Fall 2014

Gabe Guy

Finding Fulfillment With 'Frozen'


“I LIKE THE GATES OPEN,” says Anna, the princess hero in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ blockbuster hit, “Frozen.”

“We are never closing them again,” responds her sister Elsa, queen of Arendelle, as the story draws to a happy ending.

For Gabe Guy, (‘98, Anthropology) the gates to his career as a sound mixer opened during his time as a Humboldt State student. Coming off “Frozen,” last year’s wildly successful animated feature and the most successful animated box office hit of all time, Guy is enjoying the wide world beyond.

“When I came to Humboldt, I wanted to be involved at KHSU,” Guy said. “While I was volunteering at KHSU, I also got a job setting up the equipment for concerts on campus. When I look at my career trajectory, I realize that combination of creative and technical greatly influenced what I’m doing now.”

Like Guy’s career beginnings in the KHSU studio, “Frozen’s” eventual success had a modest evolution. Inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Snow Queen, it spent 10 years in the development stage before finally receiving wide distribution.

After quickly grabbing the No. 1 spot among holiday season releases, the movie’s staying power generated more than $1.2 billion worldwide in box office revenue. Critics agreed with audiences, and the crew’s and cast’s efforts were rewarded with Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song “Let It Go.”

Guy’s efforts at Disney Animation were significant to the success of “Frozen” and other projects he’s involved with. One of his roles is working directly with voice actors, recording and re-recording their lines. So when Olaf the Snowman told Anna “Some people are worth melting for,” Guy was on the other side of the studio’s glass, assuring perfect sound quality.

“You could liken the entire process to making an album or record—rehearsing, rewriting, and fine-tuning, sometimes over the course of years,” Guy said. “It’s our job to make the funny stuff even funnier, and the dramatic even more dramatic, so it comes across in an hour-and-a-half film.

Guy majored in Anthropology and minored in History. “I enjoyed my Anthropology and History classes, and had thoughts of going into forensic anthropology,” he said. “That challenged me academically, and I came away with a whole slew of life lessons.”

After college, he worked at a record store, an experience that spurred his interest in the recording industry. He sent his resume to a broad range of potential employers, including producer George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound.

Although he initially received a rejection letter, he got an interview a year later for an entry-level machine room position.

“I didn’t know what that meant,” Guy said. “They said they wanted somebody smart, motivated, a quick learner who works well under pressure and can handle long hours. Even though I didn’t have technical skills, they thought I was trainable.”

Guy eventually moved up the ranks to a recordist and mixer. He worked for Todd-AO and Disney Digital Studio Services before being hired by Walt Disney Animation Studios.

“It’s very gratifying to see the connection ‘Frozen’ made with audiences, to see kids in my neighborhood running around singing the songs,” Guy said. “For me, it was ‘Star Wars’ that had that impact. It’s cool to think that years from now ‘Frozen’ will be their ‘Star Wars’.”