Sam Watson

Composer, Sound Designer & Audio Engineer for Visual Media

P.O. Box 82

Deerfield, MA 01342

(601) 613-4602

sam@samwatson.com

www.samwatson.com

EXPERIENCE

Sound by Sam - Chief Everything.

August 1998 - PRESENT

I formed my company twenty years ago when I began my successful freelance career as a production sound mixer, post-production audio mixer and composer for all manner of visual media.  Highlights include working on Martin Scorsese’s The Blues documentary as a location audio engineer on both interviews and multitracking live performances by artists such as Willie King and the Liberators.  Later, I was the chief audio mixer, assistant editor, and post-production mixer for all the films in the B.B. King Museum.  The films were the 2009 MUSE Award Winners from the American Alliance of Museums.  My work as a freelance engineer took me to five continents while working on a documentary for Habitat for Humanity.  I was nominated for an Emmy as a music editor for my work on the live action & puppeteered show Lomax - The Hound of Music.  I have written over 35 educational-fitness songs which are viewed by hundred of thousands of children every year for the Mississippi-based Move to Learn program which received special praise and a visit from First Lady Michelle Obama.  I have scored feature films such as Big Bad which features Billboard chart-topping Steve Azar on lead vocals for the title track Big Bad Wolf.

The Mississippi Film and Video Alliance - President.

2010 - 2014.

MFVA (first established in the late 1990s and now known as the Mississippi Film Alliance) is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering film and television production in the state of Mississippi. They administer the Emerging Filmmaker Grant program as well as provide 501(c)(3) services to film makers wishing to apply under not-for-profit status for other grant funding.  The board members serve pro-bono for the good of the organization and the state’s film industry. Previously I held positions of vice-president and secretary for the organization.  Duties included seeking out grant funding from the film office to support the Emerging Filmmaker Grant program, publicity, coordinating with judges for the grant program, supervising board meetings, and working closely with the treasurer of the program to administer pass-through grants for filmmakers apply for NEA grants.

Imageworks, Jackson, MS — Audio Post-Production Engineer.

Summer 1996 & Summer 1997.

Beginning as an intern with Mississippi’s then-largest production company, I was hired full time by award-winning filmmaker Jim Dollarhide.  My initial duties were to update and verify a database of all existing archival media assets in-house.  After showing keen computer & audio abilities, I was put in charge of audio post-production running the first Avid Audiovision & ProTools post-production suite in the state.

EDUCATION

University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS — B.M. with Honors (Emphasis in Music Industry.  Minor in Film.)

Sept 1993 - August 1998.  Final coursework Spring 2018.

While at USM I immersed myself in composition lessons, counterpoint and film courses with the goal of becoming a composer for visual media.  I played cello in the symphony and chamber groups.  On the side, I was playing electric guitar in multiple pop/rock bands.  During my time there the symphony featured guest soloists as diverse as Itzhak Perlman and Doc Severinsen and performed works by Samuel Adler for chorus and orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall (now David Geffen Hall) in New York City.  After a personal detour immersed in a 20-year career in the film & television business, I recently returned to finish my degree.  My capstone thesis is A History of Composing for Western Visual Media: The Development of Underscore Practice, Business Structures, and the Enabling Technologies.

PROJECTS (Highlights Only)

Big Bad Production sound mixer, sound designer, composer (2016)

Big Bad is a fantastically fun tween creature-feature that is part Gremlins and part Goonies.  I was the principal production sound mixer.  I also served as chief sound designer and re-recording mixer.  I composed 85 minutes of original score for the film, including a title track sung by Billboard Chart-topping country singer Steve Azar.  The score was nominated for Best Music by the Utah Film Awards.

Medgar Evers Airport 50th Anniversary Documentary Composer (2014)

Upon the referral by Dr. Crafton Beck - conductor of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra - I was hired to write the score for a documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Jackson, MS airport.  Dr. Beck additionally chose to perform a work from the score, Fanfare for Fifty Years, as the opener to the MSO’s Pepsi Pops concert and for several other concerts around the state that season.

Move to Learn Composer (2012 - Present)

Move to Learn is a Mississippi-based educational fitness program (movetolearnms.org) aimed at preschool through middle-school-aged children.  I have composed over 35 songs in every genre from pop, rock, and rap to zydeco, latin, and country for the program.  The songs are the focal point within fun aerobic instructional videos that are used by teachers throughout the state of Mississippi and beyond.  The videos receive over a half-million in-class views per year in addition to a traveling live event featuring the songs.  The program received special recognition and a personal visit by then-First Lady Michelle Obama in relation to her own Let’s Move! children’s fitness program.

The Help Boom operator (2011)

I worked as an additional boom operator on the feature The Help under Oscar- winning mixer Willie Burton (Shawshank Redemption, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  My work was primarily for the locations at the newspaper office where Skeeter (Emma Stone) works.

The B.B. King Museum Production sound mixer, assistant editor, post-production mixer (2005 - 2009)

I worked on all the films displayed in the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, MS underneath filmmaker Jim Dollarhide.  The films were the 2009 MUSE Award Winners from the American Alliance of Museums.  Duties included on-location recording of various interviews and live musical performances around the United States and Europe over the course of four years.  (Notable participants included B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, etc.)  I was also part of the team that culled through mountains of new interviews, footage, & stock footage and edited the final films.  Additionally, I provided sound design for portions of the films and created the final mixes of all the films displayed in the museum.

