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MICHAEL J. MCDONALD - SUPERVISING SOUND EDITOR & RE-RECORDING MIXER

March 2020

Where are you currently employed?

My partner Robyn Whitney and I own Private Island Audio, an audio post facility in mid-town Los Angeles.

 

Current project?

We are just completing the sound mix for Aftermath, a psychological thriller directed by industry veteran Peter Winther (“Stargate,” “Independence Day,” “The Patriot”), and “Bit,” a vampire movie satire with a quirky twist.

 

We are also gearing up for the second season of Pandora,” a great sci-fi series on the CW Network for producer/creator Mark Altman.

 

Describe your job.

I supervise and shepherd the sound process from the beginning spotting session through all the final audio deliverables. I have to make sure everything goes smoothly through the final mix, and I put out the fires that inevitably erupt during the process. It’s kind of like herding cats!

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

I was a rock musician for quite a few years before beginning my recording career with a studio I built in a three-car garage under a carriage house I was renting in West L.A. As the studio started to become successful, we built new studios off Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, but soon the writing was on the wall; more and more people built their own home studios. Record and demo budgets went down. We partnered with another music producer (Mike Flicker, of the band “Heart”) to go into post sound. When I recorded a film score for the first time, it captured my imagination. I realized that movies had always been a primary fascination and love for me.

 

So we started a post sound business as part of the music studios. The business grew, and as I learned by doing all aspects of movie sound, I became more fascinated with the creative things sound can do to make a movie come to life. Movie sound today utilizes ALL kinds of aural elements — sounds, language, music, atmospheres — to create a powerful audience experience.

 

At the time, I was still doing a lot of music recording when I saw “Saving Private Ryan.” That movie transformed me. I was inspired to try and achieve the dramatic and emotional impact that its soundtrack evoked in me. I determined to go full-on into movie sound recording, editing, and mixing. I also got to stay on the music side, doing remixes of hundreds of classic film scores from the 1940s through the early 1990s for CD release from the online magazine “Film Score Monthly” and Intrada Records.

 

Who gave you your first break?

There are many, but a few stand out:

 

Marc Donahue, a composer, hired me to record his first film score composition when I was still in my garage studio. This ignited my love for movie sound and soundtrack scores.

 

Dan Voltz, a post supervisor, brought many movie sound projects to us in the beginning, and we still work together today.

 

Lukas Kendall hired me to remix hundreds of film scores for CDs that were marketed through “Film Score Monthly.” He also hired us to do sound for his movie “Lucky Bastard” four years ago, and he has a new project about to begin.

 

What was your first union job?

I believe it was “Under The Silver Lake” for director David Alan Mitchell and producer Alan Pao at his post production facility, Tunnel Post in Santa Monica.

 

What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?

I’ll list the top five:

 

“West Bank Story” – the 2006 Academy Award winner for Best Live Action Short Film, it’s a funny, brilliantly conceived film with great music and imagination.

 

“Arkansas” — an upcoming feature film starring Liam Hemsworth, Vince Vaughn and John Malkovich, and directed by Clark Duke. This Coen-Brothers-style black comedy about southern drug dealers is brilliant on many levels, and also touching. And I think it is one my best mixes.

 

“The Tiger Hunter” — a great American immigrant comedy about a young Indian engineer (Dani Pudi) who immigrates to the U.S. in the 1970s and tries to live up to his “tiger hunter” father’s memory. To me, this is the quintessential American story of an immigrant who comes to the U.S., is subjected to culture shock, overcomes some racism and bigotry, and finds a way to merge his culture with ours and become a success. Totally charming.

 

“Aftermath” — directed by Peter Winther. I believe this is one of the scariest, most intense movies I have had the privilege to work on. (Actually, I’m still working on it.). Sound plays a big role in ratcheting up tension and dread to an almost unbearable level (as it should in all movie thrillers.)

 

“Avengement” — directed by Jesse Johnson. This action movie has a lot of great characters, amazing fight sequences, and humor a la Guy Ritchie or Tarantino. It got great reviews, including our sound design (“Oscar-worthy” said one critic) and mix.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

I’ve worked outside the studio system, mostly on independent movies, so the biggest challenges are usually the production sound. Because of the speed of the shoots and locations used during many of these movies, the production sound is usually compromised. The universal truth in the final sound mix is that we all HATE ADR — never the same performance magic or sound match — so our job is to rescue as much of the production dialogue as possible.

 

Years ago, this would not have been nearly as possible as it is today with the new tools we have available. iZotope RX, for example, can remove amazing amounts of noise, hum, and distortion from the dialogue track.

 

Because of the digital realm of movie sound, filmmakers now often expect pristine dialogue from what was terribly noisy and obliterated production sound. And many times, we are able to give it to them.

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

I think just getting into the mix on a great movie, usually an action movie or thriller. They require much more work on thousands of sound effects files, and great creative imagination as far as designing the sound of weapons, atmospheres, unknown machines, etc.

While these mixes are usually more stressful than the simpler dramas or comedies, the end result is really rocking and makes a powerful impact.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I was an astrophysics major at UCLA until I discovered I didn’t like the math that much, but I am still deeply interested in the sciences, especially astronomy, and keep abreast of all advances in the scientific journals and magazines. I also have a telescope, but it only works well away from L.A.’s light pollution.

 

My other passion/hobby is movies. I try to see at least one a week when we are not slammed with work, and I’m inspired by movies that are more original and unusual, like my favorites listed below.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Saving Private Ryan”– for the reasons I mentioned earlier, and because it inspired me and moved me to tears in the opening and closing scenes — and gripped me by the throat throughout the rest.

 

“The Whale Rider” — a brilliant, unexpected rush of “everything is perfect” about this movie, which I went to see because I was curious about the title. A fascinating exploration of Maori culture, feminism, and humanity.

 

“Alien” — Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking movie is the best sci-fi/horror film of all time. I saw it before I got into the business, and it scared the shit out of me. Still does.

