BIO & ACHIEVEMENTS
Jonathan Bruce graduated with a Diploma in Audio Engineering from SAE Auckland in 2008. Nowadays, Jonathan is a successful audio post production professional specialising in recording, performing, editing and mixing foley. He has eight years of full time experience working on hundreds of episodes of US, UK & NZ television, scores of feature films, shorts and documentaries. Jonathan is also a founding member of the audio collective The Masters of Foley, an international community of audio post professionals dedicated to recording unique and distinctive sound libraries.
What inspired you to enter into the career you’ve chosen?
The ability to earn money and have a fulfilling career in making noise. I had been a noise musician and jungle producer for the better part of a decade before fully realising that there was a genuine and internationally recognized film industry blossoming in New Zealand. My skill set involved making noise and chopping up 180bpm+ breakbeats; both turned out to be highly transferable skills in a foley department. The ability to generate unique sound effects from real life objects while editing breaks easily transitioned to quickly editing the millions of footsteps on Power Rangers.
What are your fondest memories of your time at SAE?
It's kinda nerdy, but probably having educational breakthroughs that inspired creative work. For instance, our lecturer Mal teaching us about the differences in DVD-Audio vs CD-DA (Red Book) inspired me to create music for a format which allowed for 5.1 surround and greater theoretical dynamic range etc. Either that or the Digital Studio overnight shift with an industrial metal band (N.U.T.E) - that was pretty brutal!
How did studying at SAE help lead to where you are now?
One of the first things I noticed when I started contacting audio post studios after graduating SAE was that employers were actually pretty interested in my test score transcripts. It showed at a glance where my strengths were, and it showed them I had a solid fundamental understanding of the properties of sound, microphone placement, signal flow and basic acoustics. This is all mandatory knowledge in any career in sound.
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
I'd like to say we make our own luck, however I feel like I got really lucky with timing at least. Straight out of SAE I landed in the foley depart of The Inside Track working on seasons of both Power Rangers and Legend of the Seeker. I went freelance in 2010 and was immediately picked up to be in the foley department on Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Vengeance & then War of the Damned. Moving to Los Angeles in 2013 was a massive opportunity for my career and I was able to branch out into SFX editing and ADR mixing, which meant I got to work one-on-one with acting talent like Daniel Radcliffe, John Hamm and Danielle Panabaker etc (if you're into that type of thing).
My most recent career highlight however, was getting the chance to work in the foley department with Oscar winners John Sanacore (Birdman / The Hurt Locker) and Jeff Wilhoit (Kill Bill / Game of Thrones). These guys are industry legends and even after being in foley for eight years I felt like a beginner learning the ropes again. Working on the NZ films Deathgasm and Turbo Kid, and Ash vs Evil Dead television series with the guys at The Foley Room in Auckland was genuinely great fun too.
What advice would you give to students aspiring to become successful in their field?
To get anywhere in the industry you need to be incredibly self-motivated, determined and able to face waves of rejection! Once you get your foot in the door though, I recommend sitting in on as many edit and mix sessions as possible, continually (and quietly) learning from everyone above and around you. Then don't stop doing that. And, of course, Be excellent to each other.