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What Our Members Do



EMMA DUPELL - ASSISTANT EDITOR

September 2022

Q: Where are you currently employed?
I just wrapped on a show in July with Paramount Animation. I was on the project for two and a half years!

 

Q: Current projects?
I completed work on a cute animated musical feature film called “Under the Boardwalk,” which is based on, and in, the Jersey shore. Our main characters are hermit crabs. It’s a family film, good for all ages, but currently does not have a release date.

 

Q: Describe your job.

I work as an Associate Editor, which is a title mostly used in animation. It means I work as a secondary editor. I work closely with my editor, David Salter, cutting in storyboards, sound effects, and dialogue. Once our film moves into the production stage, I cut in Previs/Layout (first stage of animation, focused on camera and blocking), Animation (where the roughly animated Previs characters come to life with lip sync and acting), and Lighting/Final Render shots (those beautifully finished, lit and fully textured shots you see in every animated show).

 

Q: How did you first become interested in this line of work?
When I was a child, I was obsessed with anything animated. As I got older and technology advanced, I was able to find more animated content online — shows that I would not have been able to find on TV — and I realized how vast and advanced animated storytelling is. There is so much you can do using animation as a medium, and I always wanted to be involved with it.

 

Q: Who gave you your first break?
There are a few people who gave me my big break, the first being Sharon Smith Holley for allowing me to intern at the Editors Guild and help with the 75th Anniversary celebration. She then invited me to all Editors Guild and ACE events, and I met Richard & Collen Halsey, who hired me as their assistant editor. I worked with them on a few live action feature films that enabled me to accumulate enough non-union work days to get on the union roster. Lastly, John Venzon hired me for my first animated feature, “Storks,” where I had temped for a few weeks while one of his assistants was on vacation. I had zero animation experience, but John believed in me. Thanks to him, I was able to get my foot in the door.

 

Q: What was your first union job?
My first union job was a CW TV show, “Beauty & The Beast.” Laughably, I did not last very long on the show, but it was a valuable lesson, and I am still grateful that I was able to work on it so I could finally get my union card.

 

Q: What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?
There are a handful of films I take pride in, a mixture of both live action and animation. The two live action films were “The Invitation,” a drama/horror film where I was an assistant editor under Plummy Tucker, and “Dragged Across Concrete,” an action thriller I worked on as assistant editor to Greg D’Auria. The two animation shows were “The Lego Batman Movie,” the animation action hit on which I assisted Garret Elkins, and the animation comedy “The Addams Family,” where I worked as first assistant to David Salter. Although these shows range from thriller to family films, they have commonalities: my editors were fantastic, they each mentored me, and we were always able to talk about the story and dissect scenes together. I am forever grateful to each of them for hiring me and making me feel like a part of the team.

 

Q: What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The biggest challenge I face with any job is the politics. How do you handle an upset producer? How do you handle a moment when the director and editor have conflicting viewpoints? It’s taken me a while to learn how to become diplomatic and stop myself from responding reactively or defensively (although sometimes I still fail!). During those times, I have learned it is best to listen, take a step back, and give yourself a moment to come up with a solution to whichever problem arises in that moment.

 

Q: What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I’ve had a lot of fun on all the animated shows I’ve worked on. In animation, editorial is the hub. You are involved every step of the way, from pre-production through post-production. How is editorial involved in pre-production when we’re clearly post-production? This is the magic of animation. When we’re in the storyboard phase, we’re reworking the story over and over again. Editorial is heavily involved with the storytelling process; it’s very collaborative and a lot of hard work, but I absolutely adore it. It certainly helps that everyone I have worked with in animation has been so great.

 

Q: Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to continue moving my way up the editorial chain and one day become a lead editor on a feature.

 

Q: What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Work from home has really changed my lifestyle. I now walk my dog every day during my lunch breaks. It brings us both joy. I love reading, playing video games, cooking new meals, and learning more about Los Angeles history.

 

Q: Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Naturally, I feel I have to pick movies from both animation and live action. “Beauty and the Beast” will always be my favorite animated film. Belle heavily influenced my childhood, including reading because she loved it. “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a very close second – really, any Miyazaki film because of his brilliant storytelling and animation. For live action, it would be “Run Lola Run” and “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.” My European mother introduced both of these films to me as soon as I turned 18, and I had never seen such storytelling! Both films are so intense, and you get so invested with the characters. Of course, I can’t leave out my all-time favorite comedy, “Blazing Saddles.” Mel Brooks is a genius. Other honorable mentions go to a few Bollywood films that bring me pure joy: “Dil Chahta Hai,” a feel-good road-trip-with-friends movie, and “Singham,” a cop movie with such intense over-the-top action, it nearly puts our action films to shame.

 

Q: Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
This may sound scandalous in the golden age of television, but I’m not the biggest series viewer. I enjoy watching “Dr. Who” because it’s silly, and sometimes I need a quick pick me up after a long day. I like watching any shows that are on the comedic side and don’t take themselves too seriously, like “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

 

Q: Do you have an industry mentor?
I have two mentors: Sharon Smith Holley, who is my biggest supporter, someone I can always come to with questions or concerns; and David Salter is always there for me, whether it’s to discuss a scene or be an advocate for me in the cutting room.

 

Q: What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
My advice echoes those who came before me: network, network, network. If you are passionate about a certain medium, find people who work in that area and offer them some coffee! Your enthusiasm will win people over and you will get in. Just keep doing it.

 

Q: Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
I have reached out to our field reps several times over the years, once for a Tier 1 project that never paid on time (and I finally did get paid!), and other times with time-card questions (meal penalties, vacation/days off). Never hesitate to reach out to our reps. They are extremely helpful and they are here for us! I am so thankful we’re able to turn to our reps for help.

 

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Always feel free to reach out to the union with questions or concerns, I’m always surprised how many Guild members don’t do that. We’ve got to stick up for ourselves and look out for each other because studios won’t. You are your own best advocate.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin.

BEN INSLER - ASSISTANT EDITOR

August 2022

Q: Where are you currently employed?

I’m currently assisting Kirk Baxter on David Fincher’s next movie, “The Killer.”

 

Q: Current projects?

Just the one above. Everyone always talks about what they’re doing on the side. My wife and I have four-year-old twins. There is no “on the side.”

 

Q: Describe your job.

Overall, the job is to make sure the editor has access to everything they need to work effortlessly with their footage so that they can focus creatively on building the story and not have to get distracted with technical or organizational details. This usually begins before the movie starts by supervising the build of edit systems to ensure they support the needs of the project. During production, the workload is heavy on receiving, processing, and organizing dailies each day so that the editor can review the footage and start building scenes quickly. Once production is over, the assistant editor role transitions more to fielding requests that support the editor and the completion of the movie. This can run the gamut from doing initial sound design or pulling and auditioning music, to recording temp ADR lines and hunting through takes for alternate performances.

 

As the movie progresses, assistant editors help the music, sound and visual effects departments get what they need to work in parallel with the edit. We also receive deliveries from these departments and cut them back into the edit for the editor and director to review. On Fincher’s projects, we also do a lot of temp visual effects – splitting together different takes, compositing green screen, stabilizing camera movement – right in the timeline so they stay live as the edit changes. All of our assistant editors are seasoned in these techniques. And while it’s not officially the assistant editor’s job, I do a fair amount of coding. There are magnitudes of efficiency that come from having the computer do repetitive manual work for you. Everyone should at least be willing to explore it.

 

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

I’ve always loved movies. Even bad ones. If I started watching a movie, I had to finish it. I think I’ve only turned off one movie in my entire life… it will remain nameless here to protect me from the retaliation of those who worked on it. (I didn’t even turn off “Good Burger”… caught on TV by accident… with ads!) To this day, I’m captivated by the way movies transport us into their own world. You don’t even have to put in any effort and you’re somewhere new. That never gets old for me. I also love computers and tech — things like setting up video systems, digging through a tangle of wires, and making everything work. It just sort of comes naturally to me. I’d honestly say that, for this particular line of work, it’s where all my interests melded naturally.

 

Q: Who gave you your first break?

This is a tough question. My story isn’t so cinematically satisfying as a lifelong career of success and mentorship that blossomed out of one momentary spark of a relationship. I think it’s more that I’ve found myself at a number of forks in the road and approached them with a willingness to take new risks, even though it meant shaking up my world a little bit. I’ve always told myself that I want there to be a 5% chance on every project I do that I will completely fail, but also to be 100% confident that I can overcome that 5%. If that 5% risk isn’t there, I’m not pushing myself or taking any risks to grow, and I need that. It definitely informs how I make decisions at those forks.

