Where are you currently employed?
Working freelance as a supervising ADR editor, I edit in New York post-production facilities such as Harbor Sound or C5, Inc., and record in studios like Harbor, SoundTrack and Goldcrest.
My last project was a comedy feature about teenage bullying, The Duff starring Mae Whitman.
Describe Your Job.
As a supervising ADR editor, I work closely with the director and the picture editor, pointing out production that is problematic and offering additional creative suggestions. I rely on input from the dialogue editor for instances where the production can be saved and input from the sound effects editor for background wallas that should be recorded.
In the studio, I determine if the actor’s recording matches the performance and vocal quality — pitch, projection, pacing — of the original production. At times, I direct the actor if the director is absent or wants more input in the studio. If the director is not interested, I direct the group actors to set the scene, add specific lines, or re-voice a minor character.
In the editing room I edit the selects of the recording sessions. Sometimes it is hard for all of us in the studio to judge on the fly. I usually produce an alternate if I think it is closer to what the director intended or to the production line it is replacing.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
Working on set doing props for indie features, like The Brother from Another Planet, I segued into doing script supervisor/continuity, which sparked my interest in editing. I was attracted to sound editing while working for sound editor/designer Robert Hein, who has a painterly approach. ADR interested me because I wanted to be closer to acting and spoken language on film. I love the way characters speak to each other — what they say or don’t say and how they say it.
Who gave you your first break?
What was your first union job?
It was either Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam (yes, that was the title) or Brighton Beach Memoirs.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I feel fortunate and proud to have worked with great directors on interesting nuanced films and I love working on movies that have an additional creative component like music or dance. What stands out is working with Robert Altman on The Company and A Prairie Home Companion, Rob Marshall on Chicago and Susan Stroman on The Producers. Timing and pitch was essential for these films; words play like punctuation or smooth transitions in and out of song.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon provided an interesting element — the ADR material was recorded in Chinese, a tonal-driven language none of us knew. What a blast…and what humorous mistakes we made! Luckily the sound assistant was fluent in Chinese and knew when we cut out entire words in striving for sync.
United 93 was also challenging. I was initially hired to supervise a day or two of group actors, but the job grew to include all of the actors based in the New York area. Director Paul Greengrass and his editing team were in London mixing, so I was asked to direct these sessions. Greengrass artfully cast real stewardess and pilot non-actors for those roles. This enhanced the authenticity of the improvised dialogue but it complicated the process. I am proud to have participated in this film and its genuinely caring and respectful re-creation of painful events so soon after they happened.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The biggest and most persistent challenge is to find the most sensitive and effective way of directing an actor to duplicate the beloved production performance. “Please say it the exact same way” just cannot be uttered. Diplomacy is required to gain the actor’s and the director’s trust. I love being in the studio and the challenge of showing good taste and judgment while at the same time maintaining that delicate balance of moving the session along without stepping on anyone’s toes.
Hampering the process these days is the reliance on ISDN or other less effective technologies for recording sessions when the actor and director are in different locations. Even if the technology functions successfully — a big ‘if’ — lost is the rapport between actor and director crucial in eliciting the essential performance on the set. Performances easily become perfunctory, deflated or mimicked rather than felt. Typically, I speak with the ADR mixer before the session to ensure the best flow for communication between studios. I also try to influence the decision to schedule the actors and director in the same location, but everyone’s schedules are so squeezed.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Many films have been fun, especially when I had a close and respectful working relationship with the director. The Boxer was such an enjoyable experience because Jim Sheridan is such an interesting and inclusive director. Plus, I was flown to England and Ireland and worked at a congenial pace with mostly non-American actors, who usually have less of a star mentality. I truly felt like part of the process.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to have a fulfilling, self-supporting life in the entertainment industry, no matter the role.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
The occasional dabbling in creative writing, traveling abroad and exploring New York City for interesting neighborhoods or off-the-beaten-track eats, enjoying museums and galleries, and experiencing the culture the city offers.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
The Wizard of Oz. It’s visually beautiful with engaging music and lyrics, and it’s all about fantasy, longing, family and self-discovery.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
My first response — Gilligan’s Island and Bewitched — fond and inane memories that should perhaps be stricken. My grown-up favorite is The Wire with its finely wrought characters, sense of location and complex interplay of social policy, justice and personal development.
But heck, what about Arrested Development with its quirky and abandoned sense of humor? Or Freaks & Geeks for its sweetly funny depiction of teenage pathos? So many more…
Do you have an industry mentor?
No, but I have been and continue to be influenced by my colleagues and the directors and editors with whom I’ve worked closely.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Stay focused on the creative aspects of the work. This is not just about keeping up with the latest technological gadget — this is a creative field and your job is a craft. And your best professional asset is your genuine interest in the colleagues you work with, no matter their position.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Certainly when projects have been lax about paying or becoming a signatory.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
We are all fortunate to be able to work on popular culture — one of America’s greatest domestic products. These are hard times for most professions, so I remind myself to keep focused, stay friendly, create a community, be respectful and know that the entertainment business operates in ebbs and flows.
Compiled by Edward Landler
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