Gregory King is a supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer whose career spans more than 70 films, including The Founder, Hancock, Friday Night Lights
and The Insider,
for which received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound. He has mixed countless TV series too — many for the creatives that he’s made movies for. He recently took time to detail his career path exclusively for Post.
“I started my career in sound post production in Toronto in 1986. To be honest, at the time I had no idea that sound post production even existed. I had moved to Toronto from Montreal to pursue a career in music as an artist/producer. While looking for a day job, my aunt and uncle, who worked in broadcasting, mentioned that there was a small sound post production department at the TV station where they worked, and they were looking for an apprentice. I bluffed my way into the job and my first assignment was working on a TV cop show for producer Sonny Grosso.
“Sonny was famously portrayed by Roy Scheider in the 1971 Oscar-winning movie The French Connection. That was the start of a seven-year relationship where I did the sound on most of the shows that Sonny produced. They were mostly high-octane shows with lots of car chases, gun-fights and lots of action, so I was able to really hone my skills.
“This was also in the era where digital audio was still an exotic concept. I immediately gravitated to using digital samplers and sequencers to construct my sound. I was one of the first — if not the first person — to use Digidesign's Pro Tools in post sound. Not that it makes a difference, but for all of you that boot up Pro Tools and go, you can thank the early pioneers like myself who stayed up nights figuring out how to keep the damn thing in sync with picture!
“I came down to Los Angeles in 1994 to do one movie, which was The Santa Claus for a Walt Disney Studios. That one film turned into a second film, then a third, which turned into 25 years. I was working under the name Sound Dogs up until about eight years ago. Then I changed the name to King Soundworks. I co-founded SoundDogs.com, the largest sound effects library in the world, as well as Sound Dogs in Toronto.
“Having three entities with the same name was confusing, so I changed the name of the operation here in LA to King Soundworks (https://www.kingsoundworks.com). Although I am no longer involved in Sound Dogs Toronto, it is still going strong, and I have a lot of pride and admiration for the company. They were nominated for the Best Sound Oscar last year for The Shape of Water, and this year, Sound Dogs alumnus Craig Henighan was nominated for a Best Sound Oscar for Roma. In 1999, I was the supervising sound editor and a re-recording mixer on The Insider, which was nominated for a Best Sound Oscar.
“When we originally formed the company in Toronto, we did it for the express purpose to take sound editing to the next level. I know that sounds corny, but we considered ourselve young hotshots and wasted no energy telling everybody that. We experimented heavily with digital technology, which including helping Avid create the OMF platform, which led to today’s AAF. We also created a culture heavily based on mentorship of talent. That culture is still a top priority for me here at King Soundworks, and I know that still to be the case with Sound Dogs Toronto. And I believe that emphasis on nurturing and developing strong talent has been the key to any success we’ve had.
“Even with all the great movies and television shows we’ve had the pleasure of working on, we’ve remained a small shop. That is by design in order to keep the operation very personal and the quality of the work very high. Most of the talent here at King Soundworks wears both hats, meaning that most of us are re-recording mixers and sound designers/supervising sound editors.
“Before I started mixing and I was a sound designer, it used to irk me that I would spend two or three months working on a project and then show up at a mix stage and hand off the material to guys who are starting stone cold on the project, not having any history with it. It wasn’t very productive, and I think the projects can suffer as a result of that.
“Back in the early ‘90s when I started this company, no one was supervising and mixing except for the gang at Skywalker Sound. I thought the work they were doing was brilliant. So, I decided to embrace their business model. So, with most of the projects we do at King Soundworks, the crew mixing a project is also the crew that constructed the soundtrack and designed it, and are very intimate with it. By the time our clients get to the mix stage, whether it’s a feature film or TV series, the whole crew is very invested in the project.
“Currently, we have about eight supervising sound editors and re-recording mixers. We all go back-and-forth between TV and features, as we all have extensive experience in both. This has worked out very well because we are finding that a great deal of the television projects we work on are being done by very experienced film directors. We currently have full-service post production facilities in Burbank, another one sandwiched between the beautiful cities of Sherman Oaks and Lake Balboa, and we have a studio in Beverly Hills that is a co-venture with Seth MacFarlane‘s Fuzzy Door Productions.
Sometimes I look back and think, ‘How did the past 25 years go by so fast?’ But I know the answer. I was fortunate enough to find my passion early and never stopped. I’ve never lost my love for sound and production, and the challenge of finding solutions for both creative and technical problems continues to fascinate me.
“How did I get so lucky? I’m not sure. But I continue to be grateful for an incredible life as I enjoy the ride.”