Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 066 – In Conversation with Jenypher Fisher, CCE, Kelly Morris, CCE and Tim Wanlin, CCE

The Editors Cut - Episode 0066

Episode 066 - In Conversation with Jenypher Fisher, CCE, Kelly Morris, CCE and Tim Wanlin, CCE

Today's episode is the master series that took place virtually on March 16th 2021.

In Conversation with Jenypher Fisher, CCE, Kelly Morris, CCE and Tim Wanlin, CCE

 

Veteran unscripted Vancouver editors Jenypher Fisher, CCE, (RUST VALLEY RESTORERS) Kelly Morris, CCE (HIGHWAY THRU HELL) and Tim Wanlin, CCE (HEAVY RESCUE: 401) discuss their vast knowledge on crafting factual storytelling; the importance of finding the story’s truth, it’s language, and the importance of a strong, pivotal opening that will begin the audience’s emotional journey.

 

This panel was moderated by Showrunner, Producer, Director and Writer, Kelly McClughan.

Jenypher Fisher, CCE

Jenypher Fisher, CCE

Through hard work and determination, Editor Jenypher Fisher has developed a unique style, rivalled only by her keen sense of story and humour. Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the past 20 years Jenypher has been responsible for crafting a wide and varied array of Canada’s unscripted series. Projects include RUST VALLEY RESTORERS, WILD BEAR RESCUE, ICE PILOTS, THE BACHELOR CANADA, JADE FEVER, YUKON GOLD, THIS IS HIGH SCHOOL, QUEEN OF THE OIL PATCH, THE NATURE OF THINGS, ER: LIFE & DEATH AT VGH, PARAMEDICS: LIFE ON THE LINE & EXPECTING!

Kelly Morris, CCE

Kelly Morris CCE

Kelly Morris CCE, is a Vancouver Based film and television editor and former president of the Canadian Cinema Editors, best known for his body of work in documentary and as senior editor for factual series. He has a passion for feature length film, investigative journalism and gritty reality. Series of note that he has worked on include Discovery Channel’s HIGHWAY THRU HELL, JADE FEVER and JETSTREAM, CBC’s HIGH ARCTIC HAULERS and investigative journalism series THE FIFTH ESTATE, natural history series BBC NATURAL WORLDLAND NAT GEO WILD, in addition to a wide breadth of documentary films, the most recent being Citizen Bio for Showtime. Shows he has worked on have received accolades including winner of the duPont-Columbia University Award for Broadcast Journalism (NUCLEAR JIHAD), a Sundance Grand Jury Prize Nomination (SEX: THE ANNABEL CHONG STORY), Gemini (THE FIFTH ESTATE) and CCE (A WOLD CALLED STORM) award nominations for Best Picture Editing.

Tim Wanlin, CCE

Tim Wanlin, CCE

Tim Wanlin is based in Vancouver where he has been editing for the last thirty years. During that time his focus has been to seek out projects that allow him to draw out the strongest story, both visually and narratively. He has amassed over seventy documentary credits. Highlights include CTV’s Gemini Award winning, PEACE WARRIOR, WHEN THE DEVIL KNOCKS, which premiered in the 2010 Vancouver Film Festival and CBC’s Canadian Screen Award winning, WILD CANADIAN YEAR. More recently, while continuing to follow his passion for documentaries, Tim is busy with unscripted series work including BORDER SECURITY, JADE FEVER and his current project, HEAVY RESCUE: 401.

Generously sponsored by IATSE Local 891, Integral Artists and  VPA

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 066 – “In Conversation with Jenypher Fisher, CCE, Kelly Morris, CCE & Tim Wanlin, CCE”

Sarah Taylor:
Today’s episode is generously sponsored by IATSE Local 891, Integral Artists and the Vancouver Post Alliance.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
The sandwich reality is a phrase made up by my friend, Ted Tozer, who’s an editor, and it’s basically, if you have something in the middle, that’s like, sort of staged and you want to make it seem more real and you want to make it seem a little less wooden. You put something at the front that’s reality and you put something at the back that’s reality and you put the problematic section in the middle and you cover it. And it’s actually more believable that way. You’ll get away with a lot. That’s the sandwich of reality. Book ending bad things with real things and marrying them.
Sarah Taylor:
Hello and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast, and that many of you may be listening to us from, are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral territory, that as long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived, met and interacted. We honor, respect and recognize these nations that have never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand today. We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many contributions and the concerns that impact indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action.
Sarah Taylor:
Today’s episode is the panel that took place virtually on March 16th, 2021. Veteran unscripted Vancouver editors, Jenypher Fisher, CCE of Rust Valley Restorers, Kelly Morris, CCE of Highway Thru Hell and Tim Wanlin, CCE of Heavy Rescue 401. They discuss their vast knowledge on crafting factual storytelling. The importance of finding the stories truth, its language and the importance of a strong pivotal opening that will begin the audience’s emotional journey. This event was moderated by showrunner producer, director and writer, Kelly McClughan.

