Where are you currently employed?
I work freelance through the PGC Group.
I’m on Season 3 of Masterchef at Fox.
Describe Your Job.
My day varies depending on the show. It can be anything from watching eight hours of raw footage and turning it into a watchable ten-minute act, or working from a producer’s rough assembly and again turning it into an act, to polishing a whole episode for fine-cut viewing.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
My high school in Cairns, Australia, had a Film and Television class — which meant we had access to a VHS camera. In our spare time, a group of us would run around and shoot school sporting events, theatre productions and students, and edit the footage together for the school to screen. That two years of high school is the only formal training I have in editing. The rest — 17 years — has been on-the-job experience and persistence.
Who gave you your first break?
A small production company in Sydney, Australia. I sent out my very limited resume to every business listed under 'Production Companies" in the phone book and, 12 months later, they called back. By then I was living in another state and working as a short order cook, but I jumped on a plane and arrived for the interview. I think they gave me the job because I was so keen and I had a one-way ticket! I started in the tape-to-tape suite, cutting corporate videos for clients like Qantas and Coca-Cola. After a year ,I taught myself to use this new-fangled machine called Avid. I then became the go-to editor because I was fast.
What was your first union job?
My last show was Face Off on SyFy. Last year the show went union and so did I.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I have worked on a lot of TV shows from season 1, episode 1. And I really love working with producers and executive producers on the style, pacing and general look and feel for a new series. I’ve also edited a dozen or so short films, all of which were made with zero budget. How Many Doctors Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb screened in front of over 90,000 people, won the Best Comedy prize at Tropfest 2006, and was a finalist in more than 10 international festivals. This year, we made a sequel and it also won an award at Tropfest 2012. This one was an even bigger accomplishment considering that my director, Marie Patane, is in Australia and we edited it over Skype in just a few days.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) how did you overcome/solve it?
Apart from network notes? I learned early on not to take the notes and changes personally. And if someone wants to change an edit I took hours to perfect, it's not the end of the world — not that I don't mumble under my breath occasionally.
What was the most fun you've had at work?
Working in Thailand for an Australian reality show called Celebrity Overhaul. Somehow, the show runners managed to get the network to sign off on sending us all over and putting us up in a four-star hotel for 2 weeks. So, by day, I would log and string out footage and by night we would take a tuk tuk — an auto rickshaw — into town, sample the local food, buy $2 t-shirts or fake watches and sample the local whiskey. Note to self: The local Thai whiskey is cheap for a reason.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
My animated feature film will be out of my head and screening around the world! And all the other ideas that are swirling around in my head will be on TV.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
We have two rescue dogs that love to hike and my partner and I love food and wine, which typically leads to more hiking!
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
True Romance — everything about this film is great, from the theme song and the scene in the hotel where James Gandolfini is beating up Patricia Arquette, to Brad Pitt playing a stoner;
Romeo and Juliet — the style, pacing and use of music makes me want to make movies every time I watch it; Tootsie — the list is too long to mention all the great things about this film.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
The Walking Dead — I love the special effects and characters; Nurse Jackie — it’s 22 minutes of smart, witty TV... and the actress who plays Zoey steals every scene; Golden Girls — I think I have seen every episode and can quote episodes word for word, All the characters are played to perfection; Curb your Enthusiasm — the timing is perfect and every time I need a box cutter or someone pulls a chat and cut, I giggle.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Australian reality TV producer David Barbour. I worked as an assistant on one of his short films, and he took a gamble and gave me my first job as the one and only editor on one of his shows. It was a renovation show, so we were on location on the work site. We had the edit suite set up in a portable shed, which wasn't level, but we perfected the right lean so we wouldn't end up on the other side of the shed every time we sat in a chair. We worked 15 hours a day, six-and-a-half days a week. My learning curve was huge and invaluable.
The cameramen would hand me the tapes, we would watch the footage as it was digitizing, make notes, then edit together an offline cut. At the end of each shoot week, we would head back to the production office and I would online the show. After a half-day off, we would start all over again. Working in that environment, under those time pressures, David taught me to think fast, go with my gut and, more importantly, have fun with it.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Be willing to work hard, not have a life for a while (or even years), put in extra hours and if you're an assistant wanting to edit, be the first to put your hand up and volunteer because no one is just going to hand you a show to be lead editor!
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Not yet, but no doubt I will.
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Compiled by Edward Landler
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