We had the good fortune of connecting with Tom Disher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tom, why did you pursue a creative career?
The joy of playing music and creating sounds naturally took over my imagination as a pre-teen- and continued to expand as a way of life that allows me to share my innermost feelings in an artistic way. The discipline of classical piano versus the spontaneous improvisational dynamic of jazz both feed into the multifaceted world of composition for film. Rigorous academic study of composition versus free form experimentation versus salient absorption of traditional world styles leads to a unique perspective that allows for an infinite palette of possibilities that narrow down to the best way to enhance a story and fit within the vision of the filmmaker. I graduated from music school, and went to study at the Rock ‘n Roll Road of Hard Knocks! That was fun, financially rewarding and highly educational! Then, I walked into a studio in 1992, and I never left, but the guy who ran it did in 1993! I had studied sound engineering in graduate school, and was graduate assistant in charge of the Synclavier Electronic Studio at Hartt College, so I was very well versed in the newly exploding capabilities of digital sound manipulation. When Paul Zahnley joined my company in 1995, we truly began on a journey to provide a full spectrum of resources for the independent filmmaker. Of course, 1000’s of commercials and marketing pieces, and over 300 films between the two of us later, we have picked up a few tricks along the way. One thing hasn’t changed- the deep love, enthusiasm, and thrill of creation along with the deep satisfaction and pride in being part of so many amazing stories.
What should our readers know about your business?
Disher Music & Sound is a comprehensive resource for filmmakers and commercial producers. For those unfamiliar with “Audio Post Production”- there are many different tasks that need to be accomplished. Dialogue must be edited, and possibly replaced. Sound effects must be developed to make things feel real and color the scene in the most powerful way, music must be made to tell the story with the filmmakers perspective in mind, and it must all be mixed together to most dramatically engage the audience. With Paul Zahnley heading our post production team, we have a post-graduate filmmaker who realized his passion for being the”Re-recording Mixer” -the last guy in the chain to make a film absolutely the best it can be, His ability to work with filmmakers tp find that essence is a personal talent that is a joy to experience. Supervising a team of sound designers and editors as well as doing the work ourselves hands -on, Paul and I elicit the very best options that translate into the most focused and illuminating soundscape for the picture. We have countless terabytes of sounds, as well as the ability and resources to create and collect sounds from the real world, from the depths of our studio, and from originally generated sonic elements. Most importantly, we know how to fit these to the story as it is meant to be told by the filmmaker. Additionally, as a composer, it is my job to get inside of the story, to understand the characters, to perceive the backstory, to elicit a subconscious emotional response from the audience and to collaborate with the director in finessing their filmscore. I utilize the most amazing musicians , and write them parts which fit the uniqueness of their talents and capabilities. I play many instruments myself- some of them well, others only well enough to understand how a performer approaches their craft . In the realm of contemporary digital sound resources, this visceral knowledge of acoustic expression translates into sounds that evolve organically, that breathe with a singular life of their own. When it comes to putting all of the parts together into a music mix, the engineering experience of over 25 years helps to make sure the most poignant and plot propelling aspects of the music will rise to the surface without overwhelming the picture. Our ability to all tasks, or any of the above in a world class setting makes us an ideal choice for a wide range of clients. See our website www.dishersound.com to understand where we do all this work.
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?
China Live- best Chinese Restaurant outside of China! George Chen- a culinary genius- and amazing guy. SFMOMA- what a beautiful museum! The building itself, and the curated exhibits are so thought provoking, and emotionally inspiring. The De Young . The amazing garden archtecture, and the must visit observation deck alone- are worth the visit, as well as thei world class exhibits. SFJazz- always great music in an amazingly well uned hall. SF Symphony. A most inspired and articulate ensemble! A great balance of contemporary and classic works. Also worth seeing is their broadcast and online presentations: “Throughline”- on PBS, and “Cross Currents on the web- very divers eclectic works. They will make you rethink the definition of “Symphony!” Muir Woods- its a world treasure- a cathedral of ancient trees. – And Point Reyes-it is like being on a different continent- in a way it is, slowly splitiing off te mainland on the other side of te San Andreas Fault, with it’s pristine forests, wonderful Tamalis Bay which is grat for kayaking and swimming, since it is sheltered from wind and fog , and it’s long narrow shape allows the water to get much warmer and calmer! than the ocean. BTW, you can see the sun RISE over the water there, and watch the sunset from Limantoor beach. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people and books! Bill Potts, Big Band arranger, Mary Stanton, Ylda Novik and Charles Gigliotti,Piano teachers, Paul Jefferies and Jackie Mclean Jazz gurus, Tao Te Ching for perspective on ambiguity and the true nature of things: “The way that can be named is not the way”. Tenzin Gyatso, The Dalai Lama- for his perspective on mental discipline, compassion and secular humanism, and Yoga- which puts these ideas into concrete healing action. My Dad, whose engineering skills and understated genius as co-director of Skylab set a tone and approach to problem solving that translated to everything I do, and my Mom who had a parallel but bas-relief balance to him, and my wife who is a tremendous source of energy , inspiration and love.
Linkedin: Tom Disher and also Disher Sound
Facebook: Disher Sound
Tom Disher , Matt Strasser