"...And Make It Real Creative!": Andrew Frame: A Pirate Creates

and-make-it-real-creative-logo-3By Trent Rentsch

If you only know him from RAP, the first thing that probably comes to mind when you hear the name “Andrew Frame” is “Notes Off The Napkin.” When I think of my friend Andrew Frame, I think of Pirates of the Caribbean, and not just because we once rode it together, backwards (a story for another time). Andrew is, in many ways, a Production Pirate. Smart. Fearless. Fiercely independent. For example, he sailed away from the daily radio station churn and burn to form BAFSoundWorks, the premiere Creative audio company in Southern Florida…

AF: That rings like a marketing line…

Did I mention, blunt? Yet his candor is refreshing in this PC Ocean.

These days, it seems like it takes a pirate’s skills to discover gold as a producer, and while he continues to dig, Andrew has already found his treasure in a life spent on his own terms; working beside his lovely bride, his daughter and herd of pets often on-deck. Let’s jump on-board with Capt. Andy and take a 20 question cruise (give or take a few questions)…

AF: We actually turned away from the piracy mode a while back when we got into Caribbean history. Now, we consider “privateer” to be more honorable. But, of course, one flag’s privateer, is another’s pirate...

Sigh. And so, it begins. What yanked you into the business?
AF: The mobile deejay thing happening back in the 70’s. That led to doing volunteer work as an engineer’s assistant one summer when public access WDNA-FM in Miami was trying to get on the air. I am still sensitive to the smell of acetone from scrubbing out a gooey transmitter cabinet.

Still holding onto any of your early work?
AF: Yes. A box of cassettes of airchecks from the first ten years or so. Forbidden for anyone to listen it until I die. Seriously. They are that bad.

What’s the most annoying sound in the world?
AF: Professional pundits, screechers, whiners, and blamethrowers. Most anyone you see on television only from the waist up and know by name. Jocks who babble. Stupid station imaging. Windbag MBA’s and CEO’s. Political candidates. I often wonder how I can be of the same species.

Who do you look up to, Creatively?
AF: People that helped me mentally vector. A music director that used multiple, non-synchronized two-tracks and character voices. Stan Freberg. My wife. My producers group. Even my brilliant stuff will be eviscerated by one or two people. They’re usually right.

By the way, don’t think I didn’t notice that you left your name out of MY list of Creative influences… Mentor or self-taught?
AF: Both. I’m really good at self-teaching. I had one PD who would teach. Otherwise, pretty much on my own. Around 2001, v/o pro Steve Wood introduced me to Peter Maus. His “big picture” mentoring was crucial in my professional development. My producers group, too, presents a wide menu of good viewpoints. Now, I’m mentoring some younger folk.

Does this milk taste funny to you?
AF: Yes. It’s clown milk. Made from real clowns so you know it’s funny. Or scary. Depends on how you view clowns. I view them from a distance.

Hmmm. Did I ever mention my time as a professional clown? Anyway… why did you leave day-to-day radio to form your own production company in 2000? Regrets?
AF: I needed to prove to myself that there was a better way to do our craft. Radio handles production backward. Salespeople sell airtime then production rushes to fill with something. I handled it like an agency. Creative brief. Production. Client approval. Then schedule. No regrets.

So, there’s nothing about working at a station that you miss?
AF: The environment, whether it’s a small market backwoods building smelling like old paneling and moldy vinyl, or a corporate new superstudio, there’s something about “the shop”. But none of those have the view I have now of my daughter playing in the backyard.

If you could be brutally honest with a difficult client, what would you say?
AF: I “would” say what I “do” say. I give them my opinion based on my experience. I don’t hold back. They’re hiring me to do something right. So it’s what they want, coming to terms with what I know what to do. I’ve had most of my clients for upwards of five years or more.

What’s wrong with production these days?
AF: No mentoring. No training. Ten gallons of copy in a five gallon spot. Bad copy, obnoxious slam-it-out production, pukey disk jockeys. All the same things that were wrong with it in the ‘90s and the ‘80s and the ‘70s... just new generations of people.

Inquiring gear sluts want to know… what is your current audio set up?
AF: AKG-C3000B mike into a JoeMeek ThreeQ preamp into an A/D converter that USB’s into a PC running Cool Edit Pro 2.1. Monitoring is with mid-70’s vintage JBL-4311 control monitors. Real simple setup. Everything not audio is handled by a PC running Linux.

Is there one piece of gear you don’t own... and salivate over in the  catalogs?
AF: Oh, absolutely! An airboat with a big Lycoming in the back. Or a Cessna with a Lycoming up front. Or an old Scat-II hovercraft. Or best yet! An Island Packet IP370 or similar. Anything that gets me away from the studio and in the air or on the water.

I MEANT… oh, never mind. Is it the man or the machine?
AF: Given that everyone is using the same machine(s), I’d have to say it’s the man. Or wo-man. The days of significant technological advantage are over. It’s back to training, mentoring, practice, and the daily grunt work of getting in there and editing until your hands cramp.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
AF: Egregiously irresponsible. I want to be able to be frivolous and carefree and have someone else fund it and clean up after me. You know, like a three year old. Or the government.

As we walk the plank and the good ship Hyperbole sails away, I’m left wondering why we didn’t do this with rum. A million thanks to Andrew, and if you want to know more, be sure to stalk him at BAFSoundWorks.com.

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