Where are you currently employed?
Technicolor, North Hollywood.
I just completed Charlie St. Cloud and Lottery Ticket. I am now starting Life As We Know It, The Fighter, Haywire and Let Me In to be finished by the end of this month.
Describe Your Job.
My job is very hands-on, dealing with the creative side of a movie. A timer’s job has changed considerably since I started in 1979. A color timer would time the final cut movie, scene-to-scene photo-chemically. As time has gone on, the process has changed with digital now being the big part of color timing. My job now has moved from cut negative to being available for the DP or director at the DI suite––but I’m mainly at the lab when the data is output to film.
The creatives will then come to the lab, where they will watch their movie with sound for the first time. It’s always a wonderful experience to see the enjoyment they have when they see their movie finished. There are so many looks of movies, and so many different creative personalities, with which that I deal that it makes for a very satisfying job––that I love.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
I was born in Manly on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia. I was enrolled in nursing school. John and Stella West, friends of my parents, owned a film laboratory in the Artarmon suburb of Sydney called Kinelab. At Kinelab Color Transcriphers, owned by Jack and Cal Gardiner, I was employed part time to learn negative cutting. I was put in front of a Kodak Color Analyzer and asked if I could make a shot look good. That was in 1979. I’ve worked on many shows, TV commercials and features. I really learned what timing was when I had to time ABC News 16mm film over a lightbox with color filters––one of the best experiences of my career.
Who gave you your first break?
I left for a few years to be with my two boys, Matt and Josh, and later resumed my career at Atlab, which is now Deluxe Sydney. I met David Twohy on Pitch Black and he introduced me to Dan Muscarella at CFI in Hollywood, who offered me a job in 1999.
What was your first union job?
My first union job was at CFI in Hollywood, which was bought by Technicolor.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
Far from Heaven with Ed Lachman was a beautiful film, as was Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, shot by John Bailey. I have done many more movies with them of which I am just as proud. There are many more really beautiful movies I have worked on; to name them all would be very difficult.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
One that stands out was on the movie Punch Drunk Love. This was a photo-chemical show and was cut negative with director Paul Thomas Anderson. Adam Sandler wore a blue suit throughout the whole movie. Because the movie was shot over a six-month period, the blue suit always looked slightly different, and shots from day one were different with shots from day 150. Paul needed the suit to be a consistent shade of blue throughout the whole movie, and this was quite a challenge.
Another challenge is timing a show here in Hollywood when the creatives, the DP or director are in another country.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I work mainly with a group of guys, so you have to expect that pranks will be pulled from time to time. One of the best was bringing in a jar of vegemite and a packet of plastic spoons––not crackers––and have everyone try a teaspoon of vegemite. Putting a fake rat under some keyboards also got some great reactions.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I would like to be doing the same job, although I know it will change with digital being so prominent. As long as I can deal with the creative people that I enjoy so much, I will be very happy.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I really enjoy horseback riding. I love my garden. My passion is my family, with whom I spend as much time with as I possibly can.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
The Horse Whisperer. I love this movie for the story, the scenery and just…because. Legends of the Fall for the same reasons. I also love The Guardian.
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
Criminal Minds. I like the cast, and every story is always well written. I also enjoy watching old TV series such as Emergency and Magnum PI.
Do you have an industry mentor?
One was Gary Keir from Atlab Queensland, who taught me so much about people, especially how to deal with situations that come up in our line of work. Atlab was known as the “safe house” on the Warner Village Roadshow lot on the Gold Coast of Queensland. Directors of photography would come over just to get away and talk with Gary because he could always make a bad situation a good one.
The other is Terry Haggar, with whom I work with at Technicolor. He is also a color timer and a great boss. If there is ever a time when I am in a situation that I am not sure about––whether it be a decision about color or how to handle a client––Terry is a great person for advice and he can put things in perspective.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Attend as much school as possible in the digital world. Learn about computers and try to learn about color science. Have a very positive outlook and love people. Your clients are the most important aspect of your work.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
I’ve never had to rely on the Guild for assistance, but I love the thought that they are there if I need them.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
I would like to say to fellow Guild members that this industry is a wonderful industry to work in. It has been some of the best years I have had, and I hope to have many more years ahead.
- Compiled by Robin Rowe
Editor’s Note: This column profiles Editors Guild members in good standing. To recommend a member for the column––even yourself––contact Robin Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.