In an industry filled with celebrity musicians and blockbuster movies, it’s a challenge to cultivate opportunities and relationships in an organic fashion. For Gustavo “Gus” Borner ’89 the solution was simple, “I never said no to anything,” he reveals. If he didn’t understand certain aspects of a prospective project, he would just figure things out as he went along. Twenty-six years later, the dual MP&E and Film Scoring major is the owner of the Grammy and Latin Grammy award- winning Igloo Music Studios in Burbank, CA.
Igloo specializes in music production and audio post-production for film, TV, and video games. The company’s recent film and TV credits include La La Land, Warcraft, Guardians of the Galaxy, and ABC’s Castle, and Birdman. Recent musical projects include Rufus Wainwright’s Take All My Loves, Marilyn Manson’s The Pale Emperor, and MTV’s Unplugged. Igloo has also done voice-over recordings for the video games Fallout 4, Destiny, Sunset Overdrive, Infinity 2.0, and recordings heard at Disneyland attractions. Borner credits the variety of the work his team takes on to never refusing a project. Film, TV, video games, and music recordings all require different approaches. “Being exposed to so much gives you the confidence to tackle it all,” Borner says.
Igloo’s success with client relationships stems from the family atmosphere they have created. Borner’s wife and son as well as his father, Daniel Borner (co-owner and business manager), are part of the business. Igloo’s extended family members include four staff engineers who are Berklee alumni. Borner says their blend of technical and musical skills set them apart from other engineers. “They can communicate with the composers,” he says. “Their talent makes clients come back. They become [our] employees’ clients.”
The family-oriented approach at Igloo is a plus for engineer Justin Moshkevich ’07, who pursued a dual major in MP&E and film scoring. He loves the challenge of the work coupled with the relaxed, family atmosphere of the studio. The entire staff routinely eats lunch together. Moshkevich advises aspiring engineers to develop strong people skills in order to get the best from everyone. “You can become a better engineer with practice. But with people, you have to listen and learn by doing.”
Nicholai Baxter ’07, an MP&E graduate, says that Igloo’s variety of projects keeps him engaged and enjoying the work. Baxter recommends that fledgling engineers seek work at smaller studios. “Try to find a gig where you can get experience actually doing something,” he says. “It’s amazing what you learn [by] working.”
While Borner, Baxter, and Moshkevich handle the main projects, Jay Marcovitz ‘11 fills in assisting and engineering as needed. Marcovitz is the only engineer that didn’t come to Igloo as an intern. He cold-emailed Borner at an opportune time. Marcovitz found that serving in Berklee’s MP&E studio office prepared him for working with clients, troubleshooting, and providing lots of assistance to the team. He stresses the importance of developing a career organically. “If you’re not sure what you want to do at first, it’s ok,” Marcovitz says. “Develop your professional skills working in the industry. No matter what you do you can always learn from your experience. Be patient and trust in the process.”
Daniel Davila ’12 spends his time recording voice-over dialogue, editing, and doing asset management for Disney (one of the studio’s main clients), and various video game projects. While post audio is not always the most glamorous area for an engineer, Davila maintains that you can “learn something from anything.” Editing dialogue increased his speed as an editor, and that has benefited his work on music projects.
Borner cites the synergy among his staff as a key to Igloo’s success, “You know who can do each thing,” he says. “The team takes care of their clients.” Davila credits Borner for being particular about whom he hires. “He trusts everyone to do their job,” Davila says.
“I’m really lucky it’s turned out this way,” Borner says. “Working on the same things day after day allows clients to become friends. It doesn’t feel like I’ve built a business, it’s more like a community.”