Where are you currently employed?
I’m between shows.
I recently completed the StoryReel edit of Top Cat for Anima eStudios. It was a small but very seasoned crew. We were able to do everything over the Internet. I cut the entire 85-minute show on my Avid at home. That also came in handy for parts of Universal’s Curious George 2 that was just released.
Describe Your Job.
I’m an editor. Bring me a show, any show, and I cut it.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
In Evanston, Illinois, I was in school at Kendall College and making a decent living as a still photographer. A fellow photographer convinced me to look into cinematography. After studying movies like The Pawnbroker, Bullitt and The Hustler, I became much more interested in editing. I was even more motivated after seeing Citizen Kane and the just-released 2001: A Space Odyssey on the same day. From that moment on, I wanted to be in the movie business.
Who gave you your first break?
Walt Topel of Topel & Associates in Chicago. I told Walt I wanted to learn filmmaking and he said, “So, why not work here?” While he wasn’t always the easiest guy to get along with, to this day he remains one of the best directors I’ve ever worked for. Ritchie Actagawa was his staff editor. Ritchie sat me down at the KEM and I was on my way.
What was your first union job?
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
The Rugrats Movie. In the theatre, the kids who have to go to the bathroom walk up the aisle backwards so they won’t miss anything. Well, that’s a great feeling.
Also, Take It to the Limit from 1980, about motorcycle racing. It is a movie that, unfortunately, most will never see. It was groundbreaking for its time, especially the music...Foreigner, Jean Luc Ponty, Arlo Guthrie and Tangerine Dream. It even has song by Chuck Lorre...yes, that Chuck Lorre (of Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory). Incredible camera bike footage and a dazzling sound effects edited by my friend Carol Lewis.
This was the first feature I ever mixed, and it was with Buzz Knudson, Bob Glass and Don MacDougall––the same crew that mixed Close Encounters of the Third Kind––along with a very young Chris Jenkins. Every day was a lesson in filmmaking from some of the best guys in the business.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The 35mm preview screenings for The Rugrats Movie. Cutting and animating a feature film made digitally was still very new. The workflow was tapeless, so we didn’t have actual film dailies. But we still needed a print that reflected the latest cut, so I figured out a way to create a work print of each reel by physically sending the picture from the Avid timeline to our film recorder. Once we had that, we’d cut in color the work print of approved individual scenes from our film-out department at Klasky-Cuspo on a weekly basis.
This process clearly wasn’t for the faint of heart. It us took several tests to work out the kinks and sort out the lookup tables, but the more we did it the better we got at it. By the third preview, we really had it down and it worked like a charm––especially after I worked out the change lists.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
There were several late-night film conforms on the Paramount lot, where my assistant Vince Gonzales (who is very quick witted) and I kept each other in hysterics by just ripping on anything we could think of.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Working on a movie with Morgan Freeman in it.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I’m pretty boring: music, reading, photography, travel, collecting art, wine tastings. I like nice glass of wine and the occasional insanely expensive meal. Things like that.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
All That Jazz with Bob Fosse and Alan Heim. Doesn’t get much better than that. During those moments when I wonder why I’m in this business, that’s the film I pull out to remind myself how great a movie can be when it all comes together. I was happy to personally tell that to Mr. Heim several years ago.
Sunset Boulevard is another film that never ceases to amaze me. The first time I screened it was from a 35mm print that an old-time Hollywood editor friend pulled out of his closet. I called my friend Beverly Baroff and we screened it together, reel by reel, with me running the projector. That was pretty cool.
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
HBO’s The Wire. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but David Simon and his crew took writing and ensemble acting to another level. I really think it’s the best television series that’s ever been made. Prior to The Wire, I loved The Sopranos, Channel 4’s Traffik, Law & Order C.I. And then there’s Top Gear from the BBC. Now that would be a fun TV show to work on. Are you listening, Jeremy?
Do you have an industry mentor?
I have people whose opinions I trust and friendships I value...Kevin Nolting, Beverly Baroff, Wendi McNeese, Greg Hamlin, Terry Allen, Geri Bryan, Laurie George, Elliot Koretz, Norton Vergien, Karen White, Igor Khait, Mhairi Kerr, Elliot Tyson, Jon Braun, Bruno George. And others...you know who you are.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Right now, things are more than a little geeked out. Can you say frame rates? Study psychology, sociology, anthropology and, of course, science, history and art. At the end of the day, that’s what you’ll need to understand your peers and, more importantly, your audience.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
There was, but I can’t go into it.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members?
Compiled by Robin Rowe