ALFRED If you enjoy watching movies, chances are you’ve experienced the work of Tod Maitlands.
Throughout his career as a sound engineer, Maitland has been involved in over 100 films, ranging from I Am Legend, to Seabiscuit to Joker. He also has four Oscar nominations in the Best Sound category to his credit.
Before starting to count Will Smith, Joaquin Phoenix, and other A-List stars as co-workers, Maitland was a student at Alfred State. He acknowledges that the two years he spent in college had an impact on him that continues to this day, which is why Hell is still proud to be a pioneer of Alfred State.
Originally from Long Island, Maitland initially wanted to pursue a career in marine biology. After seeing his father, Dennis Maitland, at work, Maitland decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a sound professional in the film industry.
I came into work with him during the summer when I was 16 and loved it, he says. I was like, that’s what I’m going to do.
In 1975, Maitland enrolled in Alfred States’ audiovisual technology program, which he said helped him understand the details of his business.
Thinking back to my schedule there, it’s amazing how limited we were with what we had. I mean obviously there weren’t any computers so we were sorting out the type and doing things that you consider archaic now but when you have to do things in private tiny little things, you learn a lot about the details, he says. I think my photography class, my graphic design class, and other classes really helped me learn a lot about the details, and in my business, it’s all about the details.
As a student, Maitland greatly appreciated the community he became a member of at Alfred State.
I think my years with Alfred were a great time to grow up, he says. It was a good time for friendships and independence. I lived in the infamous cabins that were outside Alfred Station and also lived above the Old Mill Inn for a year. We were like our own little community. I think the community has been a huge part of my Alfred experience.
Immediately after graduating in 1977, Maitland began working in the film industry with his father. Together, the two worked on three films, including 1982’s Tempest starring Susan Sarandon.
After three films, Dennis suggested that his son work with other sound professionals to see how they work.
You can only go this far to work for your father, Maitland said. He was certainly instrumental in my learning the first tools I needed to work, and I became a boom man, which is the person who holds the microphone above people’s heads.
Holding a microphone, however, is only part of a boom man’s job, as Maitland notes. It also means being very familiar with how microphones work, camera lenses, lighting, where to stand so you can detonate the photo, and more.
You are on the front lines, he said. You’re right next to the camera, the actors, the director, so it’s a high pressure situation, and it’s also a very rewarding situation because you can see everything right in front of you, some of the great performances and talent. amazing, and everything is happening right in front of you. It’s pretty amazing.
What’s also amazing is that Maitland has worked and developed relationships with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars and directors, including Robert De Niro.
I’ve worked with De Niro a few times as a mixer, said Maitland, who became a sound mixer in 1985. Then, when Bob decided to make his first movie, A Bronx Tale, he called me because. about the relationship my wife had developed on the movies I had done before with him, which is pretty much the way our business operates.
For Maitland, working with great people is one of the four best parts of her job.
I would say the people, the travel, the fact that it’s different every day and the creativity are my four favorite things, he said.
As for his favorite films he’s worked on, Maitland has a long list that includes Tootsie, The Greatest Showman, and four Oliver Stone films he considers to be among the most influential of his career: Talk Radio, Born on the Fourth. of July, The Doors and JFK. A more recent film that Maitland has worked on that has been both challenging and rewarding is Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, which is set to hit theaters in December 2020.
No matter how many movies Maitland has worked on, however, he admits he still has butterflies on day one of filming.
You still have that nervousness from day one and I understand it’s because we care so much about our job, he said.
In addition to the work he does on set, Maitland also owns his own sound company called New Deal Inc. and teaches sound lessons at New York University (NYU). In addition to shaping the next generation of great filmmakers at NYU, Maitland has worked with her sister, Kim, and two brothers, Dennis Maitland Jr. and Dean, both of whom are deceased. Maitland now helps guide his nephew, Terence McCormack Maitland, who also works on sound for the movies.
My nephew works with me, so the legacy of the Maitland family continues, he said.
Today, Maitland lives in New York and upstate near Delhi with his wife, Sarah. They are the parents of four children, Emma, Matthew, Emma (his stepdaughter) and Rowan.
No matter where he lives or where his life and career has taken him over the years, Maitland still often thinks about the two years he spent at Alfred State, especially when speaking with lifelong friends that it got there.
Some of my fondest memories in life come from Alfred, he says. A lot of this is due to the relationships I have made and this period of growth. My friends Rich Fakelmann, Howard Wertheimer, Tom Schonzik, Kenny Hammond and Gary Lanza and I talk and text all the time, especially in these crazy political and pandemic times.
The next time you watch one of the movies Maitland worked on, pay close attention to its sound. Close your eyes for a moment, listen intently, and you’ll be sure to appreciate the incredible work of an Alfred State Pioneer and wait for the credits roll.