More than Magic: Rachel Corrales Wins an Emmy

D8A7D76E-C0FA-4846-B917-F7130BAAB115Sound Effects Editor Rachel Corrales (RECA ’10) traded up on her 2009 Film Outside the Frame Award for Best Sound Design on The Tin Plane for a 2015 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Film Editing for Houdini. How did she do it? Let’s just say luck favors the prepared.

WOW! We all want to know: how does it feel to have won an Emmy for your work on the History Channel’s TV mini-series Houdini? It feels great. I got to work with immensely talented people so I feel lucky to have been part of this project.

Did you ever imagine that just five years after graduating with your B.A. in Recording Arts that you would be working on cable TV’s most-watched mini-series of 2014? Not exactly. I knew I would be a sound effects editor, but I’ve been very fortunate. When I worked on Houdini I was an assistant editor by day and was taking editorial shifts by night. It feels great to have received two awards for a project that I worked on so early in my career. I’m very grateful to the whole crew and to Technicolor for giving me this opportunity.

How did you gain entrée into the industry post graduation? Professor Rodger Pardee connected me to Technicolor. I proceeded to call them repeatedly. One day they called and set up an interview for a runner position. I was offered a job at a picture company a couple of days after that interview. I hadn’t heard back from Technicolor so I called and told them I really wanted to work for them but needed to know how to answer the other company and then they gave me the job.

What are the most important skills you learned at LMU that have contributed to your success? I walked away with a very valuable experience from LMU. Outside of the trade skills, everyone imparted a life lesson that I’ve taken to heart. First and foremost, my parents taught me to have a strong work ethic, which got me through RECA. Professor Mladen Milicevic always taught us not to burn any bridges and to value the people around us. In a professional environment, people shouldn’t be looked at as competition. They’re your mentors and peers. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so much talent at Technicolor. Professor Pardee taught me the importance of storytelling and to be sincere and honest. When I don’t know how to do something or I’m in over my head, I ask for help. Associate Professor Kurt Daugherty taught me how to listen not for what something is but what something could be. Lecturer Linda Gedemer taught me to be prepared for the industry. Lecturer Richard Burton taught me how to be observant. Lecturer Dusk Bennett taught me how to troubleshoot. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and you have to figure out how to fix it and get on with your work.

Any words of advice for our current RECA students? Get hands on experience with as much as you can while you’re a student and figure out what you really love to do. What would you be happy doing for 100 hours a week? There are pleasant days and there are long, stressful days. If you don’t love it, it’s going to be a tough road. I loved mixing the most when I was a student, but the flexibility of being an editor was better suited for me and thankfully, I also enjoyed editing. Also, collaborate. Every time you work with someone you’re going to learn something from them and you have to know how to be part of a team if you’re going to succeed in this industry.

Tell us about a typical Houdini workday? Houdini was completed pretty quickly in the summer of 2014. I edited the Foley for footage from Night 1 and a little of what ended up in the beginning of Night 2. By the fall, I was a full-time sound effects editor. I picked up spare shifts from other editor’s shows. I would do a couple days on Red Band Society, Stalker and The Originals. After about a month, they made me the lead SFX editor on Vampire Diaries, and maybe once a week I would have a shift on someone else’s show. When the Army temporarily relocated my husband–a fellow LMU alumnus and an officer in the 101st Airborne Division–to Tennessee, I was able to work remotely on Vampire Diaries. The assistant editors send an episode via a FTP, I download it, edit the FX (hard FX, design and backgrounds) and then I send it back for the mix. If another editor cuts on the episode with me, I combine their material into the session and send it to the stage.

You and your Emmy are headed to your niece’s school for show and tell next week. Yes, I’m speaking at a school assembly. It’s part of the school’s mission to encourage STEM to STEAM, (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). I’m excited because I think a lot of parents want their kids to focus on math and technology but arts are really important as well. My career has a balance of the two and I think art and science are complementary.

Any words of encouragement for girls? I would encourage girls and young women to pursue any career that they feel called to. It may seem like there aren’t as many open doors or opportunities for us in some industries, but I would tell them to push past that and not let it inhibit their growth or their goals. Women are making great strides in the film industry and other tech and engineering fields. I would love to see more women pursuing careers in sound. When my husband and I went to the Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards, someone turned to us and asked my husband what he was nominated for. It was an honest mistake but also a reminder for me that there is a big gender gap in the audio industry.

Where is your Emmy Award now? I literally sleep next to it! I keep it in a case next to my bed so I can protect it. I plan to build a sturdy display case to put my Emmy, Golden Reel, and FOF awards next to each other.