 

But if I had to credit someone, it would probably be my friend Toby Louie, a producer I met while we were both working in commercials. Toby knew people whom I could only dream of working with, and his generosity with introductions made those dreams a reality.

 

Q: What was your first union job?

First assistant editor on “Mindhunter,” season 2.

 

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

I’m really proud of “Mank,” “The Batman,” and a commercial for a videogame called “Battlefield: Hardline” that I assisted on a number of years ago. “Mank” was my first project where I was first assistant from the start of the project. It was also my first time starting a Fincher project from the beginning. And literally days after we finished filming in early 2020, a pesky global pandemic collided with humanity. From the start of that show, I was determined for it to go smoothly, and COVID didn’t change that. We were actually ahead of the curve and had already begun work-from-home protocols a few days before California instituted them statewide. We weren’t caught off guard by the transition from the office to home, but it was still a fast transition and it had to go smoothly. We’re a very tech-forward team but we still had to invent a lot on the fly. I didn’t want anyone on our team to compromise how they work because work from home couldn’t accommodate it, and for the most part, no one did. We finished on time. The movie won awards. “It worked out,” as Mank himself says in the film. The editor, Kirk Baxter, mentioned to me that he was asked how the pandemic changed the way we had to work, and he answered simply, “It didn’t.” That was the biggest compliment I could have received.

 

“The Batman” was so much fun. It’s the kind of movie that made me want to make movies. Big on spectacle. Big on action. All-star cast. Huge audience anticipation. It was such a thrill to see fan interest and speculation evolve outside while watching the movie evolve inside. Working on a film like “The Batman” was always a dream, but an opportunity I wasn’t convinced I’d ever actually encounter. I’m very proud to have had the privilege to be a part of the team that made it. “Battlefield: Hardline” was a 360-degree immersive interactive experience that was created to market the game. You’d watch it online from the perspective of a bag of money being stolen by bank robbers. You could point the camera in any direction at any time as you were whizzed down city blocks on a motorcycle, thrown over people’s shoulders, tossed from car to car… super crazy fun stuff. In addition to the 360-degree experience, the advertising agency wanted to create more traditional media to run in commercial ad spaces. This meant that the director (Nicolai Fuglsig) and editor (Eric Zumbrunnen) could essentially choose any angle from within the 360 degrees to tell their story. They could cut. They could whip pan. They could do whatever they wanted as if they were operating the camera.

 

My job in the edit suite was to figure out how to actually do this — and this was still a few years before virtual reality editing tools were a thing. We created super-wide tiled media that allowed Nicolai and Eric to rotate the camera anywhere in real time. But the biggest fear was that Nicolai and Eric’s work wouldn’t translate to the finishing artists adding visual effects. I wrote some code that took all of their work from Premiere, collected the keyframes, and translated them into camera rotation data that let the finishing artists exactly match every decision that Nicolai and Eric had made. It was incredibly satisfying. With that project, it felt like we had actually brought something new into existence that had never been done before.

 

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

The biggest job challenge was definitely making the decision to leave where I was comfortable for the opportunity to grow. It’s scary, but necessary. In this industry, everyone fills a role that someone next to them, or above them, relies on. They need you there, so they want you to stay where you are and keep doing that thing you do better than anyone else. You have to step out of the box yourself. It’s the biggest challenge because it never became any easier to overcome – it was a leap of faith every time.

 

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

A friend and I were working on a movie in Winnipeg, Canada with one of the producers of “1408.” Our hotel, the Fort Garry, was rumored to be haunted – specifically, Room 202. When we mentioned this to the producer, he marched over to reception and booked the room for the two of us to stay in that night. We had no choice. This was not the kind of thing my friend was into. Every sound was an event. Every minute was an hour long. We heard and made up all kinds of things that didn’t exist. A room that is rumored to be haunted becomes haunted when you’re in it. We brought camera and recording equipment to the room with us and all it recorded were his screams and our laughter.

 

Q: What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I like tinkering with electronics and robotics, things like that. I don’t really know what I’m doing, so when the robots attack, blame me. I also love camping and skiing.

 

Q: Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” Final answer.

 

Q: Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

Currently? “The Boys.” It’s dark and gritty and unexpectedly brutal. I love it. I’m also very much into “Raised By Wolves.” I know exactly what side I’m rooting for when I watch this show, and I’m continually impressed with how the other side continues to lure me in. Everyone has their own turn being a hero and a villain. It’s great. “Righteous Gemstones” is just a joy that I hope never goes away. And I just got hooked on “Outer Range.” Wow… it suddenly sounds like I have a lot of time to watch TV. I do not. All time favorites? “Seinfeld.” “Halt and Catch Fire.” “Deadwood.”

 

Q: Do you have an industry mentor?

Not really, but I think everyone should. It’s a relationship I wish I had. It’s easy to lose perspective of one’s own value, and we all need someone in our corner to remind us that we do good work. Someone we can ask questions. Try things out with. Be dumb with and not suffer judgement. A phenomenally talented editor once told me he worried every job he did was going to be his last – that he wasn’t sure why people would hire him after this one. I like to think that we were building a mentor/mentee relationship that would have matured if we had been able to continue working together, and that we were both creating a safe space for each other to be honest and dumb, because, in truth, his worry couldn’t have been more absurd.

 

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

Say yes. You’re entitled to nothing. Be patient.

 

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

Not yet, but I’m immensely thankful for the Guild. Without the Guild and what it has fought for on our behalf, it would be much harder to enjoy working in this industry.

 

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

I think we’re all too competitive and should focus less on that. We’re all way too good at faulting ourselves for missing out on opportunities we believe our peers are getting, and using that to define what our success should look like. This makes us competitive even though we haven’t necessarily defined what success means for ourselves. I find I’m much happier being proud of what I’m good at than frustrated by what I haven’t achieved yet.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

 

BARI WINTER - ASSISTANT EDITOR

July 2022

Q: Where are you currently employed?
Sony/Netflix

 

Q: Current projects?
“Cobra Kai,” season 5.

 

Q: Describe your job.
My job as assistant editor starts with project organization and dailies. I will talk with the post producers and post supervisors, editors, and assistant editors about workflow so we can plan the rest of the post process. On “Cobra Kai,” my editor, Zack Arnold, likes to use the app Trello to organize the paperwork. It’s a virtual version of old-school looseleaf binders or index cards on a bulletin board. We also use it to keep track of where we are on each episode. Since we’re all working remotely, it’s a really great way to collaborate. After organizing the dailies, I help out on cuts with sound effects, music, and basic visual effects. Other parts of my job include attending edit sessions with the director and producers and taking notes. I create exports of cuts to send out to the director or producers or the network and studio for their notes. After picture lock, I handle turnovers of the locked cut to our vendors handling the on-line, color, sound, music, and visual effects. Since I’m working towards becoming an editor, I’m also cutting scenes. We workshop the scenes I’ve cut. It’s more than just notes; I have to dig in deep to find the meaning behind the scenes, character motivations, and why I made my editorial decisions. I value this feedback to help me grow as an editor.

 

Q: How did you first become interested in this line of work?
When I was 16 years old, I went to Usdan, a performing arts camp in New York on Long Island. They had a new video program I thought would be fun. I loved it and thought this could be great to do for a career.

 

Q: Who gave you your first break?
I got my start in reality television, but I had dreams of working in scripted. My first big break in scripted television was “Quarterlife,” an hour-long drama for Myspace/NBC. I landed this job because I was on the available list. (Yes, being on the available list does work!) They needed a night assistant editor. I am so grateful to the associate producer who took a chance on me. After the show wrapped, we stayed in touch. She hired me a couple of times to fill in on shows that needed an assistant to cover for a week or so, and then she recommended me to a colleague for an assistant editor position on an HBO show, which led to many more opportunities.

 

Q: What was your first union job?
In 2007, I became an online assistant editor on “Watch Over Me,” a one-hour drama on MyNetworkTV.

 

Q: What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?
I’m most proud of my current show, “Cobra Kai.” Zack Arnold, whom I mentioned earlier, is a great mentor and editor. He was instrumental to my earning a co-editor credit on an episode in season 4 and two more on season 5, which is currently in post-production. I’m also very proud of the work I did as an editor on a short film called “My Dead Roommate.” It was created and produced entirely by women during the height of the pandemic, and it was really fun to do!

 

Q: What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
My biggest challenges involve how to effectively communicate my needs or the needs of the show. Sometimes politics are involved, so then I turn to my editor or trusted colleagues for advice.

