Where are you currently employed? Current Project?
I am working as Tom Fontana's music editor on the Canal+ series Borgia.
Describe Your Job.
I am responsible for creating a temp score for each episode. Then I collaborate with the show's composer, Éric Neveux, and music supervisor, Denis Furne, in Paris to fine-tune the temp. I then present our work to the executive producer, Tom Fontana, for his notes and/or approvals. After that, I recreate multi-track versions of any approved cues or I relay Mr. Fontana's notes to Mr. Neveux. He will then compose and produce any new work as requested. When all cues are in multi-track form, I deliver them to the mix stage and provide direction to the re-recording mixer, Tony Pipitone, at Sync Sound in New York City, based on Mr. Fontana's direction.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
As a teenager, I was always interested in synthesizers, electronic music, house music, electro and synth pop. When I went to college as an undergrad at SUNY Binghamton, I discovered an electronic music/MIDI course in the Theatre Department. I took the class, ended up teaching it, and changed my major to Theatre. I also became the department's student sound designer. After graduation in 1991, I earned my Masters from Yale School of Drama in 1994 and then worked on Broadway for about a year assisting sound design legend Otts Munderloh. From there, I helped Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore build his music production facility in upstate New York.
Who gave you your first break?
My “big break” (so to speak) came from the mæstro himself, Howard Shore. I was first hired as his assistant on the film Seven, and eventually grew that position into programming the electronics tracks to his amazing film scores on his vintage Synclavier.
What was your first union job?
I was brought on to assist music editor Daniel Evans Farkas on the NBC-TV series Ed in 2000, where I eventually began cutting music in my own right. I worked on Ed for just about the entire series, from Season One until the finale in 2004.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I am most proud of my contribution to the series Damages starring Glenn Close, from 2007 through 2012. This was a true collaboration with the show’s editors, music supervisor Mark Wike, composer James S. Levine and creators/executive producers Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The biggest challenge sometimes is having to educate management that music editors are, in fact, bona fide members of the IATSE Local 700 — the Motion Picture Editors Guild — and are afforded certain rights under the contract, including hourly rates, overtime pay, holiday pay and benefit contributions. I find that it is easily overcome if we do our jobs to the best of our ability, and then bring any contract questions or potential violations to the attention of the Guild office in a timely, thorough and professional manner without any emotional or confrontational reaction. Using this approach, I have found that the situation will right itself rather effortlessly and I can then concentrate on delivering the best soundtrack possible to the producers’ ears.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Aside from my work on Damages, my present project, Borgia, is truly film scoring at its finest. Taking broad-theme, multi-track recordings of live orchestra and, alongside the composer, re-synthesizing new cues for new scenes in new episodes is what being a music editor is all about.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to continue to build on my success by working on top series and I will certainly take the call should a feature come knocking. I also hope to continue producing my own house-electro-techno music.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Home improvement, luxury automobiles, real estate investment, union politics and ice hockey.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
John Waters' Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. These two movies contain so many of life's lessons embedded under non-stop hilarity. And the picture and sound editing are, hands down, the most honest and real as editing can be.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
All in the Family, because of its honest approach to real subject matter.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Ellen Segal, MPSE, was the first music editor I worked with when I was Howard Shore's assistant on Seven. So I credit her with showing me how a pro operates! Thank you, Ellen!
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Two things. First: “Less talking and more listening.” And secondly: “Life is like high school; it is not like college.”
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
On a series, I was approached with an illegal “flat rate” deal and the post supervisor told me, “Take it or leave it.” I took it and then I approached the Guild. Cut to the chase: The post supervisor was let go and I received my back pay. Subsequently, that experience opened the door to Guild politics for me and now I serve on the Local 700 Board as an alternate director for the Eastern Region.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
The Guild is as strong as us, its members! Be strong!
- Compiled by Edward Landler
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