 

“Aliens” — James Cameron’s sequel to “Alien” was unbelievably tense and, in my estimation, the best sci-fi action-adventure movie ever.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

“FBI”, Seal Team”, “Chicago Fire” “NCIS” — these shows are very well written, directed and acted. They’re about people who dedicate their lives not to riches but to making the world a better place. It’s an important theme worth paying attention to in these divisive times.

 

“Real Time with Bill Maher” — I need some talk TV that is intelligent, funny, and not afraid to say anything.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

It requires a LOT of dedication and sacrifice (and irregular paychecks), so make sure you really love it. If you don’t love movies – see a lot of them, talk about them — you may do OK in the ancillary jobs of the business, but you most likely will not be exceptional in the demanding creative jobs, which for me are sound editing, mixing, recording and sound design. To be exceptional requires a love and fascination for this art form. Be prepared and dedicate yourself to learn something new every day. Strive to always improve your craft; not to advance is to move backwards.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

I am new to the Guild, so I haven’t needed that yet.

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

We are in a tough time where budgets for movies and television are steadily declining, mostly because film industries around the world are competing for a slice of the expanding pie, which is constantly full of new ways to see movies and TV.

 

The budgets of the movies we do at Private Island Audio are half or less of what they were before the Great Recession of 2008, and they don’t seem to be rebounding at all, even though expenses have increased a lot. We all have to be more efficient to make ends meet. Supporting each other helps much more than competing against each other, especially in this volatile environment.

 

Here’s to continuing to grow and learn as we go forward in the industry we love.

GREGORY K. CREASER - LEAD FINISHING COLORIST

February 2020

Where are you currently employed?

DreamWorks/NBCUniversal.

 

Current Project?

“Trolls World Tour,” which is the sequel to “Trolls” (2016). This is a computer-animated musical comedy theatrical feature scheduled for wide release in April 2020. Voice talent includes Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Ozzy Osborne, and a lot of other recognizable names from today’s music and comedy worlds.

 

Describe Your Job.

I’m responsible for final color correction and mastering for all delivery formats, including theatrical, 3D, Home Blu-ray, streaming 2K SDR and 4K HDR (aka UHD), and I’m learning about Dolby Vision.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

I worked in a film laboratory as a film/print timer for over 15 years prior to working with digital media. I also had a photography studio that specialized in photographing original art for print, reproduction, and advertising. Color had to be perfect, so I knew then I had an eye for color accuracy.

 

Who gave you your first break?

A visual effects supervisor and producer, Ralph Maiers, gave me a chance to color-correct film scans for compositing and to learn computer skills (mainly UNIX and complicated systems that were used at the time in VFX work) that helped me get to the position I’m in today. Fortunately, he overlooked my lack of computer skills and hired me for my film background and keen eye for color.

 

What was your first union job?

Pacific Title & Art Studio in Hollywood.

 

What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?

Mainly all the animated projects I have been on for the past 12 years because all these images are generated from scratch, not photographed. They start in people’s minds rather than as photographed reality. Of the live action projects I’ve worked on – and there are many – “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” stands out for me because I love that time in history. I was able to have a huge impact on the last “Narnia” film [“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010)]. We were the first project/crew to build a pipeline for color-corrected dailies on set, and we created looks for the final picture with the DoP, Dante Spinotti. Now all films shot digitally are doing this process, so it was cool to be on the forefront of that. I also enjoyed working on “American Beauty” because it was director Sam Mendes’ first award winning film, and it was brilliant. He was also a truly nice guy.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

Since I work only on animation now, I would have to say it’s in the final days of a schedule when we get shots that are done by various artists or need to be lit differently than originally intended. During final color correction, we have to make them look correct and consistent. One of the most challenging animation projects had to be “Penguins of Madagascar.” The lighting had been done in India at our other studio. I was changing colors of clothing and sometimes completely relighting sets and characters so they would match as closely as possible the creatives’ vision for the finished movie.

 

What was the most fun youve had at work?

Typically the wrap parties, especially seeing the crew finally cut loose after working on a film over several years. We actually have fun most of the time, even in crunch. I work with a terrific group of talented and kind people.

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

Just what I do now. Maybe also get more involved in setting cameras and generating look development for future projects. I love my job and work environment. I work for an excellent team in Post and a wonderfully talented crew of artists. Also, as I get closer to retirement age, I’d like to start selling some of my own photography.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

Besides photography, I like travel, golf, scuba diving, photography, skiing, and river rafting. I am also passionate about giving back to my community when I can and mentoring younger people to follow their dreams. Many younger people today seem a bit lost and can use that guidance.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“The Big Lebowski” (that’s me), “Jaws,” “Goodfellas,” “Office Space,” “Fargo”– because they are awesome. I have too many to mention. Additionally, two of those were shot by one of my favorite cinematographers, Roger Deakins. I have had the pleasure to work with him here at DreamWorks on the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise. He was our visual consultant.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

“The Sopranos,” because most of my family grew up in Brooklyn, and I heard many stories about the Mob and how they took care of their neighbors. My parents and grandparents lived in the same apartment building as the drivers and bodyguards of some famous mobsters, including Lucky Luciano. Another show that relates to my family’s New York connection is “Seinfeld,” a “show about nothing” that’s both brilliant and stupidly funny. And of course, “Breaking Bad,” which I have watched three times for its fantastic writing and cinematography. There were definitely some camera moves that were one of a kind.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

My father was a huge influence on me. He was a very hardworking cinematographer/director who did mostly training and commercial films. He retired from Local 600 in the 1990s. I learned from him how perseverance would most of the time get you where you wanted to go and the jobs you would enjoy working on. He also taught me everything I know about cameras, film types, exposure, and shooting in tricky lighting. He was an extremely talented individual who always had a workaround for any challenge that came before him. That must have come from his being in the Navy in World War II. He was one of six men in the first landing party to place the light beacon on the beach for the invasion of Iwo Jima.

 

Another mentor was Roger Deakins. After working with him, I realized how he visualizes each scene and is not afraid to go bold. He always wants to push the envelope when it comes to contrast and saturation, which many in animation have been apprehensive to do. This is changing, though, as I’m now able to encourage creatives to consider that kind of thinking in order to make prettier images.