 

Q: What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
“The Middle,” a half-hour comedy on ABC. I worked on the show for five seasons and became friends with not only the whole post team but also some of the on-set crew. Every aspect of “The Middle” was done on the Warner Bros Ranch Lot. The writers room, post, and sets were all there, and we all got to know each other. We usually had our lunch break when the crew broke for lunch. I was invited to join some of the crew to do yoga in the last 15 minutes of their lunch break. It was a great way to get in a little exercise during the workday as well as a way to build camaraderie with the crew.

 

Q: Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I’ve been working toward the career goal of getting hired as an editor for the past couple of years now. I worked on these goals in the Optimize Yourself program (optimizeyourself.me) that Zack created. The goal I came up with in the spring of 2020 was to be hired as an editor by the end of 2020. That goal changed because of COVID-19, so my goal for 2022 is to be hired as an editor before the end of the year. My goal for five years from now is to be a regular working editor on shows that speak to me.

 

Q: What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I love to go hiking and to spend time with my husband, our daughter, and dog Mabel. I also love the discussions my husband and I have about film and tv. He is a member of the Guild, too, as a supervising sound editor. I’m also the Slack community manager for Optimize Yourself.

 

Q: Favorite movie(s)? Why?
I watch more TV than movies. Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of movies with my husband, who is a member of the Academy. So far, my favorites have been “West Side Story,” “Belfast,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Tick, Tick… Boom!” and “King Richard.” Some of my all-time favorite movies are “Steel Magnolias,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Almost Famous,” and every Indiana Jones movie.

 

Q: Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Comedy is my favorite genre because I love to laugh. Some of my favorites are “Cheers,” “The Golden Girls,” “Schitt’s Creek,” “Ted Lasso,” “Working Moms,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Grace and Frankie,” “The Good Place,” and “30 Rock.” I also love good drama such as “The Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit.” There’s so much great content out there and not enough time to watch it all!

 

Q: Do you have an industry mentor?
I’ve had many mentors over the course of my career. While attending film school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, my mentor was my editing teacher, Gary Cooper. We are still in touch today. While I was working on “The Middle,” the editors became mentors to me. Before each team sent out an editor’s cut, we screened it for each other. Listening and participating in those screenings really helped me understand editing comedy. I’m happy again to mention that my current editor, Zack Arnold, has become a mentor to me. He has a program called Optimize Yourself that I took at the beginning of the pandemic. I learned so much about myself, my goals, and how to achieve them through the program. As his assistant editor on “Cobra Kai,” I’ve been learning so much more about editing, the why behind the edits, and the politics of the industry.

 

Q: What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
No. 1, have patience. Your career goals may not happen according to your timeline. I would also say to be kind, work hard, stand up for yourself, and network effectively and consistently. Even if you are employed on a show or movie, keep up with your networking so when you are ready for your next gig, you already have a network ready to help you. And because you stayed in touch with your network, when you hear about a job, you’ll know who’s available and who might be a good fit for the position. Paying it forward is rewarding.

 

Q: Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
I recently had a question about the current rates, and the field reps were very helpful in getting me the correct information.

 

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Our careers in this business are very busy. Take time to take care of yourself and it will show in your work. When you feel good, it shows in all aspects of your life.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

STACI PONTIUS - ASSISTANT EDITOR

June 2022

Where are you currently employed?

I’m in between projects at the moment.

 

Current projects?

The last movie I worked on was “King Richard,” and I’m starting on the “Untitled Bob Marley Biopic” later this year.

 

Describe your job.

I’ve been Pamela Martin’s first assistant for over 10 years. I’m responsible for making sure the cutting room runs smoothly with a focus on providing everything Pam needs to do her job efficiently, i.e., organized dailies, scene cards, lined script, temp sound effects, temp music, etc. I also communicate regularly with all of the other departments (sound, music, DI) to provide what they need throughout the post process.

 

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

I had a friend who was an assistant editor and thought that my attention to detail and love of numbers would make me a good candidate for the job. I was open to the idea so I started taking film classes and got an internship to learn more about filmmaking in general and editing specifically.

 

Who gave you your first break?

The same friend helped me get my first internship and eventually gave me my first P.A. job.

 

What was your first union job?

My first union job was apprentice editor on “Waterworld.”

 

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

“King Richard” — I loved the movie and that Pam’s amazing work was recognized by her peers.

“Battle of the Sexes” — Our cutting room felt like a home away from home, and I still enjoy watching the movie after seeing it so many times.

“Waterworld” — It was my first credit and first experience on a big studio feature.

 

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

One big challenge was about 20 years ago when I needed to learn the Avid in order to keep working as an assistant editor. I was nervous about it but I overcame it by saying yes to a job with an editor who was willing to teach me how to translate what I knew about working on film to working on Avid.

 

Another challenging situation was when I was told I would have to share a room on “Captain America” with another assistant editor. I’m particular about my work area and process, so I didn’t want some strange guy in my space. I worked it out by getting to know him. Now he’s my husband.

 

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

There are a few people I’ve worked with who manage to make me laugh on a regular basis by making up songs or repeating favorite quotes out of context. I have the most fun when I’m laughing a lot at work.

 

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

I try not to plan too far ahead these days, so for now, I’ll just keep doing what’s next.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I really enjoy hiking, traveling, music, food, and sports.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Remains of the Day” — It’s such a moving and beautifully crafted film.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why? 

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”– I’m inspired by his curiosity, kindness, and empathy. He had an amazing ability to communicate with both children and adults in such a comforting way.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

I’ve worked with many talented and generous editors and assistant editors. Pam has taught me so much over the years that I’ve worked with her. Greg Perler taught me the Avid so I’m eternally grateful to him. Audrey Evans taught me how to sync dailies on film!

 

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

Get to know people who are working on the types of projects you want to work on, and be ready to jump right in when the call comes.

 

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

When I was still new to the industry, I called the Guild for help navigating a complicated political situation.

 

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

I’ve learned something on every job by staying open-minded about new situations or the people I’m working with at the moment.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

CHARLES SHIN - ASSISTANT EDITOR

May 2022

Where are you currently employed?

20th Television / ABC.

 

Current projects?

I’m currently doing a pilot for standup comedian Jo Koy.

 

Describe your job.

I do the regular duties that all assistant editors are required to do, like organizing dailies on the whole project, designing sound effects, temp visual effects, and turnovers. I did have a chance to cut a couple of scenes and got feedback from my editor, which was very helpful, especially during a pilot that, due to its nature, never afforded the time to cut scenes and get feedback. So that was nice.

 

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

I used to edit reality shows. My heart was never into cutting reality, but I was tempted by the dark side —  the money. Because I’m a big cinephile and living in this golden age of great television, I decided to make the big sacrifice: I took a step back and became an assistant editor so I could eventually cut on a scripted show.

 

Who gave you your first break?

I found my first scripted job on Facebook. Hahn Cho was the first post supervisor who took a chance on me. My first scripted gig, “Alive in Denver,” was for a streaming platform that went defunct. But my good friend Saleem Aziz, an editor, really helped my career take off when he got me an interview with what became my first network show, “New Girl.” I had previously interviewed for the show five years earlier, but I got beat out by someone with better connections, so it was a full-circle moment for me when I got the job for the show’s last season.

 

What was your first union job?

My first union job came from a reality stage show called “Superhuman,” which my friend Joe Gonzalez helped me get on. Actually, I had to jump from the non-union show I was cutting to do “Superhuman” because it was a union show, and I hoped it would change my life to start working on union shows. Turns out it was worth burning the bridge at the job I’d left behind.

 

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

So far, “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Pen15,” and this Jo Koy Pilot I’m on now. I’m Asian and working on a show with great Asian representation, but I’m the only Asian working in post on a show about Asians, which is cool/funny/nice all at the same time. It’s even more special because “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Pen15” are such game-changing cultural-breakthrough comedies – and they’re big hits. Another project I am also very proud of is “Naomi” because that was the first pilot I worked on, a drama/comic/action show that got picked up. You feel invested in the show because of all the long hours you put into it, and seeing it go out into the world is also special. Plus, I got to work with Gina Hirsch whose dad is Paul Hirsch, an editing legend who won an Oscar for cutting the first “Star Wars” movie. I’m a big “Star Wars” fan, so it was cool to work with someone who was there when it happened and tells great stories about it.

