did not require sound thus freeing up Jacob to help our D.P. light the scenes, pull focus and do some grip work.
Prior to the entire shoot, he had asked me if he should bring his drone camera and I said sure. We used it to shoot some awesome aerial shots. He operated the drone while the D.P. operated the camera.
We had some fun with the drone after we wrapped.
We worked through these last two days with good vibes in the air and ended on a positive note. He and the owner of the house we were filming at even performed an improvised doo wop duet about Super Gabby and had everyone clapping along.
As soon as we wrapped on a Sunday afternoon, Jacob said his goodbyes and hit the road back to L.A. immediately because he had to be on a shoot the next day. What a boss. Hire this man for your next project, I can't recommend him enough. I'm truly enjoying the clean, crisp sound he recorded as I edit. Impeccable. It brings a tear to my eye :')
Somewhere out there, right now, he's holding up a boom over his head like Atlas, with the w⃥e⃥i⃥g⃥h⃥t⃥ fate of the w⃥o⃥r⃥l⃥d⃥ film on his shoulders. Yes, sound is that important, it can make or break a film.
This is the Legend of J.D. Varley.
Until next time,
P.S. He paid me to write all these lies! LOL ;)
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