We Interviewed Sound Designer Kennedy Phillips!

Meet Kennedy Phillips, the mastermind sound designer! With experience at places like DreamworksTV and Ubisoft, Kennedy’s creativity knows no bounds. And guess what? All Ages of Geek is here to support indie creators like Kennedy on their journey. Learn more about Kennedy’s creative journery, inspirations, and goals!

I’ve always adhered to a higher standard of nonsense and tomfoolery. Just because you have something ridiculous or silly to present to the world doesn’t mean the execution can be anything but professional. Most of what I do is Post Production, but I have found myself on set and off bringing life (or at least some shambling monstrosity resembling it) to whatever production I’ve been attached to. I have an M.F.A. in Film Production from Chapman University, and I have an B.F.A in Cinema Studies with a Minor in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida.  I’ve worked with companies such as DreamworksTV, the Jim Henson Company, Ubisoft, and Melodygun. All of my work is now under the name of my personal company: Gale Dramatis LLC. Take a look around and see what I’ve made!

Kennedy Phillips

1.What initially inspired you to become a creator, and how has that inspiration evolved throughout your creative journey?

When I was really young, I had lived on a sailboat with my family. We spent a lot of time out at sea.  one of the things that I was able to do for my family was entertain them. I would make fake commercials, almost like they were on the radio and act out scenes since we only had so many VHS tapes to watch while we were out, and my parents couldn’t go downstairs and watch TV while they were in the cockpit. It was some thing I felt very valued and cherished for, because those legs out at sea would take a very long time, I remember at one point when I was really young I was watching an episode of Jim Henson‘s Muppet babies and my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and at first I said I wanted to be a taxi driver because it was something Kermit said but when my mom politely told me that that definitely wasn’t some thing I probably would’ve wanted to do in the long run. I saw the nickelodeon interstitial logo and I pointed and said I wanna work on that it’s evolved because I discovered I was an auditory learner as time went on and I figured it would be a really good opportunity for me to sit down and learn about Sound Design which eventually evolved into my attempts to make audio dramas in college. They weren’t very good, but it was some thing that I really enjoyed doing, and eventually turned into teaming up with a couple of my friends to participate in a Dubbing contest for mega con. We did a parody of Pokémon back when the abridged thing was all the rage. I’m still not allowed back on YouTube because of my posts for that video.

2.Can you share a specific moment or experience that fueled your passion for your current creative project?

I’ve got two. The first I spent a lot of time trying to find work and found myself getting scammed a lot not getting paid very well or not getting paid at all. I and I was starting to think that I wasn’t competent enough for good enough to be in the film industry. It was very discouraging, and I was ready to give it all up. but after watching a video adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s the color of magic, I was reminded why I love being an entertainer and I told myself “you’re going to try this one more time but you were going to direct, you were going to use all of your skill sets at your disposal.” so I put in my life savings, and I made Magus Elgar. I didn’t get a huge audience, but I was nominated for best original work by the audio publishers association, and that cinched it for me.

The other was a time when I came back from the holidays with my parents and found my roommates were playing a game of dungeons and dragons, but the key difference was every single one of them was playing as a chaotic kobold. A Kobald is a small little reptilian creature about 2 1/2 feet tall that is supposed to be one of the easiest enemies to fight in that role-playing game but they’re also very cute and fun and kind of crazy and watching them jabber on in high-pitched voices was one of my favorite memories that I didn’t get to be a part of, and out of quiet resentment I end up writing an entire show about kobolds called clutch a kobold story.

3.What challenges have you encountered as an indie creator, and how have they shaped your approach to your work?

I think the biggest problem that you experience is an in the creator is that you don’t know who would be the best people to pair up with you run into friends or colleagues that are passionate, but ultimately don’t share your vision. Other times you run into people who either lack the skills or experience to be able to accomplish what you’re looking for and picking up the slack can be a little bit challenging, but the biggest one is money and visibility. Most people don’t want to pay for entertainment these days, but it’s very important to supports the projects that you genuinely like either by getting some merch, sharing about the show on your social media platforms or even just telling the creators how much you liked your project. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve been feeling really downtrodden, and a random fan would come up to me and say oh, I loved this thing that you worked on and it would make my day. I really wanna try and pay all of my actors and creators what they’re worth. I have to curtail that instinct with my desire to go as big as I can so the way I do it is Aiko big and I invite the people that work with me to go as big as they like without crushing my wallet.

4.Are there any particular creators who have significantly influenced your style or approach? How do you incorporate those influences into your own unique voice?

KC Wayland was one of the first few people I spoke to when I started working on audio dramas. He’s the Director of Wayland productions, and the creator of we are alive one of the most successful zombie podcasts ever to have been made. He gave me a lot of advice going forward, and I deeply respect the support. He gave me when I was first starting out in terms of other creators. There are way too many Animator‘s in the industry that I have so much respect for, many of whom I’ve actually had the pleasure of working with in terms of my creative writing. I took a lot of inspiration from the storytelling techniques of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and HP Lovecraft. I love stories that turn things on their head in ways that you don’t anticipate. Which is why I try to play around with the tropes and expectations that you’ve come to assume of much more predictable stories, a big aspect of Magus Elgar for example, the main narrator is not just a disembodied voice. You come to expect an audio dramas and audiobooks by is a real person who frequently gets involved in the antics happening in the show.