 

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

One of the two biggest challenges was doing the pilot for “Naomi.” There were some things I wasn’t familiar with, like working with a conformed sequence and the workflow of doing a pilot. Luckily, I brought along someone I’d worked with before who had more experience than I did and could show me what I didn’t know. We were a great team because we had each other’s backs down in the trenches. The other challenge was learning what it’s like to work on a big theatrical feature. You get thrown into the fire and try to make sure not to mess anything up.

 

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

That would be on “New Girl” and “Fresh Off the Boat.” Both crews were laid back and knew how to let you do your work, but they also had parties, made sure your birthday is celebrated, Mardi gras celebrations, going-away parties, etc. Also, on both of those shows, if I was done with my work, I was able to go on set and meet the production crew or go to the writers room. They would let me explore anytime I wanted. It was a great experience to get to know the cast and production crew, especially after COVID. Post had been work-from-home and imposed various restrictions, so I felt I made the best use of my time when there was no pandemic.

 

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

Directing! I got into editing to become a better director. I just finished shooting my first short, which was self-funded, and had an issue because I wasn’t going to make my day. I was renting a location and running out of time to shoot two more scenes that were needed. Thanks to my experience in post, I was able to combine two scenes into one, and it made the film work better. I solved the problem by thinking like an editor: how things could cut together, shot selection, what was most important to get and what was okay to miss. But I still love editing and would like to do both.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I have two kids, Leo and Ellie, who are my hobbies, activities, and passion! So I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do, I’m watching movies in a theater as much as possible. I especially like going to retro theaters like the New Beverly (which is four blocks from where I live) or going to an American Cinematheque screening and watching films I’ve never seen or maybe haven’t seen on the big screen. I’m a cinephile, and I want to be a knowledgeable one, so I see as many films as possible, anything and everything. I’m prepping myself in case I ever get stuck in a room with Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo Del Toro, talking about films. I also love to see a movie without seeing a trailer or knowing anything about it, even whether it’s good or bad — that’s even more exciting!

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

The first “Star Wars” movie, which is now subtitled “Episode IV – A New Hope,” is now my favorite movie because of the great story, its technical innovations, and the backstory and history of getting the film made — like George Lucas not sticking around for opening day because he thought the movie would fail, so instead he went to Hawaii with Spielberg over  opening weekend to talk about Indiana Jones. Also, that he invented not just a world but a whole ever-expanding universe is quite ingenious! That happens maybe only once in a lifetime. It would be a dream fulfilled to work on any “Star Wars” project. I’ve fashioned my whole career to prepare for the chance that one day, if I did get called to work on a “Star Wars” project, I would have solid credits that proved my abilities. Another personal favorite is “Snatch.” It’s just a great movie. I always use lines from that movie in my personal life!

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

“Seinfeld” is one of my favorites. Like with “Snatch,” I often repeat lines from the show. But “Breaking Bad,” “The Sopranos,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Mandalorian,” “Fleabag,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Game of Thrones,” “Vikings,” “Summer Heights High” [Australia], “and five shows from South Korea: “My Mister,” “Reply 1988,” “Vincenzo,” “It’s Okay Not to Be Okay,” and “Squid Game.” I love these shows because of the stories they tell and the clever ways they tell them. It’s shows like these that help make this the golden age of television we’ve been experiencing for the past decade! There are other shows I love for nostalgia reasons. They inspired me to go into television and movies as the career I want to be in for the rest of my life. That’s hard to do, considering the challenge of being regularly employed in this business.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Yes, I have a few. Saleem Aziz is not only a good friend – he also gives me a lot of good advice about career decisions and paths to take. And he’s been a bridge for me to get into the ACE diversity program where I have three mentors (Lillian Benson, ACE; Jacques Gravett, ACE; Rosanne Tan, ACE) whom I go to with questions or seeking tough career advice. Despite their busy schedules, they find time to reply — and reply quickly — which is nice because sometimes you need to make a decision by the end of the day.

 

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

Be prepared to make sacrifices. Some people might not need to make ones as big as I did because it’s also part luck. For example, I didn’t work for six months because I turned down reality gigs so I’d be available to work on a scripted show, which meant taking a huge pay cut — even with a new baby to feed! Have the self-confidence to believe that when you do get called for a show, you’re ready and won’t mess up the opportunity you’re being given. I even took a two-day course from Moviola on how to be an assistant editor, and I interned there so I could get some free classes.

 

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

I have been lucky to work on shows that treat everyone well. Even with shows that didn’t pay well, I never felt like I was being taken advantage of.

 

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

The greatest thing about the Guild is the more you involve yourself and really learn about your craft, the more people are willing to help you, even with this business being so competitive. There may be certain groups that are hard to break into, but when you try to get to know people and are genuine about yourself and not primarily trying to get a job, then things may open up for you very easily. Say out loud what you want. Will it into existence. If you keep at it, there are people who will help you get there, which is why I love working in post: the whole system has been based on the Mentor and Padawan [an apprentice to a Jedi knight], and eventually the Padawan will become a Mentor and pass down what they learned, and so forth. This is one of the few careers where this is expected to happen because your mentors want to see you succeed.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

 

Interested in being featured in What Our Members Do? Send your name or that of a friend to SCollins@editorsguild.com. 

ASHLEY MCKINNEY - ASSISTANT EDITOR

April 2022

Q Where are you currently employed?
Paramount studios.

 

Q Current projects?
I’m a second assistant editor for a feature at Paramount. Before this project, I worked with editor Josie Azzam on a short film for Netflix. Through the pandemic, also for Netflix, I was an assistant on season two of “Never Have I Ever” and part of the assistant team with Matt Latham on “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal.”

 

Q Describe your job.
As an assistant editor, I anticipate various needs – technical, creative, and anything in between — to help make sure the editorial staff runs smoothly. This can include temp sound clean up, exports, and turnovers to various other departments. Sometimes there is troubleshooting involved in trying to figure out what the hell that Avid error message means, or even some creative troubleshooting like how we can help the editor sell a visual idea with graphics, temp visual effects, or creative brainstorming.

 

Q How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I’ve always been fascinated with the craft and skill that goes into filmmaking. When I was in about sixth grade, we had to write a report on a career we might be interested in. I chose the film industry, but my teacher wanted me to be more specific, so after poring over a bunch of lists and reading up on all the different credits behind the scenes, I discovered what editing was. I’ve always been obsessed with figuring out puzzles, and that’s how I see editing: they’re giant story puzzles that sometimes fit together super-easily, sometimes not, but they can be played with until you reveal the emotion, even if the continuity is off. Ever since then, I’ve been working to become an editor.

 

Q Who gave you your first break?
From the time I left non-union reality work, I’ve been very fortunate to find my way into union work. Assistant editor Alan Mackulin recommended me for several things. Many other assistant editors have helped along the way and taught me so many things—Chris Visser, Monica Daniel, and Shiran Amir, to name a few. Editor Matt Friedman gave me my first union job on a low budget independent feature called “The Boy Downstairs.” Since then, I’ve networked and got to work with editors Phillip Bartell, Kristina Hamilton-Grobler, Waldemar Centeno, Jonathan Angus, and assistant editors Jessica Sisk and Josie Azzam.

 

Q What was your first union job?
That low-budget independent feature, “The Boy Downstairs.” It’s a sweet New York romantic comedy about a young woman who moves into an apartment that happens to be above her ex.

 

Q What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?
Two for Netflix—the film “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and the TV series “Never Have I Ever,” both for pretty much the same reasons. They have beautiful stories filled with representations of independent and strong women learning how to live in this world, and underlying themes about how we can cope with grief and mental illness. I lost my grandmother right before starting work on “To All the Boys…”, and it helped me through that time because one of the sub-plots involves the main character learning how to process and deal with the loss of her mother. When I watched season one of “Never Have I Ever,” in which the teenage main character’s father dies, my husband and I were in lockdown and his mother was very sick, ultimately passing away. When I got the call that I would be working on season two, I cried. After dealing with intense dark moments, it was nice to work on such light and fun but also poignant stories.

 

Q  What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
It’s hard to nail down one challenge that’s bigger than another. Assisting on TV and features can often be like herding cats. If anything, I’ve learned how to manage my time better and anticipate priorities. I’m a trauma survivor and deal with PTSD, so some of my greatest struggles come out of managing triggers. I have a service dog, Xander, that comes to work with me. I utilize white boards and a bullet journal to keep track of tasks and the like. But I think the greatest help has come from opening up and being honest with my co-workers about my PTSD. It’s not for everyone, but the way to correct misconceptions and destigmatize mental illness, PTSD in particular, is by giving it a face and a name. Once I stopped trying to hide it or pretend it was something that could not be named, things became a lot easier.

