I'm between pictures right now. I recently completed Here Comes the Boom starring Kevin James.
Describe your job.
It is my task to take all the pieces of the production that have been shot — either on film or digitally — and assemble them to best tell the story. I not only consider the picture and its imagery and the performances, but also what would be the best elements comprising the visual effects and what would be a good representation of how the picture should sound. Of course, this is a collaborative art. I am only the first of many voices — including VFX supervisors and artists, sound editors and mixers, music editors and composers, colorists and lab personnel — involved in telling the story and helping to put the director's vision up on the screen.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I was greatly influenced by an English teacher I had in high school. He was such a marvelous storyteller; I looked forward to his class every day. He inspired me to want to tell stories that captured an audience as he did. Combine that with being from a family of film buffs, and I decided that telling stories on film was the path for me. In my last year of high school, a friend and I started the first film production class at our school. From there, I went to film school at USC.
Who gave you your first break?
My first big break came from Del and Steve New at Precision Film Cutting, a father and son team of negative cutters based at Technicolor that hired me out of USC. They were able to get me into IATSE, Local 683 (now merged into the Editors Guild), as a negative cutter — my first professional film industry job!
What was your first union job?
After making the move to editorial, my first job after joining the Editors Guild was as an assistant editor on Law & Order. After two seasons, I had the great fortune of working for Don Zimmerman, A.C.E. I was his first assistant and VFX editor for eight years. Among the many pictures we worked on were several for director Tom Shadyac. The opportunity to edit came when Bruce Almighty was green-lit at Universal. Don had already committed to editing The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers for director Bo Welch. The director of Bruce Almighty was Tom Shadyac and he asked me to cut the picture. He felt I was ready to make the move, and I am so proud that I didn't let him down.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I'm proud of each and every project on which I have worked. They may not all have been successful at the box office, but I've enjoyed the part I play in telling the story and the privilege I've had in working with so many talented people.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The biggest challenge I've ever encountered was being hired for a picture by the producers as opposed to the director. From the beginning, the director was suspicious of me and my loyalties to him and his vision, fearing I would undermine his approach to a scene in favor of the producers' wishes. A most difficult scenario. Eventually, I was able to win the director's trust by proving that I always have the best interests of the storytelling in mind when I cut a scene — just as he did.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Each day I get to edit a picture!
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope that my good fortune will continue and I'll be able to keep telling stories by editing motion pictures!
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Editing is my hobby and passion! I'm also a big fan of film and Hollywood history. I collect silent-era motion picture equipment. I have several hand-cranked projectors, cameras and tripods — including the first Mitchell camera purchased by Sam Goldwyn in 1926 and an early Eyemo from Cecil B. DeMille's studio in Culver City. I also have several Model C & D Moviolas, although some are from the early sound era.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
That's too difficult to narrow down. A top 20, perhaps. It would have to include Casablanca, Rear Window, Lawrence of Arabia, L.A. Confidential, It Happened One Night... The list keeps growing.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Another varied list: The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H, Cheers and Seinfeld for their great characters. Also, the British series Sherlock; terrific stories told, and edited, in such a contemporary way.
Do you have an industry mentor?
No, but I do have a loving, understanding family and many friends in the film industry with great talent!
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Love what you do. There are no shortcuts. It's hard work with long hours, but if you love it, it won't feel that way. It's very rewarding.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Fortunately, no. It is great, however, knowing that the Guild is there to protect all of us. They maintain the excellent working conditions that we've all come to expect as professionals in this industry.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
The hard work and good attitude will pay off. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon - and for the rest of your life!
- 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.