Joanna is wired for sound

Student is LA-bound after reaching final five in Cinema Audio Society contest.

Date posted

18 January 2016


Last updated

16 July 2019

Joanna ZachariaszA SOUND design student has been named as the only non-American finalist in a prestigious international cinema competition.

Joanna Zachariasz will travel to Los Angeles next month for the Cinema Audio Society’s annual awards dinner where she will find out how she has fared against four fellow finalists, all from the US states of Georgia and California.

Joanna, who is in her fourth year at Edinburgh Napier University, previously learned from sound technicians at the Scottish Parliament during a stint there as a trainee in 2014.

Now the mature student is in the running for an award which was open to every student in the world with an interest in sound for film.

She admitted that her initial instinct was not to enter because she thought the competition might be too tough.

Joanna, a Polish national who has lived in Edinburgh for more than four years, said: “When I first saw the application form for the CAS Student Recognition Award, I thought I could not possibly apply.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it though. It seemed like a great opportunity. I said to myself that I am good enough, and I have nothing to lose.”

She caught the eye of the judges after answering questions about audio film production and describing projects she had worked on, and she also sent them her portfolio.

Joanna now has to make a three-minute introductory video and two-minute showreel in advance of the awards night at LA’s Millennium Biltmore Hotel on February 20.

Whatever the outcome, Joanna hopes to use her first trip to the USA to capture the sounds of America’s film capital.

She said: “I am planning to take my recording equipment with me and capture all the possible sounds that I can find in LA. I am building my own sound effects library which will include sounds recorded with contact microphones, coil pick-ups and hydrophones as part of my Sound Design honours project.”

Joanna is currently being supported by Edinburgh Napier’s Bright Red Triangle consultancy unit, which links students to business, but is looking for a job as a sound designer.

She said: “I would like to travel and work with interesting people on exciting projects, and record sounds for different productions. When someone asks me, ‘can you get this or that sound?’, I always say yes I can.”

Joanna, whose journey to the USA is being supported by the School of Computing and a mobility grant from the University, will compete against two students from Savannah College of Art and Design and others from Chapman University and the University of Southern California for a $2500 prize.

Mark Ulano, President of the Cinema Audio Society, said: “These talented students clearly represent the next wave of talent in our art form. The quality of their submissions has been stellar and we congratulate them and welcome them to our sound family.”