Where are you currently employed?
I am currently between projects and enjoying some much-needed downtime. In order to keep up with ever changing technology, I am researching new workflows such as RED and D-SLRs and learning the new features in Avid Media Composer 5.
My most recent project was assisting Steve Kemper on A Close Enemy for Columbia International Pictures.
Describe Your Job.
My job is to make sure that the editor has everything he or she needs to get the job done and to make the process go smoothly. I cross all the Ts and dot the Is. This includes communicating with the lab, synching elements, making outputs and keeping the editing workstations running. My editor should only have to concern himself with the creative aspects of editing. As an assistant editor, you get to watch how some very talented editors work first-hand, and that is how you learn your craft. Assistant editors are future film editors.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
I first became interested in editing in college at the University of Montevallo in Alabama. I took some film classes and fell in love with putting shots together to tell a story. I knew then that I wanted to be an editor. After I graduated, I loaded my belongings into my 1974 VW Beetle and drove across the country to Hollywood.
Who gave you your first break?
Jack Tucker was my instructor for “Art and History of Editing” at California State University, Northridge. He saw my interest and encouraged me to pursue my craft. I apprenticed for Jack on a film called HAIRTRIGGER. Then I assisted him when he cut Street 16. Both were cut on the Moviola. I loved the physicality of working with 35mm film.
What was your first union job?
My first union assistant job was on the music video Come Together Now. The challenging part of this job was coordinating the various sources and costs of licensed clips.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud andwhy?
I would have to say Starship Trooper Marauder, because it was a very challenging project. It was shot in South Africa and edited in Hollywood. We had hundreds of visual effect shots for this film. The entire post-production process was quite complex and a multi-national effort. Keeping all of this organized required all my skills and knowledge. I had to push the outside of the envelope. In fact, I received the Post-Production Supervisor credit because I performed so many different roles. I am very proud of the work we all did on this film.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The digital dailies on A Close Enemy were delivered as complete lab rolls instead of individual takes. There was no way to create an accurate film scan list because of key number breaks in the lab rolls. I created a Final Cut Pro database by typing in all the metadata by hand that generated an accurate DI. This was a very time-consuming and demanding task as there is zero room for error when you generate a digital intermediate.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
A bad day in the cutting room is still better than a good day on any other job. Every project is fun because of the people you get to work with and the problems you overcome. This is especially true when I’m working with seasoned professionals like Steve Kemper and Jack Tucker. I have learned so much from them.
I especially enjoyed watching New Jack City and then going to work the next day and discussing it with Steve Kemper. It was like having my own personal interactive DVD commentary.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Cutting a feature!
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
My favorite past time is Tuckerdome––a movie group composed mostly of post-production professionals that screens classic movies. We have been screening movies for over ten years and, as a result, I have seen hundreds of classic films.
I enjoy cooking and I am taking a series of Indian cooking classes through the Burbank Adult School. Like anything else, becoming a good cook takes practice.
My grandmother, Helen Brindley, has been researching our family genealogy for years. I have created a website of her findings so family members around the world can have access to it. So far we have records for over 5,000 relatives.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Breaking Away was the first movie I really fell in love with. It taught me story, which is critical to editing. It’s well written and each scene advances the story. Also, Mildred Pierce, because I connected with it emotionally and it made me want to shout at the characters on the screen. It is beautifully photographed, well written and the performances are top-notch. And then Bonnie and Clyde, because it took editing to a new level and was cut by my hero, Dede Allen.
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
My work schedule keeps me from following many current television programs. It is wonderful that many television shows are now released as box sets on DVD. When I have downtime, I can watch an entire season over a couple of weeks.
I really like classic TV shows such as I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show. Lucy set the standard for three-camera sitcoms, pretty much invented it. It was brilliantly edited by Dann Cahn. For me, these shows have withstood the test of time. I still love watching them today as I did when I was a kid.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Jack Tucker has always been generous with his time. My career got started through him. When I work with Jack, he will cut a scene and then explain why it is vital to the story. Jack knows story as well as anyone I know. I’ve assisted Steve Kemper on three feature films. Steve solicits my opinion and has offered me valuable advice on my own projects. I have grown as a professional due to his constant collaboration.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Learn as much as you can. Work as hard as you can. And believe that you can do it.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
In order to meet a deadline, I agreed to work over a holiday weekend. I had an approved timecard for the overtime hours that was later disputed. I called the Guild and they worked out the payment. Without the Guild, I would have never gotten paid for the work I did.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
A guild is only as good as its members. Over the years, I’ve received a lot of help from my fellow members and have always been willing to give help when asked. I would encourage all my fellow members to reach out and interact as much as possible.
- Compiled by Robin Rowe
Editor’s Note: This column profiles Editors Guild members who are in good standing who haven’t been written about on the website or Editors Guild Magazine years. It’s one of the many ways the guild promotes its members. To recommend a member for the column––even yourself––contact Robin Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.