An interview with Alessandra Fasto owner of Boom City
Jessica (J): You mentioned that you co-run a company called Boom City, can you tell me a bit about the company and how you started.
Alessandra (A): It’s a film production company that started out as passion projects on subjects that we personally wanted to document without having to think about how to market it. Any spare money went into those projects. One I’m particularly proud of is the documentary series “Inside Turntablists”. In the first and second seasons we documented scratch DJs from around Europeand we’re about to release season 3 which features some of the best scratch DJs from the USA and Canada. We were going into these legendary people’s studios and homes which was a really great experience.
J: So what is it that you do at Boom City?
A: I do a bit of everything, sound of course, producing, directing, concept development and even accounts.
J: Do you ever go out and record?
A: For work of course but I also enjoy recording random sounds out and about with my geofon.
J: Is there anything you’ve been working on recently?
A: The year’s started really busy. In January, I was shooting in Snowdonia for a week which was great. Unfortunately I can’t say much more as the projects I’ve been working on aren’t out yet.
J: Yeah of course. Is there anything that you can talk about, something that has been released, something that you worked on previously?
A: Last year I worked on a bunch of great projects all over the UK, a few really cool ones with Spitfire Audio. One that springs to mind is “Aperture: The Stack” documentary. They played vintage synths and guitars through 56 guitar amps that were stacked vertically on a scaffold in Air Studios at Lyndhurst Hall. It’s amazing how they managed to achieve such a beautiful and clean sound, while breaking the world record for the largest amount of amps ever recorded.
J: That sounds amazing. So do you get to travel quite a lot?
A: Before the pandemic I’d travel internationally for work quite often but unfortunately not so much last year. But I have a few projects on the horizon, one is in Munich, which I’m excited about.
J: That sounds good. I love travelling.
A: I love working on set but yea the best shoots are the ones which involve travelling, it’s just a good vibe. My friends and family think it’s always a holiday but it’s not at all, you don’t have time for anything touristic. By the end of each day you’re exhausted and all you can do is prep and put everything on charge for the next day. It’s always an adventure though and when you’re with a good group of people it kinda feels like a school trip, it’s like being a kid again.
J: That’s nice. It’s nice working in a team, isn’t it?
A: Yea it’s great. I’m blessed to have met a lot of nice people through work.
J: When you’re working on set what is one piece of kit you just couldn’t live without?
A: I guess my headphones haha. But I do love it when I’m able to use my shotgun as well as a lav, it’s a more expensive piece of equipment and usually sounds way better.
J: What Shotgun Mic are you using at the moment?
A: I’ve got a Sennheiser MKH8060 and I recently got an indoor boom mic I’m very happy with, the Neumann KM184, I actually got both of them from you guys.
J: Both are good mics.
A: They’re great, I love how natural they sound.
J: Nice. So how long have you been working in Sound?
A: I started while I was studying at Point Blank but it was really slow at the start , I still had to work in a pub while studying. I had no clue how to find clients, how the industry worked. But I’ve been doing it professionally around 7 years.
J: Was there anyone in particular or was there something that inspired you to get into the location sound industry.
A: I actually ended up in the industry by chance.
J: Everyone has said that. Every woman that I have interviewed so far has said that it’s been by chance that they’ve stumbled across it and then gone actually I absolutely love it.
A: Yes I was asked to help out a friend on a shoot because I studied sound and I just really enjoyed it, so it started from there. I’ve heard from quite a few people who’ve studied film, that there are not many students who end up choosing sound out of all the roles in the industry and within that minority there are even fewer women.
J: We’re a minority in a minority. When you’ve been working in the industry have you ever noticed or felt like you’ve been treated differently because you are a woman?
A: I have been fortunate enough to never come across anything like that or any discrimination. I can’t know if I ever didn’t get a job because I’m a woman but recently I’ve had a lot of requests because everyone is looking for female sound recordists as they’re trying to build all-female crews for IWD.
J: That is good. A lot of the women have said that it’s difficult to tell whether they are beingmistreated because they are a woman or whether it is for something else but they have all said that they have all been able to keep their jobs because they are good at what they do.
A: As a general rule women are good listeners haha.
J: Yes for sure.
A: But more seriously, I guess it could be easy to fall into the prejudice trap and assume that us women are mistreated as it’s a male dominated industry..? But I never thought of it like that myself. I think it’s easy to take things personally as a sound recordist, male or female, as you have to deal with a lot of disappointment. No one gives as much importance to the sound as they do to the picture. Directors and DOPs always get as many takes as they need for one scene and if I say I need one more for sound there's rarely enough time. The directors rarely monitor the sound on headphones, they’re only hearing the sound of the room and if I point out a problem they turn and say “sounded good to me!” . The problem is, even if they did monitor the sound through headphones they don’t know what to listen out for. So it feels like Christmas when a director trusts my judgement.
J: Well, of course, you’re trained to listen out for certain things and they’re not. So my last question is, do you have any advice for women wanting to get into not only this industry but an industry that is quite male-dominated?
A: I’d say don’t overthink it, just go for it , be curious and don’t be shy to ask questions. Fake it until you make it! I learned in the field and it’s always a learning curve, like anything in life.If you really want to do it, be willing to work on passion projects and grab any opportunity that will help you build a portfolio. Money will come in time. I’d give this advice to anyone, male or female.
J: I think that’s good advice. A lot of people do get hung up on the money but if this is really something you want to do then go for it.
If you would like to see more of what Alessandra and Boom City have been working on then click here.