 

Q What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Lunch time with the crew of “Shooter,” season three. We had this GIANT table where we would all take a break and talk for an hour. In the office, there was a giant cutout of the show’s star, Ryan Phillippe, that someone would hide around a corner, or do something else to get a jump out of someone.

 

Q Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I am not a five-year planner. I tend to take things one year at a time, but I hope to be working on more fun and important stories. Maybe as an editor, or at least starting to cut more.

 

Q What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a MASSIVE St. Louis Blues fan. I try to watch or listen to every game during the season, and I’ve been known to be very vocal when the team makes poor decisions. I am also an avid crafter and baker. For the car paints [during negotiations with the AMPTP, the Guild painted supporters’ car windows with pro-union statements], I made keychains for all the volunteers (if you didn’t get one, please reach out!) as well as gooey butter cake for the office staff.

 

Q Favorite movie(s)? Why?
“Silver Linings Playbook.” The way disassociation and obsession scenes were portrayed really spoke to my experiences with PTSD. It helped me express what was going on inside my head when I couldn’t find the words.

 

Q  Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Historically, “Gilmore Girls.” I always watched with my mom or grandmother. Seeing flawed but well executed female characters on the screen, big or small, has been rare, unfortunately. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to relate differently to each of the characters, and the performances are fantastically layered. It’s often like sitting down and getting a nice warm hug. Currently, “Ted Lasso.” As a Midwesterner in a big city, I find it nice to get a dose of wholesome Kansas-boy logic. The show is so well written, acted, and edited. I remember seeing the clip at virtual EditFest 2020 and instantly feeling the need to watch.

 

Q  Do you have an industry mentor?
I have a lot of mentors for different things. I consider them more friends than official mentors. Monica Daniel is someone I’ve gone from looking up to, to having weekly game nights and ongoing conversations about Marvel movies. Richard Sanchez has been a huge resource for questions about assisting, puppies, and sometimes life in general.

 

Q What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
First, be yourself. You can learn the gig, but if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, it can be unhealthy for you and for the people around you. Second, be kind to yourself and to others. It costs you nothing but you gain so, so much.

 

Q Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
In my case, I didn’t need assistance for anything specific. When I was starting out, the low budget features contract I was working under allowed for a field rep to visit the work site, say hi, and see how we were doing. I was fortunate to have the same field rep every time, Karen Greene. She answered my questions and, after the third time or so, brought dog treats. She remembered who I was. That early attention and education helped me to be more comfortable about coming to the Guild with bigger issues and also to become more involved with the Guild. Our community can seem daunting to break into, but this early one-on-one time with a representative made an especially positive lasting impact on me, personally and professionally.

 

Q Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
You are going to make mistakes, but don’t let the fear of that prevent you from learning something new; now THAT would be a mistake. Not knowing something because you were afraid to make a mistake could ultimately hurt your career more than making the mistake would. Working in editorial can be overwhelming. It’s okay to not know everything. We all start somewhere, and we learn new things with every project. Try to be kind to yourself, and remember: as you learn, things get easier, faster, and more creative.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin.

REID KIMBALL - ASSISTANT EDITOR

March 2022

Where are you currently employed?

I work in Los Angeles onsite at the CBS Beverly location.

 

Current projects?

“Dancing with the Stars” (“DWTS”) season 30 until November 21.

 

Describe your job.

Because it’s a show with a new episode delivered each week, my job can be quite hectic, with lots of moving parts. Each day I receive hard drives and SD cards that have video and sound files of the dancers rehearsing in their studio or doing a special activity, like visiting a theme park. I copy footage off these drives—about 5TB per day—to our Nexis, which serves as the final storage place for the video and audio files because we need to give the original hard drives back to production.

 

Next, I convert the video on 10+ Avids into a format that makes it smoother for editors to work with while editing. While that is happening, I’m also responding to requests from producers and editors for exports of their editorial work, such as a package that gives you some background information about one of the celebrity dancers. They also request imports of videos and photos sourced from the contestants themselves or stock libraries. Sometimes that might be a home workout video from one of the celebrity dancers, or it might be a full length movie from Disney because the contestants will be doing a dance based on Disney characters.

 

After the footage is done processing, I have to group different camera angles together of each couple’s dance rehearsals so that the editors can choose which camera angle to show in their editing. Each night before my shift ends I make sure to finish this so that the editors and producers in the morning have the material to work with.

 

Before I leave, I have to backup projects in case our work gets corrupted and also upload interview videos so they can be transcribed. When we get the transcripts, we use Avid technology called ScriptSync which (to paraphrase the Avid website) phonetically indexes all text and audible dialog automatically and then syncs each source interview clip to its associated line in the transcript text.

 

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

Years ago, when I made a documentary that was my passion project, I fell in love with the editing process. That led to me teaching high school film classes, and my passion grew. The idea of moving to LA to work in post-production full time was exciting. While learning how to break in, I found out about the assistant editor position. Turns out assistant editing is an excellent fit since I love both digital tech and creative arts.

 

Who gave you your first break?

Matt Parcone was the director of post-production at Pilgrim Media Group in North Hollywood. I applied for a job that would become my first Avid assistant editing job. He took a chance since I didn’t have a ton of experience with Avid, so I’m very thankful for his trust in me.

 

What was your first union job?

“Married to Medicine Los Angeles,” season 2, for Bravo TV. Dustyn Gobler was the post supervisor who hired me—may he rest in peace; he is no longer with us—but he was one of the best post supervisors I’ve worked with. Really cared about everyone’s well-being and career growth.

 

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

I am the editor for a yet to be released short film called “Consumed,” directed by Vivian Ukeje and written by her sister Winifred Ukeje. It’s a horror film with light supernatural elements, and it pushed me to grow as an editor. I had a ton of fun being creative with picture and sound editing. Collaborating with Vivian was such a rewarding experience because I got to help shape her vision into something others can enjoy.

 

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

I’d say the biggest challenge I’ve had to deal with is working onsite when everyone has to wear masks for COVID safety. That makes communication extremely difficult because I have a severe to profound hearing loss and wear hearing aids in both ears.

 

The team on “DWTS” has been incredibly supportive and patient when I have to ask them to repeat themselves, but it is exhausting having to put in that extra effort to hear people speak through the masks. Fortunately, the editors and producers are remote and I only talk with them through Slack, so that helps a bit. With the other assistants I work with, I just advocate for my needs, ask questions, and paraphrase what I’ve heard to make sure I don’t misunderstand and make mistakes. My disability in a way makes me a better assistant editor because communication is so important to me.

 

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

I’ve mentioned “DWTS,” and they’re a great group of guys I work with. But to talk about another show, “Street Outlaws” with Julia Solá (who’s now in scripted on “New Amsterdam” for NBC) was loads of fun. There were two others we worked with on the night shift. We were all fairly green, so we’d get our tasks and then huddle in a bay together and freak out, saying, “WTF does that mean? How do we do this?” We helped each other, laughed a lot, and got through it in the end A-OK.

 

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

I hope to be working in scripted on a sci-fi show that I can be proud of because it makes people reflect on themselves and do the hard work for personal growth. That’s the whole reason I’m in this biz, to help tell stories that inspire personal growth in others. A perfect example of this: I read a post online from a fan of “The Orville” (one of my favorite shows) who described how one episode inspired him to reflect on his career work-life balance. He changed careers so he could spend more time with family! Powerful stuff.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

Health is a passion of mine, so I go for a run or a hike once a week. I spend time in the kitchen a lot. And I listen to “The Huberman Lab” podcast. I’m a big sports fan, especially ice hockey and football.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“The Princess Bride”! It’s got it all—comedy, action, romance, so good it’s… inconceivable!

 

“Blood Diamond” because I love how they took a real social cause and wrapped the message in a narrative. It reminded me of Leo Tolstoy’s 1895 short story, “Master and Man.”

 

“Sound of Metal.” The end sequence with Ruben is as close to virtual reality as we’re going to get without it being a 360 VR film. The way the picture and sound editing fuse together to go beyond showing us Ruben’s experience—instead, we become Ruben—was stunning. As soon as it ended, I knew it was winning an Oscar for Best Editing. It’s also the only film that somewhat represents my experiences as someone with severe to profound hearing loss. For the first time in my life, there’s a film I can point to if anyone wants to know what hearing loss is like for me.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

“Ted Lasso,” “The Orville,” “Battlestar Galactica” (the 2004 TV series by Ron Moore), and “Mr. Robot” come to mind. Without getting into each one, they all have amazing characters and stories that make me reflect on who I am.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

I have a few friends I reach out to and couldn’t have gotten to where I am without their help.