[Show Open]
Kelly McClughan:
All right. Well, welcome to this CCE master series in conversation with three titans of editing who I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Jenyfer Fisher, Kelly Morris and Tim Wanlin. During the next hour or so, we’re going to talk about how to approach story, methods of organizing media, using footage in unexpected or creative ways to further story and character. What to do when the footage you hoped was there isn’t there, which happens.
Kelly McClughan:
And these three are all finishing editors, but they’ve also worked story from the ground up and continue to work with footage from the ground up to create stories. So both at the beginning, end of a process and the finishing. So there’ll be something for everybody during this conversation, and we’re going to save the Q&A for the end of this, and you’ll be able to put your questions in the Q&A at that time. And we’ll tackle as many as we can. And right now I’m going to throw it over to these three to introduce themselves and tell us a little bit about them. Jen, why don’t you kick it off?
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
My name’s Jen, I’m an editor, obviously I didn’t have a lot of money when I started. So my way into the industry was going to a technical Institute called BCIT, which technically taught me how to do news. I wasn’t particularly interested in news, but the second year I was there, it was a two year program, second year I was there, the Avid showed up and that changed everything. Because as far as I was concerned, that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
And no one knew how to use it, including me, but I taught myself how to use it. So I’ve been in the industry for about 23 years. And when I started the type of TV that we three sort of do had just started up. And I remember very clearly people saying, it’s not going to last. It’s a flash in the pan, whatever. I’ve been editing this type of television for 20 years now. So I don’t think it’s going anywhere. And I’ve done a huge variety of shows from men’s TV, mining shows, car shows, logging shows, cooking shows, home renovation, long form doc, science doc, competition, to The Bachelor. And in my opinion, that’s great because it’s a wide variety. And you learn things on The Bachelor that you use on a science doc. It’s weird, but it happens.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Hi, my name’s Tim Wanlin editor for 30 some years. Started off unorthodoxly, I think with cable access in my hometown in Kelowna BC, they had a cable access channel. I volunteered when I was 15 years old, I think, worked three years there, volunteering, learning all kinds of different aspects of television and right out of high school I got a job at the local CBC affiliate, where again, I did a wide range of jobs, including editing.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Got my first real taste of editing in the news, taught me how to edit quick and make decisions, but like Jen, news wasn’t where I wanted to be. And I moved to Vancouver and started freelance work at Knowledge network where I met a whole wide range of people, did a wide range of shows. I spun that into doing CBC early life and times episodes, rough cuts, whole bunch of Nature of Things. Went on to do Ice Pilots, Highway Through Hell. I think I did season five of that. And then that got me into Heavy Rescue 401, and Border Security, which I’ve been doing all along at the same time. And that’s it in a nutshell.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Hey everybody, my name’s Kelly Morris. So I’ve been editing for about 30 years now. I guess I first started when I was going to Simon Fraser university, I was approached by some people to go to El Salvador and shoot a documentary about the student movement there during the war, it was kind of my first film. And I came back, I edited it a one hour doc. And just kind of realized that editing was something that was just kind of a natural thing for me, sort of a transition from the written storytelling I was doing at school into film work. So most of the work I do is in documentary editing. And after that El Salvador trip, I did a few things around town here, and then I moved to Toronto. In Toronto, I cut a film that got into Sundance. It was nominated for the grand jury prize there.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
After that, I worked for the CBC, the Fifth Estate for about seven years doing broadcast journalism, which was a really great experience in terms of honing my documentary story skills. From there, I did work at discovery channel in Toronto. I did my first documentary series, a series about Doctors Without Borders with a New York company that had come up, sort of a co-production.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
I eventually moved back to Vancouver in 2007, worked on a series called Jet Stream with Kelly McClughan, which was a great series. And that was my first experience being a lead editor on a series. From there, I did some nature documentaries for CBC Nature of Things, BBC Natural World, did some true crime shows. I’ve done a little bit of drama in there.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
And over the past few years it’s been senior editor on docuseries has been kind of my main gig. I guess it’s my fourth season of senior editor on Highway Through Hell. done Jade Fever, a series recently called High Arctic Callers for the CBC, all in my senior editing capacity. I’ve always been quite involved in the world of editing. I was involved in the CCE on the board of directors first as secretary for two years. And then as president for four years, up until 2018. Most recently I’ve gotten into doing some field directing for Highway Through Hell. And that’s about 30 years in a nutshell.
Kelly McClughan:
Let’s shift into talking about how you approach because all of you have worked in different genres, but you have similar approaches, no matter what it is you’re attacking. Kelly, I mean, you’ve talked about sort of the variety of things. Once you’ve chatted with the show runner or a senior story person or the director, where do you begin and how do you begin to get your head around story, a bit briefly?
Kelly Morris, CCE:
I mean, the first, if I was to sit down and just do it from scratch, it’s almost like doing a little bit of investigation. I interview the director and ask them questions about their film. I want to know who the characters are, where it was filmed, when it was filmed, what the subjects are going to be covered in the film, the style, the pacing, but really trying to figure out an inventory of what’s there. Because often the actual story that we’re going to tell in the edit suite isn’t obvious. So I think the first order of business is to kind of understand the palette of what we’re going to be working with.
Kelly McClughan:
Sure. And when you’re actually looking for a way in, you’ve sort of described, you’re looking for something to find a way into this thing, describe that. Because we have a couple of examples that are quite different examples coming up. So what are you actually looking for? How do you characterize that?
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Yeah. It’s interesting, for me, I’m always thinking it’s either going to be, what’s the first thing I’m going to hear or what’s the first thing I’m going to see. And I’m I’ve never sat on either one of those approaches, but I know either one of those things is going to evoke something.
Kelly McClughan:
Okay, well, let’s actually go to your first clip because it’s kind of an unexpected start, I think, for some people. It’s called The search for Freedom, was the documentary. And it was really about what it’s like to be immersed in the moment. It involved a lot of high action sports, big waves surfing, mountain biking, extreme drop-ins, real fed by adrenaline moments, but let’s actually everyone take a look at how Kelly chose to start this. And then we can talk a little bit about why you chose to do what you do.
Speaker 7:
I watch my 16 month old son and he’s fearless and he wants to just walk out into the shore break. I mean, there’s something so interesting about that, to watch him just stare at the ocean, stare at waves coming in and watch them just crash on the shore. And that’s super entertaining. So much of it is just you put your feet in the water and you feel your toes sinking in the sand and to feel that just draw the pull of the tides and the surge of the shore break and you want to go out deeper.
Kelly McClughan:
All right. So Kelly, you could have started in so many ways that would’ve been predictable to start a show about adrenaline, high energy sports, and being in the moment. What made you decide to start that way?
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Yeah. Well, you see now for the participants, just to fill you in on what would come next. Coming after that montage, we sort of start to reveal elements of action sports, surfing, skiing, and it gets more and more adrenaline based. But we started off slow. Part of it’s kind of a polarity right? Something will seem more action based as opposed to something that’s feeling softer. So we started off soft. But also we wanted to create some intrigue for what the main theme of the film was, which was the search for freedom.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
So we wanted to start off with… what is this child seeing? What is the child being drawn to? The child’s being drawn to the surf, the child’s being drawn towards the ocean. And coming up with this as an intro there was a lot of discussion with the director about what are we going to see first? What are we going to hear first?
Kelly Morris, CCE:
So we had a little touch up here in the ocean. Because nature was going to play really big into this film, whether it be the snow on the mountains, a cliff that you’re climbing, you’re skydiving, flowing through the air. So the natural elements were really playing big into this film. So the first thing we were hearing was the sound of the ocean, the sound of feet, walking into the water. To evoke some emotions around that. And then I think the last line of that clip, I think it sort of inspires what is this kid walking towards? And then from there, we start to answer that question.
Kelly McClughan:
Right. And I’m going to shift now to the Highway franchises, Highway Through Hell and Heavy Rescue 401, have a more prescribed opening. And usually, for those of you who haven’t seen it there’s usually kind of a radio call about the weather and or about the wreck or the traffic. And you would think that it would be hard to find, I think, Kelly, what you call it the hook of intrigue. But you found a way in one of these episodes. So let’s actually take a look now at clip two, and it’s a very different genre. And yet you tried something different with it.
Speaker 8:
They just spotted a cougar there, so be careful.
Speaker 9:
400 kilometers north of Hope, in a remote region of British Columbia.
Speaker 8:
Sure, it’s pretty quiet up here.
Speaker 10:
Battles on, get ready for action.
Speaker 9:
Two requiring heavy records.
Speaker 39:
What the hell are those guys doing all the way out here?
Speaker 9:
Are a long way from home.
Speaker 10:
Stay away from the coal. I don’t think there’s too many tow trucks up there today.
Speaker 9:
Leading the expedition.
Speaker 10:
Apparently they’re heading to Gold Bridge.
Speaker 9:
Is Al Quiarrie.
Speaker 11:
Gold Bridge is in a location where time actually stands still. Some of the best hard rock gold mining in the world comes from Gold Bridge.
Speaker 39:
Apparently there was a crash.
Speaker 10:
One of our logging customers has had a little bit of a mishap on the narrow winter road.
Speaker 9:
Joining Al.
Speaker 12:
I live for jobs like this.
Speaker 9:
His operator, Gord Boyd.
Speaker 12:
Where we’re going. If you get hurt, help is a long ways away. To be able to get to go up to a place like this is an adventure.
Speaker 9:
But getting there.
Speaker 48:
We got a challenge ahead of ya.
Speaker 10:
We’ll take it how it comes.
Speaker 9:
Means navigating-
Speaker 48:
Be safe, that road’s real narrow.
Speaker 9:
… A narrow mountain pass
Speaker 12:
Calling that a road is being rather generous.
Kelly McClughan:
Okay. So there you started with a radio call, but instead of weather or truckers talking about the accident, you kind of had a humorous reference to a cougar sighting. And it’s actually a long time before we see the wreck, what was your thinking there?
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Now I’m going to have to give credit to the story team. You see, this is an episode that I was senior editor on. So my job in this one was more actually finessing the image sequence, finessing the sound. This actually came to me this way. I mean, I did do a little bit of juggling on it, but I want to give credit to the story team, as well as the rough cut editor, Javan Armuth who gave me the working bits of that.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
But I think that is something we do on this show. I mean, you can come in hard on a scene. In this case, we wanted to set up a little intrigue with where we were going, because it was the town of Gold Bridge, BC was really part of the hook for the story. They’re going there for a wreck. But a wreck is a wreck. What was interesting about this story was that it was in this really quite exotic, remote location that very few people get to see. We really wanted to feature this journey to where they were going deep into the mountains, in this high mountain, gold mining town.
Kelly McClughan:
So Jen, talk about your approach. What do you often see and what do you do when you get it?
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
No matter whether I’m assembling from the start or if I’m taking something over after rough cut, generally my plan is always the same. The first thing I do is always watch the string out. But not with a like super critical eye. I’m just looking to see what’s there and where the story goes. I’m not like trying to pick it apart or anything. I’m just kind trying to see what the writing team’s plan is.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
And in general, there is always a plan, but some plans are better than others. I generally like to think of the plan that they’ve presented me, no matter what it is, as an opening theory, because sometimes they know what the story is. And sometimes they’re still trying to figure out what the story is or they’re just working on it. And sometimes they know that and sometimes they don’t. And I’m the new voice in the room who gets to like look at it and go, “Oh, we need to like focus this a little bit more.” Or “Yeah, you got it. I just need to like make this better and flashier or whatever.”
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Either the story team’s given me an assembly that’s like thought out for weeks and ahead of time. And I have a reason for wanting to tell this story or they present me with a timeline that’s a rough cut and same difference. The other thing I always do is organize the audio. Always. It doesn’t matter. Because I like a clean workspace. And I like to familiarize myself with the footage. Also with where the audio is, because it’s super important.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. We’re going to talk about the audio. We’ll talk about the audio a little in, I think, greater depth down the road a little bit, because you’ve got some really good examples of that. But the point that you made, which was interesting is that other set of eyes. That you get to sort of see this material, you know these people have been immersed in this stuff and they’re living it and breathing it and you kind of come at it with a new set of eyes. And Tim, you had an example where your set of eyes changed the course of the story to some extent.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yeah. Sorry. Now, which one are you referring to on that?
Kelly McClughan:
Embracing Bob’s Killer.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Oh, embracing Bob’s Killer. Yes on that one we sat through and we watched the show, it’s an incredible show. It’s a story about a woman whose husband is house sitting for a neighbor. He’s watching his house while he’s gone away for new year’s. So New Year’s Eve, he wanders up to this, to his friend’s house and there’s a large party going on there. He goes in, it’s full of teenagers in Squamish trying to quell the party. He ends up getting punched. And when he is down on the ground, he gets kicked and he dies. And code of silence in Squamish. No one says who did it. Eventually it comes out. It’s a young man from town, Ryan, is the one who killed him and he gets caught. So Bob’s wife, Bob is the one who got killed, his wife instead of seeking vengeance. She immediately forgives him.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
And it was interesting right from the start, that dynamic between the two of them. And eventually they went on a talk circuit and would go to schools and everything. But what happened on the show was that Ryan wasn’t a really happy participant. He didn’t want to talk too much. He was very shy.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
So what we ended up doing with that was, we said, “Well, how can we get him in a relaxed place to talk? What can we do?” We had one scene where he had said the crew could go to his soccer game, be discreet, shoot it on a small camera. He didn’t want any hoopla. He was the goalie in the game. And part was through the game they took him out of goal and he got to play out on the field and he scored a goal. And he was just walking on air after that, because we had said, we need to get him relaxed. He was the most relaxed. They approached him. They went and had a little interview off to the side with him. And it was the only pure time where he spoke in the show. Rest of the time he was on several interviews, very guarded. It was just nice to see him talk. And we gave us not a lot but enough that we could now have him as a presence in the show.
Kelly McClughan:
And, I mean, you mentioned to me and we’ll take a look at this clip and we’ll be able to see this, I think, that you came in and looked at that footage and recognized there is something more going on here.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yes.
Kelly McClughan:
There was a relationship that you could see in the footage that you drew attention, that you sort of highlighted, I guess, for the producers.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yeah, very much so. I think we all saw it when we started looking at the footage, but it was a chemistry between the two of them, that it was awkward and yet intimate. And it was an incredible dynamic throughout the show that we were able to play on. And we kind of brought it to the forefront in the opening of the show.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. So let’s take a look at that opening. And I think people will be able to see what you’re talking about there. What twigged you guys to like, okay, this is a guy we really need to have on camera.
Speaker 14:
They’re one of those couples you wonder about, what’s the relationship. She looks too young to be his mother. And he looks too adolescent to be her friend. Could they be lovers? There’s a chemistry of some kind going on, but no, not lovers. Their relationship may be more intimate. Katie was widowed eight years ago. Ryan’s the man who killed her husband. And this is the story of how they got from that moment to this one.
Kelly McClughan:
Okay. So yeah, I mean, what we see there is the kind of looks you’d give someone you know really well, there’s a real ease of familiarity between those two. And that’s what you guys were picking up on, I guess when you realize we’ve got to get this guy, we’ve got to talk to him.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
That’s exactly right. Because he had been there and the other interviews we had, he sat with Katie. It was the two of them and she was quite animated and talked and he was very, very shy. We knew from the get go, once we poured through that footage, that we had to cut him aside somehow. And he was very reluctant to do it, but it was just a little bit of luck, but also some planning and some drive to get it done. And we got it. And I think it was really the icing on the cake for the show.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. I’m going to shift us to the technical stuff because I think that… Well, I don’t think that, I know that some creatives and producers underestimate how important organizing your material is. And I think especially on a number of the shows that we work on, the Highway shows, Rust Valley, Jade, they heavily rely on actuality and that sound to further story and build anticipation and drama. Kelly Morris, talk to us a little bit about the way that Highway organizes things. Can you sort of, in a nutshell, tell us how that is and why that works.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Yeah. I mean, the way it’s organized on Highway, it’s kind of becoming a bit of a standard way that it’s organized on a lot of TV series. You want to have access to your media by date, by tapes that are named by date, by shooter. I mean, I’ve been on some shows where I’ve received bins and bins and bins of individually logged clips. I was on one show where people had gone through and wrote detailed notes on 40,000 clips. I counted them. But there were really inaccessible because nothing was really prepared in any way that I could scrub through it. I guess for me, I need to know the date something was shot. I need to know the tapes that were shot on that date. And that’s kind of first element of where my organization would start. So, I mean, Highway’s pretty basic like that. It’s organized by date and by tape number, I throw that down onto a timeline and I scrub.
Kelly McClughan:
Right. And are there keywords?
Kelly Morris, CCE:
They do.
Kelly McClughan:
That’s a big assist on a series where things depend heavily on a specific character or weather or a particular truck that they’re using.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Yeah. So that’s something really good that they do on Highway. Like you say, they have it… I’m just looking at a bin right now. They have a type of shot, the character location, weather, the truck, time of day, keywords. So yeah, if I need to dig in and look for like a character at a certain time of day, because a lot of the stuff I’m doing, especially at the senior editor level, is finding these little bits and pieces that will stitch scenes together or stitch moments together. Kind of fill these gaps. And they actually have people create here what’s called an evergreen project that has all the past seasons material loaded in of like general type shots that you could use as cheats, or scene setters or weather transitions or location transitions. So we’re able to use those keywords on this show to search for those elements.
