Jelani Serrette

Film Sound | Freelancer
IG @jelaniserrette

What is the role of a boom operator?

Boom ops assist the sound mixer in capturing sound. Making sure the boom pole is placed as best as possible given the scene, lighting and framing. Sometimes you might also help mic talent.

When do you start to work on a production?

It depends on the project, particularly it’s scale. Most commonly, on smaller productions work starts day one of principal but on more organised and usually larger projects work starts once you receive the final script.

What equipment does a boom operator work with, and how important is their job on a film set?

As a boom op, you’re working under the sound mixer so it depends on that mixer and his preferences. Most times, however, there are certain boom poles, headphones and sometimes gloves, that would feel best to you or that you’re most familiar with, those would probably be your personal gear. Aside from that there’s the microphone and wind protection but those are situational. The boom op is very important on set although the sound department is often undervalued.

How do block rehearsals impact your job as a boom operator?

Block rehearsals are like getting most of the answers before you take an exam. They take away the guesswork and let me see where I can and cannot go with the boom and also my body.

What qualifications do you need to become a boom operator, and where can you gain the best firsthand experience?

I don’t think there are any qualifications needed but general film and sound knowledge would be a good place to start. The best first-hand experience would come from being on a set, assisting in the sound department.

What is the career path of a boom operator?

From a boom op you can advance to a sound mixer, this is the head of the sound department on set.

How do you set up your boom equipment whilst being mindful of not being in the way or casting shadows?

Usually, I would go in after lights have been set up and map out in my mind where I could possibly boom from, if we get a block rehearsal then I don’t need to imagine but failing that I go near where the camera would be or where I know is out of frame, extend the pole and actively start checking for shadows. It all depends on the situation.

What advice do you have for persons wanting to be a boom operator?

Get some comfy sneakers, stretch, do some push-ups then call up one of your local sound mixers, or if you want to build some confidence first, offer to boom on any passion projects your friends may be working on.