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SOUND AND MUSIC

Job Title: Adr Supervisor

Job Overview

The ADR (automatic dialogue replacement) supervisor is responsible for the replacement of production dialogue that is unusable due to poor sound quality, script changes, and so on. For example, an actor's voice may be obscured by the sound of an airplane flying overhead during the filming of a scene, or by speaking too softly for the microphone to pick up. Substitutions also may be necessary to accommodate dialogue changes or to clarify a plot point.

Special Skills

A well-rounded background in film production is an asset. ADR supervisors must possess the ability to work well with a variety of personalities for long hours.

Expanded Job Description

“The supervisor spots the show with the sound supervisor, the director, and the picture editor, making note of dialogue to replace,” explains ADR supervisor Jim Borgardt. “Next, the ADR supervisor sits down and goes through the entire movie, writing down the starts and end of footage, or time codes, for each line.”

Once all the material has been programmed and broken down for each individual actor, the production office is informed of which actors are needed for looping and for how long. The production office contacts the actors or their agents and arranges for them to come into the studio to record. “Then the supervisor comes in with the film and we rerecord the new dialogue against the picture. Then we prepare it for the mix.” The new dialogue is delivered to the mixer with the supervisor's notes. “During the recording, I'm taking notes as to what takes are good and what alternates the director might want. Then the editor follows those notes and prepares the tracks and sends them with my notes to the dialogue editor.”

Advice for Someone Seeking This Job

Find an ADR supervisor or equipment rental house that will allow you to apprentice to learn the gear and basics of the job. “There are a lot of houses willing to take on apprentices,” says Borgardt, “people who work for nothing, and then after a period of time, the house they are working for gives them a paying gig.”

Professional Profile: Jim Borgardt, ADR Supervisor

The flashing on and off of neon signs was the theme for one of the first movies a teenage Jim Borgardt made with his parents’ movie camera. His first edit was of a train coming and going. However, it was not until several years later that he would discover filmmaking as a career.

Following his honorable discharge from the military, Borgardt enrolled at College of San Mateo in the San Francisco Bay Area. He wanted to take a photography class, but the only course with an opening was in motion picture production, taught by a former Candid Camera cameraman. “Basically, all he did was teach us how to load and unload this Auricon camera. I excelled at loading and unloading and thought, ‘There's got to be more than this to motion picture production. What about scripts and shooting stuff?’”

Undaunted, Borgardt enrolled in the class a second time and became the instructor's PA. “We had students write short scenes and we would shoot them in the hallways with this Auricon camera. It turned out to really be a motion picture class.”

What do you like least about your job?

A people person, Jim Borgardt's least favorite part of the job is any work he has to do alone.

What do you love most about your job?

“I really love being onstage. I love working with the director and with the actors. I enjoy doing group [multiple actors looping at the same time]. The most fun I ever had was working two days on a prison movie with ten women screaming and yelling for two daysit was so much fun.”Jim Borgardt

Borgardt's introduction to the film industry was as a janitor at Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope. “George Lucas was just beginning to mix American Graffiti—Walter Murch was doing the mixing. Francis was in preproduction on The Conversation. They needed a janitor, so they hired me. That lasted about a week. Then they realized they needed a cleaning service, so they hired one and put me in charge of rental equipment.” Coppola had invested some of his Godfather earnings into buying equipment that could be rented to whichever production he was working on, namely The Conversation. “That was my beginning.”

For Borgardt, being able to watch over the shoulders of these great filmmakers was like going to film school. “I was always looking in and asking questions.” Eventually he became involved in sound, sometimes being called upon to go out and record background noises, learning while doing.

CAREER TIPS

* “Don't give upthat's probably the essential thing. Follow your heart.”Jim Borgardt

* Be willing to do other jobs. For instance, although Borgardt specializes in ADR supervising, he also works as an editor or in other positions to maintain consistent employment.

Moving to Los Angeles, he first found work as a PA, then became an assistant to picture editor Bill Butler. Borgardt's first job as an assistant picture editor was working for Robert Gordon on Las Vegas Lady. Having maintained his contacts at American Zoetrope, he let them know that he wanted to work on Apocalypse Now and was hired as ADR editor.

After going to Cannes with Apocalypse, Borgardt took time off from film work to “hang out in Europe.” Upon returning to the States, he landed various ADR editor and supervisor gigs, eventually ending up at Cannon Films, where he was reunited with many of the people he had met while working on Apocalypse. By the late 1980s, he was working for multiple studios and production companies on film after film, including: Adventures in Babysitting, Baby Boom, Dominick and Eugene, Flight of the Navigator, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Shy People.

Over the next decade, Borgardt continued to work as an ADR editor or supervisor, for a time working with Dane Tracks on Bound and other films. Additional career highlights include Boogie Nights, Crazy in Alabama, Servicing Sara, and Simon Birch. His work on the television movie The Crossing earned him an Emmy nomination. Fueled by his film experiences, he recently returned to school with plans of becoming a psychologist.

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