Kelly McClughan:
Right. And I know Jen, I mean, you are… Well, you’re so anxious to talk about audio you tried to talk about it about five minutes ago. So audio organization.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
It’s an obsession.
Kelly McClughan:
It is an obsession. I know that. I know that about you. Talk about fixing the audio. That’s one of the very first things you do, which I think is why you mentioned it earlier. Tell us what is fixing the audio.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Fixing the audio for me is going through the timeline and basically organizing things, making sure all the interviews are isolated from all the sound ups, which are isolated from all the background sound on various tracks. So that any time I want to look at my timeline, I know where the interviews are. I know where the sound ups are. I know where the background sound is.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
And I get rid of anything that isn’t important. You can see on the timeline that Kelly’s got in his background there it’s pretty sparse. That’s a well organized timeline I can tell from a distance. I like that timeline. That gives me hope. If I saw that I’d be like, cool, someone made choices and got rid of mics that didn’t have to be there. And I tend to be slower at the start of any edit because I put a lot of work into like, making a clean space and getting rid of all the extra stuff and making sure everything’s sorted. But it’s really, really, really important. And it pays dividends down the line. I’m way quicker.
Kelly McClughan:
It kind of states the case for doing the work up front.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Yeah. The other thing I do is color everything. I want to be able to look at the timeline and always be able to tell. Writers sometimes think I’ve written too much voiceover, there isn’t enough interview or there’s not enough sound up. I can look at my timeline immediately and be like, no, there’s a good amount of VO, voiceover. I can see it and calm them down. So I don’t know, I like that.
Kelly McClughan:
Well, and you guys all talked in sort of our earlier discussions, you were talking about the importance of doing that. Because later on you might have to go back and use wave forms to build out scenes or to build out character or to build out drama. Any of you at this point, want to jump in and talk about how you use wave forms to sort of build story.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
I could talk about how I use audio to build story. And this is the section I was about to get to, it’s going to have way more audio. This is where I left off work.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
It’s still nice and clean.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
And that’s a good delivery from somebody. I’ll be definitely digging back into the stack to add more audio in. But that particular scene needs more audio. So this timeline that I’ve been working on here, it’s a rough cut. And what I was finding when I first got it, it was very narration driven and what it really needed was more sound up. Because I don’t want to be told the story. I need to hear the story. So what I do when I get a sequence like that, and I just finished the first part of this timeline today, most of my work was pulling the music off, hearing what was there, building out any sort of background ambience I needed to build out, but also digging back into the stack and seeing if there was any sound ups from the characters.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
In lieu of that, we actually have a bin, evergreen sound ups from our characters that we can cheat in of them saying things like, “Oh, wow, look at that wreck.” Or, “Let’s get this pole going.” Or just little sound ups like that you can kind of cheat in if there’s nothing else. Just to make it feel like you’re in the moment with the characters. So it’s not just narration, narration, narration, narration.
Kelly McClughan:
But I mean, I know I’ve used wave forms on occasion. Usually after- Well, sometimes in the beginning when it just feels like narration, narration, narration. And sometimes when broadcasters come back and say, “Gee, can we build a little more drama into this?” And you’re looking to build it with something that’s authentic, Jen or Tim, do you guys have any thoughts on the use of waveforms to help you find that stuff? In which case organizing the audio, the way you’ve done it, will be a massive help.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
I’m a big fan of going through and marking with locators. The story team does it a fair bit where there’ll be locators on the timeline and I’ll open up markers bin and pour through it. But for all those little sounds. Somebody just like, “Over here.” Those things that you need on Heavy Rescue 401. I’ll constantly be marking when I hear them, there’s one, there’s one, there’s one. And I’ll save them. And as we go, when I need to open things up, as I’m building it, I’m layering them in. And sometimes the guy’s not in the exact right location and you have to bury it under another shot. But every now and again, you get lucky and there’s the guy just at the spot and saying his word and you pepper him through there. And these shows need that. If it’s narratively driven, it starts to die. And it needs to have those people in the show and you need to hear their voice.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
That’s okay. I do the same thing. I just don’t use locators. I know a lot of editors do. I like make a timeline with all the sound ups organized by audio track and like the characters. So it’s like, if I need a, I don’t know, one from character A, they’re all on track one. But I can just like easily sort through them and like throw them in. My example for waveforms would be, I just worked on a Rust Valley Restorers. There was a massive car crash. A guy on a track going around very fast, drove into the underside of a Winnebago by accident. So we went from like really fast, to not fast at all immediately. And it was horrifying. If you saw the crash, you just want to like, ouch. But he got out and he just kind of like slept it off and went, I’m fine. Everything’s fine.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
He did the broey thing. It’s not a bad deal. He went from like 80 kilometers an hour to zero in like, no time, he wasn’t fine. And the problem with the story is he ended up going to the hospital. So I had to get him there. Even though every time the camera was on him, he said, “I’m fine. Everything’s okay.” So I opened up the wave form and I started trolling his mic because his mic was live the entire time. It wasn’t a big deal. So anytime he spoke, I just looked at it for hours and I eventually found him moaning and saying, “Dad, it’s not good. Oh, my back hurts.” And then you go in and you find video of him like leaning over. So you can like fake that… Well, he did say it, but you can pretend he said it right there. So that’s a good use of-
Kelly McClughan:
Jen, can I just interrupt? You had something called the sandwich of reality. It seems like this is a good time to introduce that idea. The sandwich of reality.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
The sandwich of reality is a phrase made up by my friend, Ted Tozer who’s an editor. And it’s basically, if you have something in the middle, that’s like sort of staged and you want to make it seem more real and you want to make it seem a little less when you put something at the front that’s reality and you put something at the back that’s reality, and you put the problematic section in the middle and you cover it. And it’s actually more believable that way. You’ll get away with a lot. That’s the sandwich of reality. Book ending bad things with real things and marrying them.
Kelly McClughan:
And keeping people engaged, keeping the action, sort of riveting. I mean, Kelly, on the visual side, you have a strategy that I call… I mean, it seems to be, it essentially boils down to don’t be boring visually in terms of camera angles. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Kelly Morris, CCE:
What I like to do, I mean, this is something that… I was actually sitting down with a drama editor and he mentioned this to me. He said never go from like A, to B to A, to B, to A, he’s like go to A, to B, to C, to D to E just keep moving it forward. And that kind of helped me hone in something that I had been doing a lot in my career, which is, I don’t like to come back to that same spot. So as I’m editing I’m always seeing, well, what’s the next camera I can go to? If I have to come back to my same camera again, I will, but I want it to be at a different angle or at a different place in time. So visually I’d like to keep things pushing forward.
Kelly McClughan:
Right. And Tim, you have a particular challenge on occasion with the Heavy Rescue series because of the nature of how the crews actually arrive at those scenes and because of what’s really happening. Can you describe a little bit about what you’re confronted with and how you have to satisfy audience expectations nonetheless?
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yeah. The one thing that we always want to do is when there’s a wreck is arrive at the wreck with the crew. The cameras want to be there. The crew arrives, they get to see it for the first time. The audience gets to see it for the first time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. The 401 series of Highways are busy and the crew is somewhere else, and lots of times they’ll get the call and they have to get there. And this accident has caused a giant traffic jam. So what we often have to do is a creative way of arriving at that accident as if we really did arrive at the accident, even though we didn’t.
Kelly McClughan:
And we actually have a clip that illustrates how you finessed your way into that.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
It’s not the most exciting clip, but it’s a very, very practical problem that we face.
John Allen:
We have a little straight truck rolled over here.
Speaker 9:
John Allen from Abrams towing is heading for the source of the slow down
John Allen:
The spot where this rollover is, it’s right where the 403 joins into the QEW heading down Niagara bound. So it’s a main artery.
Speaker 9:
With two major Highways converging this stretch needs to be open by morning.
John Allen:
Terrible spot. There’s going to be a lot of people held up by this. Went for a little ride down here.
Speaker 9:
The truck was hauling a load of 20 liter jugs of water.
John Allen:
This thing is in there pretty good.
Speaker 9:
When it slipped off the road and took a hard tumble into the ditch.
Kelly McClughan:
So, Tim, yeah. You had to sort of sneak your way into that scene.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yeah. So essentially like I said, it’s not the most dynamic scene, but what they did is after the fact, they went back in the truck with the operator and did the interview with him as if he’s arriving. So that was faked in, and the rest of it was just creative editing, where we had a shot of him exiting the truck from one of the times when he moved the truck, the highway cameras that they, that we get from MTO and Ontario. Their traffic cameras cut in that was wide. You can’t really see. But their crew was there before our crew was quite a ways. And yet you’d have a simple way of just putting a few shots together. Boom, boom, boom. He’s arrived and you’re thinking he’s on the scene with us and smoke and mirrors.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. Well, and on that note, Jen Fisher, you had a particular challenge where you had the narrative payoff was taking place on one day, the visual payoff was taking place on another day without the central character. That was a Jade Fever situation. Tell, tell us what you were faced with. And then we can take a look at the clip and see how you resolved it.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Okay. I’ve used this clip before, but it’s actually a great clip. And the wonderful thing about this clip is it’s 100 percent true and about 80% made up. The important thing to know when I got the sequence from the writer, the plan was for the jade buyer to buy the Jade as a boulder. It’s not cut yet. So you can’t actually see the jade. He was just going to buy a boulder and say, sure. This was the end of a six year journey to finally sell jade. And you weren’t going to get to see the jade. The jade was going to be shown in the next episode. I thought that was bonkers. So the problems that I faced were many, the buyer was actually leaving. He was out of there. He never got to see the jade. And the thing was shot over two days, one day was cloudy. One day was sunny. It’s just so many problems. And the entire time the buyer is there, trying to buy jade. The boulder he actually bought is being sawed directly beside him or directly behind him. And I have to cover that the entire time.
Kelly McClughan:
Right, so let’s take a look at the clip.
Speaker 16:
Super close.
Speaker 17:
Early evening at Two Mile.
Speaker 42:
It’s going to fall over.
Speaker 17:
The clock is ticking.
Speaker 16:
Can we start here and it cut hard like that. Getting close.
Speaker 17:
The crew have just one more hour to try and sell a jade slab to their buyer, Mr. Long.
Speaker 43:
I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.
Speaker 16:
Clear, now it’s done. It’s a big chunk of jade.
Speaker 42:
Beautiful break.
Speaker 16:
Now, before he flies out, he can see it. I hope it’s good.
Speaker 17:
If Mr. Long likes what he sees, this sale could go a long way towards paying for their mining season.
Claudia:
This is it. Our last visit.
Speaker 44:
Yes.
Claudia:
We worked so hard to get here. This could change everything. Okay. Is that good?
Speaker 17:
Mr. Long has to make sure he can work around any fractures to carve this piece of jade into a five foot tall Buddha statue.
Claudia:
So Long, are you still thinking about it?
Mr. Long:
I find this good.
Claudia:
Yeah. This one’s a deal, like a handshake deal. A yes. 100%? 100%? Are you sure? I think I just sold Jade.
Speaker 16:
That’s happy dance right there.
Claudia:
This is what we mine for. This is our dream.
Speaker 19:
We got a job next year, maybe. We got a job next year, maybe.
Kelly McClughan:
Right. So Claudia sold Jade and you sold viewers on the fact that the guy was there on the day and was actually looking at the jade?
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
And that anyone else was there looking at him, looking at the jade because they were just talking about lunch around a truck later on that day. There were so many problems. He wasn’t there, also when he agrees to buy the rock, it’s not actually the rock he bought. It’s a second rock because when he bought the actual boulder that we say he’s buying, he wasn’t super clear. And he wasn’t… He just kind of went… And everyone moved on. The second boulder, he’s a lot more animated. So I had to put them in front of the second boulder while hiding the fact that it’s a second boulder and make it the other boulder that I can’t show you anyway. Also I forgot. We never got the jade falling, which totally sucks. But c’est la vie, what are you going to do? It’s kind of like the truck not arriving. It’s all about the jade falling. And they never got it.
Kelly McClughan:
Right. And Kelly you’ve observed, you often have the opposite problem where all the stuff is there, but by the time you get it or when you get it’s been so Frankenclipped or so condensed that actually you end up reverse engineering.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Yeah. I do that quite often in terms of the workflow on these series. Sometimes I will get a scene in. I remember getting this comment years back, I was working on this scene and this journalist, I was working with, the writer. He kept saying, make it faster, make the scene faster, this scene. And I was like, no, you want it to be faster because it’s going too fast already. If I slow it down and I play it out and you can get into the moment with it, you’re going to like the scene. We need to invest in it. So a lot of the times I’ll get a scene in here where yeah things are Frankenclipped, or it’s just feeling rushed. So what I’ll do is I will pull out the moment. I’ll let somebody speak longer, let more of their interview clip, play out. So they have more of an on camera moment.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
See if I can let the actuality dialogue play out more, make it feel more natural. One thing that happens, I think people are editing on a script. They’re editing on paper and they’ll do a lot of splices in there. And then somebody will kind of cut all that together. But then when you’re playing it live like you just hit match frame and you’re like, well, this is a good moment. Why are we editing it so much?
Kelly McClughan:
Sure.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Let it play out.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. And Tim, you’ve kind of observed on one of the docs you worked on, you actually kind of got the opposite. You got all the footage and the story about what the story was. And then it was up to you to create the scene. And then the narration was written to that.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yeah. So lots of the nature docs worked this way. And when I worked on Wild Canadian Year, the researchers had worked out, what they want to happen. They go out and they shoot in nature and set up a few things. But what happens really happens. And so we have to take this and they give you tons of footage. I mean, they shot for several days of chipmunks. They steal each other’s nuts when they’re hiding them away in the fall. And I had just hours of it.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
So I took that edited probably into a 20 minute piece of these chipmunks chasing each other. We watched it, me and the director, cut it down some more, put some music to it. And very late in the game, they add some narration. This is two days before the rough cut’s going out. They’ll write some narration to it. So what always happens is that narration just doesn’t quite fit in. And then I need to edit my music and edit the shots again and do a quick thing the night before. And then we get it out. But this is a really good example of editing picture and then writing to that picture.
Kelly McClughan:
Sure. And let’s take a look at it.
Speaker 20:
Chipmunks live alone and each build their own cache of nuts. Keeping well back the nosy neighbor tracks the hardworking chipmunk to his borough. Now he knows where his neighbor’s larder is. Inside his private borough his cache may contain 5,000 to 6,000 nuts. If he isn’t burgled. When the industrious chipmunk gets back to work, his sneaky neighbor decides it’s time for a home invasion. He must be quick and silent to avoid an altercation. A red oak acorn is tasty plunder, high in fat, and it remains dormant longer. The best kind to steal.
Kelly McClughan:
Right. A little chipmunk B&E right there. So, yeah. So I’m just looking at the time that you selected that clip was like 1:45. So you got 20 minutes down to 1:45 and then the narration.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yeah and the whole story was probably three and a half, four minutes long. But yeah, we went from 20 minutes down to maybe six minutes and then finally distill it down to that.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
How long does that take?
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
How long does that take? It seems to take a long time at the beginning, watching the footage, going through. I like this shot. I like this shot. Piling things up. It seems like it takes a long time to build the beginning and then it goes real fast once you’re coming down and putting those words in, it seems to be accelerated as you go. That music was written for it. But we wanted to have our own guide track music in as well when we send it to the network. So music placement was really crucial. And so we did a whole hour of all animal stories and the researchers are fantastic. They all know their stuff. So they go out with an idea of what they’re going to shoot. But then again, nature does take over sometimes. And that story is very much how we had planned it, but other ones it’s you’re dictated by what really happens when they go out and shoot the footage.
Kelly McClughan:
Wow. And actually that leads us kind of nicely into the next segment, which was where our directors went out. I think Kelly Morris, and they had probably something in mind for footage. And here, we’re talking about sort of a rolling along kind of travel, probably a transition use of footage. And you used it in an unexpected way, I suspect. Tell us a little bit about… Maybe set up that clip a little bit for us.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Oh, this is the Citizen Bio clip.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. Because that seemed to be an example where the directors probably had something else in mind when they shot the footage. And then you used it in an unexpected way.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Yeah. This was kind of interesting. So this clip we’re going to look at, it was for this film called Citizen Bio, which was about biohacking and there’s two kinds of biohackers. There’s the kind that want to edit their genes. And then there’s the ones who do what’s called wetware, where they’re implanting technology into their body. Now we really needed to create a scene about these grinders, the ones who were into wetware as a sort of aside for this film. There was an event that they were holding in the Mojave desert. And on the way to that event, there was some windmills.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
And the crew, I guess they just thought the windmills looked cool. They stopped to film one and they recorded some really great audio from this windmill. And when I saw that windmill and I heard the sound, I thought, well, this would be a really great way to foreshadow what these people are going to do with their bodies by giving a hint of the sound of technology, the sound of a machine before getting to them. And I also thought that this kind of inhuman sound that the machine was making would enhance the gravity of implanting technology into your body.
