Where are you currently employed?
20th Century Fox.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Describe Your Job.
Essentially, I assist the editor in whatever he needs. Depending on which stage the movie is in, I could be helping with dailies—putting them in the Avid, organizing them, checking that all the info is correct, and prepping them for the editor. I could be laying in sound effects for a scene, or helping to find music, or cutting together some scenes for the editor. Further along in post, I start to deal more with the sound and music departments and make sure they get what they need in terms of QuickTimes, OMFs and WAV audio files for their turnovers. I also handle prepping the movie for the DI towards the end of the show.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
My dad used to take me to the movies all the time. He didn’t have a TV, so it was a great way to spend the day. He would take me to see really gritty stuff by directors like Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick, as well as foreign films like The 400 Blows. I remember being a teenager watching Mean Streets and thinking the way it was put together was so cool. I hadn’t grasped the concept yet of an editor's job, but I remember thinking I wanted to work on movies. I went to film school with an emphasis in editing and I have loved it ever since.
Who gave you your first break?
Gina Gallo-Paris! Right out of college, I was assisting for free on a 16mm feature and Gina was down the hall working as a first assistant on a low-budget, non-union indie film. I would come by and bug her, asking questions about 35mm and about everything that she was doing. I would go in early when she was doing dailies and would stay late after my job to help in any way I could. She taught me everything: how to pop tracks, sync dailies, make leaders, do change notes, code the film, etc. When my other job ended, she hired me as an intern and eventually got me $200 a week. After that job, she referred me to a friend who hired me on my next job and the rest is history. I was so blessed to have learned so much from her. She was just so giving and cool. I am grateful to her and hope that I am at least half the assistant she was.
What was your first union job?
The Truth about Cats and Dogs.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I am proud of a few for different reasons, but if I had to choose, it would be the movie 300. I am really proud to be a part of that picture, mainly because I’m still surprised by the response I get from people when they hear I worked on it, and how they felt watching it. I sometimes wish I could have seen it like a regular audience. I wonder how I would have felt. Also, working on it was really fun and an interesting challenge. It was my first time back to work after having my first daughter and my first time working from start to finish with my current editor, Bill Hoy. We were doing things differently than I had done before—in terms of the ramping effects, incorporating FCP conforms from the Avid and the overall workflow—so it made going to work a real learning experience. I get kind of nerdy that way. I love learning new techy stuff.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
My biggest challenge seems to be in dealing with all the different personalities in a cutting room. We are around each other for so much of the day—more time than with my own family sometimes. I try to work with people that I get along with and who get along with each other — and who ultimately have the same goal in mind in finishing a movie. But there are times that my strong personality can clash with others and I am learning how to relate better with people that don’t necessarily drink my Kool-Aid.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I have been so lucky that the majority of my work experiences have been really fun. So, again, if I have to choose one that pops to mind, it was when I worked on The Singing Detective. That experience was great because, for most of it, it was just the editor, the director and me. No studio. Not a ton of producers. The editor, Jeff Wishengrad, was so great to me. I ended up doing the Avid and the film assisting on that one. That was a little crazy, but Jeff would let me sit with him and the director, Keith Gordon, sometimes all day. We would laugh and they asked my opinion. It felt so organic and old-school. I think that was my last show with film, too, so that is kind of sad.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
My passion outside of work is my two little girl: Sadie, seven, and Matilda, who is two and a half. I have been working so much lately that, when I am off, all I want to do is be with them coloring, or being outdoors or going to the movies. I just dig being around them. I am also hoping that when I have some time off I can focus and learn how to play guitar.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
There are so many movies that I am a huge fan of for many different reasons. Off the top of my head stuff that I love: Hugo (what a beautiful homage to movies!), Drive, A Clockwork Orange, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Dr. Strangelove, Raging Bull, Seven... These have struck a chord with me. They are all just really great movies and there are reasons they are on a lot of people’s lists, but they hit me emotionally for sure when I saw them for the first time.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
The Wire, Shameless, Parenthood, The Amazing Race. I love well-written shows that are character-driven. And The Amazing Race is, well...amazing.
Do you have an industry mentor?
I have been blessed to have a few editors that I have learned a lot from, but I have to say my current Editor, Bill Hoy, with whom I have worked for over seven years, has taught me and continues to teach me so much. I used to be so intimidated to ask about things or to take a chance, but now, with each new show we do together, I feel more confident in the challenges he gives me or that I ask to take on. He is very giving and truly wants me to do my best and learn. I feel like the choices I make in editing a scene are getting better. I always try to have him in my head asking the questions he asks me when he sees stuff. I’m so lucky to have such a great working relationship with him. I respect him tremendously and hope that when I do go off and edit in the future that his talents will have rubbed off on me — if only a little bit.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Have patience. Be prepared for long hours. Try and find a balance between work and family, but, most of all, immerse yourself in all aspects of the arts. For all of the hard work that editing can be, it is one of the most creative positions. There is no limit to what an editor can bring to a movie. Also, being well versed in all kinds of cinema, music (scores, popular and classical), art and books can only be an asset to you in the job.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Very early on, I was faced with a tough decision. I had been given my first Avid job on a low-budget feature. About two weeks into dailies, the production wanted to go on strike and unionize. I was the only Union member on the crew so the Guild called me and asked me not to cross the picket line. Coming from a family of union workers, that was a no-brainer for me, but being loyal to my editor made it very difficult to have to abandon him. I asked the Guild what I should do and could I at least get his dailies to him the next day before the strike. The strike didn't start until 5:00 p.m., so they let me go in and get him set up the next morning. Then I had to pack up and leave the show. It was very stressful because I lost my job, but the production did unionize, so it was worth it.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
The dynamics of a cutting room have changed tremendously with the digital movement. In some cases, it can mean fewer jobs with more competition. Use the Guild’s resources whenever you can. There is always room to learn and the Guild is a great resource, with classes and seminars to keep you up on what departments are doing or showcasing new software or equipment.
Compiled by Edward Landler
Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on the home page of the Editor’s Guild website, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.