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What Do Our Members Do?



CHAD LITTLEPAGE - FINISHING COLORIST

July 2021

Where are you currently employed?

I’m at Electric Entertainment, an independent studio. Dean Devlin, Rachel Olschan-Wilson, and Marc Roskin are co-founding partners . What an amazing company with a great support team. Every show is created in-house Hollywood style, from script to screen. They also have their own streaming platform, Electric Now.

 

Current projects?

I recently finished coloring the third season of “The Outpost,” a fantasy-adventure series that airs on The CW, and “The Deal,” a feature film set in a dystopian future. I also completed the series “Almost Paradise,” starring Christian Kane, about a former DEA agent in the Philippines. I’m currently working on “Leverage: Redemption,” a re-boot of the original “Leverage” drama series, this time starring Noah Wyle, and with Aldis Hodge and Gina Bellman who were in the original show. It’ll be one of the first original series to premiere on IMDb TV.

 

Describe your job.

First and foremost, my job is to understand the vision and tone of the director and director of photography of a project. I start by watching a few scenes to get into the story and then get to grading. First I balance all of the shots within one scene then I adjust the color for mood or style while also managing color for consistency with the rest of the project. I find it helpful to listen to the sound during this process to get a feel for mood, blocking, and the action in the scene. I grade everything in a Color Managed Dolby Vision workflow, creating both HDR (High Definition Resolution) and SDR (Standard Definition Resolution) versions simultaneously. This was a little daunting in the beginning, but now it’s just second nature to me. From the QC (quality control) approved Dolby Master, any requested deliverable can be created. I’m always finding ways to refine the grading process. The more efficient I can be, the more time I’ll have to be creative. I spend a lot of time reading, trying new techniques, and bouncing ideas off of other colleagues in the industry.

 

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

In high school, I took all the advanced science and art classes. A buddy and I would finish our six-week projects in one week and would end up disrupting class by playing paper football. One day, our teacher finally got fed up. She grabbed her entire set of her college books on Color Theory, slammed them on the desk in front of me, and yelled “Here, read these!” These books changed my perspective on everything. Thank you, Miss Dandridge.

Early in my career, I was editing TV commercials when the director I was working with, Robert Williamson, took me to my first grading session. I had never seen images with such clarity! By my third session, Robert liked my vision and trusted me to work with the colorist, Steve Franko, on my own. I asked Franko if I could come up to the console. He gladly walked me though the process, and I couldn’t believe how much control he had of the final image. This was an experience I’ll never forget.

 

Who gave you your first break?

I knew I really wanted to make movies and TV series. A good friend of mine, Matthew Spradlin, gave me a chance when I asked to work on his short. He literally showed up with a shoe box of bare, full-sized hard drives and his wadded-up shooting script. He said, “Here, make a movie.” I edited, scored, mixed, and graded the film “The Social Contract,” which went on the be accepted into multiple film festivals — most notably, Festival de Cannes.

 

What was your first union job?

Sound designing and mixing hour-long TV shows, such as “Attack of the Show!” It all had to be done in real-time, laying and mixing effects tracks for a scene that had already been mixed for dialogue. I only had two passes, then the producer would come in for the third pass to make changes on the fly. From there, it went to the online editor for a final pass before airing. So, no pressure. It really sharpened my multitasking skills.

 

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

Every single frame of every project. I’m just truly thankful to work in such an amazing industry with incredible, creative, and respected people.

If I had to pick one, I would say I am proud of the grading results on “The Outpost.” This was the first series where I got to help shape the look of the show. I pushed the HDR boundaries, and trimming the SDR in Dolby Vision resulted in a beautiful show. But what was most valuable to me was to see how others’ trust in my skills resulted in my own growth throughout the series.

I would add that I can’t wait to see “Leverage: Redemption” streaming.

 

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

Every project brings its own challenges, which I look at as opportunities to learn something new. I received one project where they decided to “save time” on set by shooting straight to ProRes with the color baked into the original image data. [Apple ProRes is a high quality lossy video compression often used as a final format delivery method for HD broadcast files.] The problem was that it was a two- camera shoot with each camera balanced to a completely different color temperature. My solution was to build a pre-clip node tree to offset one of the cameras. [I don’t have enough space here to explain it, but Google should help.]

 

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

The first time I graded “The Outpost” in Dolby Vision at 2000 nits, it was unbelievable. [A nit is a measure of brightness relative to image area.] If a fire comes across the screen, it looks so real, your brain tells you it’s hot and you practically feel the heat. I also really enjoy being able to watch down (beginning to end, with a critical eye) the final version on the 4K stage with the directors and producers. Making a TV series or feature is a collaborative process; the more input you get, the better the final results.

 

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

As a colorist, I will always have the goal to work on at least one mega-blockbuster film — a Marvel, Disney, Universal, etc. I want to continue learning as best I can the industry’s evolving state-of-the-art color technology so I’ll be ready on the day I get hired onto that mega-blockbuster film.

Beyond that, I can’t state enough how much I love my job.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I work in a dark room all day with no windows [I keep getting my request for a skylight kicked back], so I love to be outside as much as possible. I mountain bike, snowboard, skateboard, boogie board, and — looking to add that last board in there —I’m learning to surf this summer. I also like to hike, camp, ride motorcycles, and take road trips. I’ve always been very passionate about music and have a home studio where I’ve scored some shorts and put out some tracks. [Have you heard of a little film called “Blade” with Wesley Snipes?] I’m a creative, so I also love going to art galleries, openings, museums, movies, and concerts. Ultimately, everything I do outside finds its way back into the grading studio with me.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

There are way too many to list, but I love movies with great storytelling and that break barriers. After I saw “The Matrix” on opening day, I proceeded to see it two more times that same day and then two more times not long after that. It forever changed how we perceive visual effects. I also love “Deadpool.” The concept of breaking the fourth wall isn’t new, but the way they did it was so well done. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is also a great movie, and the Dolby Vision version has to be seen to be appreciated. It looks almost like 3D without the glasses. “Mad Max: Fury Road” in HDR is another incredible-looking movie.

If I’m at the house and anything Adam Sandler or Harry Potter comes on, that’s what I’ll watch. I love just about every genre of film.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

There have been so many high quality TV series over the last ten years or more, it’s hard to choose from that amount of amazing content. I’ve really been enjoying the series “Hacks” that stars Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder. For light and fun, I’ll most likely never stop watching “Big Bang Theory.” It’s very much my “Friends.” I’m also looking forward to season four of “Westworld.” This show is visually incredible, and the storyline is infinitely imaginative.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Multiple. I’m a firm believer that it’s imperative to have someone to pitch to: ideas, techniques, processes, and general information, someone who’s been doing it far longer than you have. It’s equally amazing when you’re able to give them something new, as well.

There’s my GMA [grandma]. Though she’s not in the industry, I’m not sure where I would be without her. I wouldn’t have the drive I have without her constantly pushing me from the day I was born. Steve Franko and Shane Mario Ruggieri, CSI, have been instrumental in mentoring me on grading processes. When I really get stumped in a challenging situation, both of these guys have opened me up to a completely different perspective so I can solve the problem in a completely different way. Tom Graham and Aby Mathew at Dolby Laboratories have also become integral in making sure my color managed workflow is the best it can possibly be for every project.Being a part of Dean Devlin’s creative process and getting his feedback — and just seeing the world of storytelling though his eyes — has been indispensable. I can’t forget to mention Dwaine Maggart at Blackmagic Design. I cannot think him enough for his time. There are so many more. You are all rock stars!

 

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

You must be really passionate about color grading and the art of storytelling and never give up. There will be many challenges. Not unlike learning to play an instrument, it can be frustrating to get past all the technical stuff — but once you do, you get to be part of an amazing process of creating stories that will hopefully one day inspire others to do the same. Put in the time to learn the skills you need on a professional level, because even then, the learning never stops.

 

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

The Guild is always there to answer my questions. I have even texted my representative and they’ll get right back to me to answer any questions. The union’s healthcare and retirement benefits improve lives exponentially, so I’m very happy to be in the union. We also hope that “Colorist” will someday be its own classification, for the sake of compensation and also credits.

