Where are you currently employed?
DreamWorks TV Animation.
The first season of Dawn of the Croods.
Describe Your Job?
Internally, my title is lead animatic editor. The duties of building the animatic include cutting in dialogue, character walla (sound effects imitating background crowd murmurs), temp special effects and music, as well as helping to establish overall timing and pace for each episode. In addition, I work with the directors as their second pair of eyes to spot and work out solutions for shots and dialogue that don't wind up as well as intended or that may prove difficult for practical production.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
In the early ’90s, I was working as a production manager in a small, non-union production house and I often wore the hat of in-house Avid editor. That’s where I did my first animation work.
Who gave you your first break?
Steve Downs, who is currently Animatic Editorial Supervisor at DreamWorks TV Animation. I was initially hired as an assistant editor helping out on several shows that DreamWorks TV was producing.
What was your first union job?
My first job as a member of Local 700 was with DreamWorks TV on The Adventures of Puss in Boots . For over 20 years before that, though, I had been a member of Local 839, the Animation Guild. My first union job as a member of 839 was on the DreamWorks Animation feature Prince of Egypt .
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
I’ve worked in animation my entire adult life and it always seems to come down to building, gaining and/or winning the trust of directors and showrunners. It's important for everyone to get on the same page for the pace and the feel of a show as quickly as possible. While all that is getting hammered out in the beginning, you might find yourself working with some people who have a pre-conceived fear or dislike of the editorial process that sometimes gets in the way of the goal. There's nothing better for it than patience and good old-fashioned psychology — until it sinks in that you're there as a team member to help get the vision on screen.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
It's hard to pick out any one thing as situations arise daily on the current show. We've got a lot of talented, funny people, so there's rarely a dull moment. The directors and I often like to slip impromptu jokes into our screenings to catch the execs by surprise and make them laugh, if not blush, a little.
Job-wise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
With the rise (and, soon, the take-over) of New Media, the industry is changing quickly. In five years, most animation editors would like to be doing Final Picture editing because that title carries more prestige and money (and, yes, more mystique), but I believe building a show from scratch is much more challenging and creative. It sets the precedent for the pace and feel of a show and how it's produced. What I'd like to see change in the studios in five years and to see myself doing is to be able to cut the shows I work on all the way through from start (animatic) to finish (final picture). This way, you can see immediately what works and what doesn’t in regards to that production. This would make for stronger, more streamlined and well-rounded editing and better decision-making early on that would save money on retakes on the back-end.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Writing, although I'm probably the only writer in LA who doesn't write scripts. I've published quite a few short stories and I am now working on my second novel.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Raiders of the Lost Ark. I wasn’t allowed to see movies as a kid and this was one of the first for me to sneak off and see. Maybe I was just easy to “wow” without a pool of viewing experience to pull from but, for me, it was everything that turned the wheels of my imagination. I was a little disappointed to find out later that archaeology is less bullwhip and pick axe and a lot more toothbrush and dental pick.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Game of Thrones. No explanation needed, right?
Do you have an industry mentor?
John Royer, a 24-year Disney alumnus. He’s been there and done that, so he always has grounded advice from a practical perspective as well as technical level.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Editing in animation (and especially for TV) is often looked down upon as a job that's nothing but a stepping stone to final picture editing for animation or live action, but don't be in such a hurry. There's a lot you can learn about shot direction, storytelling, production and pace from timing and cutting animatics that will help you build experience, instinct and feel. Learn everything you can from this and take this rich source of knowledge wherever you go and whatever you do.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
In the short time I’ve been a member of Local 700, I’ve been (thankfully) employed and have not needed assistance. One thing I would like to mention, though, is my appreciation to the union for its response to the recent negotiations in regards to the New Media side letter guaranteeing payment minimums and residuals for its members. The union supported and understood the situation these negotiations left the editors in at Dreamworks TV, specifically due to inconsistent titles and initial lack of support from contract services.
Local 700 is keenly aware of our situation and has generously offered solutions to support us both now and in the near future. New Media hasn’t been “new” for five years. In fact, it will continue to grow to become the norm. Today it is we, but tomorrow it may be you. The Guild continues to send representatives on our behalf to insure we are as protected as possible until such time as reason can be reached in future negotiations. I look forward to seeing what we can all accomplish together.
Compiled by Edward Landler
Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on the home page of the Editors Guild website contact firstname.lastname@example.org