Speaker 21:
When I think of biohacking, I think of people who work with the living organism as a medium, that’s the bio part. And the hacking part is utilizing the hacker ethic of saying, we can make a better world with technology. We can utilize things in ways for which they were not designed. And we don’t wait for permission to do so.
Speaker 22:
If you put a magnet under your finger, you could sense these electromagnetic fields. And it was like, somebody hit me in the side of the head. It was like, the revolution started without me. Oh shit, I got to catch up. And so I heard about that in April and by May, there was a magnet in my finger. I just was not waiting anymore. There is no fucking way that I would ever pass up an opportunity to prove the efficacy of this movement.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Now what comes after that scene is we see that the guys implanted this, I guess it was an RFID, some sort of RFID reader under his skin.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. It was a neat use of the footage. I can just imagine how that was originally intended to just be rolling along to the event footage and you did something really neat.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Yeah. There was a beauty to that sound, but kind of a violence to it too.
Kelly McClughan:
That’s cool.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
And that was the actual sound from the windmill.
Kelly McClughan:
I’m aware of the time here. And I just want to sort of open it up to any questions if anybody has any questions at this point, because I’m aware that some people back east time might be of the essence for them. So if you have any questions, you can put those in the Q&A and we can get to those. And in the meantime, I will ask you guys, the panelists here. We’ve talked about cheating things a little bit, moving things around a little bit. Is there any line you won’t cross? Is there anything you must not mess with, the three of you?
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
I don’t like lying honestly. I generally don’t lie with the exception of The Bachelor, which that is the job and that’s fine. It’s a bit more of a farce than whatever. Generally I don’t lie. And my general rule is if you could show a scene to the people who are actually there and they’re fine with it, then it’s a win. I never put words in anyone’s mouth that they wouldn’t have said, even if they didn’t say it and we need them to say it with the exception of The Bachelor.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yeah, I can remember back when I worked in the cable access days, very simple editing. The guy who ran the place showed me. So you do an interview, you record the person talking. Then when they’re done, you turn that camera around point at you and do a few head nods and then you can use those head nods to edit them.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
And I remember that moment distinctly, just going, wow, I can make this person say whatever I want them to say by doing a simple cutaway of something. And so it’s great power that we have. And I’m like you, Jen, I would never lie. I would never have the person say anything that they wouldn’t have said. There’s all kinds of times where we cheat and we edit sentences together, but it’s to move the story forward the way it really happened. As opposed to taking somebody out of context, because I would- wouldn’t feel comfortable with that. And the people who we work with, see the shows and you need people to have trust in you. So that’s a line I wouldn’t cross is lying.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
They’re not going to show up for season two if you spend the entire first season lying about everything that they said.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
That’s exactly right.
Kelly McClughan:
Yep. Kelly, what’s your view on the line? You won’t cross
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Same. I mean, it’s the same thing here. I’m always making people say things, but I just won’t make somebody say something they didn’t mean to say. I mean, sometimes I’ll have to clean up their sentence or help them out a little bit. I’ll cut away and I’ll reconstruct their sentence to make them say what they were trying to say. I will do that, but definitely keeping the integrity. I don’t want to mischaracterize somebody or character assassinate them by putting horror music underneath a slow motion show while somebody’s walking.
Kelly McClughan:
Well, a good point. Because the music can convey so much. We have a question here that I’m going to put to you guys. Has documentary editing changed over the years?
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
I will say yes. I think there’s much more point of view documentaries now. We can get away with simple things, handheld cameras, somebody telling a story very simply as opposed to a big production. In the 30 years I’ve been doing it’s much less planned, much less of a production, I think. People have an idea and you go out and do it as opposed to a bigger production in that way. It’s changed and there’s less dissolves.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Definitely less dissolves. I mean, personally, I feel like the techniques we use for editing a documentary for me are the same. I still use the same techniques that I learned at the start of my career in terms of a story structure, getting out the post-it notes, looking at maybe a three act structure. Or organizing the material, going through the transcripts, marking them up. So that’s the sort of foundations of how to tell a story. It’s still the same foundations, even though we can dress them up better or use fancier techniques like what Tim was just talking about.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
When I started the role was see it, say it, key it. If you’re going to show something, if the VO says something, you want to show it, and make it really evident what they’re talking about. Whereas it’s getting a little more ethereal, a little more like show the water.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
And I think that the viewer’s more sophisticated now perhaps. I think the people take in much more media and quick things. And I think they’re sophisticated in that way. You don’t need to see it, say it, text it, to get a point across.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Which is nice.
Kelly McClughan:
Are they more forgiving? Continuity issues for example or are they prepared to forgive that kind of stuff? In the old days we used to like, ring our hands over continuity.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Character is king. If the characters are good, the audience will forgive an awful lot. And certainly YouTube I think is actually changing the way we edit. Sometimes not the really high end docs, the really pretty docs, but like, people will take cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. Like a YouTube video a lot more. Not that I want to do that, but that’s the thing I can see coming because so many people watch YouTube stuff. Just me. Actually I’ve cut one show like that. But I was told that I made look too good and they said, cut it dirtiest like YouTube. And I said, okay. And so I made it worse, which felt bad, but I did it anyway.
Kelly McClughan:
What is a senior editor? Is it similar to a post supervisor? Boy, the naming of things really can trip people up. Because different things are different things in different production companies too sometimes. Or different parts of the country.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Maybe I can jump in. We had to change our name to senior editor here at Great Pacific, because we found out that lead editor, and finishing editor, none of these qualified for the Canadian Screen Awards. So we had to usename senior editor. Seriously. Those other ones disqualify you.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
So senior editor’s not a post supervisor. A senior editor works with the editing team sort of at the top level. So like here at Highway Through Hell, they’ll be the, what they call the episodic editors. There’s junior editors, assistant editors. So as a senior editor, I work with those people and mentor the junior editor and work with the show runner to do the network rough cut, fine cut, picture lock. And then work with the color correctionist and the composer and get the sound ready to be sent off to the mix.
Kelly McClughan:
Well, and here’s a great question on that very topic to start working as an assistant editor, what’s the kind of knowledge of Avid you need to have.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
I find my assistant editors know a lot about Avid. Sometimes I’m intimidated by how much, how they can dig in and do things. So I would say the more about Avid, the better chance you’ll have of getting work.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
If you know more about Avid than I do, that’s a great thing.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. And I mean, Avid is the predominant system in the west, correct? Is that what you guys find they’re using across the country? I was just asked to use Premier recently, which I had zero knowledge of. So is there any other system that you guys have been asked to deal with or is it pretty much all Avid all the time these days?
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
For me, it’s Avid all the time.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
I did Citizen Bio on Premier. The drawback with premier is working in a network setting. We used to be able to do that with final cut pro. And Avid’s good for working in a network setting where you have multiple people accessing the project. You can do that with Premier, but it’s got some qualities to it that make that difficult. And the project really gets bogged down, the more times you pass the project back and forth. So yeah, Avid is the way to go.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
For these episodic shows. Same as me. I know a few people that work on Premier, but for any of the big series shows we’re using only Avid in BC, anyways.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
It used to go back and forth between Final Cut and Avid. But since final cut went to whatever Final Cut is now, it’s all Avid all the time.
Kelly McClughan:
I’m going to move along to what we had considered to be one of our final topics and that’s breaking format. Plus it involves an explosion and who doesn’t want to at least get one explosion in one of these things here. Jen set, set this up. This was a situation, as I understand it, with Rust Valley Restorers and you had some great footage and you sent it and the broadcaster said, give us more. And then you had an additional idea.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
This was a episode of Rust Valley from this season where the lead character Mike has made a deal with the other characters that he won’t buy anymore cars. And of course he buys many, many, many cars. So as a punishment, they say if you buy cars, we’re going to blow up one of your cars. So they blow up the car. And the explosion is epic. They use so much explosive, it was the legal limit of what they could do. They covered it from like 80 billion angles. They had three drones in the air. There were GoPros everywhere. It was fantastic.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
So the note came back from the broadcaster. “It’s amazing. Can we do it more?” And the only… The first time I watched it, I wasn’t actually the assembly editor, the rough cut editor. I picked it up at fine cut. And the first time I watched it, it was the last act of the show where the explosion happened.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
The only thing I wanted to do when the credits finished rolling was see the explosion again. So I sold everyone on the idea that we should just do that. We should just blow the thing up again, which is not something this show does. They don’t step out of time at all, ever, but it was the right thing to do. Because who isn’t going to scroll back and watch the giant massive explosion. So let’s just do it again. So I dug into the footage, found a plausible, semi-plausible reason to do it and then did it.
Kelly McClughan:
All right. Well, let’s look at what you did.
Speaker 24:
This car is fairly rare, but it is so far gone and so rotten, there’s nothing left worth saving. It’s destined for flight.
Speaker 25:
You got your pea shooter.
Speaker 24:
I got it.
Speaker 25:
It’sa going to go boom.
Speaker 26:
Do you guys think this is funny, don’t you.
Speaker 46:
This is the price you have to pay for not keeping your word. What do you think, Avery, should I pick off a headlight first? There goes a headlight.
Speaker 26:
Just torturing it for something to do.
Speaker 47:
Torturing you for something to do. You guys ready?
Speaker 27:
It’s gone.
Speaker 24:
We may have underestimated the effect the tannerite would have on this car.
Speaker 27:
Look at after, there’s shit all the way up there. And there’s shit over there.
Speaker 26:
66 years old, and for shits and giggles, they destroyed it.
Speaker 27:
Tell you what, one of the funnest things I think I’ve ever done.
Speaker 26:
Glad you had fun. Small things amuse small minds. That’s all I got to say.
Speaker 27:
I find it highly unlikely that it’ll change anything that he does, but you know what? It was one hell of an outing.
Speaker 47:
That was fun.
Speaker 28:
We need to make more bets with him like this.
Speaker 47:
Right. I could do this every day.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. So that was incendiary. For sure.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
The other thing I did was actually extend the explosion. Rule of thirds, you’ll notice it goes boom-boom-boom]… Really close together without seeming like I did it three times. Rule of thirds wins the day.
Kelly McClughan:
Yeah. And the format break just to clarify was, was replaying it in the credits.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Yeah. The show would never, ever have done that. They just would never have done that. And I was like, it’s the only thing we should do. Please let me do this. Please let me do this.
Kelly McClughan:
As a final point. When can you break format? When can you break the rules?
Kelly Morris, CCE:
I’m always breaking rules and trying to get away with things. I mean, this is a creative process. And I think if I can come up with something new in here I’m feeling pretty good about it. But I mean, it’s something that’s got to work. I mean, there are certain rules around like rhythm and pacing and there’s certain things that kind of work. But within those frameworks, I think you can really get creative.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
I think you can break format, for me whenever you have a good idea, try it. 25% of the time You’ll get away with it. 75% they’ll send you back and say no. But if you think it’s a great idea and you were hired for your skill and your whatever, go for it, maybe you’ll get to create something new and maybe you’ll just amuse yourself. That’s fun too. Someone will be amused by that.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Same as how I feel. So that’s why I’m always uncomfortable working with someone watching me edit, because I’m aware that I’m being watched and I won’t try something crazy. If I’m by myself, I’ll try something crazy. But the last thing I want to hear is, “That’s not what you want to do.” It’s like, we might not want to do it, but we also might want to do it if it works. So I’ll try it. And depending on the show, depending on the series, depending on who gets to say you can do it or not, it’s fun to break the rules.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Just go for it. I worked on another show called Expecting a long time ago, and I was obsessed with doing this opening… It was a pregnancy show based on YouTube videos. The one I had to cut worse. And I was obsessed with trying to do a Brady Bunch style opening with the nine boxes. And every time I told people, everyone thought… I just got this look like, “No, terrible idea.” And I was like, I’m going to do it. I’m going to find time and I’m going to do it. And I’m not going to tell anyone I’m doing it. I’m just going to do it. And yeah, that became the opening titles. Everyone loved it. It was a ton of work, but it was like, totally worth it. And it was fun.
Kelly McClughan:
And one thing that I kind of wanted to touch on because I think it’s important, especially for people starting out to recognize. I mean, you guys have been doing this a while now and all of you talked early on about sort of the hurdles and the early insecurity sometimes when you… And by early, I mean now, still, but when you get a story or you get a doc in front of you and you’re like, “Oh man, how am I going to handle this?” Or you get up against a scene that seems impossible. You’ve all talked about sometimes the solution doesn’t come in the edit suite. Talk a little bit about that that never really goes away. That feeling like am I going to be able to overcome this? And then how you do overcome it.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Yeah. That’s pretty much every single show I work on. When I’m starting, it’s like, this is not going to work. This is never going to work. I’m never going to get this done on time and it slowly gets rolling. But on specific things, if I’m locked on a scene or something, I’m trying to figure out what will happen to me again and again and again in my career is- I walk away from it. I’ll leave it. And so often I’ll be lying in bed 4:00 in the morning, bing, I know what I have to do. I wake up and I have an answer and I’m itching to get to work. And to go in and make it work. And so it’s, for me, it’s stepping away as opposed to keep beating it and beating it and beating it. I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened for me over the years.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
I do the same thing. Well, one, I do both the same things. I force myself to leave at the end of day one. Because at the end of day one, I’m usually like, it’s never going to work. There’s not enough time. In fact, I usually go home slightly early and I force myself to do it because I used to not do it. And a friend of mine looked at me one day and texted me from another building and went, go home now because they knew I was going to be there late stressing on it. So I make an effort to do that. And the other thing… Oh, I forgot the… I lost the thread. I leave it too. But I don’t actually… Usually I’m pretty good about leaving work at work. Sometimes I get ideas sitting on the sofa or in the bathroom or whatever, taking a shower is a great place to have ideas, but usually I’ll just leave it.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
If I’m having a problem with something on the timeline, I’ll just leave it and then revisit it the next morning, because it’s amazing how many problems you can solve if you revisit something the next morning. And go, oh, the answer was right there. And if it doesn’t work on day two, it’ll probably work on day three. So it’s just another version of leave it, walk away, go look at it, consider it. But don’t spend like… I know editors who spend tons of time, days trying to solve problems. And you got to keep moving forward because there’s deadlines to meet.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Yeah. I mean, I usually have a couple days when I’m starting off a project where I go through a whole bunch of existential angst and doubt my creative talents and think this is it, I’ve lost it now. All my years of experience, don’t matter. My career’s over. It’s going to happen. It’s always a bit of a bit of a mind squeeze when you get overwhelmed with all this new footage. And it just feels like a lot of problems. But yeah, actually a couple things Jen mentioned, it’s sort of the same for me. After day one, I’m like, I’m not going to do anything today. I’m just going to go home. And I too get inspiration in the shower in the morning. That’s where my ideas come to me. I really don’t think any more, it’s just when I’m taking a shower. It’s like, oh yeah, that’s it. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
It’s a weird spot.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Something about the soothing hot water, I don’t know it’s pretty creative. Gets things flowing.
Kelly McClughan:
Well, look, excellent tips and tricks. I think really helpful to people who are just starting out and also people sort of further along in their career to be reminded that there’s always things you can learn and there’s always ways through these problems. I want to thank you guys so much for putting so much thought into this process today. It was a lot of fun for me. And thanks also to Trevor, Mirosh and Allison for all the assistance they gave us in pulling this together. It’s been a lot of fun. So thank you. Thanks, very, very much.
Kelly Morris, CCE:
Thanks everybody for coming.
Tim Wanlin, CCE:
Thanks everybody.
Jenypher Fisher, CCE:
Thanks.
Kelly McClughan:
Take care, everybody.
Sarah Taylor:
Thank you so much for joining us today and a big thank you goes to Jane MacRae and Alison Dowler. This episode was edited by Andrea Reagan. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music created by Chad Blain and Sound Street. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao..
The CCE has been supporting Indspire, an organization that provides funding and scholarships for indigenous, postsecondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at cceditors.ca, or you can donate directly to Indspire.ca, I-N-D-S-P-I-R-E.ca. The CCE is taking steps to build a more equitable ecosystem within our industry. And we encourage our members to participate in any way they can. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple podcasts and tell your friends to tune in till next time. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor.
Speaker 29:
The CCE is a non-profit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture editing. If you wish to become a CCE member, please visit our website www.CCEditors.ca. Join our great community of Canadian editors for more related info.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Podcasts