 

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

Do it! Don’t delay! With the amount of shows out there looking for help, there’s never been a better time to give assistant editing a shot. Seek out educational materials in text books, take training classes, ask questions, shadow friends, and eventually you’ll get that first job.

 

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

Ha-ha, I think I’m probably emailing or calling [former Field Rep, now Assistant Western Executive Director] Jessica Pratt once a week with questions or problems. She’s always been there for me and helps me every time.

 

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

Know that what you do is extremely valuable. Especially if you’re an assistant editor. I’ll never forget quitting from a company that will go unnamed; the president of post-production said, “I don’t think you understand! If you leave, the show stops!”

 

Bingo!

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

ALEX SZABO - ASSISTANT EDITOR

February 2022

Where are you currently employed?

I’m in the early steps of editing a horror-comedy feature. It’s a little project during my hiatus on “Ted Lasso.”

 

Current projects?

I’m an assistant editor on “Ted Lasso.” I assist for editor [and MPEG board member] A.J. Catoline.  The other assistant editor is Francesca Castro who works for editor Melissa McCoy. There is some collaboration between us all!

 

Describe your job.

I’m sure readers of this magazine know the job, but I have a hard time explaining the basic concept of editing to relatives during the holidays. So how are they supposed to wrap their head around the little details of assistant editing? It is both technical and creative thinking on the job. Before production wraps, we’re usually ingesting the previous day’s batch of scenes (dailies) into Avid and organizing the notes from the day. When my editor A.J. is fairly satisfied with roughing out a scene, I’ll take the sequence and apply a lot of sound work to it and sometimes a placeholder piece of score or needle drop. Eventually we climb from editor’s cuts all the way to studio and network cuts, but there are usually many pit stops with rounds of notes and miscellaneous exported clips sent to set as a reference. I help digest notes with A.J. in a sort of analytical process to see how I can help tackle them easily. In a personal general sense, though, I try to keep spirits up when things feel super-busy, point out funny ideas in an edit or performance, and offer up my eyeballs and brain on the best course of a scene we’ve watched countless times. I didn’t even get into roughing out visual effects and working with music supervisors. It’s a lot to explain to a blank-staring relative!

 

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

I’m not sure really. I have fuzzy memories of pausing (ruining) VHS tapes at my parents’ house. I’d be staring at a favorite scene, wondering how it was possible. So if I were to pop in our copy of “Home Alone,” the shot of Marv’s head being blow torched is very chewed up thanks to pausing on it so many times. I later dabbled with home movies in an early version of Final Cut in the late 90s, and editing really grabbed my attention. So then I found a knack for it during film school.

 

Who gave you your first break?

I worked throughout college doing restaurant work or retail, but I had acquired multiple internships in TV for when I wasn’t working. Years later, I had post PA work, cutting promo spots and assisting in reality where multiple connections from college helped me find the work. I felt I was not really hitting a nice groove yet, although I was at least working. That’s when I linked up with an editor, Bob Lambert. He and the producer needed someone to review all the dailies for a blooper reel in the credits. That work was relatively easy for me to do, and I stayed in the loop and let him know that I was interested in helping push the movie across the finish line in any way possible. That moment helped me gain some needed momentum and experience for other work to come.

 

What was your first union job?

First union job was an independent feature, “Accidental Love,” the movie I spoke of above. It was delayed from a long holdout and a complicated reshoot. It was a right-place/right-time scenario for me as other assistants over time moved into other projects, and I was credited as an apprentice.

 

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

“Ted Lasso.” It was and still is an unexpected hit for us, and it’s been a joy to work on. I had worked in a bit of comedy before “Lasso,” but I’ve never been part of a project where every department works together so seamlessly where it creates this cohesive flow. I’m happy we’re editing comedy that’s balanced with a healthy dose of drama and sports action. There are days where I audition an idea, whether it’s a sound effect, good take, or needle drop, and I just laugh out loud like an absolute nut, but I always think that’s a good sign, right?

 

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

I’ve experienced technical missteps and putting out those tricky fires, but the shift from office to WFH [work from home] in spring 2020 was big because of all the uncertainty and anxiety about it. I remember the couple last days in March acutely because I didn’t want to believe COVID would be so terrible. I left some coffee mugs and food behind because I was thinking, “Eh, we’ll be back in a week or two, right?” Luckily, production was done shooting so we weren’t getting slammed with new scenes in the morning, but we had to figure out how we were to essentially evacuate Warner Bros. with all episodes intact. Francesca and I had to think through copying media from our shared Avid NEXIS storage to external drives. Since we were leaving a shared editing experience, we had to really ramp up communication with the editors. This meant sending bins through email constantly, conforming sound work and notes even faster, and figuring out Zoom or Evercast for screening cuts. This is all happening while refreshing news feeds on the COVID spread and doom-scrolling. Luckily, we came out okay, but it was obviously unprecedented, and I’m thankful for a good team with a sense of humor during the dark times.

 

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

It’s probably a “you had to be there” moment, but years ago, we had some green-screen test footage. We had a clip of my producer friend staring blankly at the camera and dipping out of frame. We spliced him into the sunset from one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. It was a great gag and pick-me-up moment. There’s a ton of other fun moments, but I’ll leave it at that.

 

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

Five years might fly by! I’d be stoked to be in a position like I’m in now, focusing on delivering great assistant work and being blessed to work with awesome comedy editors like A.J.  Hopefully, I’ll keep getting opportunities to cut scenes and prove I have the editor blood within.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

Music. It was tough not seeing live shows for a while. I occasionally play guitar and wish I knew piano. Our keyboard gathers dust. I’ve been glued to Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” Beatles doc series. When I have the ability to get out there, I like to snowboard but just cruise — nothing crazy these days. Gotta protect your bones and brain. I’ve also played tennis more and more, which seems to be a popular thing lately since it has that social distance.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

I don’t think I have just one, and even choosing a few seems tough! I like too many. Should I list just a few? “Magnolia” might be my favorite, by Paul Thomas Anderson. If it’s one of those “Mannly” nights, you need to fire up “Heat.” “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” is my childhood favorite. “Tropic Thunder” is my favorite comedy of the early 2000s.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

Lately, I really enjoy “Succession.” The camera moves and editing accentuate the great performances. It can get so dark, but they still find those laughs, which is amazing to me. I LOL’ed constantly on my re-watch of “Eastbound and Down.” Maybe even a LMAO here and there, maybe too much laughing for my neighbors. I love how the characters are so well-defined even though they’re completely zany, and there are some really fun edits. Plus Sudeikis’ character Shane is an awesome complement to McBride’s Kenny Powers. It’s fun to see the different style of comedy from that era ten years ago.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

A.J. Catoline. I’m very thankful he gave me the chance to work with him on “Lasso.” I feel like there are certain editors who don’t want to make time to impart a little knowledge to assistants, much less let them cut here and there, but A.J. enjoys the journey of mentorship. What’s good, too, is that it is not a one-way street in the edit room. He really values my creative input and perspective. So I’m always learning something every week, which is huge. We always seem to be on the same wavelength. He’s a good mentor and friend.

 

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

I think we can agree that the industry is competitive and perhaps intimidating when you’re finding your way, but I feel like there are more and more opportunities, especially in television. You need to believe you can do it. It’s a basic — maybe trite — piece of advice, but I’ve always had to give myself pep talks in thinking about bigger goals while at stepping-stones along the way. If you’re in school, try and squeeze a way into an internship, but I’d be sure it’s in line with your goal and not too far off the radar. Perhaps a post PA position is within your grasp. I encourage making films with friends. I’ve dabbled in directing shorts, which sometimes come together purely out of curiosity for when we get to the edit. Scenes from small projects might end up being something to showcase, or at least get notes on.

 

Passion projects reminded me that I still valued and enjoyed the filmmaking process, even though my day job was something completely different. It was like refueling the ambition battery. Nowadays, it feels harder to get out and meet people, but I think it’s best to fight against that inclination some of us introverts/not-so-extroverts have to stay home, especially if you know you need to refresh and make new connections in real life. I’ve met people where things don’t click, and you sit there awkwardly with a coffee or beer, but that’s not the worst thing, right? That meeting might go the other direction, where it flies by and you made a connection you wouldn’t have made from just a message board. So yeah, I’m going to feel silly saying the overused Gretzky quote, “You miss 100 percent of shots you don’t take,” but you know what? He’s right, damn it, and he’s got four Stanley Cups. Four!