 

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

We all know this industry is tough, but never give up. Stay the course. Find mentors. Talk to others in the Guild, push yourself to the next level, and keep pushing. Lastly, make sure to have fun while being a part of telling amazing stories.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin.

RANDY THOM - SOUND DESIGNER

June 2021

Where are you currently employed?

Skywalker Sound

 

Current projects?

Recently finished “The Midnight Sky,” directed by George Clooney, and “The Witches,” directed by Bob Zemeckis.  Currently working on ”Vivo,” an animated feature directed by Kirk DeMicco.

 

Describe your job.

I’m a sound designer, supervising sound editor, and re-recording mixer. I work with the director and other colleagues to develop a sound style for each film, to collect and fabricate sounds to aid in storytelling, and to mix all of the sound elements into a cohesive flow.

 

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

I began sound work as a volunteer at a public radio station. My work in collecting and editing sounds for radio pieces led me to think about doing film sound.

 

Who gave you your first break?

Walter Murch. I called him, asking about getting into film sound. He invited me to spend a day with him, watching as he remixed the sound of “American Graffiti” into stereo.  At the end of the day he asked me to write an essay about what I had seen and heard. He liked what I wrote, and he hired me to be one of his assistants on “Apocalypse Now.”

 

What was your first union job?

“Apocalypse Now.”

 

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

“The Revenant,” “The Incredibles,” “Contact,” “The Right Stuff,” and “Apocalypse Now” are all films in which the sound made a huge difference and I’m proud to have worked on them.  I could name many more, but those are the ones that come to mind first.

 

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

On “The Midnight Sky,” we had to figure out how to make George Clooney’s voice sound 30 years younger. He plays the older version of his character in the movie, and Ethan Peck plays the younger version. Ethan’s voice sounded too different from George’s voice to be credible. Attempting to solve the problem, we tried all the usual options… pitch-changing George’s voice, recording voice-alikes, etc. We were all quite frustrated about not being able to come up with a younger sounding George that also incorporated some of the qualities of Ethan’s voice.

 

We decided to do an experiment with bleeding-edge technology involving artificial intelligence in analyzing the two voices, George’s and Ethan’s, then melding the two into one voice which would have some of the characteristics of each actor. After lots of tweaking, it worked, and worked amazingly. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

 

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

It would be hard to beat my first film job, “Apocalypse Now.” I worked on the film for a year and a half, and it was like the film school I never had. In the trenches, literally (we dug six-foot-deep trenches outdoors to record soldier foley in), and metaphorically, it was an exhausting and deeply rewarding project. We all felt like we had been to war together.

 

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

I will probably be retired, but I could still be working on the occasional special movie.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I’m a landscape painter, and I’m fiddling with writing screenplays, ones that use sound to its full potential.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Dr. Strangelove” is one of the best ever. “The Conversation.”

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

I don’t watch TV.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Walter Murch, Ben Burtt, and Alan Splet were all my mentors.

 

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

First, figure out how to be a good person, a nice person, and one who knows how to communicate well, because those things are what will get you hired again and again more than any other “skills” you have. Then pursue it passionately and resiliently, because frustration and failure on many levels will be with you throughout your career, along will success.

 

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

No.

 

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

One thing we as a Guild need to do is to make our profession more diverse, racially and in terms of gender. One of the things that prevents us from making progress in this effort is the idea (the myth) that only the “most highly qualified” applicant should be hired for any job.

 

First, it has never been the case that the most highly qualified person was always going to be the person who got the job. Most often, it has been the most highly qualified person who is also similar to, or previously known to, the person doing the hiring… same race, gender, background, etc.

 

Second, given the current lack of diversity among those doing the hiring, and the lack of diversity in the pool of job applicants, the likelihood that the most qualified person for the job is going to be a white male is extremely high, so the lack of diversity is self-perpetuating.

 

I encourage anyone doing hiring to not always do the lazy thing and the “safest” thing, which is to automatically hire someone with the most impressive resume who you also happen to “click” with personally. Look deeper, for potential in job applicants, not just obvious qualifications. That’s what Walter Murch did when he hired me. I was far from the most qualified person for the job.

 

If you do look deeper, and search more widely, I guarantee that there will be more women and more people of color out there who have the potential to succeed way beyond what their resumes might suggest.

 

–Compiled by Jeff Burman 

 

Interested in being featured? Email Scott Collins at scollins@editorsguild.com.

ZACH CHASSLER - STORY ANALYST

May 2021

Where are you currently employed?

Universal Pictures

 

Current projects?

“The Chain,” “The Tommyknockers,” “Cocaine Bear,” “Don’t Go in the Water.”

 

Describe your job.

Remember those book reports you wrote in grammar school where you’d read a book, then write a summary, and then write a bunch of stuff about what you thought? That, mostly. But in a professional capacity, so I don’t really base my opinions on whether I “like” the material or even think it’s “good” so much as its potential to be a great movie. Sometimes these two things intersect, and sometimes they don’t. There can be other mitigating factors as well: A director or cast attachment can turn chicken shit into chicken salad under the right circumstances.

If a submission is bought by the studio and developed, it becomes a project. At this point, if I’m put “on” the project, I write more detailed summaries, identify changes from draft to draft, and give specific notes directed at making the best version of the movie everyone has agreed we’re doing.

 

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

Someone told me I could get paid for reading things and offering my opinion on whether they would be good movies. I like to read, and I grew up in New York City going to movie theaters where, in certain instances with certain movies, yelling at the screen was accepted and even encouraged. It turns out, all that heckling is invaluable because it teaches an analyst what an audience will and will not go for. It makes it very easy to spot “deal breakers” and false story beats or cheats.

 

Who gave you your first break?

Cathy Tarr at CAA. As soon as I found out there was a thing called a “reader,” I got a couple of screenplays from people in the business and bought “Clockers” at the Bookstar across the street from where I was living. I wrote some “coverage” (not really knowing how) and, using the old Hollywood Creative Directory, sent my samples out cold. I must have sent out twenty of them, and Cathy was the only one who responded. But she loved the coverage – I remember her saying “this better really be you.”

 

What was your first union job?

Universal Pictures. First and only union job. My second big – huge – break, came from Romy Kaufman at Universal. It’s a story in and of itself I’m writing for another column.

 

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

There’s actually a movie that just wrapped. When I first read it, it had some racial dynamics that were a bit off. Not conscious stuff – the script wasn’t racist – but it had a pretty tone-deaf ending. I basically said: “This story can’t end this way,” and now it doesn’t. The different ending isn’t all that different, and it doesn’t change the action of story much, even though it fixes a pretty big problem. I’m not saying I was a canary in a coal mine on this thing – for all I know, 50 other people probably had the same thought – but as an analyst on the project, I have the first eyes on it and go on record, for better or for worse.

 

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

Like I said I “go on record – for better or for worse.” Sometimes this aggravates people, and all that yelling at movie screens from my youth comes through in my coverage and notes. I don’t know that I’ve really managed to overcome this, but I try. I’m also lucky in that my co-workers and the executives at Universal know that I’m always working toward a positive end—to make movies people will cheer for and not jeer at, and that no offense is ever met. Also, the story editors I work for—particularly Adam Torchia, who has been at Universal as long as I have—know my strengths (and weaknesses) and aren’t likely to pair me with a project better suited to another reader, so I don’t often run into challenges.

 

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

There isn’t much that’s not fun at work (except sometimes the actual “work” part of it). We get to do all the studio stuff like watch dailies and see rough cuts – go to the occasional premiere and so on, without being involved in studio politics. Since we’re employed at least partially because we have opinions, we can speak openly and honestly (on or off record) with executives about the strengths or weaknesses of a given project, without anyone thinking we’re trying to undermine it. It’s very free, and freedom is fun.

