Steve ‘Major’ Giammaria is a supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer at Sound Lounge in New York City. Here, he looks back at his early career and the 10 years he’s since spent at one of the East Coast’s top audio facilities.
I started working at Sound Lounge in 2006, the same year that the Film + Television department was created. Since then I have risen through the ranks to become a supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer. Even though I came upon this career almost by accident, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Growing up, I was always interested in technology and music. From a young age, I had access to a computer in the house, and I started playing the saxophone in fourth grade. I had a passion for music, but enough self-awareness to know I wasn’t good enough to make a career out of it. Looking for a more practical combination for my music and technology interests, I landed at SUNY Fredonia for Sound Recording.
After graduating, I realized recording music wasn’t a very realistic career goal anymore. During my college years, the music industry went through a transformation and most of the large music studios folded. With an uncertain path ahead, I took a job in live sound reinforcement at a casino in upstate New York. Ultimately, I wasn’t cut out for the crazy schedule, but I learned a lot while I was there. This gig taught me to be prepared for anything, to work quickly under pressure and to always have a backup to the backup.
While searching for a new job, I heard a classmate of mine from Fredonia had recently started working at Sound Lounge. At the time, they were hiring for a new machine room assistant. So, with the new job opportunity and the added bonus of knowing they had a long history of hiring Fredonia Alumni, I packed up and moved straight to the big city. Well, technically to Jersey.
As an assistant, I learned the business from the ground up, prepping and wrapping sessions and observing the more experienced mixers. I spent a few years in that position, learning and developing as an engineer. Once I found my way into Sound Lounge's growing Film + Television division, I began assisting Tony Volante on the mix stage. Over the next several years, I learned volumes (see what I did there… that’s an audio pun). I finally felt at home. Sound Lounge offered the perfect balance between the technical and artistic skills that originally drew me to the industry.
Gradually, I started taking on my own projects and eventually transitioned into editing and mixing full time. I really enjoy working on the different types of projects that come through Sound Lounge. Both narrative and documentary films present their own challenges, but in the end, it’s all about supporting the filmmaker’s artistic vision. My recent works include three Tribeca Film Festival premiers: All We Had, Custody and The Last Laugh, Alex Gibney’s recently released documentary Zero Days, and the soon to be released Brother Nature by Matt & Oz of Saturday Night Live (RIP Matt Villines).
As I mentioned, with my early love for technology, it’s probably no surprise that I delight in exploring new techniques and plug-ins. The last few years have brought about sweeping technical changes to a fairly stagnant workflow in audio post, and it’s really exciting. I've seen older facilities and more established artists be reluctant to try new things, afraid to upset what has worked for so long. Innovation and advances typically happen in the lower budgets with the younger crews, who are pushing for better results with limited time and resources
This brings us to today. It’s been 10 years since I joined the Sound Lounge team, and I’m still excited to go to work every day. Oh, and I love keyboard shortcuts. Love 'em!