Mastering the craft of sound design is not something that comes overnight. It takes hard work, discipline, and a commitment to excellence that borders on obsession. Jeffery Alan Jones is the embodiment of just that. Jeffery has become one of the leading sound professionals in the industry and can attribute that success to his dedication and pursuit of perfection. Jeffery Alan Jones has mastered three film disciplines: sound design, sound mixing, and music composition. Up in the verdant hills outside of Los Angeles, California, Jeffery has created an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles that fosters a great deal of creativity. Jeffery has accomplished many things in his career, but what separates him from nearly every other person in his field is his commitment to all areas of sound. His innate ability, combined with his passion for sound and film, sets him apart. Here is the story of when I visited Jeffery at his sound studio, Alan Audio Works.
I had been working as a staff writer for almost six months. Although my work as a writer has been fulfilling, I’ve been searching for an engaging story piece. It had been weeks of going back and forth with my editor about different ideas and hours of research looking for the right subject or topic to cover. Day after day, I would sit in my cubicle and surf the internet for ideas, but I could not come up with anything. I began to feel literally and figuratively boxed in. I needed a break. My days were becoming monotonous, so I decided to call in sick and have a movie day in my apartment. I surfed through my different streaming services until I came across a film that looked really interesting: “Most Beautiful Island.” The sound of that film snapped me right back to my adolescence. The ethereality of the score combined with a rich sound design was incredibly visceral in nature. I had to find out who produced that sound because it wasn’t that I was just hearing it; I was feeling it.
I have always been fascinated with sound in film, especially film scores. Max Richter’s “On The Nature of Daylight” used in two of my all-time favorite movies, “Shutter Island” and “Arrival,” comes to mind. But it’s not just film scores for me, I love sound design as well: the curtain rings screeching on the rod in “Psycho” and even the sound of the latches opening on Marcellus’ suitcase in “Pulp Fiction.” These sounds are integral to big moments in classic films that mean a lot to me. And when I heard the sound design and score in “Most Beautiful Island,” I rediscovered my love for film and realized how much of a role sound played in my love for film.
I looked on IMDb and found out that the sound design, mix, and composition had all been done by a man named Jeffery Alan Jones. Three different sound disciplines, all mastered by one man? This guy was incredible. I did a little more digging and saw that he had over 200 film credits. Jeffery also has some really cool projects with big-name talent coming soon. He’ll be doing the sound design for the animated feature film, “Groove Tales” starring Jamie Foxx and Dave Bautista. He also just completed the sound design for “Nine Bullets” with Lena Heady and Sam Worthington.
Jeffery has been in the world of sound for over 30 years, and, over that time, he has garnered over 50 awards from numerous festivals, done extensive work overseas, worked with numerous A-list talents, and started his sound studio, Alan Audio Works. It’s not hard to see why he is considered to be the gold standard in post-production sound in film. A graduate of Long Beach State and UCLA, Jeffery took the knowledge gained at those prestigious institutions and carved out a career rivaled by few. His impressive resumé also includes a spot as a judge on the Golden Reel Awards for the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild. His influence and footprint in the sound world span the industry.
Most of my work as a staff writer centered around articles on interesting people in the entertainment industry. I sent an email to my editor about Jeffery Alan Jones and asked if I could write an article on him. I got a little pushback because writers are usually assigned topics. But when I explained what Jeffery did in the industry and how he’s accumulated a ridiculous amount of credits and accolades, my editor was quick to hop aboard and scheduled a time for me to meet Jeffery. Even cooler, the meeting was to be held at Alan Audio Works.
I drove to the hills to meet Jeffery for the first time, and to say I was excited is an understatement. I had my questions prepared, but as a new fan of his, I just wanted to discuss sounds and films and some of our favorite sound moments. The outside of Alan Audio Works looked impressive. And when I entered the building, it proved to be the oasis that I had heard so much about. Beforehand, I was informed that it was a Dolby Theatrical Sound Stage. I wasn’t 100% sure what that meant, but I was looking forward to having Jeffery explain it to me.