 

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

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I like going to the movies and, I don’t know, building stuff in the yard. I’m pretty passionate about honesty, which I think is an integral part of being a story analyst. If you’re going to work in show business, you need a good bullshit detector in general, and it’s invaluable when dealing with narrative.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Blue Collar,” “Dawn of the Dead” (1979 version), “Casino,” “The Night of the Hunter.” I can’t answer why. I’m also not a person who plays favorites. I have a ton of different movies I love that I could go on about.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

I don’t even know what we’re talking about anymore when we talk about “TV programs.” Now everything is on a screen. I mean, all these epic shows with multi-million dollar episode budgets, is that TV?

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

I do not. No one can be blamed for me.

 

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

Read a lot and be well rounded about it. Pay attention to story trends, which doesn’t just mean box office and movies and books and comics and all that; it means being aware of current events and history, too, because it’s all narrative. And if you know the stories we happen to be telling ourselves at any given moment, you’ll have a better idea what audiences will respond to when they go to the theater.

 

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

Nope. I guess I’ve been lucky.

 

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

Do they need encouragement? This is a good gig, folks.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

ANEDRA EDWARDS - VISUAL EFFECTS EDITOR

April 2021

Where are you currently employed?

Marvel Studios and ABC Studios.

 

Current projects?

I recently finished the Marvel Studios series “WandaVision” and will start another Marvel Studios production at the end of this year. I will also be a part of an ABC pilot that will start post production later this spring.

 

Describe your job.

As a visual effects editor directly employed by the production, I’m often the link between picture editorial and our producing team for visual effects needs. I facilitate the process of getting assets back and forth between the visual effects studios/vendors and the production. When working with picture editorial, I collaborate with them — similar to a visual effects artist — to create temp visual effects when fleshing out ideas for look, timing, etc. I’m also often in the driver seat for spotting when effects are needed and maintaining their continuity. Tracking visual effects shots also falls under my duties; I keep track of which visual effects shots are in the cut, which version is used, and I maintain the current status of shots from our visual effects vendors as they create the final product. I have a number of other responsibilities, but the examples I’ve given here cover the gist of it.

 

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

My passion for editing sparked in high school when my mother bought me my first video camera, and my teachers would let me do video projects for my assignments. Of course, I was a complete novice at the time and Windows Movie Maker was all the rage, but it was enough to light a fire inside me that fueled my interest in this art. When I got to college, my school of choice, Dickinson College, would allow students only to minor in film, so I pursued the film minor along with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business. While a student, I was still discovering all the positions in film and TV production, so at the time, I thought I wanted to be a TV producer. However, through internships with large studios such as BET Networks and NBCUniversal and my work as a TV production assistant, I quickly decided that my career path would be in editorial.

I’m originally from Washington, DC, so after college, I started to work at my local news station — WRC-TV, which is NBC4 in Washington – as an editor and associate producer in the News Promotions and Advertising department. I also edited freelance on the side. Because of the heavy documentary and news market in DC, an editor acquires a highly diverse skillset. Part of the wide variety of content on our reels includes visual effects, and my background in news, reality tv, and commercials provided me with strong skills in motion graphics and small-scale compositing. After I received my Master of Fine Arts degree in Film & Electronic Media from American University, I moved to Los Angeles where, because of my diverse background, it was a natural progression for me to move into the visual effects world for scripted editorial.

 

Who gave you your first break?

I’ve had several first breaks. Every phase of my editing journey has required help to make that “first step.” I’ll list the three that I think were the most important. My first break into professional editing was my position at NBC4 Washington News as the editor in the Promotions and Advertising department. My first break into scripted editorial was my position as an assistant editor on season 2 of the HBO comedy “Crashing.” A mentor of mine, Joi McMillon, ACE, sent my name to several of her colleagues at HBO when they were in search of available assistant editors. I worked with an amazing editor on “Crashing”, Tim Roche, whom I worked with again doing visual effects for “WandaVision.” My first break into visual effects editorial was the DC Comics superhero show on The CW Network, “Black Lightning.” Executive producers Salim Akil and Charles Holland were extremely supportive of me joining the show and allowed me to grow with the series. I started as visual effects assistant editor for seasons 1 and 2 and moved up to visual effects editor by season 3.

 

What was your first union job?

Assistant editor on the reality show “Naked and Afraid” on Discovery Channel.

 

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

I am most proud of my visual effects work with superhero content. Working with “Black Lightning” on The CW was so rewarding because of the impact of the character as an African-American superhero with his family. I saw many of my own friends, relatives, and even myself in the series characters. I am also proud of my work on Marvel’s “WandaVision.” It’s the first MCU content among my credits. There were a lot of challenges to get the show out the door, the biggest of which involved working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Audience reception for the show has been awesome and made the tough times worth it. I also learned a lot on the show in terms of different types of pipelines and workflows.

 

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

One of my biggest professional challenges has been making the jump from reality tv to scripted in editorial. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I continued to work in reality tv as a night assistant editor for the company World of Wonder Productions. During the day, I hustled to network and to shadow editors and their assistants in scripted. I joined several mentorship programs that help editors and assistants of color further their career goals. On weekends, I also filled in as a post PA for scripted shows. I was pretty much working around the clock and was extremely exhausted at times. However, I knew that if I could tough it out, the payoff would be so sweet, to finally get my first scripted union position. During this tough period, I learned how to strategize in a way that was different from how I had networked on the east coast. I learned how to maneuver to different projects and promote myself to other editors and producers in this landscape. After 11 months of this hectic schedule, I got my first union AE position and then a month later, my first union scripted AE position.

 

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

This didn’t happen at work, but the most fun I’ve had with my co-workers was attending 2018 Comic-Con International in San Diego to see the “Black Lightning” panel, which included our executive producers and cast. Editorial was given complimentary passes on behalf of the production. It was a great experience to see the fans up close and observe how intensely they supported the stories being told in the series. It helped give inspiration when we were back in the cutting room, knowing there are a ton of people that appreciate the content coming out the door. It was also my first time at Comic-Con, so I took in the excitement of it all.

 

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

I hope to have transitioned back to picture editorial and to be cutting an episodic series. I feel that my experience in visual effects is helping to prepare me for that transition because I would like to work on visual-effects-heavy content.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

Outside of work, I enjoy being outdoors. I love running, hiking, and playing basketball when possible. I also like extreme sport activities such as riding ATVs and jet skiing. I adore traveling. Of course, the pandemic has altered that type of activity, but I look forward to visiting some of the places I have on my bucket list once it’s safe to do so.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Love and Basketball” (2000). I know the dialogue word for word all the way through, even if I watch it muted (haha)! I related to the coming of age story so much, and it’s ironic that my career path would eventually lead me to call its editor, Terilyn Shropshire, ACE, a friend and mentor. I was 11 years old when I first saw the movie in a theater with my Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team. The main character, Monica, inspired me and my friends at the time, and we were determined to have experiences like she had.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

That’s a tough question since I have so many faves. I’ll list a few that I’ve really enjoyed recently. HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” and “Watchmen” are definitely on the list for their amazing black leading characters. I was engrossed the entire time while watching, and the supernatural elements and effects were spectacular. I also really like the British series “A Discovery of Witches,” currently on Sundance TV (formerly the Sundance Channel) in the US. I enjoy its take as a fantasy series and its interpretation of vampires, daemons and witches. It’s also quite the love story and has got me interested in reading the source novel for the show, which is the first book in the “All Souls” trilogy. I also enjoy the STARZ series “Outlander,” which is another love story involving time travel and magical folklore.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Mentors! Very much so! Terilyn Shropshire, ACE, Shannon Baker Davis, ACE, Joi McMillon, ACE, Brett Hedlund, James Wilcox, ACE, Mary DeChambres, ACE, and many more.

 

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

There are a million pathways to your end goal. Your path will be unlike any others because it is yours, with all its uniqueness. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s in a way that deters you. Be encouraged that the journey is all a part of the experience. Visual effects is definitely an onion of a world, so have an open mind as you experience all the layers.

 

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

Yes, there have been many times when I turned to one of the Guild field reps, Jessica Pratt, for assistance and guidance when working with the larger studios. She has been an incredible help, and I am so happy that she is a resource for Guild members.

 

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

As a Guild member who is a black woman, I encourage my fellow members to look at how they can play a part in continuing the initiatives to create a diverse and inclusive editorial environment. Mentorship is key for allowing underrepresented groups a chance to flourish in editorial. So if you have the time, consider mentoring someone from these groups. Our industry is all the better for it.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

CARLOS SANCHES - RE-RECORDING MIXER

March 2021

Where are you currently employed?

Warner Bros. Sound

 

Current projects?

“All Rise” (CBS)

“Arlo the Alligator Boy” (Netflix)

“Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans” (DreamWorks Animation / Netflix)

 

Describe your job.

I am first and foremost in the service of the directors and producers. I try to help them achieve their vision of the soundscape of their movie/show. I take all the elements of the sound mix — dialogue, music, effects and foley — and balance them to create a realistic, believable, and transparent soundtrack. When I say transparent, I mean the audience doesn’t realize we’ve done anything. If the sound serves the story and is well balanced, our work is seemingly “invisible.”

 

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

I’ve been a musician since the age of 10 and I fell in love with movie sound while in college. This seemed to be a way to meld those two passions into a career.

 

Who gave you your first break?

Phillips Raves was my first mentor who helped me understand what this job was all about. Later, sound supervisor Otis Van Osten hired me to mix for his company Audio Circus which was then folded into Warner Bros. While here, I owe a lot of my success to Todd Grace who has been an incredibly supportive advocate for me.

 

What was your first union job?

My first union gig was when I arrived at WB. I mixed a set of 3D Looney Tunes animated theatrical shorts. They were extremely fun and challenging. I’m very proud of them to this day.

 

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

Nice segue there, huh? One of the projects I’ve truly loved is “Tangled: the Series” [retitled “Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure” after Season 1] by Disney. It involved all the same cast as the original feature and music by Allan Menken. I made lifelong friends with the creators of the show and loved every moment on it. Gerry Gonzalez provided sound design and his work is phenomenal. I’m also very fond of “Tales of Arcadia,” the Netflix animated series that I’ve worked on for DreamWorks and Guillermo del Toro. Very challenging mixes that end up sounding amazing thanks to a fantastic crew. Matt Hall and James Miller are amazing sound designers and I loved working with them.

And I can’t fail to mention the latest movie I both supervised [sound for] and mixed for Netflix: “Arlo the Alligator Boy” is fantastic, and I can’t wait for it to be released in April.

 

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

My biggest challenge so far in my job has been learning when to move on from one phase of my career to another. I’ve recently moved away from mixing television animation to live-action primetime TV and also to supervising and mixing feature animation. It was a difficult decision to make. I left a stable job to try and focus on what I have more passion for. It’s been almost like starting over. But so far, I’m loving it and hope to continue to progress.

 

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

I have fun every day at work! Ok, that’s not always the case, but I get to watch TV and make it sound good for a living. What’s not fun about that?!

 

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

I hope to be supervising and mixing top animated feature films for all the major studios.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I love to play guitar with my WB band of brothers. I’ve played since I was a kid. I also love to travel with my family. I hope we get to do more of that soon. I love Broadway shows and going to the ballet with my wife. And our whole family are huge Disneyland fans. We cannot wait to go back to our happy place.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

 “Three Amigos” — does that really require an explanation? 😉

 “The Matrix” — that’s what got me into sound in the first place.

Anything “Star Wars”!

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

“24” — loved the whole concept of the show.

“Better Call Saul” — just gripping TV.

“New Girl” — it’s just funny!

“The Office” — Bears, beets, “Battlestar Galactica”

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Not officially, but as I mentioned above, Phillip Raves and Todd Grace have been instrumental in my career.

 

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

First, learn the history and language of film. You need to be able to talk with filmmakers about what their influences are and have a frame of reference for the work you are doing. Then, learn Pro Tools as in depth as you can. Find someone who will let you sit and watch them work. Ask good questions and always strive to learn more.

 

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

No, not really.

 

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

There is a lot of content out there that needs good sound! Be the person creatives can count on to take their projects to the next level! Stand up for the importance of sound in film and TV. Be passionate about it and maybe some of that will rub off on those you associate with.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin.

MATT DAVIES - FOLEY ARTIST

February 2021

Where are you currently employed?

I’m a co-owner with Studio Unknown and part of Sound Department LLC as a Foley artist and supervising sound editor in Burbank

 

Current projects?

Some of my current projects include an animated feature film called “Lamya’s Poem,” a few unannounced features for Netflix and others, and a massive cinematic podcast for Audible. It’s been a surprisingly busy fall (under the COVID circumstances) and it’s not letting up taking us into 2021.

 

Describe your job.

As a Foley artist, on paper, I perform sound effects synced to picture based on movement portrayed by characters, subjects, creatures, and inanimate objects in films. My Foley mixer acts as the direct ears for the film, guiding the sessions and making sure things are being recorded and mixed in a way that translates to the esthetic of the film at hand. From my specific perspective, though, I obsess night and day over the MOST mundane things audiences (and sometimes filmmakers) have no clue about. How much more paper scrap do I need to collect to find the perfect paper to illustrate this character’s commitment to writing poetry? Do these footsteps embody the struggle this character is going through? Should I do a sharp U-Turn to go pick up that “FREE” green metal chair I saw down the street? We have an infinite palette of sonic materials to work with, and there are opportunities to discover the best new prop around every corner.

 

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

I think, on some level, I’ve been interested in Foley long before I knew it existed. Growing up, I was always into film, art, and music: I sculpted, collected, played with instruments. I ended up in a Fine Arts College, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, and started to explore sound design. Early on, a lot of what I was doing was recording sounds available to me or those I could find in the field. Foley appeared as this perfect blend of all the art forms I loved. It’s performative like music, physical like sculpture, and narrative like cinema. And as a Foley artist, you are always at the core of the work you do, because YOU control the sounds. By the time I had put in a few professional years as a sound designer, post-college, we (myself and my studio) realized building a Foley stage was the next step to be able to offer better sound… and it snowballed from there.

 

Who gave you your first break?

I think of becoming a Foley artist as more of an evolution than a designation. However, prior to professional post work, I was a sound mixer and boom op for independent documentaries. I made the decision to jump into the world of post because I naturally gravitated toward it. I wanted to create, to make things with the sound I was recording. I called a number of places in Baltimore, where I was living at the time, and found a studio that was cinematically focused and, like me, happened to be in a transition period. This boutique studio, Studio Unknown, had a new position opening up, and I joined the team. Happy to say that was close to 10 years ago. I became a co-owner with the folks who gave me a shot. I  started to supervise, built our first Foley stage, trained and added more team members, and we started doing it all over again in 2019 in Burbank. You really have to appreciate every step, big or small, that gets you where you are, and I’m certainly thankful for how things have grown over the years.

 

What was your first union job?

An indie feature called “Pink Skies Ahead,” written and directed by Kelly Oxford and starring Jessica Barden, Henry Winkler, and Michael McKean and acquired by MTV Studios. It’s a great coming-of-age drama-comedy set in the late 1990s. It’s made good rounds on the festival scene and will be released shortly. They did a fantastic job with the film and gave us the fun task of recreating the sounds of translucent corded phones, gel handbags, and platform shoes.

 

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

I try to put something special into every project — which I know sounds corny, but let’s face it: Some budgets are not always inspiring or don’t give you the flexibility to let the creative process breath. So I’ve tried to make it a mantra to be proud of the work I do, regardless of those factors. There have been ultra-low-budget gigs I’ve done where we’ve figured out a technique that will get used on a massive union gig in the future, so without those opportunities, your creative R&D doesn’t have as many chances to shine. That being said, I have two upcoming films I’m immensely proud of. One is an insanely creepy horror film that gave us the freedom to detail everything and, being sparse with dialogue at times, the space to hang a creepy soundscape on those details. Another is “Werewolves Within,” a super fun horror-comedy that we poured ourselves into. I co-supervised and designed the creature for the show. We took a different approach to werewolf creature design and made the effects as visceral as possible. Super fun film.

