Our Stories: Alex Gregson

Aisling Kiely

From having a film featured at the Beverly Hills Film Festival to getting the keys to his very own studio, Post-production Tutor, Alex Gregson has certainly turned it up a notch since graduating.

Busy working on his new venture, we stopped Alex Gregson in his tracks to find out about his new studio, 344 Audio, and find out what’s next.

So Alex, it certainly sounds like you’ve had your work cut out for you. Before we find out what you’ve been up to, what first inspired you to get into the Sound Industry?
I studied Music Technology at Ashton Sixth Form, and kind of experimented with Music and Sound Design when I was younger. But, it wasn’t until I was in my second year, studying an Audio Post Production module, when I decided I wanted to pursue it as a career.

Great! So, what course did you decide to study?
I studied BSc Sound Engineering and Design. I really enjoyed the course as the entrepreneurship, work experience and audio post production modules taught me a variety of different techniques.
While studying, I decided Audio Post Production was the field I wanted to go into. So, I started to do freelance work, and with the support of the tutors, I was ready to pursue it as a career when I graduated.

I now teach Audio Post Production on the BSc, which is great because all the things I liked about the course, I can add to and improve on, as well as ensuring it’s industry-relevant. I think it’s great how Spirit Studios have allowed me to go out into the industry after I graduated to gain experience, and then return to teach.

You just can’t keep away can you! What would you say has been the most exciting thing you’ve worked on to date?
Recently, I’ve worked on some pretty cool projects. I worked on a channel 5 documentary which was about social housing and the change of the culture in the UK. I’ve also completed a feature film called Destination Dewsbury which has been shown at the Beverly Hills film festival. It’s all pretty exciting.

Flipping the coin the other way, has there been any challenges along the way?
I’d say the biggest challenge has been establishing myself in world where technology is advancing and there’s more people trying to do what you’re doing. But, with the right education and guidance, that’s what allows you to kind of make yourself different from other people.

alex-gregson-344-audioCredit: Mouine Omari Photography

Well, it looks like you’ve been busy. We hear you’ve set up your own studio too, tell us more!
Yeah that’s right. I decided to set up my own studio because I just wanted to do my own thing and really didn’t want to work for anyone else. When you have your own studio you get to choose your own equipment, and most importantly, you get to choose the people you want to work with. Also, there’s not many other people doing what I do in Manchester, so that was one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to open it.

Did you find it hard trying to find the right kind of place?
Initially, I was going to be in the city centre, but there were a couple of issues with the places I was looking at. I was looking for about 6 months and viewed a lot of places. Unfortunately, I found the rent in the city centre is a really high and you don’t get a very good quality room for your money. So, I decided I would rather pick a place where people would feel comfortable to come and work with me.

It’s based near Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester. It’s a really good location away from all the traffic and everything else in the city centre. It’s also very close to home as well, so it’s worked out really well for me.

Was it a complete blank canvas when you received the keys then?
It was just basically a really boring office and we spent 3 weeks of long nights and long days completely renovating it from scratch. The theme of the studio is based around the Manchester Industrial Revolution. So, there’s a lot of antiques in there that are from the Industrial Revolution period which I’ve spent a lot of time gathering and adding to. I thought it was a really nice way to make me stand out from the other studios.

I kind of learnt a lot about DIY from building the studio. We built all of the acoustic treatment walls ourselves from the wood that was left over. Instead of throwing it away, as it’s not very eco-friendly, we built a diffuser which basically diffuses the sound waves around the room so you don’t get that horrible flutter.

alex-gregson-studioCredit: Mouine Omari Photography

Sounds like hard work! How long did it take you?
Well, if we start from the first initial point of saving the funds because it was all self-funded I didn’t take out any loans or anything like that, it took about 2 years.

It took about 6 months to find the right space and then about 3 weeks to build it up as well as various other logistical things.

However, it’s still not completely finished. It’s finished in the sense that the control room is done. We still have a room that hasn’t been touched which is going to be for a live room. The plan now is to get more commercial work as I’m working on a lot of feature films and hoping to get more clients in for commercials.

Exciting stuff, do you have any future plans to bring students into your own studio?
I’m currently working on something at the moment. I’m planning to work towards and create a type of internship with Spirit Studios students specifically.

alex-gregson-workingCredit: Mouine Omari Photography

Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to open their own studio, what would it be?
To be completely different from everyone else – 100 per cent. The whole reason for opening your own studio is to be your own boss and also to present your work and your creativity in a different way to other people. So, just try and be as different as you can and people will appreciate that.