Supervisor Spotlight: Sarah Giles

“I tend to base big decisions on a combo of instinct and love, and then trust that if I love it then I’ll work hard.”

By The GMS Team

How long have you been working in supervision?

Almost 8 years in total but I’ve spent a lot of that time listening and learning – I’ve had the chance to work alongside, learn from, and drink with some of the best in the business and I feel pretty lucky for that. 

When did you first learn about supervision and decide it was something you wanted to pursue? 

To be honest I’ve never been one of those people with a life plan set out – I chose my university based on the fact that it began with the letter S, the same as my name, so it makes sense that my job title begins with S too. My dad said he wishes he’d called me Olivia or Catherine and I might be more intelligent. I’ve not always made the most serious choices but I tend to base big decisions on a combo of instinct and love, and then trust that if I love it then I’ll work hard.

In terms of realising that supervision was for me – after my music degree I started an internship at a creative music agency and I began to branch out and meet people who shared the same level of ‘obsessive passion’ that I had for music, but for different things – for film, acting, directing, editing, grading – these things are art forms on their own but combining forces and passions is where the magic happens and the stories are completed.

Was there a particular ad/film that inspired you to explore supervision?

Yes, tons. The OC soundtrack basically moulded my teen years. But there wasn’t really a ‘lightbulb’ moment of inspiration, instead it’s been a gradual progression of feeling inspired by the people I’ve been around and the work they’ve been doing I guess. I sat next to Alex Hancock for a couple of years after he’d finished working on Skins. It was my first job out of uni – imagine that! I honestly felt like I’d won the lottery of life. 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the job?

I love it when a director really wants a specific track that, on first impression, appears to have fallen off of the face of the earth. Yorgos Lanthimos is really good finding those kinds of recordings. My Facebook stalking talents that I gained as a teenager have proved useful time and time again when searching for family members of deceased musicians, ex-CEOs of liquidated companies, conductors, even entire orchestras. Sometimes it’s a challenge to find the missing pieces but one of the most satisfying things when it works out. So it’s that, and the expectation to do well at the music round in pub quizzes. 

What’s your dream project? Are there any particular directors/brands, artists or composers you’d like to work with? 

I love films that take risks, and switch up the traditional typecast roles. Kind of like Harmony Korine did in Spring Breakers with Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens – that was the first time I’d seen either of those actors out of their Disney comfort blankets and I loved it. Sure, Miley twerked, but these girls danced in slow motion around a pool in neon balaclavas at sunset shooting guns into the air to Britney Spears ‘Everytime’. It’s genius. 

In that sense, it’s been a bit of a dream come true to work on films directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Favourite) and Sebastián Lelio (Disobedience) – both of whom are smashing it on the risk-taking front and deservedly receiving recognition for their art.

Artist-wise – Madame Gandhi is my current girl crush and I think what she’s saying to the world is important to hear. I’d love to find a platform to help escalate her wisdom but I have a feeling she’ll get there on her own either way.

What’s the best/your favourite use of music in a film or advertising?

An oldie but a goodie – “Singing in the Rain” as used in a clockwork orange would definitely be up there. So beautifully twisted.

What advice would you give to those looking to become supervisors? 

I think don’t be afraid of learning and asking for guidance. It’s such a varied job and one that is celebrated when you do things differently, but it’s worth doing it properly and making sure you have all of the jigsaw pieces in place before a track goes out anywhere. The guild is getting to be an amazing resource for these moments so it’s worth staying up to date!

  • Read about our latest news, events, interviews, masterclasses, member spotlights and music supervision advice, tips and articles.

  • Join our mailing list

  • Join the guild

    Check the details of our membership tiers which cover fully qualified music supervisors, early stage supervisors, music consultants, music clearance and co-ordinators.
    Our membership also caters for rights holders, composers, artists and bands looking to support our craft and growth their knowledge across the sync marketplace.

    Learn more