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Charlotte - International Women's Day 2022

Friday, 4 March 2022  |  Pinknoise

An interview with Charlotte Homeshaw from Fresh Audio TV - referred by Ashley Gadd from Fresh Audio TV

Jessica (J): Tell me a bit about your role at Fresh Audio and how did you get into it?

Charlotte (C): I’m a Sound Recordist at Fresh Audio. I got into it because I started as a camera assistant but I always wanted to do sound. I liked cameras but I didn’t really want to be an operator. Camera departments only think of the camera whereas I feel like in Sound you float about and chat to everyone which is a bit more like me. I dabbled in Sound Operating with an old-school Sound Supervisor that I knew and then I was on a shoot one day with a director and he asked what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to get into sound. Luckily he said he had a mate who works for a sound company and he gave me his number and I called him up and said hi I want a job. It was Ryan, who is now my boss and he said ok let's meet tomorrow and that’s how I got into Fresh Audio.

J: You’ve got to put yourself out there, you don’t just get things given to you.

C: Exactly.

J: What do you do on a day to day basis?

C: Well it depends on what time of year it is. In the quiet periods we do daily shoots. We can do different shoots every day, different clients every day and I’ll be a Sound Recordist and record the audio. In the busy periods, we do bigger shows with a rig like Too Hot to Handle. Shows like that, we use multiple Sound Recordists and work as Fresh Audio and with multiple of us on one shoot which is very fun. We have Sound Recordists, Trainees, Junior Sound Recordists so there are jobs for everyone. I did a lot of assisting last year because we didn’t have any Trainees or Assistants and a lot of the big jobs require that so I ended up being an Assistant Supervisor on a lot of them. I love assisting, I think it’s really fun. You are busier than if you’re a Sound Recordist which is weird.

 

J: Well yeah you do all the dog work don’t you. You run around doing all the bits for people.

C: Yeah literally. It’s all really preemptive whereas sound recording is really reactive so you can’t do anything until it happens. Assisting is very fun but obviously, I wanted to be a Sound Recordist so this year I said I’m not doing any assisting. We’ve hired some new trainees as well, I’ve been training them up.

J: I bet that’s been fun.

C: Yeah it is really fun actually. It’s funny training people up when obviously I haven’t been in the game that long compared to a lot of people. I feel like a bit of a fraud and I think am I qualified to do this? When you actually do it you realise oh I do know what I’m doing.

J: Of course, you know what you’re doing. What’s something that you’ve been working on recently?

C: I actually just got back from New York on Saturday. I was working with ITV’s This Morning, they were promoting different places for competitions which was fun. And now I’m on a new dating show for a few weeks which is fun, currently staying in the lovely holiday inn in Brighton. I haven’t had any big shoots this year. The last big one I did was for Apple TV and we went around and looked at the world's best hotels. Which was great. It was just two Sound Recordists but we were doing Dolby 5.1 and atmos. There was only one on-screen talent so one of us was doing on talent scenes and one of us was going around with a boom mic recording atmosphere for three weeks. That was great, it was really fun. They were in some nice places so we went to Venice and the Maldives.

 

J: Do you enjoy travelling?

C: I love travelling. It's part of the reason I got into it because I started in a studio and there’s no travelling. You are just in one place and I’d go mad, I don’t really like seeing the same four walls too frequently. So when I had my interview with Ryan he asked how are you with travelling? I said I’ve just come back from travelling so I’d happily go away again. Just keep sending me away. I like it because it is so last minute. A few weeks ago I got asked to go to Portugal with 48hrs notice. It’s good, it’s a lot of travelling and obviously, covid was a bit of a weird time but now it’s pretty much back to normal. I love the travelling aspect of it, you do get to see some cool things.

J: You get to see some cool places as well by the sounds of things.

C: Yeah you get to see it from different eyes as well. You almost get the behind the scenes look at it. Which is fun. You end up meeting loads of locals because you get fixes out there who help you and runners. We had a guy in New York who was our driver and our production assistant so he was showing us all the cool places in New York. He then said come back and hit me up and I'll take you through the proper New York experience! I went just before the pandemic on holiday and then now which was really interesting because we were filming about New York before and after covid. So now I've seen both sides.

J: How do you handle the work-life balance obviously because everything is so last minute how’d you make sure you have a good social life?

C: It’s very hard. Obviously, weekends don’t exist in the TV industry, bank holidays don’t exist, you just work every day. We get annual leave and if we work weekends we get lieu days so they tend to build up. After last year I had a month of lieu days to take because we were doing long 6-week shoots where you work weekends so I had so many built up. I don’t mind because I love work and I don’t work to live, I live to work because I love it so much. Which is probably not a healthy work-life balance.

J: I don’t know. I think it’s quite healthy to enjoy what you do.

