Where are you currently employed?
ABC Television / eOne.
“The Rookie,” Season Four.
Describe your job.
Assistant editing is really dualistic. There’s all the technical stuff: dailies intake, media organization and QC, prep for the editor, spot checks and vendor turnover, but it also requires the ability to flip and do a lot of creative work. Preliminary sound design, temp visual effects, temp ADR, watching scenes with the editor and being a second set of eyes on cuts… you have to be able to flip between right brain and left brain pretty often. It’s one of my favorite things about the work.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
When I was in middle school, I saw a rerun of a show called “Movie Magic.” That was the first time I realized making movies, television, all these stories and worlds that were so captivating to me—that was an actual job a person could have. From that moment, I was doomed to pursue it.
Who gave you your first break?
My path has been pretty winding, so there’ve been quite a few breaks. I started training and working as an actor and fell in love with production through that. Started freelance producing and directing, which led me to editorial. At each step in the journey, I got huge breaks thanks to people I will be grateful to for the rest of my life. The break that brought me here (after deciding to leave unscripted editing for the scripted world, grinding night assist shifts, scraping together qualifying hours anywhere I could) came from a wonderful and talented scripted editor named Kurt Courtland.
What was your first union job?
Assisting on a BET drama called “Games People Play.” I was working as a swing for two unscripted shows and six ongoing development projects in the same building where “Games” was posting. I had gotten to know the “Games” team around the building, and they knew most of my story. Kurt’s assistant (yup, the same Kurt) got bumped up about a month or so in. When he did, Kurt knocked on my door and asked if I was interested in assisting him for the rest of the season. He doesn’t know this, but the second he left my office, I jumped up out of my chair and actually danced. He’s a fantastic editor to work with, and I will be forever grateful that he took a chance on me.
What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?
I’m extremely proud of the most recent show I worked on, “Dopesick.” It’s an immensely powerful story about something that has absolutely decimated the entire country. I have people from my life who bore the fallout from the obscene greed and despicable lies that fueled the opioid epidemic in this country. Being part of telling that story has been one of the highlights of my career, so far.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
One of the hardest parts of the job, in my opinion, is respect. It’s much too easy to find people who don’t respect your work. I have been fortunate to work with people who not only understand the job I do, but who respect what it takes to do that job and do it well. I have also encountered a large number of people who, whether intentionally or unintentionally, commoditize assistants and, frankly, don’t give a damn. The only way to overcome this is simply to find those people you respect who, in turn, give a shit about what goes on behind your bay door. Anyone who acts differently – learn to spot ’em early.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Hands down, the most fun I’ve had on any show was on the second season of “The Rookie.” That post crew is one of the best groups of people in the world. I think the most fun I’ve ever had on that show was for an episode with a scene that took place in a crowded bar where karaoke was going on in the background. Of course, they didn’t shoot the karaoke audio on set, so we needed temp ADR. The entire post team packed shoulder to shoulder into my tiny bay (this was pre-COVID, in case anyone’s toes curled up just then) and proceeded to belt out “Don’t Stop Believing” with the most amazingly over-the-top energy we could muster. It was absolute magic.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
My focus is to do the best work I can as an assistant and work my way into editing I’ve been fortunate to find magnificent editors who have been extraordinarily generous with their experience and given me not only the opportunity to cut, but the benefit of their feedback and guidance. I aim every time to make the most of those opportunities and put them to use in furthering my craft.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Oh, man, so many things. I love reading, the outdoors, learning languages. I was a low-level competitive gamer for a minute. It’s less a question of passions and hobbies than it is a question of having time to engage in those things in a meaningful way. Even now…I’m finishing up writing this at the end of a 14-hour day. I ate dinner in front of my computer. The work requires so much from us that when it comes to what we do outside of it… a lot of the time, the only answer is to get whatever sleep we can.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
- “Jaws” is a clinic in pop structure and pacing. So is “Jurassic Park.” (“Jurassic Park” is also the prime standard of being judicious and effective with your CGI.)
- “The Conversation” is an exceptional example of editorial craft (and don’t forget sound design).
- The original “Ghostbusters” is seamlessly written.
- “Ikiru” is a marvel of stillness and depth of emotion.
- “The Lord of The Rings” Trilogy is a soup to nuts example of movie magic: the miniatures and bigatures, set construction, perspectives, visual effects, makeup, production design… it’s an astonishing piece of work.
- “Paprika” is a masterpiece of visual storytelling.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
- “Hannibal” is one of the most beautifully designed and shot series I’ve seen recently.
- “Legion” was bold AF and I loved every second of it.
- I tie “Archer,” “Ted Lasso,” “Mythic Quest,” and “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” as the tightest writing around right now.
- “Big Mouth” adeptly and honestly tackled subjects other shows wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, or would butcher in the attempt.
- “Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood” is a beautiful example of balancing deep intertwining character arcs in concert with an epic overarching plot.
- “PEN15” is a spectacle of amazing performances and pure heart.
- The fearless simplicity of Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Primal” should be required viewing for any story-teller.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Since I began my union journey, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with several talented editors. Each of them has shaped me as a professional and as a person. For me, there has been a very “village” feel, and it’s one of the things I love the most about this union and this work.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
When you’re starting out, be diligent, be dedicated, and don’t be intimidated. Ask questions and commiserate with peers you respect, let people know you’re passionate about pursuing the work, and prove it to them through your actions.
Once you get in the door, it’s extremely easy to get a bad case of imposter syndrome. Just relax, be patient, do your job, take your time, and ask for help. Don’t let people who try to squeeze you break you down. You made it here, so you belong here. You know what you need to. What you don’t know, you can figure out.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Oh yes. I won’t name names, but I worked as an LA local on a remote location show that, among other things, skimmed my per diems and tried to gaslight the whole post team out of two weeks’ pay and relocation transportation costs when we moved post back to LA at the last minute. It was a wall-to-wall trash fire. After approaching the producers directly didn’t work, we got 700 on the phone. They got that straightened out real quick.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Joining the union changed my life. I am grateful every day for the knowledge, the opportunities, and the kinship, not just within 700 but industry-wide. We are different locals, but we are one union, and we are standing together now in a way that’s never been seen before. We have the power and the opportunity to reshape this industry forever and for the better. And if we are bold enough to dare, I believe that we can.
Compiled by David Bruskin.
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