Where are you currently employed?
I typically work freelance on big-budget independent features or studio features. I also work as a re-recording engineer and music recording engineer.
I’m working on a demo project with the latest Phantom Flex high-speed camera, the camera that does the really smooth high-speed work in The Hurt Locker and Inception. It’s with director Brendon Bellomo. My job is re-recording mixer and sound editor. Years ago he won the student Academy Award for a film he did as his graduate thesis from NYU. I mixed that film as well.
Describe Your Job.
Every job is different. In the temping process, it’s my job to find existing music that would work for that film before or without an original score. There are several reasons. Screenings have to take place to rate and score the film. It’s also to give the composer an indication what the director wants.
After scoring, all of the best recordings and performances have to be edited together. Often, I’m called in to align musical performances that were recorded at different times. They’re playing to a click track, but everyone has his or her own definition of where the beat is. They’re not playing to each other. It’s my job to make it sound as if they were all in the same room together. The Departed was like this, really layering parts of the score in ProTools.
There are times when the composer is so busy that he’ll send me the music he has written, and I will edit that into the session to score the film. Then I’ll contact him to ask for transitions or if I can I have the music up half a step or something like that.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
I’ve always been in post and I’ve always performed music. Music editing seemed very natural to me. I began as a video post editor and director in the linear world, with AMPEX BTR-3s, Grass Valley Switchers and ADOs. I was also a director and technical director for news. I was in a band called Moment of Silence. We won the whole $100,000 on Star Search in the spring of 1991.
We cut an album at Paisley Park in Prince’s studio in ’92. The recording engineer I met at Prince’s studio is still a friend of mine. I learned so much from him. I went to NYU in 2001 to fill in the gaps in my knowledge as a recording engineer and now I teach that at the university.
Who gave you your first break?
Half way through my master’s degree in music technology, Dr. Ron Sadoff––the head of the film scoring department––received a call from composer Howard Shore’s office; they needed help on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’ve been working with Howard, off and on, ever since.
A couple others in the industry who helped me and with whom I really enjoy working are music editor Gedney Webb and recording engineer Lawrence Manchester. My first union job was Robert DeNiro’s The Good Shepherd. Lawence brought me in on that, and that’s when I met Gedney.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
There’s a film called Cassanova, with Heath Ledger in 2005. I was the orchestrator. I loved that. All the music was with dead composers. I was able to re-orchestrate that for a film. An amazing experience. On De Lovely, I did a lot of small arrangements and even played piano. Raajneeti is a Bollywood film we worked on this past spring. The composer is Wayne Sharpe. I got in as a music editor, but the project was so overwhelming for everyone that I turned into a music producer. My experience with Lord of the Rings really helped because that was a mammoth film.
Another project I feel very proud of is Lord of the Rings: Live to Projection. The second weekend in October they bring 250 to 300 musicians onto the stage at Radio City Music Hall and they play the music live to the film. The film does not stop, except once for an intermission. How do you synchronize 300 musicians to that? I did that using the Auricle. No click; all visual synchronization for the conductor.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The Lord of the Rings and organizing the whole music production team. In terms of weeks of intense work Lord of the Rings and Raajineeti were real pressure-cookers.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Collaborating with a great crew. I like working with great people. Nowadays, with limited budgets you don’t get that big of a team. But on Lord of the Rings we had a group of about seven people who were always collaborating––like a family. We were all perfectionists. When we finished the work at the end of the night, in the small hours of the morning, we’d get on a network game of Medal of Honor to blow off steam.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
More of what I did on Rajineeti. Not only music editing but producing the music, guiding the workflow. Being a music producer is what feels right to me.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I love swimming. I think I was a dolphin in another life. I like biking and tennis, too. I teach a music editing class in the graduate film scoring school at NYU. I’ve done that since September 2007.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
I’ve got so many favorite movies. If I was to pick just one, it would be Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Everyone on that film created a reality that totally immersed me and still does.
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
I don’t watch much TV now. Maybe Family Guy. Only cartoon characters can get away with being that honest. When I was a kid I loved Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie and The Avengers.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Gedney Webb, the music editor.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
You must be an intuitive extension of the composer and of the editor. And it helps being a musician.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Yes, sometimes I’ve needed to know if a project was signatory.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
I’m very happy to be a part of this guild. The members are all great people, very grounded and reliable people.
- Compiled by Robin Rowe
Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on the home page of the Editors Guild website, contact Robin@movieeditor.com