C: Well yeah that’s it. I think it’s so rare that you do love what you do and to me, my work doesn’t often feel like work because I enjoy it so much. You’re around people all the time and you’re constantly meeting people and that is such a social part of it in itself so I never feel like I need to go and have a social life as well. Obviously, my friends are like you need to take a weekend off and come see us.I said to my flatmate I'll be in the UK a lot this year and the next day I was like oh I’m going to Portugal. I go tomorrow. Obviously, you do have to have that healthy balance and it is hard but then if I want to go on holiday I’ll just take the time off and take it as leave. Or if it’s say a quieter week I’ll ask if I can have a few lieu days this week and I try and take the time to see people. Most of the time Sundays are free so I try and see people then but yeah it is hard but I don’t really think about it I guess.

J: Yeah I feel like especially in the industry you end up working with your friends because it’s so social so it doesn’t always feel like you don’t have that balance because you’re having fun with my friends anyway.

C: Yeah exactly. Especially when you’re on location cause you’ll go out and drink in the evenings which is so social. I think if I did that and then socialised whilst I’m at home I’d be exhausted.

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

C: Besides the mixer which I can’t do my job without or my headphones. I would say my tape couldn't live without. I remember when I first started, I’d always forget to unclip them and clip them to my belt when going to mic someone up I'd have to run back and get them. The other staple would be my reusable coffee cups, a constant stream of coffee is needed. I always have Smints, you don’t want to go and mic someone with smelly breath. Just a well-organised Peli case is all I need, I spent so many hours organising it. You need to know where everything is. I love it when I open it up and people are like wow that’s the most organised Peli case I’ve ever seen.

 

J: That’s good. I think organisation is obviously key and your recorders are really important. So how long have you been working on location sound?

C: So for location sound well at Fresh Audio two and half years I started September 2019 so just before COVID really. I got to January and I was just starting to go out as a Junior Recordist on freebie and very low budget stuff and assisting and then COVID happened and I was furloughed for 4 months. No one was making anything and we had a few of our guys working remotely on zoom stuff and we’d send kit out occasionally but there was nothing to do. When we came out of the pandemic in July Ryan my boss was like I’m just going to put you out as a Sound Recordist because I know you can do it.

J: You’ve just got to jump into the deep end.

C: Yeah exactly and to be honest that’s how I want to work, I love just being thrown in because you just have to do it then, you have no choice. Since July 2020, I haven’t stopped, so it's been good. I’ve been on daily shoots every day so there was a month where I I had 2 days off, I was jumping from shoot to shoot. It was good though because it was when we were in a lockdown.

J: I bet everyone was quite jealous of the fact you got to do stuff.

C: Everyone hated me. Especially in the January lockdown last year I got called out to Turks and Caicos with 48 hours notice to cover someone and I went there for a month the whole of January and my friends all blocked me on Instagram and said we just don’t want to talk to you right now. I was like sorry I’m working.

J: What did you do before this?

C: My dad is a camera operator so on the weekends I would get my pocket money by going cable bashing with him on shoots when I turned 17/18 and helping him sort out the kit. I got into TV through him and I loved it and thought this is my calling. I did that and then properly started my camera training and camera assisting on shoots through people I met through him. I started working on Big Brother as a camera trainee and the BBC Live Lounges. Then I went to Uni and studied Film and still did freelance camera assisting at the weekend but everyone at Uni either wanted to be a DOP or a Director. I didn’t want to do that. I ended up specialising in sound recording at Uni and because there was no one in the three years of my course who wanted to be a Sound Recordist so I ended up doing the sound on everyone's films even the final year films when I was in my second year. I ended up getting a lot of experience through that. I really had to push my Uni to teach me because they didn’t realise anyone wanted to focus on sound. They had a foley studio but we hardly used it and they had an 8-hour course but they don’t offer it to Film students. I said but if I want to do it I’m literally paying £9k to come here a year.

J: Also sound is such a big part of films it doesn't make sense why they put it as such a backburner.

C: Literally! I don’t understand. I really had to push for them to teach me the new kit. So yeah I got the taste for it there and loved it. I dabbled in Sound Design for our films which I really liked but I don’t like sitting down in a studio all day so I decided it needs to be on location.

J: You can do a bit of both but I agree, getting out there is so much better.

C: Yeah, I think maybe when I’m a bit older and I’ve had enough of running around like a headless chicken I might go back to that. But at the moment I definitely need to be out and about. When I came out of Uni I went travelling and went back into camera assisting for about a year. My dad was friends with a Soundie who ran a sound studio, fixed rig kind of things and he gave me a bit of experience here and there just coming in and shadowing. Then one day he was doing Blind Date and was like I really need a female Sound Operator. Then when there was a lot of controversy surrounding TV he said we can’t have males going into female dressing rooms and I know you’ve never been a Sound Operator before but I need you to do this. I went with another female Sound Recordist called Di, she works on the Good Morning Shows in the studio. She looked after me and took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. He said I know you’re not a scaredy-cat I know you’ll just get on and do it. That was really fun and that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do, I wasn’t sure about working in the studio but I liked the whole sound department. It was interesting because that was the first time I had properly worked in the Sound Department and seen the camera department from another view and I knew I didn't want to be in that department. And then when I came back from travelling I nearly stayed out there for longer, nearly sacked off the work I had booked and I was like no I’ll come back and do the jobs because if I want to go back out I will and then that’s when I met the director who told me about Fresh Audio. So it worked out full circle.

