Where are you currently employed?
I currently work for CBS Productions.
Describe Your Job.
Music editing is like putting together a puzzle. You have a great song that you get to take apart and put back together in a new way to make it flow with the picture. It’s great because, while it isn’t always obvious, there’s always a solution.
On a typical episode, my involvement begins just before the spotting session, when I first see each episode. When we spot the show, I document everything that relates to music (starts, stops, notes on the music, etc.), then deliver spotting notes to our two composers and music supervisor. While the composers are writing their score, I’m working with the music supervisor on the source cues. When the composers’ score and the source cues are finished, I compile a master music session with all the score and source together, which I bring to the mix.
We spend two days mixing the show, and I’m there in case we need to make changes to the music. Changes can be tweaking a score cue, or cutting in a completely new piece of music. I am also responsible for documenting the music usage and delivering cue sheets, and any other requested documentation, for each episode.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
I previously worked in other areas of post-production and have experience as a music recording engineer. As a musician in the sound world, I’ve always been drawn toward the music side of post-production; it just made sense when it all came together.
Who gave you your first break?
A good friend introduced me to a music supervisor who was in need of some extra help. After doing a few demo projects, he got me an interview for a show. Actually, several months before that, I had interviewed with an established sound designer. He was friends with a music editor who happened to need an assistant. Through that connection, I was hired as an assistant on a film temp score. That was my first experience in music editing. I was a terrible assistant.
What was your first union job?
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
There are several episodes of Entourage and CSI: Miami that included some of my favorite music editing moments. One edit in an early episode of the former required that I destroy the intention of a song in order to make it hit a cut a certain way. I tried a bunch of ideas, and finally found a solution that accomplished the goal and also added a bit of humor to the scene. I felt really good when that came together.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
One thing that comes to mind is that I recently got the opportunity to cut some production recordings of ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons playing guitar for an episode of CSI: Miami. He played live on set, but there was a photographer in the scene as well, and his camera clicks made enough noIse that we couldn’t use the production recording of Billy’s synced performance. I had to find other pieces of his performance that didn’t have the camera clicks in them and edit together a replacement track.
It worked out great in the end, and when his hands were visible, it even looked like he was actually playing it. I knew that our composers had my back though––they’re both great musicians and could have created something if the editing hadn’t solved it.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I work with an amazing group of people. Fortunately, we all like each other, which makes it less like work. We joke around a lot on the mix stage, so I have a lot of fun while I’m there.
Job wise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I’d like to continue music editing for TV, and get more involved in film as well. I also plan to continue my songwriting and production.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I love the outdoors. I grew up in Colorado, hiking, backpacking, skiing, etc. I like to get out and hike or camp or ski as often as I can. However, most of my free time is spent writing, playing and producing music. I’m also a bit of a tech geek, and I will admit that I’m into video games as well.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Generally, I love films and television shows that have a great story, look great and sound great. If a film makes me think, or shows me a new perspective, I really appreciate it. I also love good visual effects, and good sound is an important part of the experience.
There are too many to list them all, but here are a few that come to mind:
Last of the Mohicans––one of my all-time favorite scores and score themes. Not to mention that it’s a great film.
The Usual Suspects––a very well told story.
Jacob’s Ladder – great twists and very well told.
The Matrix––such a great concept… The Rage Against the Machine song at the end is among my favorite uses of music in film.
Avatar––great visual effects (and sound) and I really appreciate that it took me to another world.
Star Trek (the new one)––looks and sounds great. I’m a big fan of J.J. Abrams’ work, and I respect his musical contributions. I also appreciate the consistency of the “science” involved with this film, as with most of Abrams’ projects. I’ve seen it so many times and still am not tired of it.
Star Wars (the originals)––I grew up on them, and the music is epic.
The Alien series––I can watch them over and over and enjoy them every time.
The Indiana Jones films––adventure. John Williams is great.
Braveheart––I love the way it looks, and I love that it makes the viewer feel the gravity of the story. And I love period films. It’s just a very well done film.
Gladiator––much like Braveheart. I can watch it over and over and not get tired it.
Finding Nemo––I love the way it looks, and there are some great music moments as well.
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
Again, there are too many to list, but a few are Dexter, The Sopranos, the CSIs, Battlestar Galactica, 24, MacGyver, Lost, Fringe. I like science fiction, action and anything that encourages the viewer think or feel.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Not directly, but every film and TV show that I’ve seen––and every industry story that I’ve heard––has impacted me on some level, so in that sense I have many mentors.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Go for it! It’s such a blessing to be able to do something you love for a living. Also, keep your friends in mind when opportunities come up; what goes around comes around.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Not yet. I guess that’s a good thing!
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members?
Thanks for your part in creating such great entertainment! I’m a big fan.
- Michael Kunkes