Where are you currently employed?
New League Productions.
I’m currently working on The League, an improvised half-hour comedy on FX. It’s about a group of friends in Chicago who play in a fantasy football league together.
Describe Your Job.
Cutting improvised material has a unique set of responsibilities, challenges and rewards. You start with an outline––so the director and actors know where each scene needs to go, and how the story is going to wrap up.
I begin by watching the dailies and finding my favorite jokes and the necessary story beats. When I’ve got all of these in mind, I cut scene for scene. When I’m done with all of the scenes, I put them all together, go back to the top and re-cut as an episode to give it the proper rhythm and flow. I started on Curb Your Enthusiasm about 10 years ago, so I’ve been doing it for quite a while.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
I first moved to Los Angeles from Maryland with the general goal of working in film and television, unaware of what editing was. I was watching MTV one day and I thought it would be fun to put all of those images together with music and graphics.
I got a job as the Post PA on MADtv. There was a very talented young editor there named Matt Davis who allowed me to spend as much time as I could stand in his edit bay. I stayed in there for about two years. Watching everything come together in that room––the images, the sound, the music, the minute changes of timing that had a huge impact on the overall piece––I fell in love with the process.
Who gave you your first break?
Matt Davis allowed me to watch him work and gave me full access to his bay and scenes so I could practice. Producer Jim Jones gave me my first additional editor credit on an MTV show called Austin Stories. Producer-writers Mark and Brian Gunn gave me my first editing job on a scripted comedy show called 2gether.
After that, I was hired on Curb Your Enthusiasm with the encouragement of the show’s other editor Steve Rasch. I made a lot of excellent contacts while at Curb that led to jobs on Entourage, The League and other projects over the years. I’ve been very fortunate to work with very talented people from the beginning.
What was your first union job?
Curb Your Enthusiasm. It went union in its third season, my second season there. I remember the producer telling me I had to join if I wanted to stay on board. It was a win-win situation.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I’m most proud of Curb Your Enthusiasm. When it started, and even still, it was such a unique approach to making TV. It required a lot from the editor. The collaborative process was terrific. I enjoyed the autonomy of working on my cut and the collaboration with Larry David and others in equal parts. And in the end, I was always very proud of the shows.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The biggest challenge is always managing time. The amount of footage I get on an improvised show can be a bit daunting. I have to be organized, methodical and efficient in my approach. I had one episode that had a shooting ratio of 24 to 1. When I’m up against a wall, I just try to remember that I’m not performing brain surgery––it’s not life or death––and I just try to relax.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Curb was always fun because we all had a good time working together and there was an embarrassment of comic riches to choose from.
In an episode of Entourage, I got to cut together a scene from Vince’s movie Aquaman. That was great because it was shot like a big movie action sequence. I had all of these epic shots to choose from.
I cut a comedy pilot directed by Seth Gordon for Fox this spring that had a lot of terrific action sequences in it too. I enjoy trying new genres and approaches to cutting.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to continue working on projects I like with people I like working with. I’d like to do some more directing and cut more films. Keep diversifying.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I have an 18-month-old daughter who occupies most of my free time. You can often find me at either the playground in Hollywood or Beeman Park in Studio City pushing a swing. I also enjoy playing tennis and hanging out with my wife.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
I lean towards dark comedy, so I’m a huge fan of Dr. Strangelove. The Big Lebowski is another favorite of mine. More recently, There Will Be Blood blew me away. The imagery, sound and story were all epic.
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
South Park. Equal parts escapist absurdity and whip-smart satirical social commentary.
Do you have an industry mentor?
There a several people that I count on and admire. Larry Charles, who I met on Curb, has been great to me over the years. We have worked together on several projects, and he always challenges me, listens to me and teaches me.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Cut as much as you can. When I started there was a big barrier to entry: You needed access to an Avid. Now, most home computers come with some sort of editing software. Practice, practice!
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Fortunately, I’ve never had to rely on the Guild for any work conflicts, but it’s always comforting to know you’ve got someone in your corner if you need some help. I do however rely on and consider myself very lucky to have the great benefits that Local 700 provides. The healthcare is the best.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
If you’re working, be grateful you have a job. If you’re looking for work, persistence pays off!
Compiled by Robin Rowe.
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