Stepping Stones: Taking audio to the next level with freelance sound engineer Deepali Mistry

Deepali Mistry taking in the sun at the WBD Volvo Ocean Race in Genova, Italy. She was working as floor sound engineer for Warner Brothers Discovery Sport as staff for Timeline Television

Deepali Mistry, freelance sound engineer, has aspirations to work in audio design and immersive sound while still jetsetting around the world. Her story is part of our series of Stepping Stones articles, which showcase young women moving up the ladder behind the camera in sports broadcasting.

What is your job role today and what do you love about it?

As of 2024, I am a freelance sound engineer for TV broadcast and live music events. Considering I was previously determined to be a sound designer, which I briefly was before broadcasting, I could not have imagined I’d be in the position I am now.

I am drawn to the adrenaline and excitement of being somewhere new, working on something different and being challenged to make sound work its magic. I love that I never expected a career in TV; the adventure it has already taken me on has reshaped me as a sound engineer and introduced me to a lot of like-minded individuals of whom are now my work family.

The cherry on top is that the job itself compliments my passion to travel.

Deepali Mistry front and centre at the BBC Sport Womens Super League at Leicester City. Here, she was floor sound engineer working for Whisper as staff at Timeline Television. Pictured with Whisper Staff and OB technical crew

Can you talk us through your relevant education that helped you break into the sports broadcasting industry?

From studying BSc Music Technology at Birmingham City University, I broke into the audio industry as a live sound engineer and sound designer for theatre. Learning audio in the broadcasting industry was not taught on my degree, nor on my radar, but strangely enough, the sister course – BSc Sound Engineering and Production – actually taught a broadcasting module which I took lecture content from and attended a handful of practical lessons for.

However, this didn’t help me break in to the broadcasting industry. It was the Commonwealth Games 2022 when Sunset+Vine launched the Host Broadcast Training Initiative (HBTI) scheme, which chose a selective group of us to work at the Commonwealth Games. I was hired as a technical assistant and saw the rig of the IBC and various events at the Games and eventually was placed with an OB company to work alongside them, which is how I got my first job, with Timeline Television.

I started working as a sound engineer with Timeline Television in winter 2022. [While working at the Games] it was a combination of Timeline staff and freelance sound supervisors I was working with that recommended me to Timeline’s head of sound.

Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, where Deepali Mistry was technical assistant for Timeline Television, hired by Sunset+Vine for the HBTI scheme. She is pictured in one of Timeline’s scanners, which she spent a lot of time in while shadowing Emma Penny – now Formula 1 audio engineering manager – on sound supervising

What happened next to get you where you are today?

Within two months, training and completing only three OBs, I progressed from a shadow sound assistant at Timeline to a full operating sound assistant. I worked on major events like the King’s Coronation Concert, Volvo Ocean Race, UFC, Solheim Cup, Songs of Praise, Rugby Six Nations and Rugby World Cup, as well as managing bespoke RF audio systems for RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the BBC London Lord Mayor’s Show.

I eventually found myself training new staff, co-managing audio operations at base with my team, and shadowing guarantees. It’s safe to say I experienced an intense year and a half working in OBs but, I would not be in the position I am now without it.

As of this year, I made the scary decision to go freelance as it was the best decision to take for my personal progression and I haven’t regretted my decision so far!

What does your current job entail on a day-to-day basis?

As I have recently become freelance, my day-to-day is something I’m still navigating. When I’m on a job, I am found rigging all things sound at a sporting event somewhere around the country (or world). I act as the eyes on the floor, delivering the Sound Supervisors specification and ensuring all equipment communicates back to our trucks, aiding the Sound Guarantees. As a freelancer, my days away from work currently involve a lot of admin, visiting companies for a friendly hello, learning and maintaining skills and, most importantly, enjoying a life away from work. It’s important to maintain your own life as well as keeping up with managing your career including maintaining your network, keeping paperwork in-line, and making sure your knowledge is relevant and engaged with today’s technologies.

Where job would you like to be in in five or 10 years’ time? What are your career goals?