 

Some noteworthy DoPs are reluctant to consider the work of colorists as at least equally important to the original photography, sometimes more so. There are award-winning films that would neither look the same nor work as well story-wise without the work of experienced color-finishing artists. In my opinion, these artists deserve more credit and awards.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

Start early and remember that being a colorist isn’t something you can learn from a book or college. Also, it requires a lot of patience and a given talent.

 

Is there anything youd like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

As I would tell anybody, everyone is born with a special skill and talent. I urge people to search for that in their soul. The ones who do not end up at college or are just working to get by, make a living. The ones who find their talent in their hearts love their work and live to work, not just collect a paycheck.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. Want to be featured or know another Guild member who should be? Email CineMontage@editorsguild.com.

JAMES HALEY - STILL LAB TECHNICIAN

January 2020

Where are you currently employed?

Filmsolutions, LLC. (Burbank, CA)

 

Current Project?

It can change multiple times a day. The studios we work with release so much content that I forget about projects I’ve worked on until I’m watching something, and then I’ll remember processing images from that scene. I specifically avoided working on the “Deadpool” movies (thanks Ryan!) because I didn’t want to see any spoilers — which is unfortunately what happened when I worked on “The Irishman” a year ago. I’d say my most memorable project is probably the Netflix series “Nowhere Man.” Mark Wu was the unit photographer, and the images he captured for that project were incredible.

 

Describe Your Job.

As a Still Lab Tech, my daily routine consists of processing thousands of still image assets that are captured on the set of movies and TV shows. Color correction, retouching, compositing, metadata annotation — it’s very repetitive work that comes with unique challenges all the time. I’m always looking for ways to streamline our workflow and develop new channels of quality assurance because the most important thing I’ve learned here is that mistakes are inevitable, but the same mistakes are preventable.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

I actually fell into it. I have an extensive background with Adobe applications and design work, but I originally took a part-time job here as an image tagger because of the flexible schedule. After a month, management noticed my work ethic and pulled me aside to ask if I’d be interested in a new position. (That may be anecdotal, but I like to attribute it to my “Midwest work ethic.”) It’s not just about working hard but about being conscientious of your surroundings. Nobody ever asked me to change the trash or help people outside of my required job, but it just seemed like the productive thing to do. And as a former restaurant & bar owner, my work mantra has always been, “If you can lean, you can clean.”

 

Who gave you your first break?

Kyle Cummins, the COO of Filmsolutions.

 

What was your first union job?

This one.

 

What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?

I don’t think we get actual credit for the individual creative work we do (Dear Local 700, maybe we can change that?) but I have seen some of my retouched images for different movies on billboards and buses around the city.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

Working with so many different photographers is definitely the most consistent challenge. The studios want things done a certain way, and every photographer has a different approach to the material they shoot and deliver, so it’s up to us to mitigate any pain-points. Any issues I have are always handled with a simple approach: find the most efficient solution, adapt when you have to, and always keep the client’s best interests in mind.

 

What was the most fun youve had at work?

We’re actually notorious for pranking each other at work, but I’m not sure if I can share any of that publicly. I will say we work tirelessly to get things done while still maintaining a fun work environment, and I think that speaks volumes for the level of talent I’m surrounded with. Okay, one story: a co-worker fell asleep at his desk, and he was toilet-papered until he eventually woke up looking like a mummy.

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

Working in an executive capacity. I come from a very long tradition of union workers, mostly on the labor side, so the idea of employee rights and representation has been ingrained into me since I can remember. I also believe the company I work for sets a great example for that employer/employee dynamic, so I hope to eventually utilize my knowledge and experience to further foster that from an executive position.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

Basically, whatever my four-year-old wants to do. But also music, real estate, and writing. I’ve been a professional recording artist for over 20 years, but that can be an unpredictable path. So while I’m still pursuing my music, I’m fortunate enough to have the stability my union job provides as a single father.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“True Romance.” Watching so many amazing talents playing small roles or bit parts adds so much to this film’s writing and direction.

“Dumb and Dumber.” The whole movie is nothing but quotables.

“The Court Jester.” Danny Kaye was just an incomparable talent.

“Die Hard.” Because it’s the best Christmas movie ever.

“Caddyshack.” Because it’s “Caddyshack.”

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

“The Office” reruns on Netflix. I just love the characters. I can fall asleep to that show every night.

“Scooby Doo.” My son loves it as much as I did when I was his age, and now I get to watch it with him.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

As far as the Still Lab Tech universe goes, definitely John Eakin and Gary Keshishian. John has since retired, but he was a creative wizard when it came to retouching, and he was always ready to help me learn more about the artistic side of our work. Gary is a bastion of knowledge with the patience of a saint and a heart of gold who’s helped me fully develop into this position. Is that too many idioms? Either way, both of them have assisted me tremendously, and I’m grateful for their mentorship.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

In a billion years, the sun is going to burn out and every memory humanity holds will disappear into the void. So if this is what you’re really passionate about, attack it with reckless abandon because nothing else matters more than right now.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

Not for anything major, but any questions or concerns I’ve ever had have always been addressed promptly.

 

Is there anything youd like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

Know your worth and don’t be afraid to ask for help. As cheesy as it sounds, we’re all in this together.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin

Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on CineMontage.org and the home page of the Editors Guild website, please contact davidnbruskin@gmail.com 

RACHEL WILSON - LOGGER

December 2019

Where are you currently (or were you recently) employed?

Most recently, I worked as a logger for the reality television show “Survivor.”

 

Current Project?

I just wrapped on “Survivor” and am not currently working on anything except my own ideas!

 

Describe Your Job. 

During my time at “Survivor,” I was responsible for watching and sub-clipping tapes of unedited raw footage of the show, then briefly describing the content of each clip in order to help the assistant editors find specific footage for the editors. After summarizing the clip in a few short sentences, I would pull out the topics that seemed most important and use that information in the clip title, using any keywords necessary.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

Although I am looking to eventually try my hand at production, post- has always interested me, especially with a reality show like “Survivor.” It’s absolutely amazing how the editors are able to take thousands of hours of footage shot over the span of 39 days and weave it into a story that resonates with so many people. Getting to be a part of that process has been an absolute blessing!

 

Who gave you your first break?

As logging was my first job in post, I’d say “Survivor” gave me my first break.

Before “Survivor,” I was working as a production assistant at NBCUniversal’s “Maury.” I knew I wanted to make the move to Los Angeles, however, and had contacts out here for support. Once I made the move, a friend (now co-worker) helped me take the steps to secure my logging position.

 

What was your first union job?

Logging was my first union job.

 

What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?

I’ve only been in the industry for around two years, and during that time, I’ve received two credits. Though I’m proud of the hard work I put in during my time as a production assistant at “Maury,” I’m proudest of my credits as a logger with “Survivor.” Until then, I didn’t know what logging was or why it was necessary. Now I see that the show would be practically impossible to edit without loggers, and I’m incredibly proud to be an integral part of that  process.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it? 

During my time working at “Maury,” I overcame numerous obstacles. Whether it was handling travel issues with guests or problems that arose during recording of the live shows, the job as a whole was a challenge that I worked incredibly hard to overcome. I did so by doing my best to remain positive, persevere, and remember that I had a great group of co-workers to rely on for help when/if needed.

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

I was a huge fan of ”Survivor” before I started working there, so my entire experience in the office was always so much fun! Getting to see how my favorite television show is made and all the work and care that goes into creating it has been awesome!

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

I’m not sure, but I think I’d like to produce reality television. I came to Los Angeles intending to pursue writing for scripted television, but my time at ”Survivor” made me reevaluate and realize how much I enjoy working in reality television. However, I do have a passion for episodic dramas, so maybe in five years I’ll have found my way into that area of the industry.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

Outside of work, I love to read and write. I also enjoy kickboxing, hiking, and trying new restaurants with friends.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

I’m more of a television fan, but most of my favorite movies are from Disney/Pixar, like “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Tangled,” and “Coco,” or are a part of the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” My favorite movies change all the time, and I’m the type of person to say my favorite movie is whichever one I saw most recently in theaters and loved.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

I have so many favorite TV shows, I always lose count! ”Survivor” has always been on the list, but outside of reality television, I really love dramas (and the occasional comedy). My favorite television show of all time is “Prison Break” for its incredible writing and complete suspense every episode. I also love “White Collar,” “Stranger Things,” “Bob’s Burgers,” and “The Office.”

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

I don’t have an industry mentor, but a lot of lovely people have helped me immensely!

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

I’d advise anyone pursuing my line of work (or really any line of work) to keep your head up and go after exactly what it is that you want! It’s not always easy, but anything that you feel passionate about is worth the hard work and dedication.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

I’ve only just recently become a member so not yet, but I’m grateful to know it’s there for me!

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

We’re all in this together, and it’s a beautiful thing to have a group of people to support you if you need it.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin

 

Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on CineMontage.org and the home page of the Editors Guild website, please contact davidnbruskin@gmail.com 

 

This story appeared in the Q4 2019 print edition of CineMontage.

SHARON SMITH HOLLEY - VISUAL EFFECTS (VFX) EDITOR

November 2019

Where are you currently employed?

On location in Virginia Beach, VA. We are currently in director’s cut. Our director, Derrick Borte, lives here.

 

Current Project?

The feature film “Unhinged” for Solstice Studios.

 

Describe Your Job.

I have worked for 25 years as a VFX Editor, which includes organizing shots and working with the artists/vendors to create shots the director and editor have envisioned. I’ve sat with VFX artists at effects houses and walked them through complicated line-ups of the film elements, which gives me another perspective on VFX workflow.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

After I saw “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” I wanted to know more of the process of mixing live action with animation.

 

Who gave you your first break?

Robert Altman was filming where I grew up. I interned with his production sound mixer for school credit. Robert gave me complete access to go to set and watch dailies with the crew. Only thing I couldn’t do was go to the bar at wrap with everyone. I was underage and, frankly, more interested in going to the local ice cream parlor. I think I’m still that way.

 

What was your first union job?

“Texasville,” which turned union after it returned from shooting in Texas. I had met the editor Rick Fields and first assistant Ron Krehel when I was doing production sound in Florida on “Illegally Yours.” They brought me on as an apprentice and helped me get in the union.

 

What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?

On the film “Cobb,” which was my first VFX Editing job, the producer entrusted me with a lot. I was responsible for every part of the VFXs: not just turnovers but supervising shot design (it’s exciting to draw something on paper and then see it up on the screen), judging wedges for color, approving finals, and looking at bids and budgeting. When I wrapped, he and the director gave me a bonus check — and my first VFX Editor credit.

 

For the recently released “Gemini Man,” there was a lot of prep for material to be used in reference monitors on the stage. I was set up on the sound stage with my Avid for motion control filming; there was a lot of it, as one of our characters was all CG. We watched dailies in 120fps/3D on location in Savannah and Budapest, and we had a “lab” group that traveled with us to process dailies, color-correct, and work with the 3D. Editor Tim Squyres joined us in Budapest so he and director Ang Lee could lock down sequences for VFX turnovers.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

Getting the crew to take lunch breaks and sit together is always a challenge. I list a lunch table and chairs on my equipment list. It reminds the producers that we will be taking lunch and gives the crew a place to gather.

 

What was the most fun youve had at work?

On “Cobb,” I drew a title design for the “Movietone” newsreel, a black-and-white film shown within our film. Ron Shelton, the director, liked it and I met with the Pacific Title designer to have him create my art.

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

Working with people I enjoy being around, who are reasonable and kind. In other words, more of the same of what I am grateful to have been a part of.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I’ve always loved photography and my work has been published in several magazines. Traveling is another priority. I have been able to incorporate exploring the world and meeting the local people into both my career and down-time. I also need something creative in my life. Nothing better than having a paint brush in my hand and colors staining my fingers.

