By Randi Altman
Tom McCarthy is an Oscar-winning sound supervisor (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and industry veteran who comes from a line of industry veterans. In addition to his role as EVP of post production facilities at Sony Pictures Studios, he was recently elected president of the MPSE (Motion Picture Sound Editor).
So why did this already busy man take on this additional role? Well, as he explains it, it is a way to give back to an industry he loves and that is in his blood. Let find out more about McCarthy and what he hopes to accomplish as MPSE president.
Why is this new role with MPSE so important to you?
My family has had a wide range of careers in the movie business. I spent my childhood in my father’s picture editorial room. I had an uncle who was a cinematographer and another uncle, Milo Lory, who was a sound effects editor. Milo won an Academy Award for Ben Hur. The movie industry has been a major part of my life and provided me with great memories and an amazing career. It is simply time to give back to an industry and community that I have been so blessed to be a part of.
What do you hope to tackle first?
The Motion Picture Sound Editors has been in existence for 63 years, promoting the art of sound and supporting its membership. It is my hope to expand its membership offering by increasing awareness and by creating new events and seminars to stimulate collaboration and mentoring of new talent. The board is considering the name “Sound Advice” for these events.
They will be hosted at different studios and facilities. I have already reached out to the management at many facilities for their support, and they have been extremely receptive. In addition, I have started to reach out to technology companies to sponsor an event where their hardware and software solutions can be presented and tested on-site by MPSE members, a kind of one-on-one NAB where companies share their tools and answer questions from the membership.
So educating and sharing information?
We are also considering the possibility of opening up a chat room on the MPSE website where members can ask and answer questions about new tools and hardware solutions, better ways to create sound elements or recordings, the ins and outs of gaming sound, and so forth. It would be a support mechanism for our membership. It would also allow students and up-and -coming talent to gain valuable knowledge early on in their careers, creating a stronger talent base for filmmakers and gaming producers. In that regard, it is my hope that sound editors in areas outside theatrical and television entertainment will increase their involvement in MPSE and provide their knowledge and experience to the organization.
Times are changing. So are the distribution methods and digital devices that share entertainment around the world. The MPSE needs to evolve with these changes and our current board is ready to do so. Most importantly, it is time for our community to share our knowledge and collaborate better to nurture new and upcoming talent. It is important for our professional members to mentor our student members.
You are clearly a believer in education and sharing information. Can you talk about how that has helped you in your career?
It doesn’t happen enough. People want to protect themselves and their careers. I hope we can change that. It is one reason that I ran for president. But this goal will not be realized unless our membership becomes more involved in the organization. Everyone must contribute to make big things happen. Our board wants it. Our membership wants it. I believe they have wanted it for a long time. It just needs a push. I strongly encourage our members — new and old — to get involved, to join the board. New ideas and fresh management is needed for the organization to evolve and diversify.
What is something about the MPSE that people might not know about, but should?
The MPSE organization is more than sound editors who work in features and television. It is a professional organization of sound supervisors, designers and editors, who are also re-recording mixers and Foley artists. Our talent supports and creates sound for all multimedia products, including features and television, and for a gaming industry that is increasing in size by leaps and bounds. Its membership is worldwide and offers anybody interested in entertainment sound the resources to expand their careers.
You started in this biz as a hands-on audio pro, do you ever get the itch to do that again?
I have to admit that it was difficult at first to turn my artistic hat in for an executive position. I still throw in my two cents on a soundtrack when asked and, yes, even sometimes when not asked.
I have been in my management role for roughly 22 years and I have enjoyed every minute. I learn something new every day about the business side of entertainment and try to incorporate that knowledge with my creative background. It helps to round out my decision-making and do what is best for filmmakers and the studios as a whole. Having the creative and business background is extremely helpful in running a post facility. I hope to use my creative knowledge and business experience to expand and strengthen the Motion Picture Sound Editors.