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Bahar - International Women's Day 2022

Wednesday, 9 March 2022  |  Pinknoise

An interview with Bahar from SoundCatchers

Jessica (J): Tell me a bit about what you do at SoundCatchers and how you got into the role?

Bahar (B): I am one of his location soundies, it was pot luck how I got into it really. I was a receptionist at a production company and I was really bored because when you work in a production office you see all these people do these exciting things and I was there telling people to wash up their cups and I was bored out of my mind. I have a music background and a producer friend of mine said you should mess around with some of the kit you have here and see if you like it. He showed me how to hold a boom and hook up 2 Sennheiser radio mics to the camera and I thought this was cool. I quite like this. It kinda grew from there. I started shadowing people on shoots and then slowly built the confidence up to do shoots on my own, little social media campaigns. I emailed a few people and it grew from there. There was one day, I received an email from someone offering me a four-day shoot for a campaign for this girl can. I went and did that shoot which was with global as well, when I saw it I was like I can’t say no, that’s one of the biggest companies I can possibly think of emailing me. I did the shoot and I guess I made an impression and one of the Producers said oh I know this guy Paul and he’s looking for soundies, maybe get in touch. Within a week I spoke to him and he was like when can you quit your job, I can train you up and I’ll help you with the kit and you can be on your way. It was an amazing opportunity that I grasped. It’s grown from there and he put me straight onto a BBC drama which will be coming out in March where I was a second assistant. I learnt how it all worked and I’ve fallen in love with sound because I’ve had a music background for such a long time and I did music production, produced all of my own stuff but you know how it is in the music game it was quite saturated and I lost a lot of confidence because nothing was happening. Then when I discovered this side of sound I was just like this is my calling and I was just really happy to be a part of it really because as we all know there are not many women in this industry. That’s kind of my story, I just played around with some kit and met some good people and it grew from there.

J: That is a lot of people's stories actually, they fall into it by accident and they fall in love with it and realise it’s amazing.

B: It's so good. We need to promote more people to do it, and more women to do it because it's great. You meet so many people. I love a challenge so doing sound was perfect for me because it was familiar in one sense but quite unfamiliar in some ways and I'm still learning the kit and the difference between mics, different mixers and how to set things up. I feel like with this role in particular I'm constantly learning and constantly growing within the industry and I'm so excited to see what the future holds. I’ve only been freelance since last year but I started the whole journey probably at the end of 2018 so it’s not been too long.

J: Well yes, obviously you’ve had a pandemic in the middle of that.

B: Yeah, exactly. So everything went to a standstill.

J: What’s something that you’ve been working on recently?

B: I do a lot of social campaigns and branded content so one of my big clients is Global so I do lots of stuff with them, I did their Christmas Campaigns, worked at Jingle Bell Ball which was really fun. I’ve done a few commercial shoots and I've worked with some sports brands quite recently which was really fun doing some of their campaigns like Nike. I can mention this one because it’s out now. It was called (send what it was called) and they had this presenter and she’s from a radio station and she wanted to learn how to dance so Nike made a mini-documentary about going to this dance club in the community and learning how to do it. That was like a mini-documentary which was really fun. It’s different every single day. Lots of branded content, a few junkets and yeah it’s just something different every day.

J: That’s good. I think a lot of people say that about this industry, there’s always something different, there's always something going on which is what they like because they’re not just sitting in the same room every day.

B: That’s it. I think that’s what kinda drew me to the role as well because as you can probably tell I love a chat. I’m an ex receptionist and that was all I did all day so it’s brilliant now. I find networking quite easy purely because I like talking to people and I am genuinely interested in what people have to say. So when I’m on these shoots I'm meeting new people all the time and it’s brilliant. I can learn different things as well, cameras baffle me a little bit but we’re getting there.

J: I know what you mean, they’re quite technical sometimes.

B: Yeah, and they’re all completely different. When I'm setting up sound and sound to camera there’s always something slightly different with every camera so I'm just getting my head around it, but we get there in the end.

J: Obviously with the role, it’s very heavy and you’re always doing long hours. How do you keep a good work-life balance?

B: At the moment we’ve had that January lul, it was quite nice to have that time because it’s just busy. I’m still working on that work-life balance and it’s gotten much better since I got out of full-time employment. I used to just work all the time and 5 days a week is just knackering. I tend to work around 3 to 4 days a week and that works for me as it’s not always consecutive days, like this week is quite on and off which I quite like. I have a dog as well so I try to really switch off when I’m not working to try and keep myself sane because you’re right it’s long hours and it’s always quite intense, it’s intense on my ears especially when I do documentaries. I have been working on a few where the topics have been quite sensitive and there have been quite intense scenes so when it comes to days like that and a work-life balance I try to make sure on days off I do a lot of self-care and look after myself. I suffer from epilepsy so I have to make sure that it’s not too full on.

J: It’s good that you’re still able to continue to do this kind of thing with Epilepsy because obviously, it’s so demanding.

