Sony Pictures Post Production Services
Culver City, CA
In my hometown in Connecticut, there were a lot of musicians… maybe there was something in the water. Anyhow, a lot of people played music, on weekends, in someone’s house or garage. And so as a boy, I played music and when I went to college, I played in a pretty good band.
I had only been in college for two years when I was invited by a friend of my father’s to become an intern at Todd-AO in Hollywood. I had no idea what they did. Almost everyone I went to high school with still lives within five miles of their home. Most of the guys became doctors or lawyers. But I moved to California with two guitars. I lived five minutes from Todd-AO and I worked as a gopher. It was 1976.
Todd-AO was a unique place. It was an independent company and it had an amazing client base — Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Billy Friedkin, Hal Ashby. Many of them had offices there. Their cutting rooms were there. They knew the receptionist as well as they knew the mixers. Steven Spielberg would become upset if they changed something about the men’s room or the lobby. They felt like they owned the place.
Fred Hines, the president of Todd-AO, was really cool. He made me do every job and I began working my way up. At that time, rock ‘n’ roll was just becoming integral to movie sound, and so a lot of famous rock artists came to Todd. Led Zeppelin was there. Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead. And when they’d arrive they’d often notice the one long-haired punk — everyone else was in their fifties or sixties — and they’d go to the scheduling office and say, “We want to work with him.”
That was my big break. It started me on a path that would eventually lead me to work on more than 160 films (to date) and earn two Academy Awards (The Last of the Mohicans and Out of Africa). At Todd-AO, I became the youngest mixer in Hollywood. I was 24 and I was running my own stage. It was magic.