When it comes to making a film there are so many components that we, the audience, are not even aware of. One of them is sound design, which is not an easy task and not an easy shoe to fill. It is an audio craft that is received more passively and intuitively. It is implemented via the specific placements of sound and the altering of audio frequencies. The sound designers’ job is to build a soundscape that adds a feeling of reality and dimensions to a project. This is the role Haina Zhou plays and the work she devotes to the development of a film.
“When you are watching a film transiting from one scene to another, there are usually two ways of doing this transition for sound. You might hear a “hard cut”, the background and all other sound elements from the previous are cut off and the sound from the next scene comes in. The second way is “fade-out and fade-in”. These two different techniques bring the accuracy of the storytelling in the visuals. By doing hard cuts you may tell the audience it has a time difference; by using fade-in and fade-out, the audience will subconsciously feel more continuous.”
Haina was drawn to film for how it conveys human experience. For her it is a comprehensive medium that can bring that experience out that cannot be expressed by language. The craft of sound was what caught her ear as it allowed her to externalize subtle and ambiguous emotions through the creation of sounds. Passionate about her craft as well as advocating for the importance of speaking up, he also worked as sound designer and editor in podcast. She has been working on an award-winning podcast for the Heinz company — The Black Kitchen Series. This allowed her to work with media outside of film, which she found very rewarding in terms of expanding her bandwidth in sound designing and elevating voices from the people who need to be heard by the world.
Haina’s sound design and mixing work has been recognized by renowned film festivals and received various accolades including Oscar- qualifying film festivals such as Cairo International Film Festival, New Orlean Film Festival, Rhode Island International Film Festival and Austin Film Festival. She has also had exhibitions at such venues as the Singapore National Gallery, Harvard Chinese Arts and Media Lab, THE SHED, the Planet Word Museum, and the Luoyang Museum, China and many more.
Haina’s star was beginning to rise higher with each amazing project. One of her favorite films she has been a part of was titled, “UFO PM” It was one of her first films she did sound design on. One of the key elements in the film was the sound of a UFO, which Haina designed to enhance the main character’s imagination as a child. She also managed to create in the final scene the subtle distinctions between the “real UFO” and the main character’s toy UFO while allowing seamless transition between reality and fantasy. This specific project received awards at the following festivals: Premiered at New York Asian Film Festival 2021 (Selected / Emerging Voices Showcase) b. Beverly Hills Film Festival® 2021 (Selected)c. Katra Film Series 2021 (Selected) d. Aphrodite Film Awards 2021 (Semi – Finalist) e. Chicago Indie Film Awards 2021 (Selected). That same director of this film was one who left a lasting impression on Haina. Their collaboration started since then and they worked on many more projects later.
Through 2022 and 2023 she has worked on more than 20 films in the New York area, including “Jelly” which won the HBO Short Film Awards in the American Black Film Festival, “One for sorrow, two for joy” won the Best Short in Austin Film Festival, “Garbage” which has been screened at the prestigious Micheaux Film Festival, and many more in the progress of the festival run. Haina’s is always looking to challenge herself and take on projects of different genres and styles. Her current work is a short film based on embracing female rage and sexuality. Haina is on a mission to explore ways to better externalize human emotionality and intricacies through sound, for instance, how to find, understand and manipulate the unique texture and color of human voices. She is always working to perfect her art one film at a time. It is no mystery that she will keep breaking ground within the film scene in New York and internationally.