“I’m a believer in working your way up and learning about all aspects of the post production process. You get to know the big picture. ”
Describe your job role and the kinds of projects/clients you work with.
My bread and butter comes from the commercial world. Over the years I’ve worked directly with the creative teams at advertising agencies on a lot of 30 second spots of all types, but I especially love dialog and comedy or anything more focused on human interactions vs. style and fashion. Lately, I’ve been editing a lot of documentary projects, mostly for pharmaceutical clients. I love working with footage of real people – distilling the stories to bring out the emotion and making the storytellers their most eloquent – so take the “challenges” that come along with pharma as part of the deal. I’m often asked to “finesse” the dialog to adhere to some kind of legal requirement while still maintaining the essence of what the subject was trying to say. It’s kind of a puzzle with its own satisfaction. I hope I’m out of the business when AI is good enough to do this without my editing magic. Occasionally I’ll find a project outside of advertising, like a series of half hour performances of a comedy/improv actor I know. I’ve also worked with a few independent director friends on their short films and features.
What does an average day look like in your post production working world?
I always say I sit for a living. Most of the time I work from home on a laptop computer with an additional monitor with one of my cats or my small dog on my lap. I work on Premiere for editing but often have to jump onto Photoshop or After Effects for more detailed effects. I enjoy creating sound design for my projects. I have the option of working at our studio at Bandit, but usually save that for when clients want to come in and hack through things together. But, overall, I have a lot of independent creative control. Mostly, these in-person sessions happen after I’ve put together a pretty polished cut and just the last few details have to be sorted out. Those sessions are becoming increasingly seldom, especially with clients I’ve worked with for a long time. Doing revisions on my own and posting them for review is just too convenient in a world where everyone is now working on multiple projects at once.
How did your career in post production begin?
I was a liberal arts major in a school with a strong film program (SUNY Purchase) where I took as many film history classes as I could and loved it. After college, I took a stab at production jobs until I met an up-and-coming editor, Chad Sipin, who needed an assistant/producer/all-round-helpful-person to help him make the budding editorial company he was running out of his apartment on Varick Street seem legitimate. I took care of all aspects of the business – budgeting, shipping, inventory, etc. – while also learning to edit from one of the most creative editors I’ve known. We were cutting on a CMX tape to tape system but I think my development as an editor really blossomed with the freer workflow that came when Avid arrived on the scene. As time went on, I started taking over revisions and finishing and clients eventually started giving me jobs on my own. It was a classic apprenticeship/mentor relationship.
What has been your career highlight?
I worked with Larry Clark of “Kids” fame on a couple of music videos. It was a good collaboration. As could be imagined, Larry’s work has a bit of an edge which I like. One of the videos was for Cheap Trick covering the John Lennon song “Cold Turkey”. It was shot in an old graffiti covered band shell in East River Park and all over the East Village – my hood, then and now – which made it feel personal. It also featured Harold Hunter, skateboarder and one of the stars of “Kids”, who is now a legend among today’s East Village skateboarder crowd. I gained new respect from my son when he found out I worked with him.
Who are your role models in post?
There are so many great editors I’d love to distill and absorb a tiny bit of. Chan Sipkin is the one who raised me from a pup and I will forever be grateful. He is super talented and many of his words of wisdom still float up in my head. And I admire the editors I’m currently working with at Bandit. The fact that the group is not only talented but supportive, and part of a team also speaks to the folks that put the team together who consider those qualities as important as the bottom line.
What advice do you have for others wanting to start a career in post?
I’m a believer in working your way up and learning about all aspects of the post production process. You get to know the big picture. As far as the skill of editing, observing and being mentored is great but experience is also a great teacher, so in the beginning, be open to opportunities to get in there and cut something no matter how humble. But once you’ve gotten a few projects under your belt, don’t be afraid to turn down a super low-budget, nightmare-ish job. You don’t want to be the go-to editor for those projects in the long run. Another part of the job in the commercial world is learning the hierarchy and “politics” that come from having clients who’ve hired you. There’s definitely a power dynamic but you’re the expert. You have to hear the concerns and requests of your clients then re-interpret them to make them work creatively. And sometimes you might just have to do their version while giving them an option that you think is better. They almost always make the right choice. Or, take their crazy ideas, no matter how impossible they seem, as a challenge. Sometimes the hoops you have to jump through to make their wacky idea work actually inspire something more surprising and original.
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