We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda P.H. Bennett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda P.H., we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is as inevitable as it is daunting. Because life is a never ending journey of growth, it is one of the few things in life that is guaranteed. There is risk in decision making. The decision to pursue sound design and music composition in my college years was a risk. Being a brand new field to me, there was no guarantee of me succeeding or failing in my studies. There was only the unavoidable Calling towards that field. I knew if I did not pursue it, I would regret it. There is risk in rising to the occasion. You could make excuses for not taking on the role as lead sound designer for short films, animated shorts, or other works that are sent your way, or you can seize the opportunity and put creative problem solving into action with your limited amount of resources at hand to bring the story of the project to life through sonic means. There is risk in believing in your own merit. Everyone fails. I know I have. To look back sensibly, glean the lessons within your failures, and move forward without demoting your own talents and work takes an insane amount of dedication, faith, and trust. Through that, you have to have confidence in yourself or you won’t have the confidence of your coworkers, clients, and friends.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a sound designer and music composer, primarily for film whether live-action or animated. Though many understand the role of a composer in film, many more are beginning to learn about the equal, essential importance of audio post-production and a sound designer within it. Sound Design primarily deals with the sculpting of sound effects, dialogue, and Foley (sound effects performed to the picture) to create a soundscape that creates the reality of a film and uses creative audio elements to drive the story. One thing that I strive for within the soundscapes I personally create for film is the use of sonic details. I’m talking about the small things that we take for granted that shapes our perception of reality and our mood without us realizing it. The gentle breeze through the trees, the softness of fabric as one gets up from bed in the morning, and the gentle cooing of mourning doves all combine to make for a peaceful, nearly nostalgic feeling. Whereas dogs barking in the background, distressed creaks within a household, and loud cars in the distance creates an unsettling feeling of a potential oncoming threat. It’s not all about explosions and roars made from various animal sounds (although, those are always fun to make) that encapsulates the world of sound design. My motto within my work is Inspire Life Sonically. Every inch of life is entirely unexpected, wild, full of beauty and sorrow, death and new birth. If we become jaded and fearful due to the hurt and trials we experience, we become apathetic and numb to the beauty that surrounds us each day and that must be protected. Stories inspire us to look outside ourselves and gives us a glimpse of the larger tapestry of existence. Filmmaking is one of the many ways of bringing these stories to life, and I’m honored to enhance that experience through sound and music – not missing one beat that life has to offer.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I always get incredibly excited whenever friends and family come to town, because I get to play tourist alongside them, too! My favorite aspect of the city is the incredible amount of hiking trails around the area. I would take them to Runyon Canyon to share with them the Los Angeles skyline or the Fryman Canyon trail for an easier stroll to check out the Valley view. Pre-Covid, I would take them up the Fern Dell Nature Trail towards the Griffith Observatory and check out the awesome exhibits they have there. Then for brunch, depending on our craving, we would go to HomeState for some rocking TexMex tacos, Jewel for the most unique, delicious vegan food I’ve tasted, or Garden Café in Sherman Oaks for classic digs with spacious, lovely outdoor seating. Of course, a trip to LA isn’t complete without checking out a sunset over the Pacific Ocean. If they were down for a drive, I’d take them to Point Dume and potentially see the sea lions that hang out on the rocks below. Otherwise, we’d go to Will Roger State Park, a little north of the Santa Monica beach front with less foot traffic and more chill vibes.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There is a flood of people I want to give recognition to who have encouraged me through my work, but I’ll try to keep it as short and relevant as possible. The one person who is able to keep me encouraged in times of disappointment and apathy is George Bennett, a freelance storyboard artist and my husband. His passion for storytelling through film is insurmountable. Sharing ideas with him on a daily basis towards projects that I’m involved in prevents me from working within a creative vacuum. If discouragement sets in, his drive and encouragement reminds me of the reasons I pursued this career in the first place. I must give a shout out to my film composer friends Catherine Joy (who I was connected with through Nikhil Koparker) and Christy Carew Marshall, along with Michael Faner – a fantastic location sound mixer who I met through Sarah Phillips Batchelder. They have all have connected me with some of the best directors and filmmakers I’ve met since I first arrived in Los Angeles. Their genuine passion for their work and connection with others showed me the breadth of collaboration in the Los Angeles independent film industry.