 

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

Recreating biological/organic sounds is always challenging. A character in a recent film needed to have demonic stomach growls. After experimenting with all kinds of weird setups, I ended up using a pneumatic plunger in a silicone gallon bag filled with loose slime. It makes the most gnarly, growly gurgles and fit the film perfectly. We submerged a hydrophone in the slime to reproduce the internal sound of digestion and combined it with an external mic.

 

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

There is something so fun about doing things indoors that aren’t indoor things. Bringing in crushed ice or snow for snow Foley is super fun because it’s a massive mess and feels almost wrong on some level. For “Werewolves Within,” we filled up the 4×4 dirt pit with 200-300 lbs. of crushed ice and “movie snow.”  Getting ice-chapped legs while wearing shorts and a t-shirt indoors — in Los Angeles, in JULY — is wacky when you think about it. I also have great fun making gore or gross sounds for films and immensely enjoy when my mixer is grossed out. That’s when you know it’s working.

 

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

All I can hope for is doing more of what I’m doing now, after five more years of growth. That’s one of the most rewarding things to look back on — improving your craft in ways you couldn’t have imagined.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I’m a HUGE bird nerd. Birding is a somewhat meditative process, and also free ear-training to learn calls and songs before you see the bird. When I’m not using my hands for things like prop-building or Foley, I tend to keep them busy either building things like a wooden fish smoker or learning new instruments. I’m currently learning how to play the banjo after my wife gifted me one for Christmas this year. I’ve been playing the electric bass for about 20 years now, so that has provided a nice new challenge.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

I’m a massive fan of the “Alien” franchise. Before sound, I was (and still am) obsessed with creature design for movies. That was my original track, sculpting creatures for films. These days, I do a lot of sonic creature design, which fulfills the same desire. I’m super into Edgar Wright’s films like “Hot Fuzz” and “Scott Pilgrim.” They’re such focused, lean films that are SO realized in their style… and let’s not forget about the sound work, which is always absolutely top notch and exciting. I always walk away inspired and refreshed. I’ve loved watching the Safdie brothers grow as filmmakers. “Uncut Gems” was the last film I saw in theaters before COVID-19 hit, and it’s now one of my all-time favorites. Incredibly raw, immersive filmmaking. I could talk about it for hours.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

TV has been outstanding over the last couple of years. The gap between film and TV seems to shrink to almost nothing, depending on what you watch. I’ve loved “Watchmen,” “Twin Peaks: The Return,” “Game of Thrones”… but most recently I’ve been massively bingeing “The Crown.” We crushed through four seasons in just over a month. Each season plays like a long film, and the sound work is phenomenal. Much love to the Foley team who just made the show insanely satisfying to watch after a long day of Foley.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

One thing I’ve come to learn about this industry is that mentors are everywhere. Specific to the Foley community, the “Foley Artist” Facebook group has been a big part of my life. It’s opened doors to chat with Foley artists all over the world, and everyone is so open and supportive. It’s a great “pay it forward” model, because while I might need advice about one thing or another, I’m also able to act as a mentor for someone else. Ultimately, we all want to make sure the craft is being supported properly, done with integrity, and is growing. Getting advice from legendary artists like John Roesch, Alyson Dee Moore and others is more than you can ask for as an up-and-comer.

 

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

The running joke among Foleys is “Foley is great, you guys just play around all day!” And yes, some days the absurdity of coming up with bathroom sounds and getting paid for it isn’t lost on me, but that’s a small percentage of the time spent on the stage. Start simple. Like I mentioned, I started doing Foley as a necessity when I found certain sounds were better to perform than copy from a library. It was a gradual evolution from there as our resources accommodated. When you really start doing full Foley passes, endurance starts to become a key strength because Foley exhausts you both creatively and physically. Take care of yourself because YOU are the instrument. Get to know how long it takes you to shoot a typical gig; examine if that’s appropriate, seek counsel and advice, and check that ego at the door. Every opportunity to stick your neck out and get honest criticism or advice from trusted pros is a blessing.

 

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

Because I joined the union within the last year, I had a ton of questions. They’ve been super helpful from day one with any question that comes up, from determining positions on projects to information to forward to other prospective union members. It’s a great resource to have.

 

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

It may be overplayed, but 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone. What’s given me encouragement has been to see our community of sound-makers not let it get the better of them and to see them be resourceful with the technology available. Crowdsourcing recording projects like Tim Nielsen’s, John Roesch’s and Charles Kohlmyer’s Foley workshops on Zoom, and the large supply of resources and support that people throughout the community have given each other, have kept up morale and inspiration enough to weather the storm. Talk about silver linings, the community is closer than I’ve ever experienced, despite our physical limitations during this pandemic. I’m excited to see how things will bloom once we’re all able to move freely again. I think great stuff will happen.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin. 

Recommendations for future profiles: scollins@editorsguild.com. 

R. CHETT HOFFMAN - ANIMATION EDITOR

January 2021

Where are you currently employed?

Netflix Animation.

 

Current projects?

I’m editing animatics and picture on “Centaurworld.” The amazingly talented Megan Dong has created a really bonkers world filled with catchy songs. I’m proud to be part of the team and can’t wait to put it out into the world.

 

I’m also busy being a new dad. My wife and I welcomed our daughter in August and I’ve somehow already earned the coveted #1 Dad hat. Not too shabby!

 

Describe your job.

I’m currently the picture editor now that the series is in post, but I was also one of the animatic editors.
Animatic editing is an incredibly fun job that I wish I had known about when I was in school. As an animatic editor, I bring in the storyboards and dialogue, and then pace out the episode and add temp SFX/music. We’re essentially building a blueprint for the animators, but it’s also the final rewrite of the show as we work with our directors to get the tone, rhythm, and story all worked out.

 

I often find the job hard to explain without visuals so I created a video about it here:
https://youtu.be/19mLrEOIpsg

 

I haven’t made a video about picture editing (yet!) but it’s the post side of things. So I’m receiving fully animated clips, manipulating them as needed, and adjusting/refining the timing that was previously established by the animatic.

 

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

Fate kind of pushed me into it. I was a PA on multi-cam sitcoms for a few years when one night at about 4 a.m., I jumped out of bed from a fever dream about Muppets. I was filled with a desire to learn how to be a puppeteer. So I jumped on the computer, found a class, signed up, and started a few days later. Everybody else in the class happened to work in animation. They cracked me up every day and we became fast friends.

 

When I was looking for my next gig, they encouraged me to try animation. So through them I got my first job at Titmouse and was instantly blown away by the creative, ragtag, make-cool-stuff spirit of the place. I knew animation was the place for me!

 

Who gave you your first break?

Definitely Anthony “Sugar Boi” Lioi. He was the friend from puppet class that most encouraged me to work in animation, and he was the first person to hire me as an animatic editor. He saw something in me, saved my career twice, and taught me everything I know about animation. What a guy! Working with him was like a taking a master class in clarity, comedy, animation production, and creative problem-solving. He’s the best supervising director in the galaxy. And a cunning warrior. And a good friend.

 

What was your first union job?

“Big Hero 6: The Series” at Disney Television Animation (DTVA).

 

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

“Pinky Malinky” for Netflix/Nickelodeon. Such a unique, funny, heartfelt show about a sausage. And the fake-documentary style allowed us to give the edit an attitude and character of its own.

 

And “Beefcake Boys,” a series about four boys who can magically turn into big muscly beefcakes. I created this series of shorts for DreamWorks/Awesomeness and it fulfilled a dream of writing and running my own show. I love the end result and I loved working with close friends like Stephen Leonard (animator extraordinaire), Ruth Turner (hilarious character designer), and my wife Melanie Hoffman (best producer  in town!)

 

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

The biggest challenge for me in editing animation is that there doesn’t seem to be a standard way in which an editor is included creatively. Some animated shows think of their editors as collaborators, but some think of them more as technicians. It can be frustrating to start a job and realize they don’t see the position the same way you do. But the solution I found was to look at those situations as opportunities to learn from somebody new. In my case, I realized that the people in charge had a specific sensibility through which I could learn a new skill to add to my toolbelt for future projects.

