Where are you currently employed?
Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 8
Describe Your Job?
I’m a supervising editor and music supervisor
How did you become interested in this line of work?
I started editing comedy shorts when I was 17, shot on regular 8mm film. I attended Colgate University as an English major, then worked in retail for six years. I joined an improv comedy group in Boston when I was 26, quit retail and started to freelance as a cameraman while I continued to make short films. A friend got me a job as a dubber in a post house. In two years, I was an editor on staff. A 30-minute film I wrote and directed did fairly well, and got me into AFI’s directing program in 1988. After AFI, I returned to editing full time.
Who gave you your first break?
There was no break-out milestone that made my career. My career has been baby steps and small breaks, accumulated over many years. My first union show was thanks to a recommendation by an editor named Jay Scherberth. The show was called The Parent ‘Hood, with Robert Townsend. Then I did a bunch of network shows like Spin City. I also did Andy Richter Controls the Universe.
The gigs got better over the years. I was on the first season of Entourage. After that, it got a little easier. I was nominated for an A.C.E. Eddie Award for Curb Your Enthusiasm. I’ve since had three nominations and won the Eddie in 2008 for Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
My current gig, Curb Your Enthusiasm, has given me the most notoriety and satisfaction. First of all, it’s consistently funny––thanks mostly to the brilliance of Larry David. The editors on Curb are given tons of footage, usually a 40:1 ratio. We work from an outline. There is no written dialogue. I must combine several improvised performances, all hand-held, and make it appear like a scripted, tight, single-camera show. Basically, I’m re-writing the jokes, and have free reign on my editor’s cut to take my best shot at what is funny. That’s an unusual amount of responsibility, but exactly what I was looking for when I started looking for work. And, they like me.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
Once I was cutting a big-budget comedy pilot at Paramount. There was a powerful executive producer and an up-and-coming comedian-star attached. During the filming, there was a power struggle, and they started battling for control of the project. This battle came to a head in the edit room, and eventually I was cutting two versions, as they couldn’t stand being in the same edit bay at the same time. They called me directly to spy on the other. The first question after I picked up the phone was, “Is he in there?” The second question was, “What did he do to my cut?”
I was just open and honest, and tried to calm the storm. I kept answering the phone. I became a new Hollywood hyphenate: shrink-editor. The show was not picked up. I was paid for the editing, but remain unpaid for the life coaching.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Mel Brooks appeared in several episodes of Curb one year. He came in the bay to screen a show with Larry. I was not the funniest guy in the room that day, but enjoyed being there.
One of my favorite gigs was Flight of the Conchords, second season. They were the loosest, most clever, natural comedians I’d worked with. Their songs were so much fun to edit. Cutting the music videos for Flight of the Conchords is right up there for a fun day at work.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Big Studio Films! Call me.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I spend a lot of time with my wife and two teenage boys. I swim laps several times a week. I’m trying to kill all the ants on my property, but they are winning.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Here’s a short list:
Chinatown, vintage Jack, great story.
Duck Soup, Groucho turned on a light in my brain, what a sarcastic douche bag!
2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick took it up a notch for all film fans.
Animal House, just funny sh*t.
Local Hero, simple: Bill Forsyth is cool.
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
Seinfeld, no hugging, no learning.
Monty Python, what’s funnier than the Minister of Funny Walks sketch?
The Sopranos and Mad Men, they drink and smoke ‘cause I can’t.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Larry David has taught me volumes on how to make the funny. Hope he doesn’t read this; he would be uncomfortable being anyone’s mentor.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Make your own movies. No matter how they turn out, you will be respected more as a fellow filmmaker when you are looking for editing work. And you will have the big picture in terms of the art of storytelling.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Once a major studio tried to sign me up as a music editor––I was cutting picture––to save on money and benefits. The union field reps swooped in and solved my problem. Sweet.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
The producers will always be nibbling away at our wages and benefits. Each year there is a new trick. The Guild is your best friend in these situations. Be forever vigilant about the deals every time. Learn about the new agreements the Guild makes. Consult the Guild website and call the field reps. Stay active in the dialogue.
Compiled by Robin Rowe.
Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (or yourself) to be a featured member on the home page of the Editors Guild website, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.