 

However, my passion without a doubt is my involvement with the Editors Guild Archives and Academy Oral History Projects. It’s so rewarding when we interview people who are delighted to share their stories. I also love treasures from the past, so having a post-production “museum” at the MPEG Archive offices has fulfilled a dream. It helps share our history with our membership and students, and it’s another fun way for members to share their memories of working in film and TV.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

Like most kids my age “Star Wars,” but I also loved “What’s Up Doc” and films I worked on like “Stuart Little,” “Aladdin,” “The Time Machine,” and “Men In Black 3.”  I really like traveling through time, so “Somewhere in Time,” “Back to the Future,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Midnight in Paris.”

 

I also like to watch films about the film industry. Among many, one of my faves is “Ma Femme est une Actrice.” Honestly, I just love movies. I have no problem watching three movies in a day.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

My tastes in TV shows are similar to films. Fun, quirky, visually creative shows hold my interest. I was a huge fan of “Jane the Virgin,” “Pushing Daisies,” and “Seinfeld.” Recently, “Russian Doll” and “Outlander. Because of my love of personal histories, “Finding Your Roots,” “Who Do You Think You Are,” “Modern Love,” and “Fosse/Verdon.”

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Yes, although I doubt they know I think of them as mentors. I joke that Carol Littleton is my gardening mentor but she is more than that. Donn Cambern mentored me into getting on the Guild’s Board of Directors, for which I am so grateful.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

Go to every film-related event in your area. Try talking to at least three people at each event. Be brave, be kind, and gracious. Who you are and how you treat people makes you unique and someone people will want to collaborate with. Live within your means; if you get a raise, don’t raise your standard of living. Save so you can wait for that job you really want to do.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

I am always asking for contract advice. If a member has a question, I call the Guild office on their behalf. As a board member, I keep it anonymous unless the member wants the inquiry to go further.

 

Is there anything youd like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

Take time off between jobs, if you can. Don’t wait till you retire to do your passion projects. Most important, know we are a family, an industry family. No matter how challenging life gets, we are here for each other.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin

Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on CineMontage.org and the home page of the Editors Guild website, please contact davidnbruskin@gmail.com

MICHAEL BABCOCK - SUPERVISING SOUND EDITOR/SOUND DESIGNER/RE-RECORDING MIXER

October 2019

Where are you currently employed?

Warner Brothers.

 

Current Project?

Mixing “Dr. Sleep” (sequel to “The Shining”) for WB, and the TV series “See” for Apple.

 

Describe Your Job.

I’m a maker and/or polisher of sounds, interpreter of visions, organizer of creative elements, selector of team collaborators, reader of minds, navigator of constraints, and psychologist… for motion pictures and other content.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

In my teens, before I knew what this line of work was, I was fascinated with movie soundtracks and multichannel audio. I pressured my parents to become one of the first people on the block to upgrade to a Hi-Fi VCR and Dolby Pro-logic system. I spent a lot of time not just watching and listening to certain “great sound movies,” but listening to music through their great Hi-Fi system and a great pair of headphones. I studied how musical instruments were panned and how reverb, delays, and other effects were used to make a musical soundscape. I was also quite serious about being a musician. I got degrees in music performance, music engineering, and electrical engineering. That path led me directly to this line of work. The same day I graduated from the University of Miami, I was offered a job at a commercial post house in Hollywood called Margarita Mix.

 

Who gave you your first break?

Through a helpful network of alumni from the Music Engineering program I went through at UM, a guy named Myron Nettinga helped me get my first union sound editing job just three months out of college at the now-defunct Todd-AO. He gave me some great creative guidance, and I got thrown directly into the fire.

 

What was your first union job?

Cutting sound FX at Todd-AO, mostly for TV. I cranked out episodes of “Melrose Place,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Profiler,” and more.

 

What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?

Any that give me the chance to work in conjunction with the music department. It marries my world of music with the film world. I love to work on things that are rhythmic or have a “musical” sensibility. For “War of the Worlds,” I was given a task to come up with the “factory sound” you heard whenever the tripods moved or were offscreen. I created a rhythmic machine sound using bits and pieces of manipulated pneumatics, rollercoasters, gears, dry ice groans and metal hits that were sequenced in ¾ time. (They are tripods, after all!) I actually had a private conversation during the dub with John Williams. He told me he really liked what I had done and thought it integrated with his score perfectly. That was literally the proudest I’ve ever been, and may ever be, in my career.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

I try to grow and improve at every turn, but my biggest challenge is facing the proverbial blank sheet of paper. Some of my cohorts thrive on that, but I do my most creative work when there are constraints. Whether it’s someone saying, “look in this direction,” or just a plain old time constraint, I thrive with just enough structure to fire up the inspiration. It’s like cheating writer’s block. I used to think that as I got more career experience and the years rolled by, the creative process would get easier. It hasn’t — my own doing, of course! You have to keep finding ways to go deeper, get better, and come up with something that approaches being “iconic.” To help accomplish this, I use a skill I learned from being a musician: Every once in a while, you have to put down your instrument and get out. Change your perspective somehow. It’s a little easier to push that rock uphill when you take a break and find another angle. Sometimes that can be getting closer to nature or doing yoga, but most often for me, it’s listening to music.

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

I can answer this in two ways. The first is when I take a field trip to record something. The second involves conversations I’ve had with people I’m in the trenches with. It’s the 19th day straight on a dub stage and someone starts a conversation that leads to strange and hilarious places. There’s a lot of super-smart and downright interesting people in this business. If I were to make a Top 10 list of the times that I’ve laughed the hardest in my life, at least four of them would have been on a dub stage.

