At The Dead Connection, we are interested in all aspects of production, and the people involved with creating our beloved show, The Walking Dead. We recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a cup of coffee in Atlanta with the Boom Operator, Robert K. Maxfield. Max, as he is referred to on set, has been directly involved in the recording of the dialog since the end of Season 2.
While working with zombies was originally a bit out of character for Max, he has enjoyed a very expansive career as a sound technician. He got his start as a radio disc-jockey after graduating from the University of Missouri, and after hearing him speak, it becomes evident why he chose the world of sound. He has a very nice, smooth speaking voice, that begs you to smile. Add in his engaging character, and you find yourself hanging on every word. Max always had a strong interest in the various areas of TV and film production, as he went from radio to his first television job in nearby Savannah, GA. Years later he went to work on his first movie, “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstockings” in Jacksonville, FL. The first person he befriended, on his very first day, was the Sound Mixer. As a result of their connection, Mr. Maxfield finished ‘Pippi’, and went off to Hollywood to learn how to boom! Fast forward 29 years, and he is now a much sought after Boom Operator in Atlanta and beyond.
Not only is he a vital part of the crew on The Walking Dead, he is a motivational speaker, blogger and soon to be author. His upcoming book, The Boom Operator, will be released this Fall. His blog is full of behind the scenes photos, uplifting musings and stories from his life. He also has a Facebook fan page and a very active Twitter account. If you’d like to book him to speak at your next event, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s what he had to say about his career in general and working on The Walking Dead:
What do you look forward to most about your work?
“The best part is being able to coordinate and facilitate complex scenes, then execute them with seeming effortless success. Direct sunlight from high in the sky can cause mic shadows on the actors, or background. This may prevent me from positioning the boom pole right over their heads. I might have to work from underneath. I also have to consider wind, rain, and numerous other physical obstacles such as trees, cars, props and furniture. I have to be invisible in the shot, so mirrors can be a problem. Despite the challenges, I have to figure out a way to be close enough to the actors so as to position the mic appropriate for the maximum quality and quantity of dialog. When all these pieces fall into place seamlessly, that is when I love my job.”
You have worked on so many great projects during your career. What have been your favorites (besides TWD)?
“Every show is different, but without a doubt TWD has been the best filming experience I’ve ever had. Our work has generated us four nominations for ‘Outstanding Mixing in a 1 hr Dramatic Series. That’s really been special. The movie “Twister” was a great movie to work on because it was ground breaking visual effects material, and we were nominated for an Oscar for ‘Best Sound’. Mission Impossible III was great because it was so big, I got to work with Tom Cruise, and I was able to travel to China. That was an experience of a lifetime. Rush Hour 3 was also so much fun, but a little movie called Empire Records was one of my all time favorites.”
What is the best thing about working on The Walking Dead?
“It is so great to be a part of something so deep, dark, and entertaining. And the fact that millions of people watch the show just adds to it’s significance. It really makes working on this difficult show so worthwhile. Being able to work with the same people year after year is great. There are a few people in the crew that are real leaders. They stand up when the going gets tough and motivate all of us to push forward. We work in extreme heat, frigidly cold nights, windy fields, bug infested forests, and filthy locations…it’s challenging, and our leaders get us through on many a long day.”
Can you share a personal experience from working on TWD?
“While filming Episode 13 of Season 5, Norman Reedus shot a opossum just outside the gate at Alexandria. It was a fake opossum, but it was covered in “blood”, which is actually colored corn syrup. Anyway, every time Norman walked off camera, which was right next to me, he would slap me in the chest with that bloody stuffed thing. As usual, my arms were up in the air holding the boom pole, so I was an easy target. Norman is like that sometimes – he prides himself on pulling little pranks.”
Would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
“Yeah, I would survive!”
What would be your weapon of choice?
“I would be the type to use them all, I believe every tool has a use.”
We appreciate Mr. Maxfield taking his time to give us a glimpse into his fascinating world. We are looking forward to reading his upcoming book, The Boom Operator.
Be sure to keep up with Robert K. Maxfield on Social Media: