Cut to Black: Alex Ivany, Picture Editor

For each day in the month of February, the African American Steering Committee will be highlighting Local 700’s African American members, both past and present, and their accomplishments. We look forward to showing the contributions and influences African Americans have had on the industry.

Name: Alex Ivany

What’s your job? Picture editor

List the credits you’re most proud of. “13th” (Netflix), “Queen Sugar” (WB/OWN), “Cherish the Day” (WB/OWN), “Black Belts” (Disney), “August 28th” (for The Smithsonian African American Museum; starring Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Regina King, Lupita Nyong’o), “Ifine: Beauty” (Independent documentary currently making festival run)

What are you working on right now? I recently finished work on a feature documentary, and am currently looking for my next project. I have experience editing episodic TV, feature films, and documentaries, and am excited and open to any opportunities! In the meantime, I’ve been editing some of my own projects that I don’t often have time for.

Who and what are your influences and/or mentors?
I’ve been fortunate to have amazing mentorship from the start of my career. It began with Spencer Averick who is a friend, editor and collaborator of Ava DuVernay. He gave me the amazing opportunity to work on 13th and he really took me under-his-wing throughout the process. I learned so much from him about the post-production workflow, crafting an engaging structure, and what it means to be a great editor. I was also fortunate to get to know and learn from Ava DuVernay throughout the process, and watch her genius at work firsthand. I was able to continue to grow and learn from Ava and Spencer throughout my career so far. Ava gave me the uplifting opportunity to move into the editor chair. I was an additional editor on her Jay-Z & Beyoncé music video “Family Feud,” and eventually became a full-time editor on her shows “Queen Sugar” and “Cherish the Day.”

What books are you reading, shows are you watching and/or movies you’re excited
about? Lately I have been studying the craft of screenwriting and story structure in film and television, and reading a lot of books on those topics. I’ve been reading the various “Save the Cat” books, and some other books related to story analysis. I find this to be incredibly useful as an editor, to understand scripts, and the writer’s intentions.

In terms of shows, I’ve been rewatching “Breaking Bad,” one of the best TV shows of all time. I think the character development and structure is something to be studied, so I’m taking the time to really understand the beats and pacing so that I can bring it into my work.

For movies, I just watched “Poor Things” the other day, and found it to be such an incredible contemplation on the female experience. I also encourage everyone to watch Ava DuVernay’s recent film “Origin,” which is such a powerful exploration into the human experience as it relates to social structure. Ava continues to break boundaries with this film, and like so many of her previous projects, I believe “Origin” is a film that every person must see!

What would be your superhero name? “The Uplifter,” because my mission as a storyteller is to uplift and empower the voices of underrepresented communities. I want to support storytellers and stories from an array of historically marginalized communities. Otherwise, I’d go with “Alex Scissorhands” because I’m always chopping away in the edit room!

What are your black history month memories and any cultural or historical impacts on your life? Black history month for me is a time for self reflection. Learning about black history is something that I take very seriously as an adult, because I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to learn about it growing up. As a bi-racial black kid in the 90’s, black history wasn’t as discussed as it is today – or at least wasn’t discussed much in my world. When I was a teenager and young adult I began to explore black history more by reading iconic black authors like Fredrick Douglas, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and began to relate to their words. As a 32 year old man, I feel like my education has only begun. When I worked on “13th,” I was shocked by the lineage of terror on black people in this country. Since that time, I continue to educate myself on black history year after year, but black history month in particular offers me a time for personal reflection. It allows for a period of acknowledgment of what my ancestors went through to get me to where I am today.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? A few different things. To learn from your mistakes, because our education never ends. Another piece of advice that stands close to me is to always work on projects that offer you excitement and inspiration.

If you could time travel, when would you go and why?
I’m fascinated by the future, and because of my passion for social justice I’d like to go into the future (maybe 100 years or so) to see where we are going wrong as a human race. Then I’d go back to the present day and try to focus on bettering those issues.

What’s a little known fact about you? What are your hidden (or not so hidden) talents? When I was 17, I made a documentary about Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, which received a standing ovation at a local film festival.

What’s your favorite (Black) television/movie moment?
It would be hard to pick just one. Recently, the tribute to Chadwick Boseman in the second “Black Panther” movie. All of the music and beauty in the “Summer of Soul” documentary. Same for Beyonce’s “Black is King.” And of course, all of Ava’s work that speaks on the black experience, including “13th,” “When They See Us,” and “Origin.”

Was there a television show/movie that inspired you to pursue your career? As a kid I didn’t have cable, and my mom would often turn on a Ken Burn’s documentary to keep me entertained. I became fascinated by history through these documentaries. I was always drawn to stories that were closely tied to reality, whether they were fictional or not. I remember the film “Shawshank Redemption” was a huge inspiration to me as a storyteller. And the film “City of God” helped me understand the power and language of editing.

What’s your personal/professional mantra? “Eyes on the stars and feet on the ground.” For me, this speaks on being a visionary and a dreamer, while also staying grounded and humble. Explore unknown bounds, but also know who you are and what you stand for.

What’s the last show/movie that left you speechless? I mentioned Ava DuVernay’s latest film, “Origin,” and I mean it when I say that it’s one of the most important films to watch. It blends history with emotion to form a brilliant work of art that is so important to everybody.

There is also a film that Array (Ava’s company) produced called “The White Tiger,” which didn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. I think it’s one of the best films of the decade.

What would be your dream project to work on? Projects like “Origin” that share an important message. Really any projects that involve stories of underrepresented communities. Films like “Moonlight” and shows like “When They See Us.” I also love dark comedies that have subtle messages and subtext. “Atlanta” and “Reservation Dogs” are some of my favorite recent shows. I love “Beef” and “Mo” as well. There are just so many good projects that I’m interested in. Lately I’ve been obsessed with the docu-series format, and would love to work on one. Perhaps more importantly is who I work with. I dream to work on projects with amazing individuals, who share a passion for storytelling and are great creative collaborators.