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The Job of a Loop Group Leader

Some of you may wonder what you actually do when you not only work as a looper, but also lead the loopers. There are MANY loop groups out there.  Some are run by only one individual, but the majority of groups have 2 or more leaders. Why do they have more than one leader? Well, I’m sure different reasonings abound, but for us we have 4 group leaders. Any one of us have and do lead the group. With 4 of us there are more opportunities because we all know different people, and have different abilities. Usually whomever secures the job leads the group for that project (unless that person isn’t available on that day, has another job that day, or simply isn’t right for the project…like an all male war film for example).

The process, like everything in the biz, fluctuates; but this is a typical scenario. First we’ll set up meetings or phone calls with potential Films/Series. Sometimes if it’s someone we’ve worked with in the past they’ll just ask us if we are available (we love that!) If not, it can take several weeks or months of work to land the gig in the first place. (many repeat phone calls, mailings, meetings etc. until you talk to the right person and get then to hire you) With the unions, there are no “bids” because actors work for the set daily rate that the show was shot at. (SAG modified, low budget, etc) You can always negotiate up (It’s pretty hard to find loopers who will work for an entire day at $100…it’s 8 hours of straight work unlike on camera gigs where you may wait all day to shoot for 1/2 hour) Usually the producers have a set rate they can spend on the sound (looping included) and we work from there with how many actors they can hire (how many conracts they have) and how many they really NEED to do the job right ( a huge fight scene is pretty hard to do with 3 loopers. It would take MANY passes of the same scene over and over where having 8 loopers is more doable) Sometimes we can negotiate a small additional amount to add to our own contract for leading the group, but nowadays, more often than not, it’s mostly just getting to work the job and there is no extra money for leading the group. Movies can be a little more flexible. Series have more things set and once you work together on a series, all parties usually develop a “groove”.

You’ve read about Loop Groups getting the jobs. What comes next? Once we are hired we usually get to spot the show. This means we watch it and figure out where looping is needed (most times this is already done by the sound designer and we are given a cue sheet with the group cues already on it, but we watch again to see how we’ll tackle each cue and it clues us in on who we need to hire to get the job done right)  We then cast/hire the actors or put them on hold for when the job will take place (and tell them what to prepare), station 12 the actors (make sure they are paid up so producers aren’t fined) and get/prepare the contracts from the payroll company (sometimes the producers will bring these to the set and we wont have to). Occasionally, especially when there is a quick turn around, we actually have to “fly blind” and don’t have an opportunity to watch the show first. When this happens, we rely on what the sound team tells us we need and hire accordingly.

On the day of the job, we’ll make sure all the paper work is filled out by the actors, turn it in to the the producer or payroll company and go through cue by cue and run the show with the ADR supervisor and/or whomever else is choosing the good “takes” and lets us know what is needed ot wanted (sometimes the director is very hands on, sometimes it’s the producer, or sounds designer etc…it varies from project to project). As was said in part I, on a series you start to gell with the sound team.  If there is always college hallway walla in the show for example, everyone knows how to best tackle that cue and make it sound perfect by, say the 3rd show.  We make sure both sides are happy and productive. At the end of the day, it’s very rewarding when all of the actors do their best, are prepared, and it sounds great. The Sound Team/Production Team is happy and we are happy. It’s a challenging at times but also rewarding  job.

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