Where are you currently employed?
Everyday operations as a Film Librarian
Describe Your Job.
It’s a cross between being a librarian, an assistant editor and a shipping clerk. Although there are several duties the Archives perform, my focus is primarily with the film elements. We house everything from one-inch videotape to DCP (Digital Cinema Package) drives and everything in between.
When a feature is finished, we receive the negatives, inter-positives and inter-negatives, as well as show-and-check prints from the lab. I enter all that information into our database and vault the elements accordingly. When the separation masters arrive, I enter that data in and send those to our underground storage location back east for long-term storage. We receive several versions of a finished product for both our domestic and international markets and we receive several languages of each — which really add up. For every picture element, there is usually a separate sound element also. So all these formats on several versions of each title get processed and stored.
Our restoration team is headed by Librarian Laura Thornburg, who constantly goes through the older titles in our library. This keeps us busy doing several tasks as well. Other duties include bringing prints to various screening rooms and making pickups and deliveries around the lot. Our digital library has grown immensely in the last couple of years, and we are constantly creating and updating drives and sending them back and forth for multiple projects.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
My dad was a film editor, so early on I felt connected to the business. I remember when I was a kid, he’d bring me to work with him and we would go and watch them shoot My Three Sons and Family Affair, which were some of the shows he worked on. I remember feeling privileged to be a part of it.
Who gave you your first break?
Tom McCarthy, who was the senior vice president of Columbia Pictures. That was back in 1979.
What was your first union job?
It was at Columbia Pictures when they were located at the Burbank Studios. My job was to gather all the boxed-up materials from the cutting room when they finished a show. I would prepare them for transport for long-term storage at the salt mines.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I’ve had the privilege of working with Peter Berger, A.C.E., on a couple of features — The Red Corner and Metro — but I also got to help out on Star Trek: Generations. Although I didn’t get a credit, it was still a big thrill, being the Trekkie I was at the time. Years later, it led to a job with Star Trek: Voyager that was special to me as well. So I got to work with one of the best editors in the business and on one of my favorite shows.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
I think it was the transition to editorial department when film editing segued into digital editing. I took several Avid classes and went to the Guild to practice on the Avids they made available. I prepared for what I needed to know in anticipation of working on a show.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I’ve had fun in all the positions I’ve worked in, but what stands out the most is when I first started in Film Shipping with Columbia Pictures. Back in the film days, when the lab dropped off the dailies, we would deliver them to the editors, who would sync them up. Then we would run them to the screening rooms for the directors and executives to view. Later on, when the film was taking form, we would know about the changes made on each show because we worked closely with the assistants and had the inside scoop on things. It allowed me to meet several people — not only in film editing but the producers and directors as well.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
To be able to embrace the continuing changes in the industry and adapt to whatever it takes to meet those challenges and excel at them.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I’m an outdoor person and I live by the beach, so anything related to that — like surfing, paddling, and fishing. I also help coach my daughter’s softball team, which keeps me pretty busy almost year ‘round.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
I’m the kind of person that has a favorite for almost every category. For a comedy, it would be Blazing Saddles because it’s just so funny. For a drama, I’d say The Shawshank Redemption; it depicts how life can be so unfair at times and the perseverance we have as individuals to overcome those circumstances. It’s very encouraging.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Person of Interest… I like the whole concept of the story line and I think both the writing and the acting are very well done.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Be persistent and eager. I was brought up with the old-school values, and what you might lack in experience at first you can more than make up for in enthusiasm.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
I was in between jobs a few times — a little longer than I cared for — and I was sent to a few interviews which was encouraging. And, as I mentioned, I did take advantage of logging some well-needed time on the Avids years ago.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
I’ll go with a Zig Ziglar quote: “It’s not what you know, it’s what you use that makes a difference.”
Compiled by Edward Landler
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