Grant Provence has been recording sound for film, video and music for over 19 years. He is an active member of the Cinema Audio Society, the first and only Oklahoman to be a member. Including over a decade working in NYC, he’s garnered solid experience in narrative film, high-end commercials, docs, reality and experimental film. From Nike commercials to helping run sound on a Francis Ford Coppola film, he’s continued to work with directors Mark Romanek and Neal Brennan, and counts Anonymous Content, Netflix, Zero Point Zero and HBO as clients.
How did you get started in the film industry?
I started my career doing sound for a video production company that specialized in the New York City fashion industry. I did that for ten years while also doing other corporate and advertising work and occasional red carpet events. While there, I made friends with Columbia University graduate students in the directing/screenwriting masters program, and I started working on their student films.
Did you have any formal education or training related to the film industry before starting?
My degree is in Film and Video Studies from the University of Oklahoma (OU) (now the Film and Media Studies), where I learned about theory and critical analysis of film. I wrote and directed a few short films for school and then did a handful of music videos for friends’ bands.
Did you have any formal education or training related to your specific department on-set?
I learned everything I know about production while working in NYC. When I started in the industry, I interned for a production company that specialized in the fashion industry. I rose through the paid ranks there, starting as an assistant for the equipment manager, then doing various jobs (camera operator, grip, location scouting) before landing in the sound department, first as a tape op and then as a sound mixer.
After starting your career in New York, what brought you back to Oklahoma?
My wife and I decided to move back to OKC after deciding to start a family. Having kids in NYC without grandparents or family was a very daunting prospect. We had that support system in Oklahoma. I knew there would be commercial, corporate and documentary projects to work on here but I was happily surprised to find narrative work too, which is what I have grown to enjoy the most.
What are some of your most recent successes (credits or accolades) related to your career in the industry?
When I hear from post-production that the audio is great and there is little-to-no ADR, that’s a success. I also just became a member of the Cinema Audio Society (C.A.S.) – the first and only Oklahoman, so far… I hope there’s more.
What has your career in the state’s film industry taught you?
The incentive the state provides is the main reason productions choose Oklahoma. Also having a professional crew base adds to the chances a production will choose Oklahoma.
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
The highlight that first comes to mind is recording a hero of mine, Lou Reed, as well as Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass and Tibetian Gyuto monks at NYC’s St. John the Divine Cathedral during a Tibet Fund performance. I had the honor of meeting the Dalai Lama the year prior at the same event.
What is your favorite aspect of working in Oklahoma’s film and television industry?
My favorite aspect of working in Oklahoma is the camaraderie. The film community here is very welcoming, and you want to hang out with them after work.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone starting their career in Oklahoma’s film industry?
Be a production assistant on a film set. See what all the different departments do. Go to a workshop put on by the Film Education Institute of Oklahoma (FEIO). The people behind that organization have real experience in the film world. You may go through several phases before you land on what you really want to do in film. I still want to write and direct my own films, so even I’m not done exploring.
How does someone in your field/department best promote/market themselves to those hiring in your industry?
Word of mouth is still the standard for networking in the film industry. On-set experience helps with that. Make sure you’re listed on the OK Film and Music website [Production Directory] too.
Are there any local film organizations, resources or events that have been beneficial to you in your career?
The local IATSE union has been great at offering training courses for crew members here.
What’s the one item you can’t live without on-set and why?
Humor. A set without laughs means long days.
Would your career be impacted without the state’s film incentive program? If so, how?
My career has thrived because of the incentive program. If films have no reason to come here, they won’t. Film productions are huge economic machines in many sectors. Not just film crew benefit from the rebate. Restaurants, hotels, bars, etc…make money from the film industry.
Where do you see yourself – AND – Oklahoma’s film industry in the next five years?
If the incentive grows, more and more projects will come to Oklahoma. That means I will work more too.
What are you working on now or next?
I just finished working on three films in a row. I’m looking forward to doing some commercial and documentary work.