5.How do you navigate the balance between staying true to your artistic vision and adapting to feedback from your audience or collaborators?

You never want to stray too far away from what your audience can understand when you’re working on your stories, tropes exist for a reason. They help ground your story in a way that an audience can find accessible. I have a bad problem of going so far out of left field that even my writers that I work with have a hard time trying to understand what it is I’m trying to accomplish, that being said, I have always maintained a professional standard working as a Sound Designer for animated productions. I will always present to the creator, a cornucopia of options and concepts, and allow them to choose à la carte. Often times only 30 or 40% of my ideas will actually see the light of day on a production, but I’m no less proud of the work that I do. In terms of audience feedback, one of the earliest criticisms I had was when I worked on Hazbin hotel many felt that there were way too many sound effects playing at all at once, and it made it for a very exhausting, listening experience, I agree with them but I stand by the work that I did because it was my first real animation, and I did not want to disappoint. I’ve since taken those lessons and criticisms to heart, and I have been reflecting what I have learned from, has been hotel, and brought it into helluva boss, Satina and Lackadaisy.

6.Can you recall a memorable success story or milestone in your indie creator journey that stands out as a turning point for you?

When I released Magus Elgar, it was to a very lukewarm audience. The people that did actually get a chance to listen to it loved it, but I’m not very good at marketing myself. I never saw more than a few thousand downloads. My sales were significantly worse. Eventually, my father called me up on the phone and told me “I need you to acknowledge this is a failure and move on.” he wasn’t wrong. I was ready to dig my heels in deeper and deeper and he was concerned that I was going to be so focused on trying to force this to work that I was going to burn myself out but then I was invited by the audio publishers association to come to New York for an award ceremony for my show. I was floored my parents came with me; Some of my actors came with me. And I got to meet LeVar Burton, who was enthusiastic about hearing about my show. When I got to meet him in person, I did not winning that award, but one of the judges approached me and whispered in my ear “you were robbed, never forget that your show was one of the best I ever heard.“

At first, it was a bitter, sweet feeling, but then when I went to the hotel room, my parents were staying at the next morning. My father had said to me “I had told you to acknowledge this is a failure. I was wrong. You clearly know what you’re doing. don’t ever give up on this.” And I never have.

7.What role do setbacks or failures play in your creative process, and how do you overcome them to keep moving forward?

I’m very scatterbrained. One of my big problem is is that I have this executive dysfunction that has me constantly trying to spin a million plates. It makes me forgetful. It makes me an attentive, and it makes it difficult for me to be a self starter. I overcoming them by surrounding myself with other peers that are in the industry and are enthusiastically working on their own productions. It motivates me to go forward. It encourages me to work harder, also the “I need money“ thing certainly helps too.

8.How do you manage your time and energy to sustain a consistent creative output while juggling other aspects of life?

It certainly helps that my career is my creative output, that being said, there is always going to be a burning energy within me to want to create in someway or another it ebbs and flows just like any muscle being overworked and sometimes needs rest. But that energy comes back with a vengeance eventually. When I lose my passion, for one aspect of my creative exploits, I pivot to another if I can’t, Sound Design, I write. if I can’t write, I voice act. if I can’t voice act, I’d run a tabletop role-playing game.

9.Have you found any unexpected joys or rewards in the indie creator community, and how has it contributed to your overall experience?

Something I really love about the Indy creator community is that the people who partake in it are often making their own videos discussing that material. I’ve had several videos on Lackadaisy talking about how bad our Sound Design was, and how amazing our sound design was. Seeing how they came to two vastly different conclusions is deeply engaging to me. And it motivates me to do more because it lets me know how cherished my contributions to the creative seen is.

10.If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring creators, what would it be based on your own lessons learned?

Don’t expect to make too much money doing this. The hours can be intense and the imposter syndrome is always creeping around the corner but the moment you release, and someone says some thing positive about the thing that you made it makes all of your struggles feel worth it not being said try not to bite off more than you can chew, the best projects and the most successful projects took a lot longer to get to that point then you will ever see. But that doesn’t mean you’re never going to get there, it just means you need to be patient.

11. What are your thoughts on All Ages of Geek? What are some things we should change/do? What are something you enjoy about our website?

I love that you’re trying to engage with a lot of indie creators and authors and interview them. The thing that I would recommend that you do is start exploring, bigger, essays about the creative industry. Quizzes and moments in the media are all well and good for Clickbait, but to cement yourself as a creative journalist, I recommend finding a story or a show or creator that leaves a particular impact on you and break down what it is about them you find so compelling.

12. Goals for 2024?

I want to finish clutch! A Kobold  story. My fans have been so immensely patient while I try to keep my life balanced with paying jobs as I try to make this production come to life, and I hope they will not be disappointed after all the wait.

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The post We Interviewed Sound Designer Kennedy Phillips! first appeared on All Ages of Geek.

The post We Interviewed Sound Designer Kennedy Phillips! appeared first on All Ages of Geek.