A sound future

Former Gisborne man, now LA-based film studio sound engineer.

Former Gisborne man, now LA-based film studio sound engineer.

TURN IT UP: From Gisborne to LA, Darren Maynard’s trajectory into sound engineering for film seems almost like destiny. Picture supplied

Cue the sound of a phone ring tone as Mark Peters calls former Gisborne man, now LA-based film studio sound engineer, Darren Maynard for a chat about his life and his work.

A joke about actors who gravitate to Los Angeles to find fame and fortune in the film industry goes, “Oh, you’re an actor? So what cafe do you work at?”

It’s cruel but funny.

On the other hand, Gisborne-born musician and sound engineer Darren Maynard made a similar leap of faith and now works in Warner Brothers’ sound department. The role seems almost like destiny.

Having started playing guitar as an eight year old Darren developed his passion for music while at Lytton High School. At that stage he was already playing in a few bands one of which was called Two Days Late. His ambition was to pursue a vocation in music.

“The school ran ‘incentive camps’ you’d go away on,” says Darren.
“We made our own incentive and stayed behind at school. Lytton High has a good music facility so we were able to jimmy up a recording set up and recorded about four songs. We did that incentive camp two years in a row.”

Darren’s two brothers shared his passion for music. Friends jokingly called the trio The Maynards after the early 1990s American pop rock band of brothers, The Hansons. Nevertheless, The Maynards were supported by their parents who built a large garage the boys converted into a studio.

“Throughout high school we had local bands come and practise at our shed. In a way it was an incubator for a lot of bands,” says Darren.

Some of the musicians to pass through the garage studio went on to play in bigger acts such as Christian metal band Saving Grace. Darren and his band even hosted Goodnight Nurse before the pop-punk act reached stardom in the early 2000s. An upsized, more ambitious gig called The Bad Show at the War Memorial Theatre in 2003 involved Two Days Late, and Auckland bands Fifth Threat, and Goodnight Nurse.

While at school Darren taught guitar and drums, performed in Smokefree Rockquest events and even toured with Two Days Late and the Arse Monkeys to perform at out-of-town centres. On leaving school he continued to teach guitar and drums with a view to pursuing a career in performance, touring and sound engineering.

When his friends moved to Hamilton to study, Darren joined them for six months in the Waikato while he figured out what future pathway he should take. He enrolled in a diploma course at SAE (School of Audio Engineering) Institute in Australia.

The full-time programme was demanding. There were no holidays and students were expected to work after hours and on weekends. From a roll of 30 the class eventually whittled down to five graduates, including Darren.

On returning to New Zealand Darren moved to Wellington in 2006 where he sought work.
“I went gung ho,” he says.

“I put my CV out everywhere, looking for work. My focus was to work in music studios as an engineer.”

During his 10 or so years in the capital he worked at various studios.
“I realised I wasn’t able to make enough money doing music alone so I cast a net and thought about moving into post-production in film. I bounced between the studio and post- production for six or seven years but I found myself moving more and more into sound post- production.”

By this stage he was helping out with ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) and Foley effects for post-production audio service, UndergroundSound. ADR is the process of re-recording dialogue by the original actor after filming to improve audio quality while Foley effects involve the recording of reproduced sounds such as footsteps, the swish of clothing and smacks heard in fist fights.

While with UndergroundSound Darren also worked at the Peter Jackson studio Park Road Post Production. The former Gisborne man was rapt when he got an invitation over the phone from the film studio “to join the family”.

“I was always working towards a higher level of work with the best,” he says.
“I haven’t ever really veered off the trajectory.”

Jackson was six months into post-sound of the first Hobbit film by the time Darren became part of the family but he got to work on all the films in the trilogy. As assistant sound effects editor, one of his many tasks was field recording to help build up an audio library. Assigned to find sounds suitable for goblins and orc vocalisations, Darren visited Wellington Zoo where he recorded baboons.

“Once recorded you master them and prepare them for the library,” he says.
“A sound designer worked on them to use as elements for the goblins.”

He suspected work could drop off after the final Hobbit film was wrapped up so he looked to the States for opportunities. The late arrival of his visa meant he was unable to join Disney’s Finding Dory film crew but even with no employment lined up, time spent in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2015 helped him further his network of connections.
“I ended up moving to Los Angeles and supervised on a couple of indie features then managed to get in with Warner Brothers.”

After about a year and a half of fulltime work with the movie-making giant, Darren is now based between Warner Brothers and other top sound facilities such as King Soundworks and Formosa Group.

“As I make more connections it opens up more opportunities to work and learn along side solid crews and film makers,” he says.