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

Honestly, exactly what I’m doing now.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

Playing and listening to music, yoga, and helping steer my 13-year-old son in the right direction.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Top Gun” is partially why I’m in film sound. It was the first movie I rented when my parents got the new stereo Hi-Fi VCR. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is an ‘80s comedy that used sound NOT like a comedy. I studied the mix of this one many, many times. “The Hunt for Red October” is my favorite movie ever. My dream is to work on a submarine movie sometime in my career. The sound job on “Master and Commander” makes me sweat in my seat every time. “Toy Story 2” is an amazing example of filmmakers who understand how sound can vastly augment a story. Every part of this movie is genuinely inspired. In my opinion, it’s Pixar’s greatest movie, if only because it recognized animation once and for all as a true bastion of original storytelling and filmmaking.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

“Mindhunter” has great production value, and it’s crossed that line from episodic show to something that uses the medium for real character development. “Breaking Bad” — talk about a group of people that came together for a moment in time and fired on all cylinders to make something truly special! “Deadwood” has Shakespearean prose, acting and storytelling – and Old West gutter-swearing. I think “Top Gear” and its cousin “The Grand Tour” are among the most original, entertaining, informative, passionate, funny shows ever made.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

I’ve been lucky to have a few, but the biggest one has been Richard King. Besides being a great sound designer and offering me opportunities to move up in the industry, he’s been a good friend and a great example of how to navigate the craziness of this business and remain a human being.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

A professor in college told me this can be a tough industry to get into, but there’s always room for talent. I find that to be quite true.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

Fortunately, not yet.

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

We are a special, elite group of smart, creative and downright interesting people. I’m proud to be part of it.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin      

Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on CineMontage.org and the home page of the Editors Guild website, please contact davidnbruskin@gmail.com

JILLINDA PALMER - MUSIC EDITOR

September 2019

Where are you currently employed?

I’m generally independent but I just finished a busy pilot season working for Mind Meld Arts and recently signed with Incite Management who will be representing me going forward.

 

Current Project? 

I worked on 5 pilots with Mind Meld, while also working on two ongoing series, “The Kids Are Alright” and “Virgin River.”

 

Describe Your Job. 

As music editor, I help the music tell its story and portray emotion, in a musical yet unobtrusive way, while also trying to keep the composer’s best intention. Whether it’s creating a temp track, adding in source music, editing original score written for a particular scene, or conforming old cues to a new cut, I always edit the music based on the specific needs of the picture editors and producers. We work together to ensure proper placement and musical correctness while mindful of dialogue and story. When colleagues lack the knowledge to articulate their needs in musical terms, I interpret the direction and translate it musically.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

I initially wanted to learn music recording which was why I learned Pro Tools. I loved sound editing but mainly worked in recording studios. I started working post-production in 2004 when Thomas Chan introduced me to sound design editorial. We worked on animated series as well as some non-scripted material. After that, I transitioned to dialogue editing at Bang Zoom Studios and was a sound editor at Margarita Mix Hollywood, working with Hunter Curra on animated series and non-scripted shows.

 

Who gave you your first break?

Jenny Barak gave me my first real break in music editing. I got to know her and Carli Barber at Todd AO, where I worked in client services. Jenny hired me as an assistant music editor at Pitch n Sync and later as a music editor. She taught me a mathematical approach to music editing. She told me, “It’s like a fun puzzle you have to solve.”

 

What was your first union job?

At Pitch n Sync, we worked on several union shows including “Private Practice,” “Mad Men,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and a few pilots.

 

Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?

“Deadwood: The Movie” was a very proud moment for me. I even cried at the end of playback because I loved the TV series from more than 10 years ago. It was a real thrill to see the music go through so many stages and ultimately hear it mixed on the dub stage instead of just watching the final product at home. And add to that the thrill of the show getting a Prime Time Emmy nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie or Special, with Micha Liberman and me as music editors and assistant music editor Stephanie Gangal all part of the wonderful sound editing team.

I also feel proud about “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” It was four years of work on a fun show with great songs that got stuck in our heads for days. When we were all done with the last season it felt like a graduation. That crew was like family.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

My biggest challenge is navigating the dynamics between producers and mixers. I watch the mixers to see exactly what they’re doing and why, even when it doesn’t pertain to music. A lot of times the producer gives a note and the mixer simply plays back to hear where to address that change, and the producer, moving on to another note, is confused about hearing it played back before the mixer had a chance to correct it. I can politely step in and diffuse the situation. I pay attention to the mixers and always try to have their back.

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

I looked forward to every mix day on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” We mixed at Formosa Group which is a great facility. We worked hard but we enjoyed our time and had a bunch of laughs. We had a spotting session on Halloween once and I dressed up as a unicorn; one of my producers said it wasn’t really a costume because I look like a unicorn every day!

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

I hope to continue music editing. I’ve been fortunate to work on cool shows that I enjoy so I’d love to keep doing that. Most of my work has been in television, but I hope for more opportunities to work on features. One of my favorite parts of music editing is creating temp scores and finding source cues. I’d like to expand on that skill and learn more about music supervision.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I’m a musician. I sing and play the piano and accordion. I write songs and record them with friends. It’s my passion. I’ve sung and played in many local bands over the years, as well as singing and playing on recording sessions. I write music for myself, taking from life’s experiences and writing it all down in song form. It’s a way to process emotions; I’m not trying to “make it” as a musician, it’s a creative release for me.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

I love Jane Campion’s “The Piano” so much that I even learned how to play a lot of the songs from Michael Nyman’s score on the piano. These songs speak for Holly Hunter, who plays a mute woman who expresses herself playing the piano. Holly Hunter actually plays piano herself and that really comes across when you watch her on screen.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

With some of the best writing on television, my favorite show is “BoJack Horseman.” It makes fun of Hollywood in a great way and also pokes fun at itself. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously in this industry and it’s good to laugh at ourselves. Other favorite shows are “Lost,” “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones.”

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Music editor Moira Marquis has been an important mentor to me. She is a pure pleasure to work with. We’ve worked together on a few shows, including all four seasons of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” She comes up with good ideas for music, finds solutions quickly and always has the show’s best interest at heart. She taught me how to be easy-going under huge pressure and time constraints. She says, “Don’t worry, it’s not rocket surgery!”