Even though I adore the adventure my current job in broadcasting has taken me on – and will hopefully continue to take me over next few years – I would like to get back to audio design and research in immersive audio.

In the next five to ten years, I hope to still be on the road, with an exciting mixture of events in TV and music which I’m striving to achieve this year. Hopefully I am still jetting around the world – with a few personal backpacking trips woven in – and I’m back to research and exploring the possibilities of accessible immersive audio systems.

At the BBC London Lord Mayors Show 2023, Deepali Mistry was audio RF guarantee on the floor working for BBC Studios as staff at Timeline Television

Can you give us some top tips that really helped you get where you are today? 

My top tips would be to network, be comfortable taking unpaid work, find your community and fight your internal imposter syndrome.

During University, a tip constantly advised to us, yet majority continually ignored, was to network. I cannot stress how much networking has put me in the position I’m in today. Building those bridges and creating personal relationship with those in the industry opens many doors and will continue to do so as long as you keep building your network.

My next tip – to take unpaid work – goes in hand with networking. Once you start building those connections, show interest in their career and future work, and – most importantly – if they would offer any shadow opportunities. Shadowing will eventually lead to paid work because it’s your chance to learn and show your skills.

My next tip also branches from networking – finding your community. As a young woman from a diverse cultural background, it was important for me to find a community within the industry to fall back on. People that inspire, encourage, advise, and support you. On a lot of occasions, there will be days that are hard and having those people you connect with and can speak to will be the reason you carry on and conquer the challenges you have – like fighting imposter syndrome.

My final tip – know your worth and stand by it. Remember that everyone is still learning no matter the years in industry or skillset. Technology and industries grow, and we grow with it. You are capable no matter the skillset as long as your committed to the role and have an attitude to continue learning. If you have those two, there is no reason you can’t do any job. No one is perfect and we’re all humans riddled with self-doubt – especially women in male dominant industries.

Can you give us some tips on things not to do or to avoid when trying to get a role you really want?

When I provide this advice, I provide it from my personal experience as a woman because I can’t speak to how my male peers nor female peers have navigated the industry, though most women I have spoken to have felt the same.

My first is don’t doubt yourself. I fell victim to this during my early years of sound engineering when I worked in live music events. If you think you know the solution, do it. Ideas only help the situation. If people around you don’t like it or you failed, well at least you tried because now moving forward you know what not to do – and what do you know, you did some learning!

Every day is a school day is my motto. There is a lot of male energy and unfortunately quite often, you might be dismissed or not taken seriously. Don’t doubt yourself or your abilities. But this goes in hand with don’t lie. If you don’t know something, there is no shame in not knowing. Every day we learn something and that’s what makes a good engineer. And what you’ll find is those around you are exactly the same.

Don’t fall victim to imposter syndrome. Don’t sell yourself short. When applying for a role and you think it’s beyond your abilities, but you tick a few boxes, go for it. The worst thing that’s going to happen is you don’t get the job, but the trick is, they know who you are. It’s all about networking and meeting people. Don’t hide behind an application or behind a role you’re over qualified for.

What would you say are the barriers to getting a job in the broadcast industry?

Not knowing enough people. It really is a ‘who you know’ business. There’s a demand for staff in the technical side of broadcasting but due to its fast-paced environment, there’s very few training initiatives to get you in and a lot of jobs carry the same crew over and over because, when you have hundreds of events a year, you just want to ensure a quality production so companies naturally turn to who they trust. So sometimes, cracking into those groups or jobs is hard.

What would you recommend to other people thinking of working in the broadcast industry?

A job in a broadcasting company is a good start. You learn how the TV world operates and functions from all angles, starting from the very bottom. The pay might not be amazing to start with but in terms of experience, you start to progress at a fast level so hopefully be climbing up the ladder if you’re determined to do so.

From here you learn if a staff position is for you or the future leans to freelancing; your career will roll from there! You may even decide this industry is not for you, and that’s ok! That’s the beauty of it. Yes, experiencing amazing events, and travelling the ends of the world is great, but you are on the road a lot which is demanding mentally and physically, so that staff position might be able to provide you the authentic taste to broadcasting you might need to decide if it’s right for you.


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