Cut to Black: Spenser Reich, 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: Spenser Reich

What’s your job? Picture Editor

List the credits you’re most proud of: Power Book IV: Force,” “Power Book II: Ghost,” “SAMSON”

What are you working on now? I’m starting a feature film in February that I’m really excited about.

Who and what are your influences/mentors? I’m influenced by filmmakers who came before us, like Stanley Kubrick, Orson Wells, Alfred Hitchcock, etc. as well as some of my favorites from today like Yorgos Lanthimos, Janicza Bravo, Darren Aronofsky, etc. There are too many to name! I’m also influenced by a lot of editors who I’m lucky enough to know who are so talented and impart so much wisdom about the craft.

I have been fortunate to have many wonderful mentors in the editing community. Shout out to Shannon Baker Davis, Joi McMillon, and Stewart Schill, to name just a few.

What books are you reading, shows are you watching, and/or movies are you excited about? I’m currently reading Haruki Murakami’s “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” which is incredible and absurd in the best possible way.

Of recent movies that came out, I’m really excited about Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and Alejandro Iñárritu’s Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths which both made me feel differently coming out of the theater than I did going in.

For upcoming movies, I cannot wait for Yorgos Lanthimos’ upcoming film, Poor Things.” I’m partially stoked for this one because Lanthimos is my favorite modern director, but also because Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Abbott star and they were excellent together in On the Count of Three (which didn’t get enough attention and is a must see!).

What would be your superhero name? I had no idea what/how to pick so I took a quiz to find out. I got ‘Shadowfox’ which I actually quite like for my superhero name.

What are your black history month memories and any cultural or historical impacts on your life? I’m obviously glad there’s a Black history month so people outside of the Black community can have some base level knowledge about the contributions of Black people in the United States. That being said, my parents were really thoughtful in the way they taught Black history to my brother and me. Not only did they make sure we learned about it outside the month of February, but they also made sure they corrected any information the schools were teaching us about Black history that wasn’t right. A specific memory that comes out of this month is when we learned about Malcom X. The school was trying to paint Malcom X as the evil to Martin Luther King Jr.’s good. When I told my parents what I was learning about Malcom X, my mom immediately said how incorrect that was, bought the Malcom X biography, and had me read it immediately. It was invaluable.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? To never stop learning. It’s something that was given in the context of being an editor/filmmaker, but it applies to all aspects of life, especially things you’re passionate about. I love editing, I always hope to learn, stay curious, and stay open to new ways of approaching an edit or a way of storytelling.

If you could time travel, when would you go, and why? The 1960’s hands down. The music, the style, the social movements. The 60’s were a tough time in the US, but so many beautiful things came out of the 60’s and I’d love to see those things being birthed with my own eyes.

What’s a little known fact about you? What are your hidden (or not so hidden) talents? A little known fact about me is that I love all circus-y things (clowns, elephants, etc.) and as a result, I learned to ride the unicycle as a kid, and as I got older, I played trombone and tuba (both very circus-y instruments).

A hidden talent that I have is that I can drive stick shift. I feel like nowadays it counts as a talent, anyway.

What’s your favorite (Black) television/movie moment? At the top of the list, I have to put the iconic slap by Sidney Poitier’s character in the film “In the Heat of the Night.”

Juanita Moore in “Imitation of Life” left such an impact on me, as did Louise Beavers in the original “Imitation of Life.” I saw their performances nearly back-to-back and I’ll never, ever forget them.

I’d also have to add when Spike Lee (finally!) won his Academy Award and when Joi McMillon was the first Black female editor to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Editing. Both were huge moments in television.

Was there a television show/movie that inspired you to pursue your career? Honestly, I can’t point to one movie/show that was the inspiration for my editing career. Growing up, my parents took us to the theater frequently and after they’d ask us a lot of questions about what we saw and I think that sparked my love of films and filmmaking.

What’s your personal/professional mantra? Keep going. Keep it positive in the edit bay.

“Keep going” is just a reminder not to give up on myself or my dreams. 

“Keep it positive in the edit bay” is a reminder to not bring in the negativity from the outside world into my work, not to be negative to myself about my abilities, and to be a positive force for anyone that enters my edit bay (directors, producers, etc.).

What is the last show/movie that left you speechless? Probably The Green Knight. It’s so bizarre and beautiful, but I definitely had to process it after and didn’t have the words to express the way it made me feel for days.

What would be your dream project to work on? Anything by Yorgos Lanthimos, of course.

Besides that, my dream projects would be in the realm of absurdism. My heart lies in this subgenre of films and I would love to work on an absurdist film with a diverse/heavily BIPOC cast.