I walked into the studio, we shook hands, and I introduced myself. Jeffery’s demeanor was laid back. He’s a surfer who grew up in Long Beach, so I can’t say I was surprised by his coolness. I was nervous about meeting him, but he was easy to talk to and get along with. He made me feel comfortable right away. He had this way about him that put me at ease. He then took me on tour around the studio. We first walked to the back of the studio and looked out to see a large canyon. I asked to see the soundstage, but Jeffery suggested we get something to eat and talk.
We actually got a chance to sit down and talk about our favorite movies over some delicious gourmet burgers and fries. This was one of the best burgers I had ever had in my life. And the fries were a perfect golden brown. Jeff really was a great host. As we ate, Jeffery and I discovered that we liked a lot of the same films.
The first question I asked him was about the early parts of his life and how he even became interested in sound. He told me about the nature walks he would take as a child in the Boy Scouts. “We were out in the middle of nowhere, and what I remember about all of that is the incredible sound of nature and how it stimulated my creativity.” Jeff still feels this way and says that is the main reason Alan Audio Works is located where it is. We finished our meal, and Jeff told me he was about to finish up a major composition and asked me if I wanted to watch. Of course, I said, “Yes!” He then showed me the mix stage that he built himself from the ground up. “Everything was assembled according to Dolby specifications, and then we built the room, it took about eight months to complete. That means we had to control the audio waveforms, the physics, the acoustics so that the room responds how a movie theater does.”
I saw Jeffery compose what sounded like the score to an epic. I sat there and marveled at his technical brilliance in the studio. The wave of booming sound encapsulated me, and it was like I was in a whole new world. I had never heard anything so impressive before. I looked over at Jeff and could see that he was in his element, and it was clear that he could not be contained when it came to imagination and self-expression. It made me think about my own life and how I wanted to break outside of my box and do more assignments like the one I was doing that day, and to find subjects that are interesting to me and craft articles that showcase the talent of artists and pioneers in the entertainment industry, while also getting a chance to gain new experiences. Nevertheless, I decided not to dwell on my situation and enjoyed watching art being created. When Jeffery finished his recording, he exited the control room with the look of a man who thoroughly enjoys what he does. He let out a deep breath and then smiled. He stated, “It’s not quite done yet, but I like where it’s headed.” I was surprised because the music was so rich and layered with sounds that stuck with me long after it had stopped.
This moment prompted me to ask Jeffery about some of his favorite all-time film scores. “That’s a loaded question,” he quipped. He told me how the first score that stood out to him in his youth was “Planet of the Apes” by Jerry Goldsmith. He enjoyed how a lot of the film’s score was created from non-instruments like metal sheets, anvils, and hammers. He also talked about John Williams and how he has mastered many different styles of composing. Jeffery expressed his opinion on modern-day composers and how they can get pigeonholed into one genre and not have the opportunity to master multiple styles as John Williams did. That is something Jeffery stays away from; he can score for anything: from war epics to romantic comedies, action thrillers to period dramas.
He went into depth about many of the projects he had worked on up to that point. He told me about the A-list actors he worked with, including Nicholas Cage, Cuba Gooding Jr., John Malkovich, Richard Dreyfuss, Cameron Diaz, and Elijah Wood. I asked him why so many people wanted to work with him. He replied, “I’m all in, you know. I’m really easy to work with. I love what I do. And if you work with me, your expectations will be exceeded. I’m not going to cut corners.” And that showed in his work and accolades.
Jeff and I then ventured outside, sat down, and looked over the canyon. I could see why a person would come to that studio and have great ideas. It was so peaceful and serene. Jeff echoed that sentiment and talked about why so many people enjoyed working at his studio. “As I said earlier, I think that has a lot to do with the magic of nature, stimulating creativity. And being in a place where you can have peace of mind, where it’s silent and tranquil and lets your creativity thrive. But yeah, it’s become a place where people love to come because it’s just so unique.”
We sat in nature and talked more about film for a while longer, and then I left Alan Audio Works. It had been such a revelatory experience for me because I got to see a person who truly loves what he does and creates art that millions of people enjoy. Speaking with Jeffery made me realize that you cannot live your life boxed in a cubicle; you have to get out into the world while loving what you do. He also made me realize how important it is to perfect your craft and present yourself as a person who is as skilled as you are passionate. Jeffery Alan Jones is; a man who is not afraid to live the life he wants and do what he loves to do.