“Jack Levy was born making noises,” according to the obstetrical staff at the Minneapolis hospital where he was born, “but not your ordinary noises: deeper, richer, more babylike than any other child we have delivered.” These hyper-real aural skills continued in his infancy, where he would delight his mother with idyllic pre-verbal cooing while being diapered. His childhood years in Buffalo saw him labeled an auditory-savant, with stories still told about his antics enhancing the school environment for his peers, although school officials were decidedly less enthusiastic. Jack took this as encouragement to follow his destiny, and he headed west at the earliest chance. After the requisite time living on a boat in Alaska, Jack started in LA.
First contributing his talents to the likes of Herb Alpert, The Temptations, Ray Charles, George Clinton and others Jack then founded AnEFX, Inc., in 1992. AnEFX is dedicated to providing LA’s top studios, producers, networks and productions with peerless post-production audio (sound editorial, sound design and mix for film and television) from Universal to Warner Bros., from Miramax to Millennium, and from NBC to ABC to HBO. AnEFX boasts exclusively satisfied clients, and since 1992 has seen exponential annual growth.
What are you working on right now?
Projects for clients: “The Event,” “Gossip Girl,” “Psych,” “Warehouse 13,” “Perfect Couples,” “Meeting Online” (A Robert Kenner Film), “Caprica,” “Battlestar Galactica” Online (MMOG by Bigpoint Games), “Fairly Legal” (was Facing Kate), several television pilots and more.
Projects for AnEFX: Construction of a two mixer icon-based dubbing theater, design and implementation of an iPad-based app for spotting shows, disseminating producer’s notes, queing and displaying ADR/dialogue notes and more.
3 Trends that excite you?
I’m not a fan of trends, despite loving new techniques and methods that enter our industry. What excites me is helping our clients realize their vision. Our clients are deeply talented people, and our job is to first see and share their vision, and then make it come to life.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Before stepping into the studio, we believe it is fundamentally important to not only understand what our clients want, but to internalize it so we have the same goal. We then of course apply our skills, and we have become known as the place where “good enough is not good enough.” Yes, we obsess, but that is in our nature. Finally, we only feel we have exceeded if the client feels 110 percent listened to.
What is one mistake that you made, and what did you learn from it?
One? I could never pick out just one mistake as making mistakes is in our DNA. It’s how you learn. It’s how you improve. It’s how you know get from good to great. We constantly experiment and get lots of things wrong — all in the service of getting them ultra-right for our clients.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Well, you can’t have the tagline line as I use it constantly, but “How can I help?” should be the motto of anyone in the business of making creative ideas come alive. Trust that your clients have great vision, and focus intently on making that vision a reality. It’s simple really, but it’s hard to do as many times people want to see a piece of their vision in the end product. Big mistake.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I will choose neither a book or a tool. I will choose chickens. Yes, chickens. You see, I have chickens at my house and every day my kids and I gather the eggs and I bring them to the office for use in our kitchen (our studios have a complete kitchen with a full-time gourmet chef for employees and clients alike). Have you ever had fresh eggs? They are a completely different experience from those offered in grocery stores. Collecting and carrying those eggs daily to my studio keeps me focused on my goal for AnEFX: to be completely different from other studios. Yes, we are still a studio, but the experience of working with us needs to be on another level.
How do you balance having a successful business with your family?
Luckily, I need very little sleep. I’m on 110 percent for 20 hours a day and off entirely for four. This gives me time for work and time for my family. I’m crazy about my three boys and would sleep even less if I could!
Photo credit: Caleb Coppola
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.