Ashley Coles and McKayla Kreutzkamp contributed to this article.
Rumi Ali is a fiery go-getter with a heart of gold and a never ending desire to learn and grow.
Rumi is originally from London but moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she got her start in real estate. She enjoyed the hustle and realized that networking was hugely important to her success. She went to events and found that networking at gyms worked well. She ended up getting a part time job at LA Fitness where many producers and directors would come whenever they were in town. These people would ask if she was in the film industry. After routinely answering “no,” she decided to give it a shot when a director asked her to be a featured background actor. She thought it would be a great way to network for more real estate clientele! Two weeks later Rumi wound up with a role on the film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle for production in 2014.
She loved the experience and told us, “my mind was blown!” Despite the 12 hour days and discovering acting wasn’t her cup of tea, she took it as an opportunity to learn more about the industry. She talked to every crew member possible and observed them work. Through this on set research, she was drawn to the audio mixer position. Rumi found it appealing that the sound person had time to take care of himself while on set while also having a crucial role. She asked this crew member to show her the basics, which he did. She loved it.
Working where she could as a PA and helping out with audio, she still looked at it all as a good experience that would help her find real estate clients. It was no easy task though, as she had no formal training. Google became her best friend on the job as she’d be tasked with grabbing a piece of equipment and quickly looking up what they were asking for. This system may sound overwhelming to most people, but it’s what helped make her the swiss army knife she is on any project today.
STAND YOUR GROUND
Becoming more aware of her goals in the film industry, has led Rumi to work with various production companies who’ve typically provided her with gear. This means she’s still constantly learning and still gets her equipment a couple days in advance, so she can be as effective as possible when cameras roll. Her ability to adapt is something she’s very proud of. Rumi finds that because she’s a woman, making herself a valuable asset is more than just an obligation, it’s a necessity. While shadowing other audio mixers, she was taught that the sound guy is supposed to be the calm between the chaos on set. If there’s a problem, she was taught to say, “I just need a second.” This allows her to have some time without everyone else feeling like sound is holding up production. Working in a male dominated industry (not to mention position), Rumi uses this in every aspect of her job.
“You have to be so comfortable and confident,” Rumi said. “You have to speak with respect, but stand your ground. ”
Like many, Rumi has watched harassment happen on set. If you’ve worked with her though, you know that sort of behavior does not go unnoticed or left unchecked. She remains proud of speaking up for others, even as it has resulted in the loss of her own position on some sets. She states that it is more important to do what is right and stand up for not only your own values but those around you, then make some money in a toxic environment.
STORIES THAT MATTER
For someone not looking to be part of the film industry, Rumi Ali has worked on some pretty big productions–Jumanji, Spiderman, Fast and Furious, and Yellowstone to name a few. Of all these big name projects she explained, “It’s not just about the audio…I’m about to give someone a voice.” With that comment, it’s not difficult to imagine that her most memorable jobs are those that have involved her in documentary work.
Listening to everything being said puts Rumi in the unique position to hear both the hope and the fear beneath the dialogue. Working on documentaries offers her the chance to connect to people in a way that’s more personal. When she miques up talent, she encourages them to speak honestly, saying, “I’m here to tell your story.”
Even with her reassurance that she’s still learning herself, Rumi looks forward to training some newbies and helping other women achieve their goals in the film industry. Feel free to reach out to her if you are looking for a mentor within audio production.
- Always be willing to learn–don’t put yourself in a box!
- Always carry yourself with pride, but be human and kind.
Join us on April 20th to listen to our guest speaker Jen Hansen!