What do you want to hear on The Editors Cut?

Please send along any topics you would like us to cover or editors you would love to hear from:

Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Ryan Watson

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Edited by

Andrea Regan

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blain

Soundstripe

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

IATSE Local 891, Integral Artists and  VPA

Categories
The Editors Cut

The Editors Cut – Episode 065 – Creatives Empowered Presents: Why Anti-Racism Still Matters

Episode 065 - Creatives Empowered Presents: Why Anti-Racism Still Matters

In today’s episode we talk with the Executive Director of Creatives Empowered, Shivani Saini. We talk about how Creatives Empowered came to be and share a panel that Creatives Empowered produced called Why Anti-Racism Still Matters. The panel includes Reneltta Arluk (Director of Indigenous Arts, BANFF Centre for Arts and Creativity), Patti Pon (President and CEO, Calgary Arts Development), and Kizzie Sutton (Executive Director, Calgary Society for Independent Filmmakers).

CREATIVES EMPOWERED (CE) is a non-profit collective of artists + creatives. We are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, empowering each other as an allied community. We are film + tv, media and arts professionals – from emerging to established – based in western Canada. We are the first and only organization of its kind in Alberta. CE is inspired by and embodies what is truly possible when racialized talent are empowered to thrive. To learn more, please visit creativesempowered.ca

Shivani is an award-winning producer, consultant, strategist and skillful communicator with over 25 years of professional film, television, media and arts experience. She is a dedicated advocate for equity within mainstream media and the cultural sector. A Ryerson Radio & Television Arts graduate, her career spans all genres of production, from the creative to the business side. Her portfolio includes critically acclaimed film and television, groundbreaking museum content, cutting edge theatre, international visual arts affairs, social media initiatives and festivals that cultivate new works. Select producing credits include the award-winning dramatic tv series Blackstone. Her company Atelier Culturati, empowers arts + culture through consulting, producing and communications, and is uniquely positioned to create strategies, content, and engagement that fosters true equity, diversity and inclusion. Atelier Culturati’s vision is to create and support works that positively transform the human condition.

 

The resources mentioned in this episode can be found here.

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 065 – “Creatives Empowered Presents: Why Anti-Racism Still Matters”

Patti Pon:
As people of colour or marginalized communities, every day we walk through life, and every day we catch arrows, right? I’m the only person of colour. I’m the only woman. People say stupid things to me. They mistake me for the catering staff instead of the attendee at the conference, right? They’re surprised when I don’t have an accent. So every day, I get those arrows. And every day I have to come home and pull the arrows out all by myself, or with the support of my loved ones. You want to be an accomplice: how about, make it so that those arrows don’t come at me in the first place?
Sarah Taylor:
Hello, and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast, and that many of you may be listening to us from, are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral territory that has long served as a place where Indigenous peoples have lived, met and interacted. We honour, respect and recognize these nations that have never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand today. We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many contributions and the concerns that impact Indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action.
Sarah Taylor:
Today, I’m talking with the executive director of Creatives Empowered, Shivani Saini, and sharing a panel that Creatives Empowered produced called “Why Anti-Racism Still Matters.” Creatives Empowered is inspired by, and embodies, what is truly possible when racialized talent are empowered to thrive. Creatives Empowered is a federally incorporated, virtual non-profit organization founded by Shivani Saini and Atelier Culturati and made its inaugural public launch on November 16th, 2020. Their strong and growing membership demonstrates the need for this organization in Alberta and is already proving that the talent does exist. Their ownership, leadership, and board governance is 100% racialized and all Alberta-based. It’s also important to know that Creators Empowered inherently serves all racialized talent within Alberta.