 

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

It’s thanks to the Guild’s workshops and mixers that I met a few colleagues, including A.J.! So I’ll give a nod and tip of the cap to the Guild for having events!

 

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

I’m blessed to be with the union, and I’m hoping we grow stronger and learn from this year’s contentious negotiations. Let’s build upon the grassroots activism we witnessed online. Solidarity forever!

ISABEL YANES - ASSISTANT EDITOR

January 2022

Q Where are you currently employed?
Warner Brothers Television.

 

Q Current projects?
Season 2 of “Superman & Lois.”

 

Q Describe your job.
As an assistant editor, I am a systems manager and a creative contributor simultaneously. At the start of a new show, it is my responsibility to establish the project’s organization and workflow. I manage all media, prepare footage for my editor, and design temporary sound and visual effects. Additionally, I note-take during meetings (one of my favorite aspects of the job, believe it or not) and export video references for directors and producers. Once an episode reaches final picture lock, I distribute this finalized version to various departments including sound, music, and online/picture. Given the large amount of visual effects on superhero shows, I am not responsible for tracking visual effects shots as they make their way into existence through one or more vendors. Nor do I deliver files to visual effects vendors on my current show; however, I have done so in the past for lighter projects.

 

Q How did you first become interested in this line of work?
In high school, I joined an afterschool film club that grew into a broadcast and video production department. Through these courses, I learned the basics of filming, editing, and animation. I gravitated towards editing almost immediately, as I enjoyed the creativity that emerged from assembling footage with limited resources. I majored in Entertainment and Media Studies at the University of Georgia where my love for television blossomed as shows like “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” captivated me.

 

Q Who gave you your first break?
My first job in Los Angeles straight out of college was an assistant editor position for Fine Brothers Entertainment. I was set on avoiding the production assistant route, if possible, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start. During this job, I fell in love with commuting to work by bicycle and worked an unheard of 9-5 schedule that allowed me to attend every networking event that existed.

 

Q What was your first union job?
“For All Mankind,” an alternate history, science fiction series for Apple TV+. Working with Ron Moore and the entire post team was an incredible experience. Though I have worked on great shows since, this is hands down the best project I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone on the team treated each other with the utmost respect, and I embraced a work-life balance that truly worked for me. I still miss greeting the office with a daily “Hey FAM!”

 

Q What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?
Though the pilot was never picked up, working on Glen Mazzara’s “The Dark Tower” was an absolute pleasure! It significantly advanced my creative and technical abilities as I worked with only one editor and a small visual effects team. Every day, my knowledge and skills were tested to the highest degree, and the collaborative environment Glen and my editor Nathan Gunn created was incredibly fulfilling as a creative. By the end of the project, I genuinely felt like I played a notable role in the final product.

 

Q What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
Learning to work with unsavory personalities and navigate an industry with historic harassment and discrimination has unfortunately been my biggest challenge. While I have worked with countless amazing people, I have also worked with those who yell, patronize, and violate both my contractual and personal boundaries. I’ve discovered that establishing clear boundaries and demanding respect from others in my personal life has helped me do the same in professional environments. Educating myself on my contract by speaking frequently with field reps at the union office, and reading books like “Difficult Personalities: A Practical Guide to Managing the Hurtful Behavior of Others (and Maybe Your Own),” have also been instrumental. Furthermore, I have learned that financial resilience is necessary for me to avoid or ultimately leave shows with toxic work environments.

 

Q What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
While serving as a substitute on “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” I had the opportunity to work with my favorite actress/producer from childhood, Felicia Day. What a joy it was to watch her dailies and interact during ADR sessions!

 

Q Jobwise, what do you hope to be time doing five years from now?
Five years from now, I aim to be a full-time editor for fantasy and science fiction television. I intend to work on shows that allow me to maintain a healthy work-life balance and whose post teams are staffed with genuinely good people. I’m currently editing alongside my editor on “Superman & Lois” with the goal of receiving additional/co-editor credits and preparing for the opportunity to move up when it presents itself.

 

Q What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Food is my heart’s true passion! From weekly meal planning to buying food at the Farmer’s Market, cooking, baking, photographing and of course EATING, I am a serious foodie. I even have a dedicated Food Instagram account: @isabel.yanes.foodie.

 

My other hobbies include all things sustainability-focused (climate change, waste reduction, environmental justice, etc.), stereotypical SoCal exercises (yoga, hiking and mountain biking), and addictively reading fantasy novels from the library. I also love to travel and aspire to live in a different country every year, if possible.

 

Q Favorite movie(s)? Why?
To the dismay of many, I’ve never been much of a movie person. Most recently, I watched “Chef,” directed by and starring Jon Favreau, after falling in love with the TV series on Netflix. I do, however, enjoy documentaries and must give a shout out to “The Biggest Little Farm,” which follows a couple’s journey of developing a sustainable farm outside Los Angeles.

 

Q Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
“Game of Thrones” will always have a special place in my heart (despite fumbling at the goal line) because it is the epitome of what I love in fantasy novels—complex and evolving characters, gruesome war and torture, sex, and of course… magic! Also, DRAGONS. It’s no surprise then that “The Witcher” is my current top pick.

 

Animated shows like “Avatar” and “Over the Garden Wall” redefined animation for me. I dedicated 2021 to watching all movies and TV series in the “Star Wars” canon, and “Clone Wars” blew me away. Dave Filoni’s work is nothing short of incredible.

 

My guilty pleasure reality show favorites are “The Bachelor,” “Survivor,” “The Great British Baking Show,” and “Somebody Feed Phil,” because I can never get enough competition, food, and travel in my life.

 

Q Do you have an industry mentor?
Although we no longer work together, Nathan Gunn continues to mentor me, and I cannot express the immense gratitude I have for his willingness to always be available for me. He is a masterful editor, a well-versed diplomat in the cutting room, and a wonderful human being who has stood up for and stood by me through the best and worst of times. It is an honor to have worked for him, and I hope to make him proud as I transition into the editor’s chair.


Brian G. Addie, my current editor on “Superman & Lois,” has taken me under his wing. As I strive to make the jump to editor, he is teaching and mentoring me on both the craft of editing and the mediator role that editors undertake. I am very fortunate to have found a teacher that thinks and works the same way I do, all while providing encouragement and creative criticism that motivates me to keep going.

 

Q What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Read Lori Coleman and Diana Friedberg’s book “Make the Cut: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Assistant Editor in Film and TV.” Develop networking skills and put them to use at networking events to start building your own network. Contact assistants and editors that you admire and aspire to be, with the genuine intent of asking for advice, not a job. Learn to budget and save money. It will allow you to say no to the jobs that don’t serve you and help progress your career more quickly as you wait for the right opportunity instead of the first. Practice setting and enforcing boundaries. You will gain respect and self-worth, and empower those around you to do the same. Establish healthy habits and maintain consistency. Doing so early on will make a significant difference in managing projects where consistency is imperative.

 

Q Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Before I start a new job, I call Jessica Pratt [the Guild’s senior field rep and now Assistant Executive Director] to go over my contract and make sure I know my rights. Every. Single. Time. I also send her my first paystub and respective timecard to check that I am being paid correctly. You’d be surprised how much vacation and holiday pay you could be missing out on because of an accounting error.

 

I’ve also spoken with her when instances of harassment and contract violations have arisen. I appreciate that what steps are taken is ultimately up to me instead of being forced to file a grievance the moment I share an issue. In my experience, problems in the workplace are more likely to be resolved when a discussion takes place rather than a formal write-up that can take months or more to make it through the system. Regardless of the outcome, it’s important that our field reps are aware of the issues we’re experiencing so they can better prepare us on how to navigate repeat offenses.

 

Q Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Solidarity, education, and active involvement are key to making a difference in this industry. I urge everyone who joins the union and the entertainment industry in general to learn what it means to be a part of this community. See a problem? Talk to your coworkers, field reps, and other union members. You are a part of a collective voice, so use it! When we stand up for ourselves and our union kin, we make the industry a better place for everyone. Never forget that we are all human beings with a shared passion for storytelling. We all deserve a safe working environment, actual living wages, and time outside of work to thrive, not just survive.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

KIM HUSTON - VISUAL EFFECTS EDITOR

December 2021

Where are you currently employed?

Los Angeles, CA – Freelance

 

Current projects?

Recently wrapped on “Cowboy Bebop” for Netflix. It’s a 10-episode live-action adaptation of the original Japanese anime. 

