I was on a plane to the US with a science fiction thriller on a hard drive

Sound editors are often known as the unsung heroes of production. Leah McKeown is working hard as a sound editor and shares her career journey with SAE.
Sound technician. Leah McKeown

Leah McKeown is an up-and-coming sound editor who shares her journey since graduating in 2018 from SAE’s Adelaide campus with a Diploma of Music Industry in Studio and Live Sound Production.

Shortly after completing her studies at SAE, Leah had the chance to work with Michael Darren at Artisan Post Group. “I was lucky because Michael was looking for a sound assistant for SBS drama, The Hunting – that was basically my internship,” Leah said.

“I’ve since been working on a few others including ABC series like First Day and more recently Aftertaste.”

One of the most critically acclaimed shows to come out of Australia in the last year is ABC’s Stateless. The series was inspired by the real-life story of Cornelia Rau and has since been featured on Netflix globally. Leah says the chance to work on a significant story with creator and executive producer, Cate Blanchett was amazing.

“I was the sound assistant and the automated dialogue replacement coordinator. It was such a pleasure to work with so many amazing people on what is an incredible story.”

The opportunity to be a part of these shows may have never come about, says Leah, if she hadn’t jumped at the chance to deliver a cut of science-fiction thriller, I Am Mother, over to America.

“I was still studying at SAE, and a friend told me there was a request to take the film over to Philadelphia. Five hours later and I was on a plane to the US with a science-fiction thriller on a hard drive – it really was a crazy once life-time experience!

During her time in Philadelphia, Leah connected with various industry professionals, which led to a meeting with sound editor Duncan Campbell, once she was back in Adelaide. “He was so impressed with the skills I’d learnt at SAE – which is what prompted him to recommend me as a sound assistant to Michael Darren at Artisan Post Group.”

On her inspiration for sound editing, Leah says she enjoys taking an empty scene and selecting the right elements which complement the film. “I love the challenge of making something ultra-realistic – all the little details the audience doesn’t necessarily notice – I get a real kick out of that.”


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