[show open]
Sarah Taylor:
Shivani, thank you so much for joining us today on The Editor’s Cut.
Shivani Saini:
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Sarah Taylor:
To start off, can you tell us a little bit about your background in film and television and how Creatives Empowered came to be?
Shivani Saini:
I’ve worked in professional film, television, media and the arts for over 25 years. I actually started my career when I was quite young, as a teenager, with the National Screen Institute. And I’ve had the opportunity throughout my career to work in virtually every discipline, every type of production, genre of production that exists, everything from the creative side to the business side. And in November of 2020, I launched Creatives Empowered alongside other established racialized professionals here in Alberta.
Sarah Taylor:
And now can you tell us a little bit about what Creatives Empowered is, and what the mission of Creatives Empowered is?
Shivani Saini:
So, Creatives Empowered is actually Alberta’s first and only non-profit collective that’s by and for BIPOC film, television, media and arts professionals who live and work in the colonial boundary known as Alberta. And we exist to be a safe and supportive community for BIPOC artists and creatives. We’re here to advocate for and represent their interests and their needs. We work to increase professional opportunities for them, to provide empowering and educational resources, events, and professional development. And we also network, collaborate and share with like-minded individuals and organizations across Canada and also around the world.
Sarah Taylor:
Why did you feel like you needed to create an organization like this in Alberta?
Shivani Saini:
In 2019, I had a series of professional experiences that I would describe as empowering and disempowering, which I think every human being can relate to, regardless of background. For myself personally, I started to become consciously aware of the correlation, the relationship between the disempowering experiences I was having and systemic racism. And once I started to see this pattern and then really started to reflect back on my entire 25-plus-year career, I couldn’t ignore what I was seeing anymore. And this conscious awareness was something I developed really at the tail end of 2019, so the timing of it was quite interesting. And then of course the pandemic began in 2020, and then the events of the summer of 2020 happened.
And, it was at that point that I realized it would just be really, really important to really consider doing something here. And this was actually an idea I had in 2019, because one of the empowering experiences I had actually involved working with the Reelworld Film Festival and Screen Institute, which was established over 20 years ago to advocate for equity in Canada’s screen sector. And it was founded by Tonya Williams. So it was clear to me that it just would’ve been so incredible to have had access to something like that in my formative years, and I thought it would be great to set something up here in Alberta. Prior to the pandemic, it wasn’t something I had the time and the energy to do, but after the events of the summer of 2020, I started to have a lot of conversations with other established, seasoned, racialized professionals here in Alberta, and also with folks across the country.
And these conversations were so interesting and they were really empowering because despite the fact that each of our respective experiences with systemic racism, of course, are going to be a little bit different because we’re all different people—we’re all different individuals with different journeys and life paths—there was this commonality, this universality in our experiences that just created an inherent understanding of what being subjected to systemic racism is actually like, and that the understanding is almost unspoken. We just know. And it just became so clear to me that it would be tremendously valuable to have something here in Alberta that’s by and for people who live and work here.
And I know that in Canada we’ve got film and television production regions that are bigger—places like Toronto, places like Vancouver—but the reality is there are a lot of really talented artists and creatives living and working in Alberta that want to tell stories. And some of those folks are also BIPOC, IBPOC, racialized, and it was just really clear we needed something that was really by and for us. And so after having a series of conversations, it just became very apparent in November that it was time to put something together. And one day I sat down in front of my computer and wrote out what Creatives Empowered was. I wrote out the vision mission and value statement, and this material really wrote itself. It did not take long to articulate what this was. And then shortly thereafter, the Canada Media Fund had come out with sector development support specifically for initiatives like this one. So the timing was quite serendipitous and obviously meant to be, and we applied and were successful, and that’s what brings us to where we are today.
Sarah Taylor:
Amazing. Well, with that funding and I’m sure other people supporting Creatives Empowered, you’ve been able to put on a bunch of different workshops and events. And we, as the Canadian Cinema Editors, have joined Creatives Empowered as an ally partner. So we’re going to share today on the podcast, an event that Creatives Empowered put on. Can you tell us a little bit about the panel that we’re going to listen to today?
Shivani Saini:
So this event that you’re going to listen to today is such a powerful conversation. It’s called Why Anti-Racism Still Matters. It features Reneltta Arluk. She is the director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is also the founder of AKPIK Theatre. It features Patti Pon, who’s the president and CEO of Calgary Arts Development. And Kizzie Sutton, the executive director of the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers. And to be honest, the idea for this event actually was a sticky note. I had just wrote down the words “why anti-racism still matters,” and these three names came to mind. The sticky note was sitting in my notebook since last year, and I had a chance to reach out to the three of them and say, “Hey, I’d like to invite you to be a part of this event. What do you think?” They all said yes. And, the rest is history. These are three incredible women doing incredible work in their respective fields, and just absolute powerhouses. And we had such an incredible and enlightening conversation on why anti-racism still matters.
Sarah Taylor:
Oh, amazing. I can’t wait to share with everybody. Before we jump to the panel, I want to know, how can people participate and/or join, and work with Creators Empowered?
Shivani Saini:
Sure. So we offer free lifetime membership to racialized individuals and any of the organizations they own and operate. And you can easily sign up for that on our website, you just have to go to the “join” page. And if you’re interested in becoming an ally, that’s something that organizations can also do, the information’s available on that page. And we are, actually—because of the fact that we were born out of the pandemic—a virtual nonprofit. And we have designed a website that allows us to deliver our mission online, and we do it through social media. So you can explore our website, you’ll see that we have different events and resources just like the one that we mentioned, that are available for people to check out. We also have an opportunities page, which is basically a free classified section for Alberta’s cultural sector. So if you have opportunities, job opportunities, project opportunities that you want to share with a diverse community, you can easily post them there. And there are other ways to support as well. We are always seeking supporters and partners, sponsors. So folks can absolutely feel free to get in touch with us. You can do that through our website too, and we can start some great conversation to see what might be possible.
Sarah Taylor:
Amazing. Well, I’m glad that we did, and I’m glad that we can share this panel with everyone today. Thank you so much for joining us.
Shivani Saini:
Thank you.
Crew Member 1:
And action.
Crew Member 2:
Action.
Shivani Saini:
Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. Creatives Empowered is pleased to present “Why Anti-Racism Still Matters.” I’d like to start off with a land acknowledgement. Creatives Empowered is a virtual nonprofit that serves all racialized talent within the colonial boundary known as Alberta. We acknowledge that we live, work, and play on the traditional Treaty Territories of 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10, along with the Métis Nation regions of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. We also acknowledge that we are on stolen land. These are the traditional territories of many First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, specifically in Treaty 6, the Cree, the Dene, the Anishinaabe, the Saulteaux, Nokota Isga, the Nakota Sioux, and the Blackfoot peoples. Specifically in Treaty 7, the people of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Siksiká, Kainai and Piikani, the Tsuu T’ina First Nation and the people of Stoney Nakoda, and Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wellesley. And specifically in Treayt 8, the Cree, the Dene Tha’, the Dane-zaa, the Denesuline, the Nakota Sioux, the Iroquois, and the Inuit peoples. We express, with the utmost of respect, our deepest gratitude for the manner in which these traditional peoples have honoured these treaties. And in the spirit of reconciliation, we are committed to doing the same in how we live, work, and play on their traditional lands.
Thank you once again, for joining us, I’d like to introduce you to our fantastic guests today. Let’s start with Reneltta Arluk. She is the director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is Inuvialuit, Dene and Cree. She’s a mom from the Northwest Territories. She’s also the founder of AKPIK Theatre, which is a Northern-focused professional Indigenous theatre company. As we were just talking, it’s the first and only professional Indigenous theatre company in the Northwest Territories.
We have Patti Pon, who is the president and the CEO of Calgary Arts Development. She is a veteran community and arts champion, and her extensive track record of leadership and service in Calgary includes staff leadership positions at EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts, Alberta Performing Arts Stabilization Fund, and the Alberta Theatre Projects, and volunteer positions with Calgary Foundation, Calgary Stampede, and the Asian Heritage Foundation of Southern Alberta.
We also have with us today Kizzie Sutton, and she is the executive director of the Calgary Society for Independent Filmmakers. She’s an engaging arts and community professional, and is happy to be returning to her roots in film as the executive director of CISF. I want to thank you so much, each of you, for joining us today. And I just want to start off by mentioning that this event was inspired by a sticky note that had all three of your names written down. I wrote down the words, “Why anti-racism still matters.” Your three names were the names that came to my mind. That sticky note lived in a notebook for months and then I finally got in touch with all of you to say, “Let’s make this happen.” So, thank you so much for being here today. I’m so excited to explore this really important topic.
And what we’d like to do is maybe just start off by taking a look at a definition of anti-racism. This is a source that comes from an organization called Race Forward, and I had the privilege of discovering this source through resources that Black Lives Matter had put together. “Anti-racism is defined as the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviours and impacts.” So, I’d like to start by exploring, I think a really important question to start off with just coming off of the definition that we saw, which is what really is the distinction between racism and anti-racism? And I’d love to hear some thoughts on that. Kizzie, why don’t you go first?
Kizzie Sutton:
I think the critical difference between racism and anti-racism is the direction in which people are putting their effort. At first, I was thinking, “Oh, it’s actively opposing racism.” But at the same time, when we look at systemic racism, when we look at how racism plays out within our daily lives, that is also active and very present and deliberate. So I no longer think that anti-racism is the counter, if you will, to racism as a means of where people are putting their energy, but it’s also the intent behind. Anti-racism is also hoping to reduce harm—again, my perspective—and hopefully also encourage education and learning so that we can start to change people’s perspectives and, most likely, learned patterns of behaviour. So for me, one of the biggest differences between racism and anti-racism is the act of work of trying to dismantle systems of systemic oppression, systemic racism, and impacting daily lives and trying to change the way we, as individuals, interact with each other.
Reneltta Arluk:
Yeah, I find it interesting that anti-racism seems to be an individual effort and that active racism is actually a systemic collaborative group effort. So that’s kind of an interesting awareness when we look at anti-racism from that perspective.
Patti Pon:
Yeah. I think… Just before I go there, I just want to [introduces self in Siksiká]. I have the honour of being gifted a Blackfoot name, and I do that. And so, whenever I have a chance to speak publicly, I always want to acknowledge where I’m speaking from, and that is the Treaty Seven territory of the Niitsitapi, the Blackfoot people. And it was an honour to be gifted that name, which stands for “Two Standing Headdress Woman.” It also compliments my Chinese name, which is [says name in Mandarin], which is “the Goddess on the Moon.” And then of course my English name, Patti Pon.
And I think anti-racism for me is very much what Reneltta talked to, which is, when you hear the term, I think there is an association with more of an individual approach versus when you hear the term “racism” where there’s a tendency to apply it to a system, but not apply it to me. Not, kind of, embrace that I maybe have a role to play in that. Anti-racism in the way it has surfaced or maybe what the zeitgeist is, there appears to be an association that maybe there’s something I need to do as an individual. And with the three ways in which I identify with my name, I think it attributes to—there is that many and then some ways I live and walk in this world, and that anti-racism has an application in every single one of those identities. And it recognizes that entirety of who you are and how you are in this time. So, that’s what it means to me.
Kizzie Sutton:
It’s, I guess, the pluralism of walking in the very many different facets that we as individuals take for granted and take space in. And, just like the other lovely women here shared, it’s again that act of participation in trying to dismantle that individual versus system—us, them. I love the way that anti-racism is trying to deal with the individual. We also now need to add, how does anti-racism also deal with the larger, and the group thinks that we all interact with? So, yeah, I pretty much want to echo what has been said and reiterate the importance behind it.
Shivani Saini:
I’d love to just follow up with another question. What role does accountability play in helping to understand this distinction? How important is it, why is it important, for organizations to be able to take accountability, for example, for individuals to be able to take accountability. Let’s talk a little bit about that and why that’s needed.
Reneltta Arluk:
I mean, what’s challenging and a gift is that… Yeah, I’m witnessing this now because it has become so apparent that, I think we’ve interpreted that anti-racism is neutrality, but it really isn’t. Racism is active and anti-racism has to be equally, if not stronger, in activation. But when we think about silence and complacency, I don’t think we really align that with racism. I think we align that with peace, or neutrality means that I don’t agree with you. But in truth now, I’m really encouraging people to think about, anti-racism as voice. You have to actively state, you are not racist by being present, by speaking up, by witnessing. I think we have to activate our bodies and our minds and our voices to actually be an anti-activist. Whereas before, I think we’re taught that by not engaging means that we’re not agreeing, but actually now, what I’m witnessing and seeing is a need for us to actually say, “I am not a racist. I will not tolerate that. I will not stand here and listen to that. I disagree with what you’re saying.” That we have to activate our voices more when we witness situations that are happening, that are racist.
Shivani Saini:
Thank you, Reneltta. Patti, go ahead.
Patti Pon:
Well, and I think, absolutely. And to add onto that, there’s been that adage around that if you’re not racist, then you must be anti-racist. There’s no in between. Like, that’s it. They’re binary, right? And they are mutually exclusive. And so in the same way that colonial systems, as an example, that racist systems that exist within that—we’ve had centuries to have that imposed and embedded in us, right? Even as people of colour, or visible minorities. or marginalized communities. So, we have to take that active effort to apply it and actively have anti-racist systems in place. So part of the accountability, I think, is recognizing these two things actually are mutually exclusive. You can’t be both. And so, pick a side. And for those who benefit or have had power and privilege because of the existing racist systems in place, you got to come clean.
It is a reckoning. And that doesn’t mean that you have to completely give up everything. But as Reneltta said: call it when you see it, when you know it’s wrong. And we know it’s wrong. And use that power and privilege that you have been given the benefit from this system, to get us to a new system, a different system where everybody can derive. This isn’t like a pie and there’s only so many slices. It is infinite, if we’re talking about an anti-racist system. And I think that’s something that people don’t get. We’re not replacing one, we’re starting a new one that has room for everybody. And you know, why wouldn’t you want that? And why wouldn’t you want to play your part in creating that system? And there’s space for everyone.
Shivani Saini:
Thank you, Patti. Kizzie.
Kizzie Sutton:
I think I just want to highlight that it is a dual system. It’s either on or off. It’s not, “I’m going to be Switzerland and stay neutral,” and “Oh, I don’t want to offend grandpa so I’m just not going to bring my mixed-race boyfriend over to family dinner.” Because you’re actively denying something. And if you’re actively denying something… if you look at it the other way around, you’re actively perpetuating the same system that you’re saying you’re trying to pull down. I think that’s one of the slippery slopes of allyship is that reckoning within, I guess, Caucasian and European-based families and homes, is recognizing that yes, me as an individual, we as a family, and us as a people have benefited from these systems and now it’s been so long that it feels like you’re right to be able to do whatever it is that you’re doing.
However, we recognize that it’s not right. And we recognize that we as people are all people. I say, “we.” My hope is that all of us recognize that there are people out there that obviously do not. To be an ally means to have those tough conversations in places and spaces with loved ones that I wouldn’t have access to, nor would they give me the time of day if some of their thoughts were as deeply embedded as they can be. So a part of the anti-racism state for me is really taking on that leadership role as an individual and trying to make change within the smaller circles or spheres of influence that we have.
Shivani Saini:
Thank you. Let’s jump a little further into anti-racism and allyship. One of the things that I have seen repeatedly, in terms of accountability, I see a lot of folks that come from what used to be described as “the predominant culture.” A lot of individuals, a lot of organizations in the cultural sector, really struggling to be able to take that accountability. And yet, despite the struggle, despite the reluctance or the aversion to taking accountability, simultaneously they are moving forward to demonstrate that they’re trying to be as non-racist as possible. And I think we’ve all seen examples and situations of how this can actually start to become quite problematic and perpetuate further harm against people who are racialized. And I want to talk a little bit about that right now, and talk about what really should our allies be doing?
Reneltta Arluk:
Be uncomfortable. They should just really be uncomfortable and start being okay with being uncomfortable. I just finished listening to Jesse Wente’s “Unreconciled,” which is very powerful, and we listened to it on our drive as an audio book. So he’s actually narrating his own book, which made it even more powerful… crying and laughter. But listening to that and just reflecting that in my own life, my own journey, working at Banff Centre and the work that I do as an artist and arts leader in this country is that I think we’ve just… Indigenous, BIPOC, people of colour, we just have a capacity that we’re born with. And we didn’t choose to have this capacity, we just have it.
To be successful in what we do, we have to not only balance bias, racism, judgement, gender, age—everything—roles, family roles, patriarchy, matriarchy. We have to do all that and then still be successful, and so my capacity is larger than most people that I know, because I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t have a large capacity that… And white people don’t have to have capacity. They get to be born without suffering in a way that doesn’t challenge them every moment of the day. And so when I listen to that, I go, “Okay, so how can we raise and elevate conversation changes, undo bias?” Reconciliation is not for us, right? It’s not for our society. It’s for society to… the predominant, as you mentioned, is about growing the capacity to be uncomfortable, in just a little way. I mean, there’s techniques to do it. And I think that that would be a really great way to learn how to become more inclusive. [laughs] I’m sorry.
Kizzie Sutton:
Can I jump in? That just sparked a beautiful idea—a process, as well—is, I love that idea of the dominant culture needs to be uncomfortable because those of us that are not a part of the dominant culture have been uncomfortable for hundreds of years. So the one, two, three generations of discomfort that we hope that the dominant culture will have to deal with pales in comparison! [laughs] Generations of people of colour have been altered mentally, physically, in all areas. And that discomfort was not something that we chose. It was put upon us, but we were able to live through it and I believe we are stronger for that. And trust that, if you’re a part of the dominant culture, that you too can make it through the discomfort. It’s not, “Oh man, this bag is so heavy, I might as well just quit.”
No, you’re developing the muscles. You’re learning how to sit in the silence and hear what others are saying, and then have that change and impact the way you, again, move through your life as an individual and as a leader through and through and through. I mean, if we go back to the family unit, which is a critical unit in most peoples of colours’ backgrounds, all of the nationalities and nations that I have contacted with, the family unit is huge. And if we can really get the parents and the extended generation to connect and talk about these issues that have come to a head during our time, we really can deal with this and move forward with the anti-racism push, which will then hopefully get us to, dare I say, parity. But I think what Patti was saying is, we need to tear down the old system. We don’t need parity. We don’t need equity. What we need is a new system.
Patti Pon:
A hundred percent, Kizzie. And so, related to the… Like Shivani says, yes, the question, my immediate instant response was, “Welcome to my life. Welcome to the last… Welcome to my parents’ life. Welcome to my grandfather’s life when he came to build the railway.” So, this five or 10 or 15 or 20 years of you feeling uncomfortable is going to give you a way to relate to me that maybe you haven’t related to before. And we can do it in small doses. One thing I would say: go to a pow-wow and take in the environment, feel what it is. Be curious when you’re there, because you don’t know the protocol, you don’t know the tradition, you might not know the meaning. But I promise you, when they see you, you will be welcome. And then you will understand what a different system can look like and make you feel like when you are the other.
So there’s those kinds of things we can do that aren’t going to hurt you. At the same time, we then… I talk about a long game to those new systems, right? As a funder, as a granter, especially a public funder, right? All of the funds I invest into the sector, the vast majority of it is public. And so I’m very conscious that for decades, right, the Massey Commission report that created the Canada Council was written in like, the 1950s. And it’s the same system that we run in as funders now. I don’t know, call me crazy: a few things have changed. And what we’ve done as funders is we’ve worked on the margin, right? We’ve tried to change the system from within, and—kind of 18 months, two years ago, it occurred to me: This is no longer about working inside the system on the margins. This is about a new system. And if we don’t come to that new system, we’re never going to get to an anti-racist system of funding in the arts, of public funding.
And so some of the things we’ve done—like, we created an Indigenous arts granting program that was created by Indigenous artists. And it includes the things that the Indigenous communities who live in Treaty 7 territory believe should be supported. And then we support that community and our advisory to then do that. And so that’s what I mean about how we use our power and privilege to support other ways of knowing, of being, of funding in this particular case. And my hope is we learn something from the original… Well, not hope. We have learned things from the original people’s investment program that we are now going to transfer into our standard project grants and operating grants, and whatever other kind of grants exist from the old system. But we have to make our way there, and so for those in the dominant culture, you got to come with us on the ride. And the last thing I’ll say about that—so there’s a wonderful artist here, Adrian Stimson. I think he’s from the Kainai nation, but he’s from Treaty 7.
Reneltta Arluk:
I think he’s from Siksiká.
Patti Pon:
Is he from Siksiká? Oh, sorry Adrian. For years he has said, “I don’t need any more allies. I need accomplices.” And I would even go so far as to say, we actually need co-conspirators. Who’s interested in changing the system, however we got to do it? That’s what we need right now. But I get that you got to start somewhere. And being an ally, trying to place yourself in our shoes, trying to feel that discomfort, that’s the start. And then, come walk with us on that journey to co-conspiracies. I love that.
Shivani Saini:
In terms of allyship, maybe just to wrap up some thoughts on allyship because there are other aspects to the discussion we want to get into as well. I had asked like, what our allies should do. I would love to know what are our allies… From your perspective, what are our allies getting right, and what are they getting wrong?
Patti Pon:
I think what they’re getting right is understanding and recognizing the necessity for the change, right? So that, there’s a whole readiness for change that we talk about in systems change. That’s a good thing. The challenge then becomes… So readiness for change, and then what do you do? What do you do is, recognize that your organizational journey cannot happen unless there’s a personal journey for each and every single person inside that organization to be a part of. So you can’t just report to me and say, “Oh, we have the right representation on our stages,” or… That’s great, I’m glad, and I look forward to the day when you might have over-representation. However, then as you learn more, you do more.