 

Describe your job.

Part of the visual effects editor’s job is nearly fully creative. The task: temp out all visual effects as best you can before the first cut is screened. The goal: help sell the story. You don’t want to lose anyone because the visual effects are distracting or incomplete. A top priority is to take out all green screens and replace them with backgrounds. In a space show such as “Cowboy Bebop,” sometimes you can get away with just pulling the green out (“pulling the key”) and leaving it black. Easy! I found that dropping in stars as the background could sometimes be more distracting, though some elements from NASA’s catalogue were quite useful.

 

I love creating a temp effect by using something in a way that was never intended. It feels kind of like Foley for the sound team—high heels walking on tile plus crunching cornflakes equals the sound of a pig walking through leaves. For visual effects, it could be a spray from glass cleaner with the background layer removed, tinting the liquid purple, and shrunk way down. Now it’s a futuristic application to heal a wound. You can get really creative without it being “good” because you’re just trying to convey the idea to sell the story point.

 

Then, the technical side: Breaking up temp shots into elements and handing them off to the visual effects vendors to work on. I also track those shots as they go to, or return from, two or three or 20 vendors.

 

As finished effects finally arrive, I cut them in, see if they work, and adjust if needed based on the effect (with the editor’s consent!). You also talk about creative intent with the team. There are lots of visual effects reviews with everyone in a room or on Evercast. At that point, It becomes a highly collaborative part of the process, and it really makes you feel like part of the team!

 

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

As a kid, I went from wanting to be a cartoonist—drawing the Sunday comics, like “The Far Side”— to wanting to work in 2D animation, to wanting to do stop-motion animation like “Wallace and Gromit” and “Brothers Quay.” I was already into building miniatures and clay figures, so that paved the way. When I was about 13, there was an epic attempt to adapt “The Phantom Tollbooth” using stop-motion—until our dog walked through and ruined the “set” I built.

 

In high school, I made friends with kids who had similar interests, and we started to collaborate on live-action shorts. My favorite part was post. I learned a lot about doing motion graphics and small visual effects.

 

And then I saw “The Matrix,” and it sealed the deal for me.

 

Who gave you your first break?

There were many people, of course. This career is not the straight-line path it used to be. I meandered from Milwaukee to New York to LA trying different routes to “get in.”

 

My biggest break was via John Axelrad. While still in New York, I cold-emailed him, asking if he was free to meet up for coffee. He was very kind and said he would love to, but he wasn’t in New York anymore—he was back in LA on a project. I think, like, a year later, we reconnected and he said he was just freeing up, and if I was ever in LA, I should call him up for that coffee. I said, “Coincidentally, I’m there next week!” Then I bought a ticket to LA….

 

At our meeting, he spelled out exactly what I should do when I moved to LA, because I was starting the drive in a couple months. He said to join the roster, then get on a union project as a PA or an intern, and get to know the team so you’re ready to join the union if/when they need to hire a little more help.

 

I got back to New York with my fresh new plan, got on the roster, and started driving to LA. On the way there, John emails me and says, “I’m about to start another project and we need an intern. Are you in?” “YUP. Be there in 5 days.”

 

What was your first union job?

While I was an intern on the film John Axelrad was cutting, he put my name out for union work to everyone he knew. It didn’t take long before John’s friend, David Bertman, reached out looking for an apprentice editor on “This is 40.” Within a couple days, I had officially joined the union as an apprentice and started my first union job on a Judd Apatow movie.

 

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

“The Big Short.” It was an incredibly exciting movie to work on. Highly creative and collaborative. The movie was saying something and was teaching something but did it in an entertaining way.

 

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” I had worked in a movie theater in Wisconsin when “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” came out, and now I found myself quoting outtakes with the editor of both films, Brent White—the same outtakes I’d quoted while sweeping up popcorn at the theater. It was an honor to work with someone who had such a hand in molding my sense of humor from a young age.

 

“Cowboy Bebop.” The original anime is one of my favorite shows of all time. I have my corgi (mix) because of that show, and he takes his name from an episode (“Shuffle”). Being a part of the live action was a big, BIG life achievement for me. I’m so glad I was able to have a hand in its creation.

 

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

When I was an assistant editor on “Anchorman 2…”, a scene used stock footage from a “Shark Week” episode. It had been downloaded from YouTube, and it turned out that the original for that particular piece of footage was EXTREMELY difficult to find. I watched countless hours of “Shark Week” shows, but I kept seeing pieces of the shot that were just before or just after the moment we used. But the director loved that particular part of that particular take. All the alts we offered from proper, licensable sources… well, they weren’t as good.

 

I ended up tracking down the original show, but the production company was defunct. The one contact I had replied to me with the name of the cinematographer, but he had no contact info. I managed to find his Vimeo account, reached out, and had him send the original tapes directly to us, hopefully without being destroyed or lost along the way.

 

The tape made it to the office, we captured it in high resolution, and the piece made it into the movie.

 

Friends don’t let friends cut in untrackable YouTube videos.

 

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

Getting visual effects dailies for “Cowboy Bebop” and seeing the evolution from concept to the final of all the ships and the astral gates and everything. So COOL.

 

Trying to figure out which way glass would fly by reenacting the multiple-car crash in “John Wick: Chapter 2” using the Matchbox cars I had in my office.

 

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

Working with more awesome, creative, fun people who don’t want their whole life to be work, who value free time.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I enjoy learning Japanese, trying to grow various plants in the backyard, baking pies and breads with apples from the tree in the back. I like drinking whiskey and gins and fancy cocktails, assembling miniatures or models of things. I like cars, but I’m not necessarily a gearhead. I really like driving, so a good ride is important. I have a Tesla Model 3 and a 1976 Datsun 280z. I like hanging out with my dog, Shuffle, and playing board games and video games with my fiancé, Josh.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Edge of Tomorrow” – I always say this is the best video game movie without being a video game movie. That feeling of dying over and over and having to start the level at the beginning… Brutal. It’s basically high-stakes Mario Brothers.

 

“High Fidelity” – Great soundtrack. Great script. Somehow makes you root for a completely unlikeable guy. Top Five of all time.

 

“Fight Club” – This had a huge influence on me in high school. All around solidly well done. Endlessly quotable. It feels really current, 22 years later…

 

“The Matrix” – Made me want to get into filmmaking in a legitimate way. There were many attempts at mimicking “bullet time” with tripods on wheels.

 

“Porco Rosso” – Japanese Anime – One of Studio Ghibli’s best. It’s so charming and beautiful. It’s a sea pirate/bounty hunter caper set in 1929 over the Adriatic Sea. What’s not to love?

 

“In the Mood for Love” – It’s a mood of a movie and I love that. There’s barely any dialogue and it’s all just dreamy stares and beautiful wallpapers and dresses. I finally grabbed the score on vinyl recently and it’s an absolute must.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

“Pushing Daisies” – So colorful and fun and goofy. I want to live in it.

 

“Succession” – Maybe the greatest TV show of all time. No, really. The way in which all these rich a-holes screw each other over left and right is such a delight to behold. Nick Britell’s opening theme song is KILLER.

 

“Cowboy Bebop” – It’s got the greatest score in TV history. The perfect mix of action, drama, and comedy. Noir and Western. Interesting, troubled characters. A ton of movie and music references. So much style.

 

“The Simpsons” – Yes, I am in the “early seasons” camp. There’s no denying that probably 15% of all the words out of my mouth are Simpsons quotes or references.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with many people who have been mentors to me. I don’t think there’s one person I’ve worked with who hasn’t been willing to share their knowledge, give me tips and tricks, and connect me with their friends and colleagues.

 

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

“Don’t give up” and “it’s never too late.” Classic advice.

 

My description of how I went from email to internship to apprentice sounded really simple and easy, but what I didn’t include was that when I became John’s intern, I was already 27. I had tried many routes in 3 separate cities to get to where I am now and hit a lot of walls along the way.

 

Conversely, the pandemic has allowed us to realize we can change our minds. You can work your whole life toward something and then, after doing it a while, realize it’s not for you. And that’s ok. Getting there is an important step, too.

 

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

I’ve called or emailed many times for clarity on a contract or having paychecks audited. They’ve always been extremely helpful.

 

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

Let’s stay as motivated and as engaged as we are right now. As I write this, we’re a few weeks past having a proposed deal with the producers after such an enormous turnout for a strike authorization. It’s been nice to feel truly unified within our local, and together with the other 13 locals.

 

Kim Huston is on Twitter @kimhuston.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

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