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

Learn about all the different aspects of post-production. It’s good to know what everyone’s jobs are in production. You can be great at your particular job, but if you don’t know the roles of the crew or their process and schedule, it makes you seem like less of a team player.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

Yes. I worked for a company that hired me on a union show, gave me union hours, but didn’t pay me weekly union wages. This violation went on for an entire season and my union rep gave me the courage to face it head on.

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

There are a lot of people looking to get into editorial. If you can, be a mentor to someone. There aren’t many options for people trying to break into our industry and the best way people can learn is from us. I would not be where I am today without all of the people I learned from.

 

Compiled by Edward Landler       

Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on CineMontage.org and the home page of the Editors Guild website, please contact davidnbruskin@gmail.com

GERALDO GUTIERREZ - RECORDIST

August 2019

Where are you currently employed?

Warner Bros. Post Production.

 

Current Project?

Recently, I worked on Annabelle Comes Home, doing the Dolby Atmos Nearfield mix and the Foreign Atmos mixes for theatrical release, and now I am doing the Nearfield mixes for Joker, starring Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix, set for release in October.

 

Describe Your Job.

I am known as a Mix Technician. I am responsible for getting a project’s audio sources onto the playback machine and set them up for the mixer, and for setting up the recorder machine to create the necessary deliverables required by the client. With the expansion of Dolby Atmos, the Mix Tech has become vital to the mixing stage staying operational. The mix tech handles the Atmos technical process and allows the mixer to focus completely on the creative aspect.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

I was originally curious about music recording, but during my time in college I started learning more about audio post-production and the creative audio work that goes into TV and film. I took a course that taught me the basics of sound design, which I found very interesting, challenging, and creative. After that, I have set my foot down the audio post path and haven’t turned back.

 

Who gave you your first break?

My first job in the audio industry was cleaning audio magnetic tape and optical sound track at Chace Audio in Burbank. Thanks to my start at Chace Audio I was able to learn the history of audio during the old “Mag and Optical” days.

 

What was your first union job?

My first union job was as mix tech for the last print master for The Front Runner last year.

 

Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?

While I was still building my hours to join the union, I worked with a great team on an indie feature called Dead Bullet and was both supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer. And I am super-proud that I was the re-recording mix tech for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. The sound, the cinematography and the set design made it special, and I was super-happy to be part of a well-established team and see the working process of a great visionary director.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

I had an issue on a mix stage where we were not ready to roll first thing in the morning. With the mixing and engineering teams and the clients all involved, there was high tension to get things started. I had to stay calm and collected to keep everything at peace with the clients. We rescheduled the work for the next day with my own guarantee that we would roll the next day and on time. After the clients left for the day, I worked into the night with engineering to resolve the issues and, the following day, we were able to roll smoothly with everyone happy. My boss appreciated how I handled the situation.

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

The most fun at work was during the last day of mixing Roma. Everyone on the mix stage started making jokes, and other film references. It was great time, as the director started clowning with me and I was able to throw in a good joke or two back at him.

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

I hope to move up into being a re-recording mixer.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

 Hiking, going to watch movies, and attending live concerts

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

My most recent favorite movie is La La Land. I have become more and more a fan of long one-take shots. What an incredible feat it must be to rehearse the whole shot, get every production department involved and go for the best take.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

Lost. I became fascinated with the great scope of this show — being shot on the beach, the incredible acting and the story. Watching Lost was one of the reasons I wanted to get into audio post production. The incredible sound design and mix that went into this show was what really sparked my curiosity to learn about all the roles in audio post.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

In each year of my career I have been fortunate to have someone I could rely on to speak with for advice and guidance — from teachers at school and bosses at work to great leaders that make up the Motion Picture Sound Editors organization like Frank Morrone and Tommy McCarthy.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

A mix tech should learn about the technical and creative side of Pro Tools, the mixing console, and old and new plug ins. I would highly recommend, if you have the chance, to learn the workflow for Dolby Atmos; more and more mix techs are starting to become in demand if they have experience dealing with Dolby Atmos.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

Not yet.

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

It’s a pleasure to be a part of Local 700. I look forward to meeting you if we ever cross paths.

 

Compiled by Edward Landler      

Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on CineMontage.org, and the home page of the Editors Guild website, please contact edlandler@roadrunner.com

MYRA LOPEZ - ANIMATION EDITOR

July 2019

Where are you currently employed?

Netflix Animation Studios.

 

Current Project?

Maya and the Three, a Netflix original animated mini-series set in Mesoamerica, which is currently set to premiere in 2020.

 

Describe Your Job.

I am currently the lead editor on Maya and the Three. I oversee the editorial team for animatics through post-production. I work creatively side by side with the show’s writer and director, Jorge Gutierrez. Together we work on everything from pacing and timing for dramatic and comedic impact to experimenting with music and sound effect styles. Additional duties include working closely with production to develop a harmonious workflow between editorial, the story team, audio departments and our overseas animation studio.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

I have always loved animation. I studied animation and illustration at Cal State University Fullerton where I received my Bachelor in Fine Arts. During my senior year in college I did an internship at Nickelodeon Animation Studios and after graduation I was hired as a production assistant at Nickelodeon. A few months into the job, the post-production team at the studio needed assistance and I transferred into the post-production department. I remained there for 3½ years doing post on various Nickelodeon series. I was a post-production assistant, post-production coordinator and even supervised a few shorts and pilots. It was during this time that I became interested in editing and decided to go back to school part-time to become an editor.

 

Who gave you your first break?

I was about 3 months into my editing courses when one of the line producers I was working with, Miken Wong, offered me an editing job. I would have to work full-time as an editor and go part-time to school on nights and weekends. It was challenging and exhausting but she knew I could do it. Miken took a huge chance on me, for which I am forever grateful.

 

What was your first union job?

My first union job was at DreamWorks Animation Television on The Adventures of Puss in Boots.

 

Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?

Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — I was one of the editors for Seasons 1 and 2. This series was the first action series I edited. I learned a lot from the series show runner about story and cutting action. The knowledge I gained from working on this project has been essential in my career and I’ve been able to apply it to other projects. I was also able to cut the first few Comic-Con trailers for the series as well, which was new and exciting for me and a lot of fun.