And so don’t just sit in on Calgary Arts Development town halls on commitments to equity, actually go inside your… What’s the training you’re doing, what’s the learning? What are you offering people as resources? And there’s a couple of resources that I sent over that we can put up whenever it’s appropriate. Continue to learn, continue to be curious, and then apply it. Again, individual and organizational journeys have to go hand in hand. And I think that’s sometimes what people get wrong is, they’re just going to go through the motions. As a funder, right, I can do things. I can ask you what your representation is and you’ll check the box, but you gotta mean it. You gotta understand why it’s there and you won’t, unless you take that personal individual approach and that… So back to, right, our very first question.
Reneltta Arluk:
Yeah, no, a hundred percent. And I think it’s really important to just say that organizational and personal have to be aligned because, as an Indigenous woman who sits on juries, I can see through those checked boxes. So, it’s not good lying. You’re not a good liar, really, if you’re looking at representation instead of embodiment and actual curiosity. And I think, saying earlier too how about, like, curiosity–be curious, you know? When I look at allyship… I see it on social media, when we look at the war that’s happening in Ukraine and everyone’s wearing the babushka scarves. That to me is anti-racism activism. When I see you posting pictures of things that aren’t related to that, I start wondering how engaged you are in the global conversation of oppression and colonization.
And so, when we were going through the Indigenous Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, I looked very closely at my non-BIPOC friends and saw them… If I saw them posting actual engagement with conversation and learning, I really value that as allyship. When I saw my non-BIPOC friends and colleagues just posting pictures of books they’ve read, or shows they’ve watched, and they’re not engaged in what’s happening, I go, “Hmm. I wonder how engaged you are with me as a colleague or as a friend.” And I start wondering, who are my friends and who are my workmates, and how well do I know them? And that’s that relational work. When we think about systems… We’re not in a time of complacency. We’re in a time of activism. We have to make decisions to be healthy, we have to make decisions to be alive. And so I don’t think now’s the time to sit back and scroll. I think we have to really be activists in that way.
So in a social media lens, that’s how I’m seeing it. In a more in-person lens, it’s about… it’s really, you have to actively teach yourself what’s going on and ask those questions. And I think the struggle that I’m starting to see a bit more is, these systems work because they work for how they are. And when we’re introducing new systems—which are not new systems—but when we’re introducing new systems, what’s happening is that, it’s learning how to undo what you know, and that’s very uncomfortable and maybe won’t work in the system that you’re currently very comfortable in. And I think that’s that fear of wrong. And so what I always say is: you’re going to get it wrong, just do it. Just do the wrong so that you can learn the right. So that’s like my big offer for allyship.
Kizzie Sutton:
Again, echoing what was said before, at the same time, I’m going to start with the end of the question of, what are some of our allies doing wrong? I’m going to say not calling out microaggressions. I think we, as people of colour, have become so good at tolerating and dealing with microaggressions on the outside, the full impact of what those microaggressions do to us as individuals, what it does to us in our physical health and our mental health… It gets lost when we talk about allyship. Mainly because we’re like, “Oh, Kizzy, that doesn’t matter.” I mean, one of the comments that I got when I was working in an arts organization that I thought was extremely liberal was, and I quote, “Oh, our coolness factor just went up because we hired you.” Huh! You know what I mean? Like there’s certain statements that you’re just like, “Wow, a lovely compliment, that I’m cool because I’m Black?” Like, what are we saying?
And now, me as a professional, I need to smile and nod, otherwise, I become the angry Black woman. So there’s weight that gets put on our shoulders, that if other people of the dominant culture could call them out so that the person who is being inflicted with these microaggressions don’t have to… I think that would be a great step for allies to help out with lifting the weight on our shoulders.
And what they’re doing right? Curiosity. And keep being curious. Keep sitting in that discomfort.
Patti Pon:
Super true. And I think there’s something else, Kizzie, that actually, you just said that reminded me—and I’ll try to do this short because it’s a bit of a shaggy dog story, Shivani. So, one of the things that a great friend, JD Derbyshire, shared with me and I walk with it every day is that, as people of colour or marginalized communities, every day we walk through life and every day we catch arrows, right? I’m the only person of colour. I’m the only woman. I’ve helped increase a factor. People say stupid things to me. They mistake me for the catering staff instead of the attendee at the conference, right? They’re surprised when I don’t have an accent. So every day, I get those arrows. And every day I have to come home and pull the arrows out all by myself, or with the support of my loved ones.
You want to be an accomplice: how about make it so that those arrows don’t come at me in the first place? How about, be a support to me to pull those arrows out? Every time you ask me, because I’m the only person in the room who can help you with an equity statement, or can help you understand, “Why do people get so mad? I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me who did it.” All those, like—by the way, which is an incredibly racist comment. But, so, that’s where the curiosity part becomes so important. But every day: those arrows. And I’m not saying that people in the dominant culture don’t get arrows, but you sure as heck don’t get the arrows that we get. And lately, they’re big arrows. And when we’re asked to help solve the problem, that actually, as Reneltta said, isn’t actually my problem. Go figure it out! Like I’ve had to do for my whole life. That’s what you need to do, that’s what this discomfort means. And I know it isn’t fun, but you know, try getting the arrows every day, and then tell me it’s not fun. And then maybe we can get into a conversation that’s meaningful and really starts to make those changes we need.
Shivani Saini:
Thank you, Patti. Amazing. I love the analogy of the arrows. I’m so glad microaggressions were brought up, just from my own personal perspective. Legit, if I had a dollar for every time a racial microaggression, which is just basically a racial micro-inequity, was thrown my way, I would be a very, very rich woman today, and I would probably be doing this event with you from my beach house somewhere tropical. No joke, no joke there. I would be rich. My personal experience embodies the onslaught of microaggressions. And I’ve heard this expression before, “it’s like death by a thousand cuts.” I also have had plenty of experiences where I’ve actually tried as a racialized person to call out the behaviour to identify it. And then what ends up happening is, I just get destroyed with more arrows. It can be really dangerous for you as a racialized person to call that behaviour out in particular, depending on who it’s coming from.
One of the things that I’ve seen a lot of organizations—and say, specific individuals within those organizations—get wrong is that, when a racialized person, someone who’s Black, someone who’s Indigenous, someone who’s a person of colour, someone who comes from an underrepresented community, is actually taking on the emotional labour of legitimately raising a concern about something that they’ve experienced. It can be… I see this quite often, it can be really easy for those individuals and those organizations to just immediately get defensive. And instead of taking the time to actually listen and understand, it becomes about reacting and ensuring that they’re not actually going to be labelled as racist.
And I want to bring this back to that point about being uncomfortable, because what people really need to do is they need to move away from fear. They need to move away from fear. We all need to move away from fear. Racism, in its… If you break it down to its most fundamental element, it is ultimately a fear of something that is different. A fear of an individual that is different. And that fear and the way that that fear can become the basis, the driving factor behind racial and unconscious biases and then how that behaviour can manifest is like… Oh my gosh, we could talk about that for days. But, you know, it’s so important for everyone, allies that are listening to this and also folks who are racialized, to really become consciously aware of the fear that is driving a reaction, a response to something that might be driving how you want to respond to something that you’ve just heard.
And, it’s important for cultural sector organizations to really pay particular attention to the fact that if you’ve got individuals that come from these underrepresented communities, and more than one individual is starting to raise the same concern about, whether it’s microaggressions or systemically racist behaviour that’s much more overt, that there is a need to pay very careful attention to what’s going on. And like our incredible guests today have said, to be able to get to a place where you’re willing to be uncomfortable so that you can start creating the right kind of change to ensure it doesn’t keep continuing. Microaggressions, you really got me there with that one Kizzie, thank you.
So, we have a little bit of time left and I think what I’d like to do is see if we can also explore what anti-racism means to each of you personally. And I think it would be great to get some of your personal perspectives. Reneltta, let’s start with you. I’d love to get your perspectives on what anti-racism means to you personally. I know you’ve touched a little bit on it, but… As an Indigenous woman, as an artist, as the director of Indigenous Arts at Banff Centre and the creator of AKPIK Theatre.
Reneltta Arluk:
Yeah I mean, there’s a lot of different ways to look at anti-racism in those areas. I mean, the beautiful thing about working in community, being engaged in community, is that there’s a value system. And that you learn your value system culturally, and then you carry those values forward. And then those values systems naturally adapt themselves into the systems that you surround yourself with. And I’m grateful for the teachings that I received in my life, and I continue to receive in my life, and how they can be adapted and applied to it. And then how systems that are systemic, or are oppressive or colonial, tend to not fit into those systems because of the value system.
So I really look at… So whenever I start having conversations with organizations or people that I don’t know very well, I start looking at, “What is your value system, and do we align?” And if not, then how can we have conversations around changing those systems? I really value hearing, “It’s not pie.” I have said in so many rooms, “It is not pie, it’s cake.” It’s a layered cake with lots of flavours and everybody loves cake. So let’s look at cake and not pie. And I don’t know why, and maybe it’s the education system where we’re taught the pie chart. Maybe that’s the ultimate problem, is that we’re taught to divide though our way of thinking, instead of looking at it from a collaborative, inclusive way of thinking.
And so, when we look at community and going into, say, Banff Centre, and doing the work that we’re doing, it’s affording that place of agency and self-determination. So I say Indigenous-led a lot and I say it purposefully, so that other people can start thinking “Indigenous-led” instead of thinking, “Oh, this is our Indigenous arts area under the Banff Centre guise.” And this is, everyone’s here, I’m like, “Hmm, we’re Indigenous-led, which means we’re running systems differently, so our systems are going to impact recruitment, impact production, impact technical, impact programming.” And slowly, in my four years of being there, I have seen some really great change. And I feel like if you don’t embody it, then you’re just progressing a system that will clash. And so, I mean, keeping it short and tight and trying to encapsulate everything in there: value systems, systems that need to change. It’s not pie, it’s cake.
Kizzie Sutton:
Love the analogy of cake ’cause who doesn’t love cake? As long as it has cream cheese icing. [laughs] So for me, and this is going to be a little obscure, but every time I think of what does anti-racism mean for me personally, I think about the fact that I am of Afro-Caribbean descent, living in Canada, which is clearly founded on, based on, systemic principles that lead to racism. But also the fact that I am benefitting from the fact that I’m living in Canada, which is a system that stole the Indigenous lands. And if we want… ‘Cause sometimes we’re faced with, “Well, I didn’t do that. That’s not my fault.” Well, if I’m benefitting, even though I am one of the members of society that is being discriminated against, I too have to recognize that in my privilege, I too have to go through some discomfort of, “Yeah, I’m living on stolen land.” And being a stolen group of people, like, that hits home for me in a way that I don’t know if it hits home for other people. And I need to consistently think, “Okay, Kizzie, how is what you’re doing either perpetuating or not perpetuating harm in communities and spaces where what you really want to do is build them up and encourage?”
And for me, I really like the idea of partnership. It’s not about going into some community and bringing… Like the Christian period, they came over here to “civilize”… Everyone was civilized. There was nothing wrong with the people that were here. Our thought processes were what was wrong. And me being, again, of Afro-Caribbean descent, whose parents immigrated here for the better life, and I’m able to enjoy that better life while still knowing that I’m living and breathing and participating in a system that is oppressive to other people of colour, that really hits home for me. I don’t know, I don’t think I have an answer yet on how I’ve resolved that dissonance, ’cause I haven’t. It’s something that I’m working on. It’s something that I’m dealing with. And I think about the fact that anti-racism hits us all individually and we have to recognize that my journey isn’t going to be another person’s journey, but we can at least share some of the discomfort. So again, move us to that full new system that will allow us all to be able to participate in our fullest way. So a little bit of a unique situation, but that’s one of the things that’s really hitting me.
Patti Pon:
I think that from a personal perspective, sometimes it’s just about getting through the day. It’s coping, right? And so moments like this, where I can have a shared conversation, where there’s not a lexicon. Like we all get it, and we actually have embodied it. That’s a salve, to me. It’s sort of something I kind of have in immersing myself in. So that it gives me the courage to go into that day knowing I’m going to get the arrows, right? And, and so what I look for now is, if I’m asked to join a committee or sit on a board or be a part of an initiative, I use the power of three. And so there have to be at least two other people who are going to be in that circle who either look like me, or they think like me, or I know them to be accomplices or co-conspirators. I need that now. Because in the same way that we’re asking others who maybe haven’t experienced discomfort in the past like I may have, it’s not like it makes it less uncomfortable for me.
I know the rest of my life. I will continue to be in this place of discomfort. It is not going to change in my lifetime, or my work life that I have remaining. However, I hope that there is a shared experience. And so, knowing that, I look to find ways, look for that salve, look for that bandage, look for that moment where I can be in a shared community or in a shared circle. And that, the one thing that will happen in my lifetime is that circle will get bigger. And then we will all understand what our place is in that circle. I think sometimes for organizations who are finding their way, they’re in the circle and that’s awesome, but what they don’t know is what everybody’s place is around that circle. Why you’re there. And so, I try personally to live my life and get through each day, making it clear what I think my place in the circle is, what I hope it is, and then also connecting the others in it to what their place is, and create that exchange.
Conventional colonial systems don’t actually allow for that, right? Granting systems are competitive. You shouldn’t know the other people. You can’t know who the assessors are. We don’t want to tell you why we didn’t give you the grant. It’s so secretive, right? And maybe, if we were a bit open, instead of being like this, if we were like this. So personally, for me, anti-racism is about trying to be like this. And it’s really hard, by the way, for those of you who maybe don’t have to find yourself looking like us in other circles. And so I guess I ask of any of you who are in the dominant culture who watch this—try to be like this with me, or with others who look like me, or who talk like me, and then we’ll get there. And then we’ll share in this discomfort together, and hopefully to a way where we don’t have to have that anymore.
Shivani Saini:
Amazing. Thank you. Such great thoughts that are being shared. I’m so appreciative, so grateful to hear all of these different perspectives right now. And I also very much feel like the conversation has been a really nice salve as well. I wanted to see if there were any other thoughts about anti-racism in the cultural sector at large. Specifically, what has changed since 2020, and where do we still need to go?
Patti Pon:
I guess for better or for worse, what has changed? Not a lot. And I hesitate, because I see steps. But there’s that adage about two steps forward, three steps back. And maybe it’s because it speaks to the complexity of anti-racism and trying to create these new systems. To be fair, there are way more people who try to understand, who come from dominant cultures. My staff, my team at Calgary Arts Development are superheroes when it comes to really trying to see the world from 360 degrees, and I really appreciate that. So, I shouldn’t be so glib to say, “not a lot.”
It’s the individual journeys that I would say that have really changed since 2020, that more and more people are recognizing, “I have a part to play as a person, let alone whatever organization I might be a part of,” so I think that’s a really good thing. And then in terms of your question, where do we need to go, it is: continue to be curious, continue to be vulnerable, continue to have humility, which as Reneltta said, these are not new things in other systems, in other ways of being. So that’s where that curiosity comes into play. Everybody go read Jesse’s book or go listen to his audiobook. Start somewhere, take the course at U of A. Come recognize the Lunar New Year and what that might mean to the majority of the world, by the way. There are more people who celebrate Lunar New Year than celebrate January 1st, thank you very much!
But anyway, that’s the world we live in. In the same way that you’re putting the blue and yellow on your Facebook profile, there’s lots of other things that, as both Kizzie and Reneltta have said, you can do. And I would just welcome and invite you to continue to be on this journey, and know that it’s a long journey. So pace yourself. And I look forward to welcoming you as part of the circle, being welcomed into your circle, and sharing in that journey.
Kizzie Sutton:
Yes, maintain that curiosity. And I think, organizationally, it’s about checking in on my experience. It’s about checking in on our racialized staff members, just talking about those arrows. There’s been weights that’s been put on our shoulders additional to the regular arrows that we normally live with. And if you notice a staff member who, two years ago was go-lucky and happy and da, da, da, and now they’re no longer showing the characteristics and personality that you know is truly or traditionally them, I would encourage you to ask, “How are you doing?” And be there to truly listen and see if there’s something that you can do as it relates to race, as it relates to being the shield for microaggressions. There are steps that us as racialized people can do, and there’s lots of steps that dominant culture can do to, again, bring us to a space where we’re not all covered in arrows at the end of the day.
And the other thing I’d like to just highlight as Patti shared: just because we live here in the West, our perspective is not the majority. There are more people that celebrate the Lunar New Year than January 1st. If we let that sink in and resonate, and allow that to be a bit of a compass or a way for us to reevaluate what is normal, I think that kind of curiosity would really allow for people to let go of systems that they thought they knew when they realized, “wait a second, if the majority rules, then what does that look like?” So, yeah.
Reneltta Arluk:
No, this has been such a powerful conversation. But I think what I’m walking away with and what I’m really hearing is that it’s just really, institutionally, the systems are there to help you succeed, but they’re helping you succeed in a way that maybe isn’t actually the right way to succeed. And I think we have to look at success from, “What is success for me?” And individualizing that, like… I was offered to direct a workshop of a play, and I read the play and the play clearly was Two-Spirited and I just read it and I loved the play and I loved the people involved. And I finally just went, “I don’t see myself here, because I’m not Two-Spirited in that way that this story could be brought forward in the best way.” And so I echoed that back and I got such a welcomed response.
And so when we look at leadership, how are you a leader? And is it for you to lead because the opportunity has been given to you or you’ve worked somewhere for 10, 15 years and it’s mandated that you get to rise? But is it really your voice that needs to be risen? And that’s a challenging question of leadership. And I kind of go off the rules of acting where it’s like, the first impulse is not the only impulse. And so it’s like, yes, you’re given the opportunity, it’s your one opportunity… Eh, you’re going to get two or three more opportunities somewhere else where you’re better aligned to use your voice and bring that leadership. And so I don’t… I say yes to a lot of things, because I think that I believe in a lot of things, but I also say no to a lot of things where I go, “I’m not the person for this.”
And it’s like looking at your ego, looking at your place. But when you look at it from the greater circle or as a hummingbird or however, you kind of realize, “I’m still involved, I’m still part of this community, I’m just not the voice that needs to be heard.” And I think once you’re okay with that, it’s a better world, and it’s better for you too, actually. But when you see the systems going, “Well, the chartered agreement says…” or, “The collective agreement says…” then it’s like, does it though? Is that the right choice? And so when we do personal, I really value—I’m walking away with this, Patti—with the personal to the systemic, it’s like it has to be personally driven, and a better understanding. And so that’s where, again, that discomfort and that knowing kind of comes in. So I’m just really grateful for today.
Shivani Saini:
Amazing. I’m so grateful for this conversation. I wish that we had more time. Clearly we could keep talking about the subject and unpack, deep dive a lot more. Patti had shared a few resources. What I’d like to do just before we wrap things up is, just bring them up. Patti, do you want to maybe just say a few quick words? We’ll also put these up on our Creatives Empowered website as well.
Patti Pon:
For sure. Again, I think just in terms of feeding your curiosity and equipping you with resources, Stop Race-Based Hate, which I know Shivani already has up on the Creatives Empowered website, is a really great website. How to recognize those microaggressions, and how you might respond to them so that you understand why they’re there. The repository from Belonging at Berkeley is, while it’s predominantly US-based, so much literature and surveying and research is being done in the area of equity, diversity, inclusion, of language, all those things. This is one repository that offers a number of resources on how to address anti-racism. My hope is someday we might have a similar repository for Canada, but this is a good start. There’s great reading there.
And then the last one, coco-net.org. There’s a particular diagram called The “Problem” Woman of Color. And again, to give you some insight, you may empathize or relate to what’s in that diagram. The thing you need to know about women of colour is, it happens every time. It’s not just a one off. And so it just starts to give you some sense and context for the way in which someone else like me might walk in this world, might be in this world. Even as the CEO of an 18-million dollar granting agency in Calgary. And so, it’s there to serve as a resource for anybody. It’s not only for white people. People of colour, Black, Indigenous, also may find some comfort sometimes in knowing that it doesn’t have to fall on you. That all you gotta do is give them the website and say, “Here you go. Go figure it out.” Thanks very much Shivani.
Shivani Saini:
Amazing. Thank you, Patti. So two of those resources, Stop Race-Based Hate and the COCo diagram of The “Problem” Woman of Color. We have those up on the Events & Resources page of our website. That diagram, by the way, was sent to me by an Indigenous theatre maker in the summer of 2020. And when I first looked at it, I was like, “This is a diagram of my life! Wonderful, thank you!”
I just want to express my sincere gratitude to our three incredible guests today, Reneltta Arluk, Kizzie Sutton, and Patti Pon. Thank you so much for being a part of this conversation and for helping to manifest an idea that I wrote down on a sticky. It has been a fantastic discussion and I’m so happy that we’ll be able to keep sharing this out with the world. Thank you so much to Matt Waterworth, our technical wizard behind the scenes, and just a heartfelt thanks to every single person who has tuned in, and to anyone else that might continue to watch this in the future. Thank you so much. And anytime you’re looking for information, you want to learn more, please feel free to visit creativesempowered.ca. Thank you.
Sarah Taylor:
Thank you so much for joining us today. And a big thanks goes to Shivani and the folks at Creatives Empowered. If you would like to learn more about Creatives Empowered, please check out their website at creativesempowered.ca. There you can find resources, information on training courses and, of course, join or support. The CCE is proud to be a Creatives Empowered ally. Special thanks goes to Jane MacRae.
The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music created by Chad Blain and Soundstripe. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao. The CCE has been supporting Indspire, an organization that provides funding and scholarships for Indigenous postsecondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at cceditors.ca, or you can donate directly to indspire.ca. The CCE is taking steps to build a more equitable ecosystem within our industry, and we encourage our members to participate in any way they can. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and tell your friends to tune in. Till next time, I’m your host, Sarah Taylor.
[Outro]:
The CCE is a non-profit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture editing. If you wish to become a CCE member, please visit our website, www.cceditors.ca. Join our great community of Canadian editors for more related info.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Podcasts

