Recording Arts Canada Student Review: RAC Montreal Grad Renaud Bonneville

Renaud Bonneville is a freelance location sound recordist in Montreal. The RAC Montreal grad discusses his journey and some of the films and projects he's worked on.

What is your background (education, music, recording, personal)?

I first started studying jazz interpretation at the Trois-Rivières CEGEP, for a Diploma of Collegial Studies. Halfway through my training, I decided to stop because I had realized that being a professional musician was not what I wanted to do with my life. Before joining RAC I had no recording experience.

What kind of music/audio projects did you start out with at the beginning of your career?

In the beginning of my career, I participated in many short films as a soundman at the Montreal branch of Kino, a worldwide network of independent filmmakers. For those who want to work in this domain, Kino is clearly the most appropriate place to gain experience and acquire work ethics.

Describe your current position / project and how it came about? 

I have been working for over a year as a soundman and a boom operator, as a self-employed contractor.

I was having coffee with a friend, one day, when she informed me that one of her acquaintances was looking for a soundman for a short film at Kino. I had never done this before, but I decided to take the challenge, and I loved my experience. I immediately got hooked!

The Kino group has really helped me develop contacts in the community and gain valuable experience at the beginning of my career.

Why did these artists/clients choose to work with you?

First of all I would say for my professionalism and the quality of my work. But, being talented is not enough. People should enjoy working with you and in this respect; I think my passion is obvious and quickly felt on a film set.

What is your role within your company?

Since I am self-employed, I work alone so I have to take care of all aspects of my work. I have to first make sure that I have all the equipment required for the shooting, then I head to the production company that hires me or directly to the shooting location. The next step is to install the lapel on the speaker and then set the broom (in situations of fiction, I usually perch myself, most of the time), then I record the interview by adjusting the levels throughout the shooting process. Thereafter I pack all the equipment and go back to the production office where I give them the audio tracks recorded during the day. Finally, I do the backups on my computer and an external hard drive. Last and not least, I make sure I send an invoice to the customer.

My role is to record their voices and actions. In fiction I must also know the lines of the actors because the microphones must be in the right place before they start their line. Since I work with highly directional microphones, the precision of the location is crucial!

There are a lot of opportunities for those who work as soundman, in Montreal, if you know how to play your cards right.  But I do not know enough about the audio milieu outside of Quebec to comment about it.

Have things changed for you?

Tremendously! Only 3 years ago, I was doing a job that I did not like at all; I had no motivation to go to work. Its feels good to look forward to going to a movie set and surpass myself.

What are your personal goals and ambitions?

I would love to travel more through my work and make short films and documentaries. That’s really something that attracts me.

Do you have any suggestions for people interested in starting a career in audio or music?

In our business, networking, contacts are very important. I simply advise them to never stop working. When there are no paying contracts available, offer your services to people who have no budget and cannot afford to pay you. These people will return the favour one day. If you stop working, your name will stop being known out there, and this is the worst thing that can happen in our field.

How was your experience as a student at RAC?  Did anything particularly influential happen during your time at RAC?

Studying at RAC was really exciting for me. Before RAC, I used to have trouble in school for lack of interest. The sound and music recording program at RAC has nothing to do with the school, as it is known.

What opinion of the recording biz would you share with our readers?

In the audio-visual field, most of the people do not know or very little about sound and its constraints. On a film set you are THE person who is the most knowledgeable about sound. You are the one who intervenes on technical issues because nobody will do it for you.

Any recording session experience that was particularly memorable during your time at RAC?

The band-recording project at the end of the year was really interesting. To be in a real professional recording studio with a band was really great

Any other experiences that were major moments in your work life?

My most memorable experience is undoubtedly the feature film I shot in summer 2014 as a boom operator. I learned a lot working as a boom operator, for a soundman.