Rerecording mixer/Sound designer Pat Yacono has seen the future and there’s nary a spot in sight.
The future for his new Signal Hill Sound is independent films. In fact, his Barrington studio was built exclusively to provide audio services for features.
“No other audio post house between coasts can guarantee that level of commitment,” Yacono emphasized. And he is dead serious about his commitment to features?with no looking back to his 16 years in advertising.
For the past six years Yacono operated his own audio studio (The Playroom, later Mixture) before teaming with Tom Wiebe’s Earhole in 2003. Earhole moved into Yacono’s Illinois St. space and acquired his equipment.
Yacono felt sympatico to indie filmmakers, but he couldn’t work with them because of the higher cost factor.
“Frustrated, I said ?no more.’ I’d met some great people and worked on some fantastic commercials, but it just wasn’t what I wanted etched on my tombstone,” he said, and gladly exchanged Michigan Avenue for the exurbs.
Since opening last January, four features have kept Signal Hill consistently and intently busy: Brad Wells’ “Dark” directed by Darryl Bullock; writer/producer Rosie Goldberg’s “Bloom” directed by Julio De Los Santos; Deamscape’s “Disconnect,” directed by Robin Peters, and the biggest job so far?Moon Watcher’s “5-25-77,” directed by Patrick Read Johnson.
“Dark” has been Signal Hill’s biggest project so far. Yacono first provided “Dark” with a temporary pop score when it went out on the festival circuit. But when “Dark” was signed for November DVD distribution, Wells had Yacono write a new score that he remixed in 5.1 surround sound.
Signal Hill also boasts the Midwest’s only dedicated stage dedicated exclusively to Foley?the province of sound editor Jeff Finney?and a spectacular library of more than one million commercial and custom field sound effects, stored on hard drives.
Yacono invested $225,000 in building the 800-sq. ft studio, incorporating all the best features of studios he’s worked at, and equipping it with three ProTools HD Accel systems, a fully automated 24-fader console, THX-approved 5.1 surround monitors and projection screen and the Foley stage.
Projects are generally divided among Signal Hill’s sound editors, depending on that editor’s specific expertise and availability. “We’ve developed a workflow for movies that allows us to quickly finish them and do them right, developing no one’s done before,” Yacono said.
Out in Los Angeles there’s sound effects editor Stuart Provine (“Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder”), and in Chicago there’s former L.A. sound editor Brian Jennings (“UF571,” “The Alamo” and, closer to home, Bob Shallcross’ “Uncle Nino”).
Chicago native Yacono graduated in 1989 from Full Sail Center, the acclaimed recording arts college in Winter Park, Fla. He then worked with composer/producer Ken Hale, whom he greatly admires, calling Hale “so damn innovative, a true artist and visionary.”
He soon started his own company and entered the world of admusic and sound. Now Yacono said, “I feel very lucky living my dream of working in features.”
Signal Hill’s phone is 312/224-1626. See www.signalhillsound.com.