Where are you currently employed?
I work in Los Angeles onsite at the CBS Beverly location.
“Dancing with the Stars” (“DWTS”) season 30 until November 21.
Describe your job.
Because it’s a show with a new episode delivered each week, my job can be quite hectic, with lots of moving parts. Each day I receive hard drives and SD cards that have video and sound files of the dancers rehearsing in their studio or doing a special activity, like visiting a theme park. I copy footage off these drives—about 5TB per day—to our Nexis, which serves as the final storage place for the video and audio files because we need to give the original hard drives back to production.
Next, I convert the video on 10+ Avids into a format that makes it smoother for editors to work with while editing. While that is happening, I’m also responding to requests from producers and editors for exports of their editorial work, such as a package that gives you some background information about one of the celebrity dancers. They also request imports of videos and photos sourced from the contestants themselves or stock libraries. Sometimes that might be a home workout video from one of the celebrity dancers, or it might be a full length movie from Disney because the contestants will be doing a dance based on Disney characters.
After the footage is done processing, I have to group different camera angles together of each couple’s dance rehearsals so that the editors can choose which camera angle to show in their editing. Each night before my shift ends I make sure to finish this so that the editors and producers in the morning have the material to work with.
Before I leave, I have to backup projects in case our work gets corrupted and also upload interview videos so they can be transcribed. When we get the transcripts, we use Avid technology called ScriptSync which (to paraphrase the Avid website) phonetically indexes all text and audible dialog automatically and then syncs each source interview clip to its associated line in the transcript text.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
Years ago, when I made a documentary that was my passion project, I fell in love with the editing process. That led to me teaching high school film classes, and my passion grew. The idea of moving to LA to work in post-production full time was exciting. While learning how to break in, I found out about the assistant editor position. Turns out assistant editing is an excellent fit since I love both digital tech and creative arts.
Who gave you your first break?
Matt Parcone was the director of post-production at Pilgrim Media Group in North Hollywood. I applied for a job that would become my first Avid assistant editing job. He took a chance since I didn’t have a ton of experience with Avid, so I’m very thankful for his trust in me.
What was your first union job?
“Married to Medicine Los Angeles,” season 2, for Bravo TV. Dustyn Gobler was the post supervisor who hired me—may he rest in peace; he is no longer with us—but he was one of the best post supervisors I’ve worked with. Really cared about everyone’s well-being and career growth.
What credits or projects are you proudest of, and why?
I am the editor for a yet to be released short film called “Consumed,” directed by Vivian Ukeje and written by her sister Winifred Ukeje. It’s a horror film with light supernatural elements, and it pushed me to grow as an editor. I had a ton of fun being creative with picture and sound editing. Collaborating with Vivian was such a rewarding experience because I got to help shape her vision into something others can enjoy.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
I’d say the biggest challenge I’ve had to deal with is working onsite when everyone has to wear masks for COVID safety. That makes communication extremely difficult because I have a severe to profound hearing loss and wear hearing aids in both ears.
The team on “DWTS” has been incredibly supportive and patient when I have to ask them to repeat themselves, but it is exhausting having to put in that extra effort to hear people speak through the masks. Fortunately, the editors and producers are remote and I only talk with them through Slack, so that helps a bit. With the other assistants I work with, I just advocate for my needs, ask questions, and paraphrase what I’ve heard to make sure I don’t misunderstand and make mistakes. My disability in a way makes me a better assistant editor because communication is so important to me.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I’ve mentioned “DWTS,” and they’re a great group of guys I work with. But to talk about another show, “Street Outlaws” with Julia Solá (who’s now in scripted on “New Amsterdam” for NBC) was loads of fun. There were two others we worked with on the night shift. We were all fairly green, so we’d get our tasks and then huddle in a bay together and freak out, saying, “WTF does that mean? How do we do this?” We helped each other, laughed a lot, and got through it in the end A-OK.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to be working in scripted on a sci-fi show that I can be proud of because it makes people reflect on themselves and do the hard work for personal growth. That’s the whole reason I’m in this biz, to help tell stories that inspire personal growth in others. A perfect example of this: I read a post online from a fan of “The Orville” (one of my favorite shows) who described how one episode inspired him to reflect on his career work-life balance. He changed careers so he could spend more time with family! Powerful stuff.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Health is a passion of mine, so I go for a run or a hike once a week. I spend time in the kitchen a lot. And I listen to “The Huberman Lab” podcast. I’m a big sports fan, especially ice hockey and football.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
“The Princess Bride”! It’s got it all—comedy, action, romance, so good it’s… inconceivable!
“Blood Diamond” because I love how they took a real social cause and wrapped the message in a narrative. It reminded me of Leo Tolstoy’s 1895 short story, “Master and Man.”
“Sound of Metal.” The end sequence with Ruben is as close to virtual reality as we’re going to get without it being a 360 VR film. The way the picture and sound editing fuse together to go beyond showing us Ruben’s experience—instead, we become Ruben—was stunning. As soon as it ended, I knew it was winning an Oscar for Best Editing. It’s also the only film that somewhat represents my experiences as someone with severe to profound hearing loss. For the first time in my life, there’s a film I can point to if anyone wants to know what hearing loss is like for me.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
“Ted Lasso,” “The Orville,” “Battlestar Galactica” (the 2004 TV series by Ron Moore), and “Mr. Robot” come to mind. Without getting into each one, they all have amazing characters and stories that make me reflect on who I am.
Do you have an industry mentor?
I have a few friends I reach out to and couldn’t have gotten to where I am without their help.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Do it! Don’t delay! With the amount of shows out there looking for help, there’s never been a better time to give assistant editing a shot. Seek out educational materials in text books, take training classes, ask questions, shadow friends, and eventually you’ll get that first job.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Ha-ha, I think I’m probably emailing or calling [former Field Rep, now Assistant Western Executive Director] Jessica Pratt once a week with questions or problems. She’s always been there for me and helps me every time.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Know that what you do is extremely valuable. Especially if you’re an assistant editor. I’ll never forget quitting from a company that will go unnamed; the president of post-production said, “I don’t think you understand! If you leave, the show stops!”
Compiled by David Bruskin.