 

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

Every day working on “Pinky Malinky” because of both the collaborative atmosphere set forth by the showrunners (Chris Garbutt, Rikke Asbjoern, and Scott Kreamer) and the nature of the show (fake documentary). The editors were given so much creative freedom and encouragement! It was truly a blast coming to work and trying out whatever crazy ideas we had with our directors.

 

There’s one scene in particular that I hope is played at my funeral. Pinky – who is a hot dog that can inflate like a balloon – loses a class election and sadly deflates for a looooooong time. I got to pull out all my favorite balloon and fart SFX and start playing around. At one point, I thought back to one of my favorite scenes in “Austin Powers” when the computer tries to say “evacuation complete” as Austin continues urinating and how It added a layer of tension that made it so much funnier. So I brought in some footage of Pinky’s teacher trying to resume class and made it look like he’s being interrupted over and over by more and more fart SFX. It’s really silly and over the top but it’s the kind of thing I’d always hoped I’d be doing for a living.

 

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

I would love to edit an animated feature.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I often get obsessed with new hobbies, run them straight into the ground, and move on. (Puppetry, Magic, Croquet, Running, Lamp making, Liquid Light Projection, etc.) It makes life interesting. But my biggest hobby has always been playing guitar. I find that a lot of editors are also musicians. If anybody is interested in starting a Dad Rock editors band, let me know!

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?
The precise comedic timing of “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” has always stuck with me and I think back to it a lot as I work.

 

Pixar’s “Up” showed me the depth and breadth of emotion that great editing can have in animation for “kids.” The “Married Life” montage in particular is moving and inspirational.


Richard Donner’s “Superman” is my all-time favorite on every level.

 

“Home Alone” always impressed me with its ability to swing from touching sentimental moments to cartoony physical comedy.

 

And like many people, the original “Star Wars” trilogy is probably what fired up my engines in the first place. Yub Nub! [Ewokese]

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

“The Office” (UK) because it’s such a perfect 14-episode arc. The editing is used so effectively to increase the awkward tension.

 

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” because I think it teaches me to be a better person.

 

And “Survivor” because it’s the greatest game ever played. (I loved Cinemontage’s feature on “Survivor” editors last year, by the way.)

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

Mentorship is such an important part of this business and I’m grateful to have crossed paths with some awesome people. John Venzon, ACE, and Jon Price, ACE, have both been gracious with their time, chatting with me over many meals about the ins and outs of this tricky business, helping me navigate career decisions, and bonding with me over Dad Rocking. And the previously mentioned/praised Anthony Lioi continues to be a mentor, friend, and son I couldn’t have had. I hope to one day pass it forward and be as helpful a mentor for someone as they’ve all been for me.

 

I also think it’s important to have trusted advisors in my fellow editors. Rachael Russakoff and Matt Brailey are super talented editors with whom I love to talk shop. Whether it’s at work – or in Matt’s case, the Tam O’Shanter bar – I know we’ve got each other’s backs.

 

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

Someone once told me that anybody can be trained to push buttons; what you’re being paid for is your opinion… but you better know how to push the buttons.

 

Animatic editing is a position not many people outside the industry know about, so you have to either teach yourself or learn on the job. I’d recommend getting a bunch of storyboards and just playing around with them. Find the fun in editing still images, separated dialogue, SFX, music, etc, Then apply to jobs everywhere and tell them you know both Avid and Premiere — even if you have to teach yourself the night before!

 

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

I was at Nickelodeon when the editors voted to join. The guild was very helpful answering the million questions we had throughout the process.

 

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

Bill and Ted said it best – “Be excellent to each other” and “party on, dudes.”

 

Compiled by David Bruskin 

FINNIAN MURRAY - PICTURE EDITOR

December 2020

Where are you currently employed?

NBC – from the comfort of my basement workstation.

 

Current projects?

I’m finishing a fun pilot called “Connecting.” It’s a Zoom-style half-hour comedy for NBC. The most notable and unique aspect of this project is that everyone is working remotely, including the actors! With guidance from the director, DP, and crew, they set up and film themselves. Pre-COVID, I couldn’t have imagined I’d ever be working in such a way. It’s made me realize the world of post-production is possibly a more social place than it gets credit for.

 

Other current projects include:

 

Trying to ignore the things around the house that need fixing — that was so three months ago. I need a break.

 

Homeschooling two kids, 5th and 6th grade, which I find inevitably leads to a cocktail hour. When did math change?

 

Describe your job.

My job is tremendous fun. I love and enjoy stories. I believe picture editors have a unique position — we get to be a little bit of everything: writers, as we trim or reorder scenes; directors, as we evaluate performances and create an even tonal arc for the characters; and DPs, as we pore over the images and select those that best convey the desired emotion. Editing is a collaborative effort that, when done well, is a magical experience.

 

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

When I was in high school, my father, Professor Stephen Murray, who had started the Media Center for Art History at Columbia University, brought home a Hi8 camcorder. I was quickly attracted to what it could enable me to do. With that camera, I made my first stop-motion animation, which would go on to win a Tri-State art show adjudicated by Robert Storr, the curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). As with most people making their own projects, I had to do most everything, including editing.

 

Who gave you your first break?

I think that my parents, Grainne and Stephen, probably qualify as giving me my first break… right?

 

As far as my break as an editor, there is one person who immediately comes to mind: Sean Backus. After a couple of years of trying to support myself in a half-baked career as a semi-professional motorcycle racer, I moved to Los Angeles with about $750 to my name. Although I’d learned how to run an Avid at NYU, most of the work I could find was short format or industrial material that was cut on Final Cut Pro. I cold-called every post house and chased down every internet job posting. That was pretty grim. When I was lucky enough to get called in for an interview, I had a front row seat to watching the interview end the moment I mentioned it had been a while since I worked on an Avid. After three weeks of calling a company on the advice that “they’re always looking for editors,” I finally got an interview with Sean.

 

If I was going to make this professional editor thing work, I had to make a change in my interview strategy. After the ritual opening pleasantries, sure enough the Avid question came up. This time I knew just what to do: “Of course I know Avid, like the back of my hand,” which was followed by “Of course I can start on Monday.” This was on a Friday. On the way home, feeling a mixture of excitement and terror, I stopped at Samuel French’s book store (too bad it’s no longer around), got Sam Kauffman’s Intermediate editing handbook, and then locked myself in a room for two days to consume the material. The job involved cutting show segments for a HGTV show, and I was extremely lucky it was a night gig; that way, no one could see me struggle to make a simple edit or know how many hours I’d spent there. In short order, I got to know Avid like the back of my hand — and here I am 15 years later, still getting paid to do this. Thank you, Sean.

 

My first union break came from Thomas Bolger, the cousin of my good friend Francis. Thomas was kind enough to take me out to lunch when I first got to LA, and he gave me the sage advice to get my ducks in a row and join the union. Over the next year or two as I cut short-format and reality-based material, I slowly accumulated the necessary hours and documentation required to join the Guild. Occasionally, I would check in with Thomas to ask for advice or to let him know what I was cutting. One day, he called to tell me that “Rescue Me” needed an assistant to fill in for a bit – and that was my ticket. I paid my initiation fee and was on my way… except for one small problem: I’d never assisted. Thomas was there to help walk me through the technical aspects of the job, for which I’m eternally grateful.

 

What was your first union job?

Rescue Me” was my first union gig. It was a great place with great people. Leslie Tolan was the supervising editor, and I was lucky enough to be the assistant tasked with prepping drives to send her as well as “tech-ing” her system. It was a great opportunity to talk with her. She was generous with her advice and time. I would practice cutting scenes and she would watch them and give feedback. Leslie and Dauri Chase gave me my first episode to cut, which turned out well, and that led to cutting two more episodes that season. The experience was thrilling. I got to cut the series’ penultimate episode, which wound up getting nominated for a Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) award for “Outstanding Television Editing.” I was told that getting your second credit is more difficult … and that was true. I worked every angle I had, but it turns out not too many people want to risk hiring someone with three episodes and a whole bunch of shorts on their CV. I remember contemplating that if I was fortunate to win the HPA award, would it be poor form to solicit the audience for editing opportunities?

