From LA, With Love
About a year ago, we began shooting more on the west coast. Based on a recommendation from musical genius and longtime collaborator Sam Ewing, we hired Jorel Corpus to operate sound on location. We met Jorel for the first time the day before our first shoot in LA, and have hired him back on every shoot out there since. The relationship has worked so well, we now send all of our finished films to him for final audio and sound engineering.
Before moving to the US for school, Jorel was born and raised in the Philippines. A few months ago, Jorel asked us to write a letter of employment sponsorship to the US government on his behalf to prove that he had been working with sound and music as part of his effort to fully immigrate to the US. We wrote the letter, but didn't think much of it, until last week Sam called us with a story that touched us deeply. He said that last week Jorel thanked Sam for introducing him to us. Without Windy sponsoring him as an employee, Jorel said, he may not still be in the US.
We are incredibly proud to support Jorel's immigration. After that call from Sam, we realized that its about time we got to know Jorel a little better. Thanks, Jorel, for doing this interview, and as always, we're looking forward to working with you on the west coast again soon.
Tell us about growing up in the Philippines. How did you make your way to the states?
I had a great time growing up in the Philippines. My family is the best and has been supporting me in everything that I have done and tried to pursue. I have a wealth of friends and tons of meaningful relationships from school, work and family ties. Philippines is a generally very happy country, people are cheerful and friendly so everything gets affected in that way. Food is amazing, you will never believe how much the US is missing out on mangoes and seafood. Plus the country is made up of 7107 islands, if you’re a traveling type person, pick a beach and go to it, and it’s done.
I made my way to the US via school. I was playing in a couple of great bands for 10 years, doing tours around the country and in southeast asia. Recording albums, making songs, doing all that fun stuff and decided it was time to upgrade myself. I felt like I could do more and see more things, expand my horizons. Berklee College of Music was always on my mind and when I successfully passed the audition, I knew I had to make a decision to fully commit to going there and leaving everything behind. Fast forward a couple of years and here we are.
What was the moment you found your passion for sound?
My exposure to music started when I was a baby. My parents have always been sort of related to art. They performed in theater groups as puppeteers and music has always been part of that, My dad and mom taught me how to play guitar which is still my primary instrument. Learning guitar opened up so many things for me, like playing in bands. This became my career for a huge chunk of my life. In the process of playing for these bands, I was exposed to recording studios, where I played a part as an artist and as producer, sometimes engineer. It was a natural evolution, someone playing music learning how to record it. Learning how to record stuff opened up more things for me. I got exposed to the world of audio: Sound Design, Production Techniques and as you mentioned SOUND in general.
I realized in this process of learning that Its not just music that you can record, you can record ANYTHING, noises, dialogue, background ambience, breaths or even chewing food. I really got into it when I realized that I can be part of making cool things like records and movies through sound and music. I can help shape the way things are going to come out, whether its making a better chorus to a song or helping a huge part of a movie production get tenser with a big impactful sound by mangling some weird sampled metal noise. As I learned more chops and got better, the more I got into it since like everyone else, I am striving for excellence.
Boston to LA is a big leap - what was taking that risk like?
The quick answer to this question is: Extremely rewarding.
But first, let me backtrack.
Moving from Boston to LA is difficult. On a geographical level as you might expect, LA is so much bigger than Boston. The mental equivalent of 3 miles in Boston is probably around 25 miles here in LA. As someone who was used to having things in my immediate vicinity, it was sort of a slight mental blow to have to drive and trek a couple of miles to get to a store and do simple things.
Mentally, a lot of people in my industry SEEM to be more tenacious here in LA. Probably because a lot of the people I know are in survival mode and are trying to make something out of their careers. My life in Boston was a little bit more chill than what I have now probably because I was in school. Here its really a voracious trek to find new work, new ways to make money, new ways to make something out of your career. And not in a “rat race” kind of way, in a great challenging amazing kind of way, you see a lot of your peers making something out of themselves, getting nominated and winning grammys, oscars, emmys and working on super cool feature movies. Most importantly, a lot of them are working on stuff that they love, even as simple as friends of mine releasing and producing an amazing album all on their own. When you are surrounded with that kind of calibre of people, you cannot help but try to upgrade yourself and be better at what you do. It really is inspiring to me to see all of these excellent output from my peers.
In the end, the risk is rewarding because you learn how to adapt. You change your mindset and adjust to your situation. When you do that, things open up and you find great things that you love doing. Personally, I love food and I am AMAZED at the amount of good food I find here. And I am not just talking about Mexican food, a lot of ethnicities are well represented here. You can find great food whether its your vegan vietnamese soup in the Valley, to amazing Cubana tortas in South Central to Camaron tacos in East LA and maybe some Taiwanese breakfast in the San Gabriel Valley. Finding things you love enables you to develop more meaningful relationships with your peers and friends and when all of this is done, thats all that matters!
So long story short, I now really really love LA and all that comes with it.
How has working with Windy contributed to your own body of work?
Apart from the fact that Windy has given me projects that I have been super proud of doing. Working with them has taught me so much about teamwork and being in sync with other people.
The first time we went out on location, one of the best things that I have noticed about them is that they have incredible chemistry with each other. Everyone has a role. I thought to myself, “these guys are super professional” from the way they present themselves to how everything is planned and executed. Even leaving space for sudden rescheduling by clients and immediately adjusting for it. Working with them has reinforced my knack for being alert on set as if we were in a recording studio. Everything matters and you need to know what Is going on around you, otherwise, you’ll be left behind and dragging others.
Technically speaking, these guys are excellent, shots, audio, look, everything but its also the way they deal with clients, the way they build relationships and take care of obstacles that made me look up to them in terms of work ethic. Which is why I am more than stoked when they asked me to be part of their company by representing me in my projects.
By representing me, Windy helped me secure the US O1 Visa to stay in the United States. The O1 is a Visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in music, arts etc. It is a requirement of that Visa for somebody to represent you and vouch for you, and Windy did that for me. It really helped me stay here to continue my work since it allowed me to apply and get approved by the government.
As far as the body of work is concerned. Working with Windy has given me so much diversity in my portfolio. See I have all these cool albums and music things under my belt already, and now its even a lot greater with cool projects that can literally potentially change the world as we know it! We have things like Sanaria, which is a documentary about a vaccine that can end malaria, Nuuma, which can help people live better by making people aware of toxic gasses in the air. An amazing device for people with COPD, and a patch that will make humans invisible to mosquitoes. We are working on so many great projects that I get excited about when I get an email to finalize and mix something that they have shot.
So yeah, working with Windy has made me so much more diverse in terms of being an audio producer and a mixing engineer. I genuinely appreciate and am grateful for these opportunities.