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Some questions for European mixers on here


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I'm a mixer in California and I'm moving back to Europe to be closer to my partner who's in school in Berlin. I previously lived in Berlin, but mostly worked in the live music world and didn't do much production sound at the time. I was wondering what the landscape is like where you live. What are good markets in the eu? I'm considering Berlin, Scandanavia, Dublin, or Madrid (as I speak Spanish). I'm considering the UK as well, but as I only have an EU passport it might be trickier. From what I know, wages seem to be a lot lower and it's more competitive. I'm still pretty young and not hugely concerned with making less than Los Angeles rates. What kind of gigs do people here work on? What should I expect productions to look like compared to the us? Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!
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As a general "rule" from my personal experience and what I see around me is that; first of all, Europe is NOT Europe. What I mean by that is it really helps if you speak one of the 24 languages, THUS working in the region of the language you do speak is the logical result of this. Although in most countries you get away with English, you will be second choice for most gigs, especially for a newcomer to the market, some exceptions here and there. The UK and Ireland obviously are English speaking as you know... So yeah, from a competitive point of view this would be a downside for you. 

As for rates; partially I think this can be rationalized that your healthcare. unemployment welfare and schooling system (not for you perhaps, the latter, but for your children or maybe your partner in Berlin, if she is a EU citizen too) is sort of taken care of (well, you still have to pay taxes and a bit of healthcare, but you need way less skin on your bones in cases of emergency). Therefore in my opinion this whole rate debate between the US and the EU (again EU is not EU, because rates are all over the place too, from north to south, east to west...) is a bit skewed.

I lived and worked for a while in Istanbul Turkey, and mostly I did international crews which came to Istanbul for a shoot, narrative or documentary. So I was in kinda the same boat; I did not speak the native language, so I had less gigs because of that. But because the "foreign" gigs I got paid WAAAY better so all was good. That said I don't think this trick would work in the EU. Maybe in the eastern countries.

Like I started, this is my personal experience, your mileage may vary. 

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There is no common rates between sound mixers around the EU; because the cost of business & cost of live is different from nation to nation. For example, UK & GER has better salary compared to Greece (where I am working & live).

 

TV Drama, Feature Films & Documentaries is main industry. I know it's hard to get your feet at the start (like me when I changed only a city - can you imagine), but I would suggest you to start from Berlin - where you have lived before and you be will closer to your partner.

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I am Swedish, but live and work in Berlin. If you want we can take a coffee sometime if you pass here.

 

Generally I think it is harder to get the well paying gigs unless you know German. Berlin is also lower paid than say, Munich, Hamburg or Frankfurt. I am still quite new so to say (held a boompole for the first time in 2015), but I also think it was less competitive a few years ago when I started. In the indie segment there are plenty of gigs, but it's a hustle to make a living from it and I think there are more people now. On the upside, makeup and sound can allways get atleast some form of payment even in so called no budget gigs.

 

For the first time I am getting actual real rates now, but took me a while to get there. And only for the highly commercial projects (Advertisement, Sports documentary). I think for the long run, if I wanted to make as much money as possible, I would move to Sweden to speak my language on set. But then, I am not only in it for the money. Love to pick the projects I believe in and live with my partner here in Berlin.

 

Good luck!

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