While in the US he met an advertising art director called Amy.
“She is coming back with me this summer so I can show her where I grew up and meet the mates.”

Cue the sound of a phone ring tone as Mark Peters calls former Gisborne man, now LA-based film studio sound engineer, Darren Maynard for a chat about his life and his work.

A joke about actors who gravitate to Los Angeles to find fame and fortune in the film industry goes, “Oh, you’re an actor? So what cafe do you work at?”

It’s cruel but funny.

On the other hand, Gisborne-born musician and sound engineer Darren Maynard made a similar leap of faith and now works in Warner Brothers’ sound department. The role seems almost like destiny.

Having started playing guitar as an eight year old Darren developed his passion for music while at Lytton High School. At that stage he was already playing in a few bands one of which was called Two Days Late. His ambition was to pursue a vocation in music.

“The school ran ‘incentive camps’ you’d go away on,” says Darren.
“We made our own incentive and stayed behind at school. Lytton High has a good music facility so we were able to jimmy up a recording set up and recorded about four songs. We did that incentive camp two years in a row.”

Darren’s two brothers shared his passion for music. Friends jokingly called the trio The Maynards after the early 1990s American pop rock band of brothers, The Hansons. Nevertheless, The Maynards were supported by their parents who built a large garage the boys converted into a studio.

“Throughout high school we had local bands come and practise at our shed. In a way it was an incubator for a lot of bands,” says Darren.

Some of the musicians to pass through the garage studio went on to play in bigger acts such as Christian metal band Saving Grace. Darren and his band even hosted Goodnight Nurse before the pop-punk act reached stardom in the early 2000s. An upsized, more ambitious gig called The Bad Show at the War Memorial Theatre in 2003 involved Two Days Late, and Auckland bands Fifth Threat, and Goodnight Nurse.

While at school Darren taught guitar and drums, performed in Smokefree Rockquest events and even toured with Two Days Late and the Arse Monkeys to perform at out-of-town centres. On leaving school he continued to teach guitar and drums with a view to pursuing a career in performance, touring and sound engineering.

When his friends moved to Hamilton to study, Darren joined them for six months in the Waikato while he figured out what future pathway he should take. He enrolled in a diploma course at SAE (School of Audio Engineering) Institute in Australia.

The full-time programme was demanding. There were no holidays and students were expected to work after hours and on weekends. From a roll of 30 the class eventually whittled down to five graduates, including Darren.

On returning to New Zealand Darren moved to Wellington in 2006 where he sought work.
“I went gung ho,” he says.

“I put my CV out everywhere, looking for work. My focus was to work in music studios as an engineer.”

During his 10 or so years in the capital he worked at various studios.
“I realised I wasn’t able to make enough money doing music alone so I cast a net and thought about moving into post-production in film. I bounced between the studio and post- production for six or seven years but I found myself moving more and more into sound post- production.”

By this stage he was helping out with ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) and Foley effects for post-production audio service, UndergroundSound. ADR is the process of re-recording dialogue by the original actor after filming to improve audio quality while Foley effects involve the recording of reproduced sounds such as footsteps, the swish of clothing and smacks heard in fist fights.

While with UndergroundSound Darren also worked at the Peter Jackson studio Park Road Post Production. The former Gisborne man was rapt when he got an invitation over the phone from the film studio “to join the family”.

“I was always working towards a higher level of work with the best,” he says.
“I haven’t ever really veered off the trajectory.”

Jackson was six months into post-sound of the first Hobbit film by the time Darren became part of the family but he got to work on all the films in the trilogy. As assistant sound effects editor, one of his many tasks was field recording to help build up an audio library. Assigned to find sounds suitable for goblins and orc vocalisations, Darren visited Wellington Zoo where he recorded baboons.

“Once recorded you master them and prepare them for the library,” he says.
“A sound designer worked on them to use as elements for the goblins.”

He suspected work could drop off after the final Hobbit film was wrapped up so he looked to the States for opportunities. The late arrival of his visa meant he was unable to join Disney’s Finding Dory film crew but even with no employment lined up, time spent in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2015 helped him further his network of connections.
“I ended up moving to Los Angeles and supervised on a couple of indie features then managed to get in with Warner Brothers.”

After about a year and a half of fulltime work with the movie-making giant, Darren is now based between Warner Brothers and other top sound facilities such as King Soundworks and Formosa Group.

“As I make more connections it opens up more opportunities to work and learn along side solid crews and film makers,” he says.

While in the US he met an advertising art director called Amy.
“She is coming back with me this summer so I can show her where I grew up and meet the mates.”

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