USA Focus: Mark Cross

Jake Young talks to Mark Cross, an award winning producer, composer, mixer, educator, and author with an extensive discography in both film and television that spans over two decades.

How healthy is the market for audio post-production studios in the USA?

Well… Todd AO (one of the biggest post-production companies in Los Angeles), recently closed their doors…

So… not so healthy here on the west coast.

Has the market changed in the past 5-10 years?

Yes. It seems to be following the television protocol. The demand is for product sooner and cheaper. Great if you’re an uptight suit, not so great if you’re actually doing the work.

Have there been any significant changes to legislations, regulations, or laws that have affected the industry?

Yes, the CALM Act is in play. This bill was enacted by Congress because politicians felt that television commercials were too loud. Unfortunately the level-standards imposed on these commercials were then forced into television productions by the commercial people because they felt that they were being victimised.

So now re-recording mixers are forced to reduce the dynamic range of their work considerably.

What does this mean? A show like HBO’s Getting On (a comedy set in a terminally-ill ward of a hospital) is as loud as HBO’s Game of Thrones action-packed-dramatic fights scenes.

In other words;


this is me screaming.

And you can NOT hear the mix details because of it.

So everyone loses!!! But don’t get me started…

Have you seen any trends in technology purchasing? Is there anything that could be unique to the USA?

The new trend is Dolby Atmos. And it is way cool!!! Surround in a whole new playing field. That is very exciting!!!

How did you get started in the industry?

I started entry level and worked my way up. My first big break was recognising the power of the word ‘yes’. My next big break was recognising the power of the word ‘no’.

How is the USA audio post-production studio industry unique?

It’s hard to say, there are shows (like HBO’s Veep) that are mixed in London. It’s a unique sounding show in the sense that there a little to no background effects (walla, room tone, murmur, etc.).

Of course music scoring has moved out of the US almost completely. We have the AFM to blame for that one.

What are your plans for the future?

I am teaching at California State University and I love providing information for interested minds. Additionally, I still compose for television, which is both challenging and rewarding at the same time.

Lastly, do you have any predictions for the future of the industry in the USA?

I had this discussion with a colleague recently and the movie Money Ball (with Brad Pit) came up as a reference/analogy. I feel that now it’s more about getting hits and playing the game rather than betting on grand-slam home runs. It’s much more efficient working it on that level. Of course there is always room for punters, but the recent climate doesn’t seem to benefit from that.