Often an under-recognized role on the set, the boom operator is responsible for correct positioning of microphones with little room for error. The best boom operators are both knowledgeable about sound equipment and camera angles to avoid obstructing a shot. These workers handle the boom itself but also other sound equipment including microphones and cables.
What to look for
Finding a boom operator that has worked in a similar environment will help prevent hiccups in bringing the freelancer on board. Theater, film and interview experience are drastically different.
Boomer operators need to arrive early since delays can halt an entire production day. Hiring a freelance requires taking notice of his or her promptness.
Look for a strong recommendation from a colleague in the sound department of a similar production crew. They can best speak to the boom operator’s performance in a similar setting.
Know what you need
Does the Sound Mixer have specific needs?
A boom operator works closely with the Production Sound Mixer on the set’s audio equipment. He or she might have specific equipment needs with the freelancer’s experience and background.
How long will the shoots be?
The boom operator has one of the most physically demanding tasks on the set. Checking a candidate’s experience with long shoots might be necessary.
Have they worked with the same type of dialogue?
Boom operators need to memorize all lines of dialogue and to know what moments they need to anticipate. Gauging a freelancer’s experience should focus on matching their past jobs to the type of dialogue being used on the set.
Questions to ask a potential candidate
What size sound crew have you worked with before?
Depending on the size of the sound crew, the freelancer might need to take on a bigger role. However, a large crew and a freelance used to more responsibilities might not mix well.
What types of microphones did you use on your last job?
A strong freelance boom operator will have solid knowledge on microphone equipment and hopefully be a bit of an audiophile. The candidate should know their equipment and give feedback on its performance.
What types of actors do you have experience with?
If the set will feature prominent actors or interview guests, it is important to make sure the boom operator has past experience behaving professionally while working closely with the actors and speakers.
Have you ever worked as a one-person unit?
Freelancers who have worked smaller production crews and served as a one-person unit as both boom operator and sound mixer, will have more experience on understanding the relationship between the camera positions and ensuring correct audio capture for the shot.
What are your long term goals?
Motivated and hard working boom operators aspire to become sound mixers, editors or designers. A freelance that has clear ambitions for these goals is likely to care a great deal about the overall recording quality on the set.