Issue: May 1, 2009


Gary Arnold is a sound designer/mixer that operates his own Manhattan-based boutique, Gary’s Chop Shop. Arnold has worked within post houses in the past — Blinkfx, McHale Barone, Superdupe — and two years ago, decided it was time to go out on his own.
Today, he’s found a niche in audio post for docu-dramas, and has been busy posting the Travel Channel’s Dhani Tackles the Globe.

Budgets, he says, have taken a beating in recent years. “I’ve watched budgets get cut in half, over the years — and then in half again!” He’s also seen a trend for clients keeping projects in-house, or mixing “in the box,” which keeps work away from dedicated audio houses like his.

But while the local economy has presented challenges, he admits to using it to his advantage in one case. “I’ve purchased a lot of my equipment at 10 cents on the dollar,” he notes, having taken advantage of other studios that have closed and liquidated their gear.

The Mill NY is just the opposite. It has a large space on Broadway and is home to 100 staffers. Alistair Thompson is managing director at the studio and says he’s noticed a decline by three specific types of commercial clients: financial, automotive and big brands.

“It’s difficult to create a message while the economy is in turmoil,” he notes. “The financial companies didn’t know how to advertise their message because it was unpopular.” Big brands, he adds, are cautious not to do anything that comes off as overblown or inappropriate.

And while The Mill also handles film VFX and television work, Thompson says, “advertising is still incredibly important to us. For those who are brave, forward thinking, this is a time that is kind of opportunistic. It forces people to not sit back and tread water. [You have to] explore new avenues.” For The Mill, those new avenues come in part from “delivery.”

And what about the pressure of not only surviving, but also staying on top? “I think with any successful company there is a continual pressure to keep it successful. That just means not being complacent and not assuming what you were doing yesterday is the same thing you should be doing today.”