Ballast Production sound mixer (2008)

Ballast is a Sundance Award-Winning feature film (Best Director, Best Cinematography) for which I was the production sound mixer.  It is of particular note because it has no musical soundtrack, thus laying bare the quality of the production sound recordings.  The final mix was completed at Skywalker Ranch by Kent Sparling.

Lomax: The Hound of Music Production sound mixer & audio editing (2007)

Working alongside Chris Cerf (of Sesame Street fame), I was responsible for all on-set dialog and music recording and playback.  It was a challenging show featuring live action host & characters alongside puppets.  There were music playback numbers combined with live guest instrumental performances.  I was named alongside team members for a 2008 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Audio Editing - Live Action & Animation.

Habitat for Humanity Production sound mixer (2006)

I worked with filmmaker Jim Dollarhide on a documentary for Habitat for Humanity that filmed their operations internationally.  We spent seven weeks traveling in the United States, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania, and the Philippines.  It was a physically challenging production, filming often in extraordinarily remote locations with minimal infrastructure.  There was a great deal of work with arranging carnets for getting the equipment through customs as well as planning for powering and protecting the gear over the course of such an arduous shoot.

Willie King - One Love Audio engineer (2006)

I reunited with Willie and his band to make a second album entitled One Love.  We converted a large house into a comfortable studio atmosphere to record this album.  The album featured live guitars, drums, organ, harmonica, saxophone and vocals.  The work resulted in 2006 nominations for “Traditional Album of the Year” and “Traditional Blues Male Artist of the Year” in the Blues Foundation’s prestigious Blues Music Awards.

Five Fingers Boom operator (2006)

I worked as the boom operator alongside mixer BJ Lehn on this indie feature film starring Laurence Fishburne and Ryan Phillippe.  Primary duties included wiring talent with radio lavalier mics and operating the boom microphone.

Willie King - Jukin at Betties Audio engineer (2004)

I met Willie King (Howlin’ Wolf Hall of Fame 2005) and his band while working with them on Scorsese’s The Blues.  After that project they brought me on-board to engineer a live album for them at a famous Alabama juke joint.  The effort won Living Blues Magazine’s 2004 Best Song award and Willie won Blues Artist of the Year from them as well. The album also received a W.C. Handy nomination for Traditional Blues Album of the Year and Blues Song of the Year.

The Blues Production sound mixer (2003)

I served as one of several production sound mixers for various episodes of Martin Scorsese’s The Blues documentary.  Duties included recording interviews, sound effects, and multi-tracking live bands in jukes joints (such as Willie King and the Liberators).

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Hinds Community College Guest Lecturer (December  2013)

The local community college outside Jackson, MS hired me to teach a two- day seminar in audio for film and television.  The aim of the course was to bring beginners up to speed on audio careers in film from cable puller to production sound mixer.  Topics included the basics of “what is audio” to equipment terminology and hands-on practical knowledge (from under-over wrapping cables to practicing being a graceful and quiet boom op.)

Crossroads Film Festival Youth WorkshopsGuest Lecturer (April 2012)

Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson, MS invited me to teach a seminar in creative sound design aimed at young filmmakers.  The workshop was part lecture and part participatory workshop.  In particular we explored creative foley work for creating creature sounds (flapping leather jacket for dragon wings, for instance), pitch-shifting (with demonstration of pitch only vs time change and format changes) and side-chain noise gating (to make the sound of  fire happen in sync with spoken words for the creature’s voice).

The Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival Guest Lecturer (Sept 2008)

I was invited to visit the beautiful Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago to give a multi-day seminar emphasizing on-set audio production and post-production - and an extended impromptu Q&A on music production.  I brought several cases of equipment with me in addition to equipment provided by the facilitators in order to include as much hands-on demonstration as attendance size would permit.

The University of Southern Mississippi Guest Lecturer (Spring 2002)

I was invited by film department professor Dr. Phillip Gentile  to give a seminar to the advanced cinematography class on audio production techniques.  Duties included demonstration of equipment such as digital recorders (DAT), use of timecode and slating, boom microphone placement and technique demonstrations, interfacing audio to common video cameras, and all manner of most pertinent audio knowledge to ensure the success of their student films.

SKILLS

  • Versatile award-winning composer with live orchestral writing experience.
  • Emmy-nominated audio engineer.
  • Deep audio post-production acumen via work on multiple feature films and thousands of commercials.
  • On-set audio engineering work on projects spanning five continents.
  • Logic Pro Audio,  ProTools, and Media Composer whiz.
  • Longtime Max/MSP user and computer music explorer.
  • Proficient on guitar, bass, and cello with additional abilities on piano, mandolin, ukulele and voice.
  • SSI certified scuba diver.

AWARDS

2008 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing - Live Action & Animation alongside team members for Lomax: The Hound of Music.

Multiple gold & silver ADDY awards for music & sound design.

Eagle Scout.