Coronavirus Updates: USC  |  SCA

June 14, 2021


Cat Gensler, from Tustin, CA, is a 2020 Graduate in Film and Television Production. They are the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award for Sound.

What’s your First Look project about and what drew you to the subject?

Our project was a horror film about a mime living in a world of clowns who has to rescue his crush from a clown killer (a fellow mime). Part of what drew me to it was the adventure aspect and another big part was the sound design opportunities it presented. Bringing the audience into the world of Ike the Mime and the opportunity to interpret sounds that weren't really there was an absolute blast.

What was challenging about making it and what was most enjoyable 

Probably the most challenging thing was going remote for much of post. I love foley so I was disappointed to miss out on going to the foley stage, especially with a project in which the sound has such huge character. However, the satisfaction brought on by achieving such sounds with improvised at-home foley and existing sound effects was extremely rewarding. The most enjoyable part was the challenge of both interpreting what sounds Ike's movements should make and which movements should make sound at all. The interplay of keeping it subtle enough to not knock you over the head when he is simply having a conversation but still have enough there for you to know his actions have such an effect on his world was extremely fun to play with. And of course, the fight scene was a blast!

Collaboration is extremely important in filmmaking. Who were your key collaborators on this project and what did you learn from your work together?

My primary collaborator was of course the great Noah Donner-Klein. One of the positives of going remote was our opportunity to experience working closely with someone you couldn't physically meet up with. Divvying up the project, knowing that your collaborator has your back, and being able to bounce ideas off of and get feedback from your peer was invaluable. And, of course, being able to nail down the process of transferring files back and forth has added to my skillset.

Why did you choose the School of Cinematic Arts and your division and/or track?

I chose SCA because it's the best film school around and I knew the skills I would learn and connections I would make would benefit me to no end. Sound Design was something I found while at SCA. The sound faculty and students are great to work with and it's such a small close-knit group that you can't help but feel connected to them. When I discovered how much fun sound could be and the details and creativity that went into it, I was happy to get the chance to work on sound for an advanced project.

What have you learned about yourself as a creator from being at the School, and how has that prepared you so far for the career you want?

SCA has allowed me to expand my idea of where and how I can be creative. I've learned I have an ear for sound design that I didn't know I had when I applied. This has opened me up to the possibility of doing sound design professionally, as well as given me the tools to do so.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply to SCA?

SCA is an amazing school. The knowledge you get out of the curriculum will serve you well. But what SCA provides beyond anything else is amazing professors who will really support their students and lend them the knowledge they have accrued over years in the industry you are trying to break into. And of course, your fellow students are as vitally important connections. Your cohort and friends will pull each other up as they go and I've seen the talent that they have, they'll go far. You'll go far. The best way to maximize your time at SCA is through connecting with the people there. Try hard, go to class, work on each project like it's your favorite story ever, but as much as you get the chance to get to know someone in your cohort or a professor without taking away from your work, do it. They are amazing people and you will thank yourself along the way as well as later. Good luck.