We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexandra Fehrman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexandra, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My relationship to the idea of work/life balance has dramatically changed over the years. When I was first starting out I was determined to work on anything and everything I could leaving very little time for myself, friends and family. While I know that those sacrifices contributed to where I am in my career now, I have grown increasingly aware of the importance of taking time away, for myself, to recharge my creative energy. I now see my rest days, traveling, time in nature, time with family and friends as part of my work. Those experiences contribute to who I am as a creative, and how I relate to people through sound. Ultimately, I think that having a healthy work life balance helps me be more thoughtful and bring a more unique perspective into my work. I don’t feel guilty about taking time for myself anymore.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a sound designer and sound mixer. I use sound and music to help create ambience, mood, and help people fully submerge themselves in the film they are watching. Sound can be a very visceral experience, and I love the idea of being felt and not heard. I think what makes my mixes and design unique is that I have a very organic style. I don’t like to over design, and I love to build big sonic moments. I love to punctuate moments, or events, give it as much power as I can, and then offer a very light touch when scenes are emotional. My main goal is always to be thoughtful in how I use sound to evoke emotion, and sometimes the absence of sound can be the answer. I’m not afraid to play with unconventional ideas if it’ll help us get the impact the story is asking for.
I started working in recording studios for music as a teengager until I discovered my love for sound design. I worked my way up holding various positions in sound as a stage technician and editor until becoming a designer, sound supervisor, and mixer. Along the way there have been many challenges, and I can’t call my path easy, but it was definitely worth the struggle. I mostly overcame my challenges by hard work, after any set back I just kept pushing to show my work to people. Eventually I ended up with some filmmakers who trusted me with their projects.
Some real lessons that I have learned are to always remain authentic, don’t try to adopt anyone else’s style, you’re style is the difference. Always be kind to people, not only because I believe that comes back to you, but also because the film business is small and people move around a lot.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I wanted someone to fall in love with Los Angeles this is what a week vacation would look like. Upon arrival I would make sure to pick up tacos from Guisados. The Echo Park Location is my favorite. Then watch the sunset at the rooftop bar Broken Shaker DTLA. I’d probably suggest a short hike to the Observatory from Fern Dell. I love taking that hike and then wandering inside to be briefly mesmerized by the pendulum. I’d stay outside for the sunset and then sit in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium to watch one of the shows. Since we’d be near Los Feliz, I might stop by Spitz for a salad and sangria. Silver Lake is close to my heart as I spent many years living there, i’d probably take a walk around the reservoir, and hang out in the meadow for a bit. In Echo Park, i’d stop by Valerie Confections and grab a coffee and something sweet and walk down to the Cactus store to visit the unique collection of cacti and then go to Sage for dinner. Pre-pandemic, a show at either the Echo or Echoplex would probably be on the list. I’d share my favorite LA beach, Matador in Malibu and take the long way through echo cliffs. A day trip to Angeles Forest for a hike would be on the list, as well as a trip to the Getty, or Norton Simon if trying to keep it low key. Some other places I would be sure to share would be Mi Vida (shop), Belle’s Bagels and Hermosillo in Highland Park, Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, La Cita, and The Last Bookstore in DTLA. We’d probably end up at LA Rose Cafe one morning for Filipino breakfast, and my favorite mediterranean place (with a beautiful patio) Mantee.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to send a shoutout to Jillinda Palmer. Jillinda and I met in audio engineering school in ’03, and we are still working side by side to this day. Jillinda has been there for me as a friend, as well as a colleague. Over the years that we have known each other, she has encouraged me to take risks, pointed out my strengths, been a great listener and offered so much advice while trying to navigate this very competitive, and sometimes harsh industry. I feel so grateful to be on this journey alongside someone who is so giving, and also so talented.
Jillinda is an incredible musician, and works as a music editor. I admire her for her natural talent, her music editing skills, and her fortitude.