How Heckler Raises the Bar for Production, Post and Sound Services

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Bringing together production, post and sound services under one roof during pandemic times was a timely move. “It has changed how clients interact and attend screenings, so having both entities proximal to each other is an absolute win, says Johnny Green, creative director at Heckler Sound. Heckler Sound is located on the lower level of Heckler’s premises on Paramount House in Surrey Hills and services Heckler as well as independent clients. 


Beyond convenience, the marriage of Heckler and Heckler Sound has streamlined the creative production process, enabling them to take on “all aspects of commercial and film content, from retail to major brand campaigns, as opposed to, for example, a new division to cater exclusively for a retail run, based on volume requirements”, shares Johnny.


The collective experience of the creative team allows Heckler Sound the freedom to focus on every step of the post-production process. “From composition, sound editing, mixing and mastering to everything in between, we apply them to media in every direction, whether it is film, television, digital, radio or emerging markets, including 3D immersive audio. Many of our competitors focus on one thing, such as volume-based retail runs or exclusive radio work, but we strive to deliver the entirety,” adds Johnny.

In The Studio

As Heckler Sound celebrates its one-year anniversary, it is also a celebration of the over 20-year working relationship between Johnny and Dave Robertson, senior sound designer/engineer who have collaborated on music and audio post for global brands in Australia and New York. 


“The key to their dynamic working relationship exists in the crossover of their skill sets. As a composer, Johnny also happens to be an excellent engineer, and likewise, Dave, as an engineer, has a lifelong background in music, learning several instruments from a young age. The nexus of this dynamic allows Johnny and Dave to ‘speak each other’s own language’, and allows for a creative back and forth that consistently finds the common ground between art and science,” says executive producer Bonnie Law, who joined soon after the launch to make up the powerhouse trio.


During the past year, Dave shares that one of its most innovative project was ‘Put A Jab On The Menu’, a food and beverage campaign to encourage diners to get vaccinated. “We had to think on our feet in the middle of Sydney’s second lockdown which lasted for three months. It included location sound recording with a skeleton crew, remote-session musician records via Zoom and presenting to the client remotely with premium-grade sound quality, which were not sympathetic to any in-house video conferencing platforms.” 


Black Ice was another project highlight. It’s a film that tells the story of Ghanian Akwasi Frimpong, Africa’s one and only Olympic Skeleton racer. “One of our composers, Dustin Lau worked very closely with director Richard Bullock (via Revolver / HungryMan) to craft a musical world which included Ghanian specific performances and instruments. The sound design world also included sounds recorded on location, adding to overall authenticity,” says Bonnie.


Bonnie shares more about Aje ‘Fractal”, directed by BAFTA and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Shannon Murphy. This was a collaboration with the female-led production company Dollhouse Pictures. It featured rising screenstars Mia Healey, Melanie Jarnson, Krew Boylan, and Sophie Wilde. 


“A symphony of fashion, movement, dance and signs, ‘Fractal’ is an ode to the environments we create for ourselves and by connecting with others, encapsulating the human spirit to express oneself. Helmed by profoundly deaf, non-verbal newcomer Emawayat ‘Emi’ Elmitt, the film is centred around Emi’s use of contemporary dance, signs, and shapes; anchoring the film without dialogue as she conjugates self-expression through a diversity of movement,” says Bonnie.


In terms of hardware, Dave shares that as everything revolves around creativity, the quality of sound, the listening environment and the technology reflects that. “Our process doesn’t require special treatment, for example, small speaker reproduction because of the technology we use. It translates across all reproduction systems and sizes, which is an obvious necessity.


“Another worthy highlight is our 3DIO FS Pro II, which is the strangest-looking microphone you might ever see. It has two human-shaped ears on each end with embedded microphones, and they enable us to capture audio in a three-dimensional plane, and is fast becoming an essential item in our toolkit as these markets expand.”


Driven by its motto “close enough is not good enough”, Heckler Sound runs ahead in delivering quality creative and craft for clients.  “There’s an old saying about sound and music in film that goes ‘If we’ve done our job properly, no one will notice it’. If you are willing to turn over every stone in the pursuit of a creative idea regardless of whether anyone will notice or not, you will inevitably find yourself making great work,” says Johnny.