David Kitchens was 6 years old when he began his search for sound.
“I just started recording things,” he recalled.
Then his parents got him a small camera, and Kitchens began
putting sound to the visuals. He still is.
Kitchens and Ben Zarai, owners of Juniper Post, a Burbank-based
post-production company, each won Emmy Awards earlier this month.
They won for Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming for
the company’s work on “James Cameron’s Expedition: Bismarck.”
“It was surreal,” Kitchens said of the Sept. 13 announcement.
Zarai said the company wasn’t trying to win an Emmy, but
acknowledged that he knew at some point during last year’s sound
production for the drama/documentary that he and Kitchens were on to
“It was a dream come true,” Zarai said.
The program, which began airing on the Discovery Channel in
December, was a high-cost adventure that featured dramatic battle
scenes and underwater adventures, all in a World War II setting that
chronicled the life of what was once thought to be a battleship that
could not sink. The Bismarck now lies off the coast of Ireland, three
miles below the surface.
The Burbank company’s team of sound editors, mixers and effects
artists worked tirelessly to put together sound for Cameron’s film,
which was completely silent when they got the video. The company
created the sounds of cannons, people, the rotors of remote operator
vehicles, the ship itself and the water splashing. Before that, “we’d
never even heard of some these devices,” Kitchens said. A lot of it
was done from re-recording mixer Eric Reuveni’s backyard pool.
Inside the studio, on South Main Street, are drawers full of
things to make sounds, including shoes and doorknobs. The team even
found a vintage typewriter to make the sounds of 1940s-era typewriter
It is a long way from 1990, when Kitchens worked as a runner for
Juniper Studios, then under a different owner. But Kitchens worked
his way up from “cleaning toilets,” he said. In 1994, he became
studio manager. Zarai was hired soon after to work with Kitchens. By
1998, they bought the company, which now boasts a team of eight, all
of whom have a musical background.
“We’ve been successful because we care,” said Kitchens. “We do not
want something bad to get out.”