Maya and the Three — the mini-series I’m currently working on. Growing up, I always dreamt of seeing a Latina heroine on TV or in the movies and now I’m working on a mini-series where the main character is a Mesoamerican heroine. Although it’ll be a year or so before its release, I feel incredibly proud and lucky to be involved in this project and I’m excited for everyone to see it.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

There is so much footage and audio coming in almost daily that at times it is difficult to keep track of where everything is. Something that has been helpful is keeping a work diary. Every day I jot down what the editorial team worked on and what still needs to get done. This way there is little room for anything to get missed.

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

I was hired as an editor at DreamWorks Animation TV a few months after it had been established. Those first few months at the company were slow for the editors as productions ramped up. All of editorial had offices in the same hallway and this meant we all went on adventures together. We enjoyed many long lunches, daily tea times, food challenges, lots of birthday celebrations and many YouTube videos. It was awesome; if only it lasted forever.

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

I hope to be editing animated features.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I enjoy photography, playing my accordion and watching tons of Turner Classic Movies. I feel that I am constantly learning something new with all of these activities.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

The Nightmare Before Christmas and Sunset Boulevard are my favorites. The Nightmare Before Christmas is visually stunning and was a huge inspiration for wanting to study animation. Sunset Boulevard was one of the first classic films I watched that started me on a path watching and studying more classic films.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

There are so many I love. A few that stand out to me are AnimaniacsTiny Toon AdventuresThe OfficeMad MenBreaking BadThe Handmaid’s Tale and The LeftoversAnimaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures were cartoon series I watched as a kid that inspired me to want to draw and learn the art of animation. The OfficeMad MenBreaking BadThe Handmaid’s Tale and The Leftovers follow some complicated characters that I always find myself rooting for.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

When I started my career in editing at Nickelodeon Animation Studios, I worked with Jeff Adams. He was my industry mentor.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

Take into consideration what you are making: Is it an action show? Is it a comedy or drama series? And watch television shows or films that relate to what you are working on so that you can learn about pacing and timing. Sound is important as well. In animatics we use temp sound effects and music and it’s important to have the right sounds to help convey the story. Studying all these things will make you a better editor.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

When I started working at DreamWorks Animation Television, the content I was working on was for streaming and I was not able to join the roster. The ‘New Media’ roster was formed instead and I was placed on that. None of the hours I accumulated at Nickelodeon working as an editor could be counted towards joining the normal roster because my title at Nickelodeon was “Supervising Picture Editor” and my title at DreamWorks was “Avid Editor.” I contacted the Guild and they negotiated for the editors at DreamWorks Animation Television to join the normal roster after 6 months of employment there.

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

If you are in a position where you feel you are not growing, do something about it. Make your own path. There are tons of opportunities out there in this constantly evolving industry where you can make a place for yourself.

 

Compiled by Edward Landler      

 

Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on CineMontage.org, and the home page of the Editors Guild website, please contact edlandler@roadrunner.com.

MARY CROWLEY - TECHNICAL DIRECTOR

June 2019

Where are you currently employed?

I work freelance.  

 

Current Project?

The Rachael Ray Show, the talk and lifestyle show. We are going into Season 14 this fall, which will be my ninth season with the show.

 

Describe Your Job.

I always tell people that I am an “instantaneous editor.” I edit the show as it happens. My day-to-day responsibilities include keeping the switcher up to date and cleaned out, building effects for the show and switching the show. During the show, I am cutting cameras, running effects and feeding monitors.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

I first became interested in switching when I was in college.

 

Who gave you your first break?

Kim Southwick! Kim was the production manager at KIDK-TV 3, the local CBS news affiliate in Idaho Falls, Idaho. When I was 15, he hired me as a camera operator for what was both my first job and my first TV job. I was so lucky to work in such a small market. While in high school, I was a camera operator, as well as stage manager, prompter operator and character generator (the station had a vidi-font machine — so old!). I was also the weekend photographer and writer for the evening news.

 

What was your first union job?

Rachael Ray was my first union gig.

 

Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?

I have a lot of projects that I’ve been proud to be a part of. I am very proud to work on Rachael. We put out a beautiful product and I work with a fantastic crew. Over the last couple of years, I have had to opportunity to work on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Sesame Street. All these shows require completely different skill sets from me, but they are all final products that I am super proud of.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

Truck work is probably the most challenging. You roll into a completely unbuilt show and you have a day or less to build every effect you need and to make sure that it will work effectively enough that your split-second decisions don’t hinder the flow of the show. If you don’t have a good truck engineer, it can be a very intensive build. It’s fun — like putting together a puzzle.

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

I got to switch a show where British performance artist Millie Brown vomited paint all over Lady Gaga. It was part of a performance that Lady Gaga was doing at the 2014 South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin that Fuse.tv aired on the Internet. An hour before airtime, someone ran into the truck, told us, “The second song is where she will throw up,” and then left. None of us knew what that meant, until the second song started. It was an adventure. Really, even the worst show can be fun if you have a good crew.

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

I would love it if Rachael was in its 18th season in five years. It’s a great work environment.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I love fermentation — getting my hands in the dirt and bringing life into a garden, or anything that I can use to express my creativity. That includes painting, music and crafting with my kids.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

The Philadelphia Story, especially for the banter between Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

I can’t say I have a favorite, but I just binged The Umbrella Academy and looooved it. It is so purposeful with its cinematography and editing. I enjoyed it for the story and its production values.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Jon Pretnar and Mike Ser are probably the best technical directors I’ve ever worked with. They both are never-ending wells of information and creativity.

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

Do it as much as possible. It won’t matter how much you learn about the switcher if you don’t have the opportunity to get your chops. So much of what you do during the show is muscle memory and it’s important to build.

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?

Actually, no. I haven’t tapped into the Guild for assistance yet.

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

We are on the crossroads of creativity and technology. How lucky are we?!!

 

Compiled by Edward Landler      

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