Meet Nathan Santamaria, Design and Production student at the University of Melbourne

Nathan Santamaria, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design and Production) student. Photo by Giulia McGauran.
Nathan Santamaria, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design and Production) student. Photo by Giulia McGauran.

Nathan Santamaria is a sound designer, engineer and composer studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design and Production), he talks about travelling to Prague this year to attend an industry event and why it is important to love what you do.

What has this year had in store for you so far?

In June I travelled to Prague for an international arts festival, the Prague Quadrennial 2019, with a selection of other students from the course.  Now I’m working on Music Theatre's production of On The Town as a sound designer. I also have a few theatre projects coming as well as a few music projects that are in the preproduction phase. There is a lot going on and I love how full on and busy life can get.  To balance this, I rock climb.  Climbing is what helps me reset and centre myself.

My studies have gone beyond my expectations. Originally I thought the course was going to be very theatre focussed however it is actually very balanced across many different forms and genres.  We do a bit of everything and many different disciplines are catered for. I've worked on theatre, music theatre, dance, music, opera and installations. One highlight was a project I did last year called One Button Shows. I designed and implemented an installation that played musical instruments based on a person's movement.

What are you never seen without?

My laptop, MIDI controller and headphones. These form three elements of my practice.

With these three items I am able to write and produce music wherever I go. Modern computers and software are able to recreate an entire recording studio worth of equipment.  It is a very flexible system and allows me to make content and work anywhere and anytime.

This has been my life since I started my own production company – Santamaria Audio Visual Industries, or SAVi Studios for short. I started the company back in 2016. It allowed me to turn my passion for music and live performance into a career. I work across many different types of projects and love what I do.  From recording and producing music, to sound design and live mixing. People say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life – I certainly love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Why did you choose to study here?

The scope of the course really intrigued me. I would never have had the opportunities or the experiences that I have had without studying. Coming here has provided me with the tools and experiences to work in more areas of the creative arts and live performance industries than I could have imagined. This course was my first choice. Both my mentor and  one of my very good friends recommended the course, the latter graduated during my first year.  Their knowledge and experience helped me to make an informed decision.

What advice do you wish you’d heard as a new student? 

Throw yourself into the opportunities that are presented to you. There are so many different opportunities to learn and explore your craft. You may even surprise yourself. I have found that there is a great sense of peer learning. You pick up tips and tricks from each other and you help teach everyone new ideas and concepts. It is both enlightening and rewarding.

What’s next for SAVi Studios after graduation?

There is so much that I would like to do once I graduate. I would love to go and work overseas for some time and learn how the arts and entertainment industry works around the world. My two main career goals are to work with large-scale touring concerts as a live sound engineer as well as opening my own recording studio and production facility. Music and live performance are my passion the ability to integrate and merge them into the one form is a dream come true for me. I also hope that I can help other people achieve their goals in life and provide them with the tools to get there.

You can follow SAVi Studios on Facebook and Instagram as well as our new website. Curious where a career in Design and Production could take you? Apply now.