Interview with Campbell Askew
Does the name Campbell Askew sound familiar to you? Some of you will most likely have heard some of his works, be it in famous Hollywood blockbusters or in a range of console games. He has also created the soundtrack to our new Travian version. If the name still doesn’t ring a bell, here’s some help. Mr. Askew introduces himself as well as his work of course in the following interview. Enjoy the read.
Campbell Askew: I am Campbell Askew. I am semi-retired now. This year I celebrate my fiftieth year of working in film, television and videogames.
How did you start in the entertainment industry?
Campbell Askew: I was fifteen years old and loved going to the movies, or “the pictures” as we used to call them, in the East End of London, so I decided to see if I could get a job in the Industry. I remember getting out my parents’ huge phone book and writing down the addresses of any company that had “Film” in its title. I then sat down and hand wrote fifty letters of application. I got two replies and one interview. From that interview I was offered a job, so I left school as soon as I could after my sixteenth birthday and started working for a documentary film company in London’s Mayfair district. They made 16mm car rally films mainly, and my job was to make tea and run messages. It was a start, and to this day I make a great cup of tea.
When did you know that you wanted to work in Audio?
Campbell Askew: I was working as an assistant editor on a film called Siddartha directed by Conrad Rooks. When the sound team started on the production I was offered a job as an assistant sound editor looking after the foley. I was hooked totally and utterly hooked. From that moment on I knew what I wanted to be and that was a Supervising Sound Editor on feature films. It took me a good few years to reach my goal but I loved every moment of that journey. I mean, when you get to work on films like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”, what’s not to like?
How do young people who are interested in becoming a Sound Designer get a first break? What do they have to do and what do they have to learn before they can start?
Campbell Askew: I would recommend aiming to go to a college that offers a Sound Design/Recording course, but before that, get a hand held recorder and go out and record, record and then record some more. On readily available editing software create tone poems, sound montages, musical effects, get used to working with sound. We all listen but learn to hear. Develope those skills during your college years. When you graduate you will be very clever indeed and will have created a mind blowing audio showreel. Now will come the difficult part, and that is getting your first job. Send your glittering showreel to places where that you think you might like to work. Maybe offer to work gratis for a while. If you are lucky enough to get a post it is more than likely to be a very menial junior role. Do those menial tasks brilliantly, be the best junior ever. Grab every opportunity to sit in on mixes and in sound design suites. Listen and learn. Be available, smile, and show enthusiasm. It may take time but you will get there. But if you are in any way workshy then be gone.
How did you pick certain projects? Did you approach the companies or did the companies approach you?
Campbell Askew:It varied. Sometimes the picture editor would recommend me; sometimes the production office would phone. I would always let people know when I was coming to the end of a production and when I was likely to be available.
What is the most stressful part of being a Supervising Sound Editor/ Audio Director?
Campbell Askew: Meeting deadlines was the main cause of stress. Of course stress can be a good thing. The trick is how you control it. Getting a top notch team around me, all pulling together as one was an exhilarating experience, whatever obstacles that were in the way that may have caused stress.
You were a successful Supervising Sound Editor both in the UK and the USA. What was your motive in leaving movies behind and work in the Gaming Industry instead?
Campbell Askew: I wanted another challenge. I was offered a six month contract in the video game industry initially, so, as that was roughly the length of a film contract, I thought it would be a second string to my bow. I simply loved the new role. After five months I was offered a movie but was also offered a full time post at the company. I knew in my heart that there was only one choice: I took the permanent role and have never ever regretted that decision.
Did you know the game Travian before you started to work for Travian Games
Campbell Askew: A friend and colleague Erik Staub emailed me to say that he was working for a company I hadn’t heard of called Travian. It was but a few months later when he emailed me again asking me to be involved with Travian V. Of course in the interim I had done my research and knew a good deal about the company and its products
What is the most difficult part of the designing process?
Campbell Askew:The biggest challenge for any sound designer is finding the time to experiment, to be inspired, to make mistakes, to learn from them and persevere till happy.
Of all the projects you have worked on in the past, which is your favourite and why?
Campbell Askew: Band of Brothers. I had a great team on that production, all at the top of their game. We won the Emmy and, I have to say in all modesty, rightly so.
Over the years, you’ve worked on countless projects, as either Supervising Sound Editor or Senior Audio Director, such as Band of Brothers, Event Horizon, Henry V, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. With such a stunning body of work, where do go from here? What is there left to conquer? What can we expect to hear next?
Campbell Askew: I have been making an awful lot of noise for fifty years, I really think it time to give you all a rest but I thank you, most kindly, for listening. I am sixty six, a Grandpa, semi-retired, but hey, still very open to offers.
A big thanks also to Mr. Askew for taking the time to speak with us. We wish him all the best.