Where are you currently employed?
I’ve been working for DreamWorks Animation for the past seven years in both the feature and television divisions.
I’m currently an additional editor on the Puss in Boots II animated feature.
Describe Your Job.
Editing animation always starts with storyboards and dialogue. As part of the editorial team, I work closely with the lead editor and creative staff. I time the panels to best tell the story and relay the action within the scene. Even a simple scene that may have a character enter a room and pour a cup of coffee might require as many as 50 storyboard drawings to flesh out the action. We time the boards to determine the length for each movement within the scene. Editorial supports this by adding extensive temp sound effects and music to set the tone and clarify action. Avid visual effects are often needed as well to create camera movement or to paint-fix storyboards. Once the story is locked, we start to replace storyboards with animation and fully rendered shots.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I took my first student video class in high school. We were responsible for producing, shooting and editing original news segments for the school’s video news channel. Our teacher also let me use a Super-8 camera to experiment with film. After high school, I continued my interests in cinema storytelling by majoring in film production at San Francisco State University.
Who gave you your first break?
An independent film company called Chanticleer Films gave me my first break. I edited two of its first-time directors’ shorts that were featured on Showtime. The next logical step up was to edit a post-apocalyptic feature-length film for Roger Corman on a 35mm upright Moviola.
What was your first union job?
My first union job was editing SpongeBob Squarepants: The Movie.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I put so much time into editing day-to-day on each project that it’s hard to narrow it down. I’m proud of all my work, whether it’s live action or animation. But if I must choose, I’d have to say
SpongeBob Squarepants: The Movie and the animated television series Dragons: Riders of Berk.
Not only were these shows fun to work on, but they required a lot of creative time and energy to make them great projects.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The greatest challenge is to constructively collaborate with the creative team to find the best narrative within the restrictions of budget and time. In animation, rewriting dominates the early stages of the creative process and that is followed by a flurry of temporary dialogue tracks and new storyboard panels. This affects editorial quite a bit because there is an expectation to create fresh iterations of the cut on the Avid in a timely fashion as new story details flow in. The best way I’ve found to stay on top of a quick turnaround is to manage my time, stay organized and distribute the workload wisely between the editors and the assistants.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I have great memories of working on the SpongeBob television series, as well as editing the feature film with many of the same crew. They were an inspiring group to work with because of their talent and creative ability and the lasting friendships that developed. It was an honor to be part of such a successful show from the very beginning. None of us had any idea how popular SpongeBob would become.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to continue editing both animated features and live action.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Who has time for hobbies? I’m an editor! But, seriously, I enjoy spending time with my family and traveling.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Singing in the Rain, Trainspotting, Rebecca, 8 1/2, Some Like It Hot, Iron Giant and Wallace &
Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit are some of my favorite films. It’s an eclectic bunch, but each one tells a story well and each maintains its own unique cinematic style.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire are currently my favorites. The collective talent in art direction, editing, writing and acting on these shows keeps me constantly wanting more.
Do you have an industry mentor?
From every job I have worked on, I’ve learned new things no matter whether they’re from other editors or assistants. Some of the big name editors who I admire are Verna Fields and Thelma Schoonmaker.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Take every opportunity to work on any projects that come your way and edit as much as you can.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
For the past few years, I’ve been fortunate in my employment. However, it’s nice to know that the Guild is an available resource when we need it.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of
Our jobs are very demanding and can occupy a lot of our personal time. Therefore, I think it’s very important for people in our field to enjoy what they’re doing and make their work as much fun as possible.
-- Compiled by Edward Landler
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