 

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

The opening sequence to the pilot “Blindspot” is something that I’m pretty proud of. The scope was massive. They shut down Times Square to shoot it, the story is intriguing, and the images are arresting. The opening sequence is about three minutes long with only a few lines of dialogue. I’m proud of it mostly because, with the exception of it getting a little shorter, it didn’t change from the way I’d originally envisioned it.

 

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

I think the biggest challenge can be respecting a healthy work/life balance. I’m thankful for my wife, Emily, who helped me with this. Work can be consuming, and I do feel that you should always bring your best to every aspect of a job. But as my grandmother frequently said, “You’ll be a long time dead.” That quote didn’t make much sense to me when I was five, but it makes a great deal of sense now.

 

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

For the pilot of “The Enemy Within,” I had to cut and lock a massive VFX sequence and explosion for the show’s opening. That would not typically be a big deal, but on this occasion, it had to happen on the same day I got the dailies for the sequence. It was intense and there was a lot of energy in the room. We were back and forth with the director and the VFX house. It was exhausting, but fun.

 

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

I hope to continue to work with excellent people. John Axness, a fellow editor, once gave me some pretty sage advice: “You can choose the project for the content or for the people; always choose for the people.”

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

Spending time with family. There’s certainly been a great deal of that over this pandemic.

 

Painting. I originally went to Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to study animation, and while there, I developed a love for the smell of oil paint and linseed oil. There’s a kind of meditative process to painting that I enjoy. Editing and painting are not too dissimilar; both are a balance of expression and control.

 

Triathlon. Swimming is hard, and I want to hate it, but I can’t. I originally signed up for a triathlon to learn how to swim. That was seven years ago, and while I’m still a terrible swimmer, I’ve found that I really enjoy the event. I’m lucky that my wife shares this pastime. Together, we’ve qualified several times for age group nationals.

 

Cookies. Baking them and then eating them.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“City of God” and “Five Easy Pieces” pieces are my two favorite movies. There’s a looseness, honesty, and energy in the way they tell their stories. I’ll never forget the first time I saw “City of God.” The striking imagery of a knife being sharpened, cuts to black, then staccato micro flashes; together, these create an environment. This dynamic energy builds to set up the sharp and imaginative style for the rest of the movie.

 

My favorite scene in a movie is in “Five Easy Pieces.” Jack Nicholson’s character, the prodigal son, has returned home on the news that his estranged father has had a stroke. On a cold windswept field overlooking the ocean, the son finally has the conversation – soliloquy, really — that he should have had years ago with his beatific-looking stroke-addled father. It’s wonderfully simple, subtle, and filled with tremendous emotional energy.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

I thoroughly enjoy nature documentaries or anything that gives me a better understanding and appreciation of the world around me.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

I have fortunately crossed paths with a number of sage and generous people in this industry. I tend to seek advice from Steve Rasch, ACE, and I’m bereft at the recent loss of Ned Bastille, ACE.

 

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

Jack Lemmon is credited with a terrific quote: “No matter how successful you get, always send the elevator back down.” We’ve all come from a place at the bottom and we’ve each spent time and energy to get up to where we are now. I’m always happy to share my experiences and help guide folks who are looking to move up from assisting or are exploring getting into the industry. My primary piece of advice is “Story, story, story.” To me, the most important skill needed to succeed as an editor is an intimate knowledge of story structure. Beyond that, it’s all about being at the right place at the right time and being able to surpass expectations when called upon.

 

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

Other than on a daily basis? I’m grateful to be part of a union. I genuinely believe in “e pluribus unum,” especially given our current socio-political climate.

 

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

I’ve been reading “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius and came across a quote that I really like. “Why doth a little thing said or done against thee make thee sorry? It is no new thing; it is not the first, nor shall it be the last, if thou live long. At best suffer patiently, if thou canst not suffer joyously.”

 

–Compiled by David Bruskin

Interested in being featured in What Our Members Do? Email Scott Collins at scollins@editorsguild.com. 

JOHN AXELRAD - PICTURE EDITOR

November 2020

Where are you currently employed?

Freelance.

 

Current projects?

 

I’m additional editing on Netflix’s “Fear Street” film trilogy.

 

Describe your job.

33% craftsman, 33% politician, 33% psychologist, 1% magician.

 

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

I went to film school thinking—like most film students—that I wanted to be a director. But I soon learned that I didn’t enjoy having to deal with real-world hassles working on a film set. I discovered that my creativity flourished in the dark confines of an editing room. Plus, the editing craft was better suited to my introverted personality.

 

Who gave you your first break?

In the early 90’s I was lucky enough to get tutored in film editorial (yes, 35mm film) by the talented editor Hibah Schweitzer, ACE. The skills I learned with her helped me get my next job as a second assistant film  editor with Benjamin Chulay, ACE, and first assistant Alex Seymour. I learned Avid Media Composer when it became available, and the combination of film and Avid skills helped propel my career as an assistant editor in television and features.

 

What was your first union job?

In 1994, I was assistant editing on a non-union television movie that “got flipped” to union during production. It was harder to get into the union back then, so I was happy to find my way in.

 

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

I worked on several feature films where I was able to get my first assistant editor promoted to co-editor with me. A few times I was able to at least get my first assistant promoted to an “additional editor” credit. I enjoy mentoring my assistants in the editing craft, and I am proud when their hard work and creative contribution gets recognized with a bumped-up editing credit.

 

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

When editing Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead,” I had a very challenging final music sequence. It was a live jazz performance with five prominent musicians. They shot with nine cameras and did six takes. There was a click track, but it was completely useless—because this was live JAZZ! Every take was different, and it was impossible to gang them all together!  I definitely had to edit among all six takes, because the five musicians and the nine cameras were always doing different things. I flagged all the best moments, but It was a challenge just to find the jazz beat cutting from one take to another. It took me about four days to finish this sequence with the director. To top it all off, I was sick with whooping cough at the time.  But in the end, it remains one of the sequences I am most proud of editing.

 

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

I had a blast editing the films “Crazy Heart” and “Rudderless” because I joined each show after production had finished shooting. This meant that I was able to edit both films in chronological story order. It was such a creative relief to put an assembly together this way instead of dealing with the sporadic nature of dailies.

 

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

I hope to continue to be editing quality projects with creative people I enjoy working for.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I enjoy traveling, photography, and storm chasing!

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

Probably my favorite movie is Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.” There is something about that film that speaks to male insecurity and vulnerability. It’s rare to see fragile male protagonists resonate as well as Jimmy Stewart in that role. I saw the film when I was much younger, and it profoundly affected me. Plus Alfred Hitchcock was a master filmmaker of the human psyche. “Vertigo” ranks among his best.

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

Last year I was blown away by HBO’s “Chernobyl.” The portrayal of Soviet 1980s culture was fascinating and captivating, and this real life event was handled expertly in all phases of storytelling. All the crafts — cinematography, editing, production design and direction — were so well done. The character portrayals really humanized this global disaster and themes of government putting their interests over the well-being of its citizens really resonates today.

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

When I was employed for 10 years as an assistant editor. Pretty much every editor I worked for was a mentor to me. I was very fortunate to have learned the craft (and politics) of editing by having several different editors take me under their wing. If I had to do it all over again, I would not trade in those 10 years of assistant experience. It helped shape me into the editor I am today.

 

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

I would tell someone interested in pursuing a career in film and television that it’s all about networking. Meet as many people as you can and be especially gracious for their time. Ask for career advice from people already established, and remember to send follow-up “thank you” letters. You will be remembered by people in the industry if you come across as humble, friendly, and hard-working.

 

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

One of my very first editing jobs was a non-union feature that flipped to union during the shoot—but the producers never told me and continued to pay me non-union until the end. Months after the film had finished, Cathy Repola helped me get my union hours properly credited.

