From humble beginnings as a handmade studio and rehearsal space, complete with mattress filled walls, to the grandeur of Australia’s only purpose-built orchestral scoring stage in Sydney’s Moore Park, Trackdown Studios has a rich local history as one of the leaders in the music, film and TV production industry.
The work produced at the many venues Trackdown has called home over some thirty years is woven not only into the Australian pop culture landscape, but the world for their cutting edge approach to post-production solutions to various music, film and television projects.
“Geoff [Watson] and Simon [Leadley] started the original incarnation of Trackdown when they were in high school,” says Elaine Beckett, Trackdown’s General Manager. “It was basically a rehearsal studio, a solution for their own band.”
Soon word-of-mouth spread to other bands in the local area, and before long they were providing rehearsal space and recording four-track demos for some of Australia’s freshest talent including INXS, Midnight Oil, Divinyls, Icehouse (Iva Davies was once an co-owner of one of Trackdown’s spaces), The Church, Do Re Mi, Dragon, The Saints, Mental As Anything, and many more. “The fact that these school boys almost single-handedly started a business that is still running and has turned into the biggest recording studio in Australia is quite amazing.”
Some of the artists and bands Trackdown have worked with in more recent years are Tori Amos, The Tea Party, Katie Noonan, Delta Goodrem, The Black-Eyed Peas – just to name a few. Trackdown has also held live showcases for Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and John Mayer.
Today, Trackdown boasts an incredible array of production and edit suites in its beautifully designed space located in the Entertainment Quarter, opposite Fox Studios. They include the ADR (automatic dialog replacement) and Foley Recording Studio, a 5.1 Mix Theatrette, six Pro Tools suites, and 18 dry-hire edit suites. “We also like to hold special events,” Beckett says. “Recently we held an epic 50th birthday complete with roller derby girls and we had Coldplay perform live to an intimate audience of only 250 people. We also hold a lot of film premiere after-parties.”
Some of the recent films Trackdown has helped bring to life on the silver screen include Top End Wedding, The Commuter, Pirates Of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Hacksaw Ridge, The Great Gatsby and Lion among many others.
“I’ve been with Trackdown for 15 years and I can honestly say no two days are the same. I do everything from executive producing on our various television projects, to liaising with the musicians and engineers, to the general day-to-day running of the studio.
On the small screen Trackdown has made a major impact too. Some of their finest work includes Rake, Wake In Fright, Please Like Me and Jessica Jones.
“But without a doubt the project that holds a special place in my heart is the first Happy Feet,” Beckett says.
“It was my first feature film credit, and I definitely learnt the ropes at the highest industry level while working on that one. Trackdown was involved in not only the musical element but the dialogue recording as well. So we had the actors coming in and doing the voices for the characters. We had Robin Williams at the studio day-to-day and to watch him work was quite inspiring.
"We worked on Happy Feet Two as well, so to be working with the same people for the second time, it was kind of like getting the band back together,” Beckett jokes. “And my kids can watch them too - they aren't quite ready to watch Mad Max: Fury Road yet!"
Trackdown accepts applications for work experience or internships to people with a passion for the industry. "You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone working in this field that isn't passionate, we're behind the scenes; the unsung heroes you might say. In fact, I started out as the work experience kid, so you never know!"
Visit the Trackdown Studios website to find out more about the immersive studio complex.