 

J: Everything happens for a reason. Well talking about the fact you got the job because you’re a woman have you ever been mistreated because you’re a woman in the sound industry?

C: The TV world is very male-dominated and I do feel like there is a preconception of you’re a woman, you’re not strong, you can’t carry the heavy kit and you can’t stand up for yourself. I  think it’s not so much the younger creatives that are coming in but it’s definitely the old school guys that think this. I get people say when I come on set like oh you’re the first female Sound Recordist I’ve ever worked with, I think that's really that’s bad. They definitely do have an idea in their head but then they see your work and they’re like oh ok there’s nothing you can’t do that a male Sound Recordist can do. People think you can’t stand up for yourself or you can’t be dominating on set, not that you want to be the most dominating one there but you have to get your job done at the end of the day. I think some people will walk over you if you let them. There are a few scenarios where I’ve had to prove myself where I know a man would never have to do. I think in the job role, you have to be confident because you have to go in and fake it till you make it. That’s what I always tell the newbies. I can tell you’re not confident and I don’t want to tell that. It’s so hard being a woman on set because sometimes you are the only woman on set but I think you just have to hold your own. The carrying heavy kit thing really winds me up and I don’t know why. I hate it when I pick up a box and someone takes it off me, it happens so often and I’m like let me carry the box. They don’t mean it maliciously at all, it's just the way that people are programmed. It’s the way society has portrayed women for so many years that we’re weak. My dad always says don’t give yourself an injury, you don't have to prove anything. I do have to prove it otherwise it will not change. Things like that I do find annoying. There was one time when I was working with a really old school DOP and he just really wasn’t nice to me and I don’t know whether it was because I am a female. He would constantly blame me for having a boom shadow everywhere and I would say that’s not my boom and even the actors would look at me and be like yeah that’s not your boom. I know it’s not my boom, I do know what I’m doing. I'm here for a reason.

J: Exactly and I think that’s what people have got to remember is you’ve been hired for a reason.

C: Yeah, they’re not throwing me in for willy nilly. I do know what I’m doing to an extent. There’s been a few occasions where I've been treated like that because I’m a woman or is it just how that person is.

J: Yeah it’s hard to tell sometimes, especially now and it’s definitely getting a lot better.

C: Yeah, but on the whole as soon as you present yourself on set as confident and I know what I’m doing, I’m not going to take any shit they’re like oh ok you’re here to do your job. I do always feel like I have to prove myself sometimes which is a bit exhausting.

J: Yeah but you got this. So this is my last question. What piece of advice would you give women wanting to get into not necessarily just this industry but any heavily male dominated industry?

C: I just think you’ve got to go for it and there will always be times where you have to prove yourself, still to this day sometimes I feel like a fraud. There will be times on set where I think this is weird that I’m doing this but I think you’ve just got to put yourself out there and I don’t think you even have to prove yourself you just have to go for it. Obviously, it’s hard to go into an industry that is heavily male-dominated being a woman because there will always be preconceptions about you doing your job and there will always be a stigma around it and I don’t know whether there will ever be a time where there won't be. I think there are some misconceptions about the fact you can’t be girly, you can't be feminine either. I was on set recently and there was a female DOP where I was covering one of our other female recordists but when I walked in she was like oh is this the pretty girl sound recording club. Which I found was a really weird thing to say.

J: That is odd isn’t it. Why can’t people be pretty?

C: I was like oh ok and then walked away because I’m not being spoken to like that. Also, it came from a female which I found weird. I don’t know whether it was meant maliciously, I just wouldn’t expect that from another female crew member. But yeah I just think you’ve got to go for it and don’t even think about the fact it’s male-dominated and dominate your role and if you want to do it then you’ll do a great job. The world needs to change in a way where women are seen to be in these high power roles. People need to give other people a chance, if my boss hadn’t hired me I wouldn’t be where I am. I think I was probably hired because I am a female and I wanted to be a Sound Recordist but you keep getting hired because you’re good at what you do. I will go onto jobs because I am a female Sound Recordist, I am there to tick a box but then I will get rehired because I know what I’m doing. The ticking the box thing will hopefully go away but it will just be like oh you’re a Sound Recordist let's hire you. But overall I just think you’ve got to go for it and get in there and put yourself forward.

 

If you would like to see what Charlotte has worked on or you would like to work with her then please click here.

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