B: Yeah, because I've been working on making sure I get enough rest. It's been ok. I try to make sure I get a good balance. Sometimes it does happen where I’ve had a seizure out of the blue and I’ve got a shoot starting the next day at 7am, luckily because I’m a part of SoundCatchers and they’re all amazing and so lovely. I'm lucky enough to have a team to help me out. Luckily that’s not had to happen too much because Paul knows about everything so we’re all quite sensitive to it.

J: When you’re working on set what is one piece of equipment that you couldn’t live without?

B: My Mixer. That’s the main thing.

J: What mixer do you use?

B: I use a Sound Devices 633, when I first started out I was using the Zoom F8 and then when I joined Soundcatchers I switched to the Sound Devices and I love it. They’re brilliant, and my Wisys, I use my Wisys all the time, I have Wisycom Radio Mics and I use the DPA lavs and they’re my staple bit of equipment, I don’t go anywhere without them. Even when they just ask for a boom I never just trust that. Boom is always best but I am the type of person to have 4 contingency plans just in case because you know what it’s like with a technical job something will happen and you just have to be ready and on the ball and have another solution. When doing this job you have to be organised with your kit. My radios and my mixer are my babies.

J: That’s a good choice on the Radios and the Mixer.

B: Eventually I will slowly grow and I'd love to have a big old trolley but all in good time as they’re so expensive. Need to do a few more jobs before I can get that.

J: You mentioned earlier that you’ve been working since 2018.

B: Yeah, I started learning about everything in 2018 and then throughout 2019 I did a lot of shadowing, I didn’t even have a mixer then. I was doing small corporate shoots with a really good friend of mine who is a producer. It was mainly plugged into the camera and people were very patient with me. As it wasn’t too intense with the kit and everything, at that point I was just using COS-11s and Sennheiser G3s. Once I got my head around that it was just going on from there. Going back to something I can’t live without, it’s an app. It’s called Frequency Finder. At first, when Paul said I should download it I thought it was expensive for an app but it was probably the best £30 I have ever spent. That is definitely something to add to the list, I recommend that for everyone. Don’t think about the price of it, I'm always reluctant to pay money for apps. I started full-time last year in May.

J: Has there been anyone who’s inspired you to get into the industry or was there anything in particular that made you want to do this?

B: When I was working at the production company, it was purely out of curiosity that I got into it but there wasn’t anyone within the sound industry that inspired me because personally I have a music background and I could tell you a bunch of music producers. I’m still learning about big soundies in the location sound industry. I’d have to say my friends who are producers are the people that got me into this, they didn’t have to show me how to use a mic. Being in Soundcatchers is quite inspirational, we have a WhatsApp group and I love how enthusiastic everyone is. That in itself is inspiring and the jobs that we are doing. I just love how Paul's business has grown into this little family so that is what inspires me, it’s like seeing your little sister do something cool. Now I'm in the loop, it’s nice to be a part of that and that’s what inspires me. Some of the boys do bigger jobs and I can’t wait to get to that stage. Eventually, I will get there, it takes time and I'm happy to go on that journey. The advice that I would give anyone going into this industry is to be patient because there is so much to learn. I still have loads to learn about the kit but I'm not panicking that I don’t know everything because I am lucky enough to have people to ask. Keep your eyes and ears open to what's going on so you’re able to learn. I have no idea what the future holds, one day maybe I’ll have my own business. Right now all I’m thinking is that I just want to learn and I love being in Soundcatchers.

J: Have you noticed ever being treated differently because you’re a woman?

B: I have been quite lucky in that sense. It’s quite funny actually because I’m a woman it’s not hindered me it’s actually helped me because people are now trying to make this movement of having more women, just diversifying the crew because it is usually middle-aged white men. I have had a couple of times where you get the older crew members who ask are you sure you want to do that. They try to make you second guess, am I doing this right if they’re questioning that? People are usually quite open to helping you when you ask. I’m someone who will ask how to do something because I would rather learn than struggle. It’s helped me get work because I am a woman which is mental in its own way but at the same time I’m not complaining. I’m currently trying to get my friends interested in Sound because they’re trying to get into the production side of music. I’m trying to plant that seed. I feel within the community people should pass their knowledge on as that’s how everything progresses. But a lot of the time I will turn up and they will ask are you the producer, or costume automatically because I am a woman, I get that quite a lot.

J: Is there any advice you would like to give women wanting to get not only into this industry but any other heavily male-dominated industry?

B: Just be open to new opportunities. If there's something that interests you regardless of whether it’s in Production or if you want to be an Electrician or a Plumber these more male jobs just talk to people. Usually, people are always open to giving information. Don’t see it as networking, if you’re interested in something then there’s no harm in asking. I work on a basis of if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Even if you feel like you’re being a little cheeky sometimes, it can come across as endearing. If someone is standoffish about it then find someone else to talk to. Just be open to opportunities.

J: I agree, you should try not to say no to things. If there’s an opportunity, go for it.

B: Yes, also know your worth because you don’t want people to take advantage of you. After a while, if you have enough experience don’t be afraid to negotiate pay. It’s still a big thing in most industries and with women, in particular, being nervous to ask about rates. Don’t be scared to talk about money because at the end of the day what you do is a skill and you deserve to be paid for it whatever industry it is. It’s about being open but also knowing your worth.

If you would like to find out more and see what Bahar has been working on then click the links below.

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