Where are you currently employed?
I’m working out of Sunset Gower Studios for Sony.
I just wrapped as an assistant editor on Comedy Central’s Why? With Hannibal Buress, a topical scripted comedy show, and started on Sony TV’s Underground, which is a scripted one-hour program.
Describe Your Job.
On Why, we had a tight turnaround; we shot on Tuesday evening and delivered to network for air the next day. Things were really hectic and we had to be flexible. Often, the writers were making adjustments through the last minutes of rehearsal and we had to accommodate those changes. Underground has a more traditional post-production schedule and workflow.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
Before I came to Los Angeles, I lived in New York. I co-wrote a script, which a writer wanted to direct. We raised money and made a short film. Our first-time director wasn't really ready, so there were a lot of missed shots. When I was in the edit bay, I could see ways to make the cut work. The editor asked me if I had ever edited before and I said, “No.” He asked if I was interested in doing more and I started assisting him on some small projects. Soon after, I moved to LA, but didn't find my way back to editorial for a few years. Eventually, I went through the internship program at Moviola, and earned my ACSR (Avid Certified Support Representative).
Who gave you your first break?
51 Minds Entertainment, a post-production house in North Hollywood. I had worked mainly in production in New York City, but never posted in a professional setting. 51 Minds had a great system in which they train you all the way from vault to editor. I started in the vault and quickly moved up to assistant editor.
What was your first union job?
My first union job was as first assistant editor on a Disney Channel TV movie called Cloud 9. Then I went back to working on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen after it went union.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I’d have to say the project I’m most proud of is Underground, a drama about the Underground Railroad, shot Prison Break-style. It focuses on the resistance and the level of skill that it took to pull off such feats. There was a lot of heroism during that time, which is largely ignored by our history books. It’s really exciting to be part of a project like this.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
I think the biggest challenge is putting in the necessary time to move up to editor, balanced with keeping current with rapidly changing technology. More and more, the assistant editor position is being redefined as a technical position rather than creative.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
When I worked nights, many years ago, we were jealous that the day staff went to Happy Hour after work. We were determined to have our own Happy Hour, so we would go to a bar after work at 6:00 a.m., and pretend it was 6:00 p.m. We even wore dark glasses. It became this thing that spread to some other shows. You meet a lot of interesting characters at bars at six in the morning!
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Looking forward over the next five years, I hope to work up from assistant editor to editor in scripted TV. I’m a writer, too, and perhaps as a 10-year plan, I’d like to work and learn enough to be the show runner of my own comedy series — maybe the first to come through post-production. In post, we know where production bleeds, and we know how to take the proper precautions so we won't have to fix it in post — which usually ends up costing more money.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I belong to a writers group and I spend a lot of my weekends working on side projects. I love to read. I'm also very passionate about social issues and animal rescue and I just started training for my second marathon and taking horse-riding lessons.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
My favorite movies are anything by the Coen brothers or Martin Scorsese. Thelma Schoonmaker is a phenomenal editor. Scorsese made a bold feminist statement by simply hiring the best person for the job. An East Coast sensibility with incredible storytelling — it gets me every time! I also love that both refuse to let anyone put them in a box; they’ll do comedy, drama, period pieces… Creativity is loose and flowing. The industry tries to compartmentalize something that was never meant to have borders.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
I Love Lucy, physical comedy with a female lead; All in the Family, social commentary meets biting humor; Breaking Bad, amazing story and actors, and great editing; Mad Men, perfection; Sons of Anarchy, great action with unexpected twists and turns…and Kurt Sutter; Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David at his best is Seinfeld on steroids; Game of Thrones, it takes its time with multiple, complex stories intertwined; and Modern Family, it just gets it right.
Do you have an industry mentor?
In New York, producer/distributor Ben Barenholtz gave me a lot of sage advice, and encouragement. Recently, editors Lillian Benson and Troy Takaki have been very helpful.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
It takes time, so be patient and be willing to put in the necessary work.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
I rely on the Guild in many ways. The Facebook group, a great resource for information, brings our community together. I’ve worked on many reality shows and some that have recently gone union. Often, union protocol is not a top priority, so it’s important for members to stick together and know their rights. We should have a motto: Leave no editor or assistant editor behind!
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Don't be afraid to take risks. It was really hard for me to make the transition from reality to scripted. I'm still in the process, but the reason I’m here is to work in scripted TV. In the end, it’s worth making the sacrifices to go for what you want.
Compiled by Edward Landler
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