In the early years of his life, growing up in China, SiYao Jiang never imagined himself making films. Instead, his passion was music. He loved creating his own sound with various instruments, expressing himself through song. When he began to pursue a career as a musician, however, years later, he was not happy. His passion was turning into a chore, and the pressure was overwhelming. He found himself being drawn to a different creative outlet: filmmaking. It did not take him long to discover that production sound mixing was the perfect field for him. It allowed for more creativity than music production, offering constant changes and new learning experiences with each new project.
Now, Jiang is a sought-after sound mixer both in his home country and abroad. He is known for his work on award-winning productions like Slicker, Bag of Worms, StarF*cker and more. He has worked on high-profile commercials, assisting major companies, like the air conditioning company Daikin, with financial growth through advertising. No matter the project, Jiang is happy to have found just the ideal career path for his many talents and interests.
“Being a production sound mixer is much more interesting than music production because every time my job is at different location, it’s much more fun and challenging compared with music production and I get to meet different people every time I’m on a different set,” he said.
One of Jiang’s more recent successes is the action flick Apple. The film tells the story of a group of friends who, after finding out that there is only one apple left in the basket, start to expose their dark sides of human nature as the situation becomes dire.
“The project was really challenging in terms of sound and I like challenges. You need a good challenge to make a project interesting,” said Jiang.
Jiang was approached by his friend and colleague, JianKun Du, who is also the director of this film, asking Jiang if he wanted to be the sound mixer of Apple. Once Jiang read the script, he was immediately interested. It was full of dark humor, with big action sequences that would make sound mixing essential. After talking with the crew and discussing many of the film’s bigger shots, he took the job, knowing he could help make the film sound extraordinary.
This was no easy task for Jiang. First of all, the weather was over 100 degrees fahrenheit, and carrying booms in such heat was physically exhausting. Secondly, there were only booms, no lavs, and there were eight actors in total. Within a shot, there were always about two to four people talking, which really tested Jiang’s skill set, trying to capture all of the dialogue with just a boom. In a forest environment, where the booms were consistently hitting tree branches, this created yet another challenge to overcome.
“Because there are no lavs as a back up, boom is everything, and if I miss pointing the boom in the exact right place at the right time, the sound would be ruined, so booming is very essential to the whole production,” Jiang explained.
Despite all these challenges, Jiang rose to the occasion, showing why he is at the top of his field. With his help, Apple saw great success at many international film festivals, even taking home Best Short Film at the Mindfield Film Festival Los Angeles, where it also won Best Cinematography and Best Editing.
Jiang is immensely proud of what both he and his colleagues achieved with Apple. It was an amazing experience for the sound mixer, especially because of the team he worked with.
“The crew members are nice since they are all my friends. This made for a fun experience on set every day. The food was also very good, which is always a plus. Last, but not least, I learned so much regarding boom technique from this film,” Jiang concluded.