We're Fifteen!

Neil at 12 playing DJ

"I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am."

Francis Bacon

Dynamix turns fifteen years old this month. Well technically sixteen, because I incorporated a year earlier and did small jobs out of my basement until I could step out on my own. When I did, I couldn't have timed it better. As I wrote about in our ten-year anniversary newsletter, the Great Ice Storm of 2003 delayed our opening for a week. In fact, I was stuck in Dayton, Ohio for several of those days. Our entire Lexington clan was there overnight for a wedding when Mother Nature dumped a ton of snow onto Dayton. Back home, Lexington was covered with inches of solid ice. All of our houses were without power, our pets were starving, fish were freezing, and everything from the Ohio Valley to the northeast was at a standstill. For several days, Dayton police were restricting all travel and most of Kentucky was shut down.

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After four days in a hotel with two days worth of clothes, I had had enough and decided to make the 150-mile trek back into Kentucky, police be damned. I don't remember how long it took, but I was exhausted when I finally pulled into my neighborhood. It was on a small hill, and I remember looking down over several neighborhoods with drooping, ice-laden trees. Everything had a Disney-esque feel to it with the layers of ice glistening in the sunlight. Except for the house fire I saw churning out a column of black smoke. The fires would continue over the next week as 65,000 people without power tried everything to keep their homes heated. I grabbed my pets and headed for my mother's house to check on it. In one of those stranger-than-fiction moments, the power kicked on just as I opened the front door. With this good news, the rest of the family ventured home the next day. We all camped out at Mom's (with pets, including surviving fish) until power was slowly restored in our neighborhoods. Meanwhile, I anxiously awaited for power to be restored at my new location off Alumni Drive.

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So a cold start to my first studio. It was sandwiched in the back of a sports medicine facility alongside Post Time Productions and Filmburn. In order to cut a voice-over, the talent had to walk around through the kitchen to a former closet now lined with foam. Make a wrong turn and you might wind up getting an impromptu physical therapy session. Knowing this was temporary until the whole group of production companies could find a new, larger space, we operated in these small confines for the next year. It was a little embarrassing when 20th Century Fox booked an ADR (dialog replacement) session with Dakota Fanning for the film "Hide and Seek." But the ADR editor, R. J. Kiser, who coincidentally was ADR supervisor for another film we recently worked on, "War for the Planet of the Apes," calmed my fears. He had worked all over the world in small studios that didn't specialize in ADR, and said that he actually envied studios like mine that were able to do a variety of projects. Over the years, we've been lucky to do ADR sessions for a number of films and television series with other great actors such as Steve Zahn, Sam Shepard, Kevin Pollack, Boyd Holbrook, and Muse Watson.

Three studios later, we've been graced with some interesting projects and people. Though music is my first love, sound-for-picture is my bread-and-butter. Manipulating the viewer's emotions and perception with music and environmental cues is as rewarding as composing a piece of music. Historical documentaries have been the bulk of my work and fun. Some interesting moments include:

  • Chumming up with Civil War reenactors for authentic battlefield sounds.
  • Meeting Coach Homer Rice, a real life conduit between Jackie Robinson and the SEC's first black player.
  • Interviewing the first woman to command a major U.S. military installation.
  • Creating the soundtrack for the Emmy-nominated documentary A&E Biography: The Monkees. Being a child of the sixties, at one time they were more important to me than the Beatles. Imagine that.
  • Getting to work with William Shatner again (I did a 5-year stint with him in the 1990s for Rescue 911).

Commercial and corporate soundtracks are also a large part of our business. Who says you can't have fun doing these? Some of the good times include:

  • Making dogs talk. An anti-drug PSA featured dogs in school admonishing a pot-smoking beagle. Casting and directing different young actors for "Poodle," "Golden Retriever," or "Collie" was one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever done.
  • Recreating a video soundtrack from scratch of an airliner's near crash landing after a lightning strike.
  • Creating a surround sound experience for a manufacturer's new model rollout, synchronized to multiple video screens with REO Speedwagon, AC/DC, and lots of THUN-DER.

Some interesting people have come into our studios over the years, some of which you might recognize:

  • From the stage, cinema and TV: Richard Thomas, Tara Summers
  • From the music world: David Gans, Beau Haddock
  • From the broadcasting world: Marv Albert, Tom Hammond, Charlsie Cantey, Tom Leach
  • From the political arena: Mike Huckabee, Steve Beshear, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Jim Gray
  • From the literary and arts world: Nikki Finny, Ada Limon, Helen Oyeyemi, Charles Edward Pogue
  • From the sports world: John Calipari, Matthew Mitchell, Dermonti Dawson, Chad Pennington
  • From the comedy world: Adele Givens, Godfrey, Greg Warren, Jesse Joyce

Some other thrilling moments are:

  • Going to post-Katrina New Orleans and working with kids benefitting from the NCAA's efforts to rebuild neighborhood ball fields.
  • Following singer Jimmy Rose around Pineville, KY for America's Got Talent as he is celebrated by the town for his achievements.
  • Working with ESPN filming the young phenom singer Marlana Van Hoose at her home and at an NCAA Basketball Tournament game as she belted out the national anthem.
  • Producing an NPR-style radio feature on blown glass artist Stephen Rolfe Powell, including sounds of the entire process of making a very large multi-colored sculpture utilizing several people on scaffolding.
  • Running live sound at the UK Football home games, pumping 50,000 watts out to screaming fans. When I first started that job, I remember getting the go ahead to crank it up to 11 and play AC/DC's "Back in Black."

It's been a fun 15 years. I've officially got 33 under my belt as a professional. But in truth, I've been doing this since I first got my hands on a cassette recorder as a kid. A lot of my friends were radio jocks or musicians, so I've spent most of my life in studios and radio stations having fun. I'm looking forward to another fun 15 years - only without any ice.

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