Where are you currently employed?
As an assistant editor, I work freelance. I recently finished working on a Chinese and American co-production tentatively titled Hollywood Adventures — a romantic comedy shot in Los Angeles with Chinese actors. For my next job, I will be an assistant editor on the Scream series produced by the Weinstein Company and airing on MTV.
Describe Your Job.
On the Chinese film I just finished, I did all the usual assistant editor tasks of prepping dailies for the editor, doing temp VFX shots and sound effects work, and doing QuickTime exports for all sorts of requests. In addition to that, I helped organize Chinese dialogue in the film and assisted the director and the editor in choosing the best readings of the Chinese dialogue. For both the voice-overs and the actual lines from the dailies, we used Avid ScriptSync to line up all the Chinese dialogue with the English translation. ScriptSync is a huge help in this particular type of international co-production.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I studied digital media arts at an art school in Beijing. I did graphic design, interactive animation, sculpture, video editing and all sorts of digitally related things. In one class, I did an interactive video project for a story with multiple different endings and found that editing and storytelling was much more interesting to me than coding on a computer all day long. Then I applied to the American Film Institute and was accepted. I came to the US and got my MFA in Editing from AFI.
Who gave you your first break?
I edited a feature film directed by an AFI Directing Fellow named Joel Novoa, whom I knew from my year at the AFI. It’s called Esclavo de Dios (God’s Slave). I have no idea how he found the confidence in me to edit his Spanish-language thriller. The film won several awards in festivals and had a theatrical release in South America. From that opportunity, I found work on more films.
What was your first union job?
My first union job was working on a low-budget action thriller called Swelter starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. I was assistant editor for editor Martin Bernfeld, who is also an AFI alumnus.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I think every project has its own different challenges and I am proud of every project I have worked on.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
With the way that technology keeps developing, the post-production workflow changes constantly and an assistant editor needs to stay on top of all the changes. For me, this has included learning new techniques for doing temp VFX, adjusting to a new procedure for dailies workflow, and managing the Avid Unity and the ISIS storage system for video files. Depending on what I need to know, I talk to fellow assistant editors, search for answers to my questions on Google or go to a workshop to learn.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Hmm… I wouldn’t want people to know I have too much fun at work! They might think I’m a slacker. But I love it when people bring their pets to work. I’m thinking about bringing my cat with me to work.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope I can still do what I love to do in the editing world.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Outdoor activities — anything where I don’t have to sit indoors in front of a computer. I like taking care of my garden and I am trying to be a good chef, especially a sushi chef.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
There are too many good films to choose from. I like many films that inspire me about editing and storytelling. Lost in Translation is one of my favorite films. I have watched it at least 10 times. I am still amazed by its subtle humor and the development of the two characters’ relationship. I was deeply moved by their special relationship and struggles in life towards the end of the film.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
There are so many good TV shows nowadays! I love Homeland for its amazing story and I just love Larry David’s goofy jokes in Curb Your Enthusiasm…and Vice from HBO is a great show about politics from a different point of view.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Yes. I feel very lucky that I have had many mentors in my career after film school and that they’ve helped me a lot with career advice and jobs. Terry Kelley, ACE, is a great friend and mentor in my career and my life. I am very proud of him for recently winning an Eddie Award for his work on Homeland.
Also, in the AFI’s alumni mentor program, I was placed with an editing alumna whose career was very similar to my achievement goals. Sarah Broshar was my mentor from my second year at AFI. She offered me great advice about what to expect after film school and how to break into the industry. Her advice was invaluable and I ended up working with her on some films.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Don’t give up on what you want to do. It’s really difficult sometimes to get your first break in the film industry. Just keep trying and don’t lose your confidence — one day you will break in.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Not really, but I did get potential job e-mails from the Guild for a while, and it’s very nice for the Guild to help out all the members out there.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
I think I’m fairly new to the editorial world and I should learn more from other Guild members. There are so many amazing assistant editors and editors that I admire and respect.
- Compiled by Edward Landler
Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on the home page of the Editors Guild website, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.