Where are you currently employed?
Lucasfilm Animation Ltd.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Describe Your Job.
As the supervising editor on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, I work alongside the editorial crew, numerous directors and the supervising director Dave Filoni. We all work through various stages of editorial from pre-visualization and story layout to final color animation.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
While working on my student films at USC, I fell in love with editing and found that I had a knack for it. On my final thesis film at Emerson College, I rented a 16mm flatbed KEM and set it up in my apartment. I feel like I spent my last semester in college either asleep or sitting at that KEM. I was definitely taken by the process. I liked the idea that I could immerse myself with such intense focus on a project which involved telling a story. It was around that time that I started seeking out books about editing, and dreaming of doing it professionally.
Who gave you your first break?
The first major break came from Dan Wolfe, who hired me as an apprentice editor at Universal Pictures; I worked on television spots and movie trailers. What I learned at Universal led me to working with Kaja Fehr in episodic television and the opportunity to work with Rick Finney on several feature films.
What was your first union job?
Apprentice editor at Universal Studios.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
As an editor, I am most proud of my work on The Clone Wars. It has been challenging and rewarding in all aspects of editorial. I can see my overall growth in the last five years, understanding what works and what doesn't within the context of classical narrative storytelling. The Clone Wars is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to work with many talented people at a very sophisticated level of collaboration, working on many hours of content.
I feel proud to have come up the ranks as an assistant editor. In 1999 I got a job at Warner Bros., working as the first assistant on the film Cats & Dogs. It was one of the most difficult and time-consuming jobs I’ve ever had. Almost every shot in the film had a visual effect and, at the time, that was somewhat novel. It created logistical problems that we needed to solve in editorial.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
During the first season on The Clone Wars, we made a transition away from the use of storyboards as a way of pre-visualizing the show during the first phase of editing. We began to bypass the traditional storyboard animatic––the established method of animation editing––to go straight into using computer layout as our path to a first cut. This posed many difficult problems in our pipeline because of the sheer amount of revisions we were dealing with and the juggling of so many episodes at any given time. The end results, though, have been great for the show. Now we're able to integrate a more live-action sensibility because the placement of the camera has become almost limitless, thus creating more choices.
There was one episode where I worked with Atsushi Takeuchi, a designer and anime director from Japan. We had to have a translator with us in the editing room. At times it was difficult, but it was a lot of fun!
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Recently, it's been the opportunity to work with Walter Murch. He came to Lucasfilm Animation to direct an episode on The Clone Wars and to beta-test some software. Anyone who knows Walter knows how much fun it is to discuss at length with him the history, philosophy and the many techniques of editing. It was a dream come true.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Who really knows? I'm fairly certain it will have something to do with art and film.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I love to read––mainly about psychology, fine art and alchemy. I go hiking with my family. And I draw and paint when I have the time. A couple of years ago I did an art installation at Burning Man.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
A difficult question. I have so many favorite films, ranging from David Cronenberg's Shivers to Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits, as well as Disney's Pinocchio, to the more recent Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank and Roman Polanski's Ghost Writer.
In school, I was a huge Martin Scorsese fan, studying all that he did. Taxi Driver is one of my favorites. Also ,Arthur Penn's Bonnie & Clyde. The final scene is about as close to something sacred to me in film as it gets. And did I mention Polanski?
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
Currently, Mad Men has to be one of my favorite TV Shows because the writing is so great. I love watching Twin Peaks on DVD. David Lynch is a visionary.
Do you have an industry mentor?
I have many mentors. I've had the good fortune to learn from and work closely with Rick Finney, John Refoua, Leo Trombetta, Duwayne Dunham, George Lucas and Walter Murch.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
There are always extenuating circumstances beyond one's control, but I would have to say that persistence really does pay off. It's true. I've seen it time and again in so many people. Ambition, luck and passion are central to any line of work––and I would have to add that patience is just as equally as important when it comes to being an editor.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
The Guild has been for me a great resource of learning new tools and meeting new people.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
The film industry has gone through many noted transitions, and each time there were people saying that the new way of doing things would undermine the future of our business. Things are transforming; this is certain. But the knowledge and grammar of the cinematic language will extend far into the future, and as it goes through many iterations, those who spend the time to form a foundation will discover novel ways to tell a story through the art and craft of editing.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.