 

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

Words of encouragement: get involved! Whether it be running for the Board of Directors serving on a committee, or volunteering at an event, be involved in the great work our Guild is doing. If you don’t have time for any of the above, at least make sure to vote in Guild affairs.

 

Compiled by Jeffrey Burman. 

Interested in being featured in What Our Members Do? Contact Scott Collins at SCollins@editorsguild.com. 

SABRINA GIMENEZ - ASSISTANT EDITOR

October 2020

Where are you currently employed?

Currently working from home for Netflix.

 

Current projects?

“Yes Day” directed by Miguel Arteta, edited by Jay Deuby.

 

Describe your job.

As an assistant editor, my job is to help prepare the dailies during production for my editor. After I receive them from the post production facility, I feed them into the AVID and cross-check them with the paperwork given to me by production (camera reports, sync logs, audio, scripts). After quality-checking them for picture or audio issues, I prep them for editorial use, including marking “Action” on all takes for the editor. My other duties include scripting the scenes as they come in — copy-and-pasting from the show’s script into the AVID as a way to identify shot content in raw dailies —  or addressing notes the editor drops for me in their timeline throughout the day. I’m also there to clean things up, offer some music ideas if a scene is needing inspiration, add background temp sound effects as scenes progress, and create temporary visual effects placeholders for our vendors to match.

 

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

I was originally in trailer editing but had always been interested in scripted format. I produced Latinx marketing spots for Disney and Pixar for a few years, writing scripts and building upon the content for our demographics. After several years, I found myself drawn more to a film’s storytelling than its marketing.  Although I learned so much on the job at Trailer Park, the entertainment marketing agency where I worked, I set my sights on assisting an editor who was creating the story for a film or TV show. I love storytelling, and I wanted to challenge myself to do it in longer formats.

 

Who gave you your first break?

I was fortunate enough to have a mentor, David Bess, whom I had met in my senior year of college when we connected through the University of Oregon’s Cinema Studies alumni network. David reached out on my behalf to a former colleague who happened to work where I wanted to work, Trailer Park. He passed my name along at an opportune moment when the agency’s satellite office was hiring a coordinator/assistant editor. David has had my back ever since.

 

 What was your first union job?

While all my work at trailer houses had been on union films, my shop was non-union. The first union gig I took was this year, as assistant editor for Jay Deuby on Miguel Arteta’s film “Like a Boss.”

 

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

“Like a Boss.” I’m honored and humbled to have worked with an iconic director like Miguel Arteta, who allowed me onto his film even though I only had my agency experience. I feel really proud of my efforts and the leap of faith it took to switch gears after embedding myself so fully in marketing in years past. I’m also proud that, as a Latinx individual in the union, I can be seen and heard by other Latinxs in the industry.

 

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

I think the technical aspects of turnovers and learning to get them done in a timely manner was the most challenging aspect for me, especially visual effects turnovers. They require so much attention to detail and consistency. Every night for a few weeks, I read about how to master Filemaker Pro, and I’m proud that I managed to learn it with relatively little guidance. At the same time, though, it’s less than ideal to study highly technical things late in the evening when no one is around to ask for help. The more turnovers I did, the more I learned to reach out during the day to more experienced folks and then apply their suggestions to my workflow. For the last two films I worked on, I oversaw the visual effects editing from start to finish. It was exciting to finally send a turnover that had few if any errors.

 

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

Stephanie Ito, Executive Vice President of Post Production at Paramount Pictures, overheard me talk about how much I love ice cream and surprised me on a particularly busy week with ice cream macaroon sandwiches from Milk Bar. It wasn’t just one sandwich; there were 12 flavors to choose from! After that, if she caught me in the elevator, she’d ask me how I was doing and if I wanted any ice cream that day. It brings a huge smile to my face!

 

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

Sincerely and optimistically, I’d like to have cut at least two features and perhaps some TV shows. I love independent cinema. I want to tell stories that historically have been marginalized in film and cut them in a way that increases on-screen representation of underserved groups in our society. Maybe in the future, I can be part of larger organizations like ACE that promote diversity in storytelling and honor folks in the industry by encouraging them to keep on their path towards visibility.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

I like skateboarding with friends. As an adult, I think it’s fun to see others my age doing that and not take it too seriously. I also dance with the LA Unbound Dance Company and have choreographed hip hop dances on occasion. I’m passionate about womxn’s access to healthcare, and I volunteer as a clinic escort on weekends. I’m also a big advocate for mental health resources and transparency. Removing the taboo surrounding mental health issues in relation to our jobs in editorial is a big deal for me. I’m motivated to ask my fellow union members what they need in order to be healthy and succeed on the job.

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

“Clueless” (1995) is my favorite film of all time. I learned to speak conversational English by watching it repeatedly on TV. I’m a fan of dark absurd comedies, so “The Big Lebowski” (1998) checks all the boxes for me. I think it’s relatable in an odd way, and I sometimes find myself aspiring to channel The Dude energy in my daily work vibes. That conflicts with my also wanting to embody Cher from “Clueless,” but they are not mutually exclusive.

 

Favorite TV program(s)? Why?

Lately, I’m enjoying “Ramy” and “PEN15” on Hulu. They are both authentic stories that I relate to on different levels, and they utilize comedy in subversive and unexpected ways. I respect the editorial work that goes into both shows. The casting is fantastic as well. They are shot with an intimate lens focused on the characters we want to root for – but maybe also want to shake for not making good choices. “Ramy” is an excellent study in moral ambiguity and the slippery slope of good intentions. “PEN15” is a massive throwback to my middle-school days. It’s traumatizing and hilarious, scary and personal. The creators brilliantly conceived that playing their 13-year-old selves alongside other actual middle-school-aged kids was the perfect casting strategy to tell this story. It’s original and refreshing, something I didn’t expect from a show called “PEN15.”

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

I have a couple of mentors I can safely approach with anything, professional or personal. My mentor from my marketing days is David Bess who, as I mentioned earlier, got me my first break. Now, in scripted features and TV, I’m being mentored by Jacquelyn Le. Back in film school, I hoped and yearned to find a mentor exactly like Jacquelyn when I got into the industry. She came up in agency work and then transitioned into scripted editing, so her career trajectory was similar to what I’ve been experiencing up to this point in my career. It’s really helpful to have someone like her guide me as I navigate more and more shows. I’m eternally grateful for her patience and time spent answering my questions.

 

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

I believe it’s really important to have hobbies and a life outside of assistant editing because it’s actually the best way I’ve built my network and met new people. I think that helped me find people in editorial who were invested in showing me how to navigate a career, together with other assistants they knew, and were willing to let me shadow them during their workday. It gave me an opportunity to ask questions without having the pressure of possibly failing on the job. After someone lands an assistant editor job, I’d say cut anything and everything you can. Get enough experience with the software, know how to solve problems, troubleshoot solutions, and be resourceful. Watch the cut as many times as you need in order to know what story the editor and director are trying to tell. And don’t lose sight of what storytelling means for you. A self-starting but humble and curious assistant editor can go really far. I try to keep all of this in mind as I step into my role every day at work.

 

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

I attended an LGBTQIA steering committee roundtable discussion as I was seeking advice on how to manage queer politics and identity in the workplace. The roundtable discussion was fantastic and so open-minded. Everyone was there to find solutions to making their workplaces — and by extension, the union — safer. The union gained my trust big-time after that event.

 

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

Our mental health is sorely tested during this pandemic. Although everyone is fighting their own battles, we should be there to support each other and offer a helping hand when another union member needs something. Also, it’s our duty to increase representation of our historically marginalized BIPOC union members. That means we don’t let our brothers and sisters fall behind. We all deserve a chance to succeed alongside each other free of discrimination and racism, which we should never stop working to banish from the workplace — and everywhere else.

 

Compiled by David Bruskin

Interested in being featured in What Our Members Do? Contact Scott Collins at SCollins@editorsguild.com. 

Interested in Being Featured?

Interested in being featured in
What Our Members Do?

Please email CineMontage editor
Scott Collins at SCollins@editorsguild.com.