October 23, 2019

Dave Willis-Lorenz: Instructor Spotlight | Recording Arts

Meet Dave Willis-Lorenz, a Recording Arts & Show Production Instructor at Orlando’s F.I.R.S.T. Institute. It was the film The Brave Little Toasterthat helped him discover his love for audio.

As a 9-year-old, there was something about the scene where Kirby jumps off the cliff. The roaring sound of the waterfall just enveloped him. Thinking back on it, that’s when he first found out he had a passion for sound.

He saw excitement in someday being able to recreate what he heard on recordings… or at least be able to make something like it.

Dave Willis-Lorenz Attends Film School

By the age of 19, Dave had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. So, he decided to take a trip to Los Angeles, California. While in LA, he landed a couple of jobs on film sets and a reality TV show.

Mr. Willis-Lorenz ended up loving everything about the audio production life.

That’s when he decided to move back to Pennsylvania to attend film school. As a film student, he began working as a sound guy on a lot of other students’ films.

However, he had no real equipment. Dave put an on-camera mic on top of a painter’s pole. This meant having to bring it down, hit record, then bring it back up. This process continued over and over with each take.

But, he was able to capture good sound. He made it work!

Mentorship Was Key to Dave’s Success in the Sound for Visual Media Industry

After graduating from film school, Dave gained a valuable mentor who gave the graduate some great sound job opportunities. The mentor also let him borrow equipment, so he could pursue those opportunities in a professional manner.

That’s how Dave built his network.

And it’s because of this professional network that he’s been able to build a career as a location sound engineer. He’s worked on commercials, television shows, feature films, industrial films, corporate work and so much more.

Someof the audio production roles he’s taken on during these projects include:

  • Boom Operator
  • Location Sound Mixer
  • Sound Supervisor
  • Post-Production Supervisor

Overall, Dave has done pretty much every job there is in the sound for visual media industry. Someof his audio production credits include:

  • Walmart
  • Walgreens
  • Nickelodeon
  • Discovery Channel
  • Hulu
  • Gatorade
  • Reebok

Becoming a Recording Arts Instructor at F.I.R.S.T. Institute

Fast forward to today, and Dave Willis-Lorenz is a Recording Arts instructor at F.I.R.S.T. Institute. The hands-on curriculum is what the teacher likes most about the sound school.

Students create real projects to add to their demo reels. These come in handy when looking for those first jobs. To him, that’s really cool.

Dave’s favorite part of the F.I.R.S.T. Recording Arts program is definitely sound for visual media. Students get to act as Foley artists, dialogue editors, sound designers, etc… With every new class he’s assigned, a new production company is essentially formed.

Expert Advice About Getting into Audio Production

When asked what piece of advice he would give someone going into the audio field, Dave Willis-Lorenz says to keep an open mind. It’s a good thing to have a goal now when it comes to what you want to do.

However, you never know what opportunities will come your way. Other parts of the audio field may actually catch your attention. You just might fall in love with something you never even knew you liked.

So, just keep moving in that same direction… toward audio-related jobs. Eventually, you will find your niche in this industry.