What do you want to hear on The Editors Cut?

Please send along any topics you would like us to cover or editors you would love to hear from:

Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Shivani Saini

Lily Makowski

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blain

Soundstripe

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 064: EditCon 2021: Breaking the Mold in Series TV

Episode 064 - EditCon 2021: Breaking the Mold in TV series

Episode 064 - EditCon 2021: Breaking the Mold in Series TV

This episode is part 6 of a 6 part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place virtually in February 2021.

We’re currently experiencing a watershed moment for increased representation in storytelling. This year we’ve seen a wealth of stories originating from the BIPOC, LGBTQ2S and female perspectives that not only tackle tough topics surrounding mental health, addiction, sexual assault and racial prejudice, but also present powerful aesthetic and editorial triumphs. The editors behind I May Destroy You, Euphoria, and #BlackAF join us to discuss their groundbreaking work.

 

Christine Armstrong is a picture editor splitting her time between Los Angeles and Toronto. She has edited a variety of feature films, television series, short films, web series and commercials. Armstrong’s recent work includes editing the series #BlackAF (Netflix), Barbelle (Amazon) and feature films Sugar Daddy, Mary Goes Round and The New Romantic which premiered at SXSW and won the Special Jury Recognition for Best First Feature. She is currently editing the series Rutherford Falls (NBCUniversal/Peacock) starring Ed Helms.

Shannon Baker Davis, ACE is an award-winning television and film editor. She began her career in unscripted television on iconic and Emmy-winning shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway. Her feature film credits include collaborations with directors Stella Meghie (The Weekend, The Photograph), and Ali LeRoi (The Obituary of Tunde Johnson). She has worked with creators Issa Rae (Insecure), Ava DuVernay (Queen Sugar), and Kenya Barris (Grownish, #BlackAF).

Julio C. Perez, IV, ACE lives and works in Los Angeles, editing in both narrative and documentary. His feature film work includes Chad Hartigan’s award-winning This is Martin Bonner, which screened at Sundance, and an ongoing collaboration with director David Robert Mitchell, editing The Myth of the American Sleepover, It Follows, and Under the Silver Lake, which have all screened at Cannes. He has recently worked with director Sam Levinson on the series Euphoria, as well as the upcoming feature Malcolm and Marie.

Christian Sandino-Taylor is a film editor, and occasional screenwriter. His career started in the writers room and as editor on the surreal comedy series Campus. Recent work includes I May Destroy You, Sally4ever, Love Wedding Repeat, and the upcoming From Devil’s Breath, directed by Orlando von Einsiedel (Virunga/The White Helmets). In 2018 he wrote and edited To Wendy Who Kicked Me When I Said I Love You, an offbeat, romantic short film which premiered at the London Film Festival.

Shonna Foster is an award-winning director, storyteller, and producer. She received her BFA honors degree in Theatre from York University, where she studied in the Creative Ensemble Conservatory. She currently works as a freelance director, producer, and story consultant in film, television, and branded content, and is a long standing board member of BIPOC TV and Film.

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 064 – “EditCon 2021: Breaking the Mold in Series TV”

[show open]

 Sarah Taylor:

Hello, and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast and that many of you may be listening to us from are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral territory that has long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived, met, and interacted.

We honor, respect, and recognize these nations that have never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand today. We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many contributions and the concerns that impact indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action.

[show open]

Today’s episode is part six of our six-part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place in February of 2021, Breaking the Mold in Series TV.

We’re currently experiencing a watershed moment for increased representation in storytelling. This year, we’ve seen a wealth of stories originating from the BIPOC, LGBTQs plus, and female perspectives that not only tackle tough topics surrounding mental health, addiction, sexual assault, and racial prejudice, but also present powerful aesthetics and editorial triumphs.

The editors behind I May Destroy You, Euphoria, and Black As Fuck join us to discuss their groundbreaking work. This panel was moderated by award-winning director, storyteller, and producer, Shauna Foster.

Intro Voices:

And action. This is The Editors Cut, a CCE podcast exploring, exploring, exploring the art of picture editing.

Shauna Foster:

Let’s start by thanking the CCE and welcoming everybody to EditCon 2021. I just want to take the time to introduce our panelists.

So we have Christine Armstrong and Shannon Baker Davis from Black As Fuck, #blackAF; Christian Sandino-Taylor from I May Destroy You; and Julio C. Perez from Euphoria. So we are super lucky today to have you all here.

Thank you for being with us. I May Destroy You, #blackAF, Euphoria are shows that definitely line with today’s theme for discussion, which is Breaking The Mold in Series Television.

These are three shows that, through their story, through content, through structure, through editing, through the creative teams, definitely align with breaking molds. To break molds, we have to be daring.

We have to be daring. And there’s a lot of discourse out there where the creators behind these shows, they talk about these shows coming from deeply personal places and from personal experiences.

And I just want to quickly read a quote that Sam Levinson, who’s the creator of Euphoria, said. He said, “I just wrote myself as a teenager. I think those feelings and memories are still extremely accessible to me, so it’s not hard to reach.”

And this notion of feelings and memories being extremely accessible is applicable, I think, to all these shows and the way that shows lift off the screen in such an explicit way, and so with the notion in mind of being vulnerable and being daring, let’s start with the question, how do you all as editors manage the process in a way that supports the creator and the personal element of each story? And let’s start with Christine.

Christine Armstrong:

I think it’s just being able to create a creative space. My favorite times in the edit suite, in the edit room, is when the showrunner is just having fun and just in the creative juices.

And I’m able to create that for them, and kind of when they have different ideas and everything, just kind of playing in the sandbox, I think, is the best way to kind of support them because this is all about being creative, and it’s a collaborative process. And even creating that space in the edit suite, I think, is the best way to support.

Shauna Foster:

Thank you. Julio.

Julio C. Perez:

So speaking of vulnerability, that’s how I feel right now, very vulnerable. But I think for me, I mean, there’s a lot of different approaches, I think, to this.

But for me, it’s sort of starting with the foundation of sort of the philosophy of what kind of editor that I’d like to be, and when you’re, one, interested in things that are tonally complicated and intricate, disturbing sometimes, emotional, and then also being very interested in working with directors of vision and conviction… And then for me as an editor, to do everything with my skillset and everything within my powers as an editor to help hone and possibly even enhance that vision, do everything I can to get it out in the world at its optimal state. And I care about what the director and/or showrunner wants to say, and I desperately want to help bring that out into the world, I guess.

Shauna Foster:

Thank you, Julio.

Julio C. Perez:

Thank you.

Shauna Foster:

Christian.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, just sort of, I suppose, echoing what Christine and Julio have already said, I mean, it’s all about the edit suite, such as we all know and I’m sure the audience who are watching.

It’s a sort of priest’s hold, isn’t it? It’s a place of trust.

There’s two of you, and they’re getting to know each other. I mean, I think a big thing is, especially on these three shows where you have these very powerful voices and distinct voices, you want to get to know the people you’re working with, right?

I mean, in order to sort of please them and challenge them at times and surprise them, you have to get to know them. So I think, as Christine was saying about playing, I was saying to a lot of people, like Michaela, for example, is such a great person to talk to.

She’ll come in, and you’ll start talking, and then 10 minutes later, you’re talking about your divorced parents. And you sort of build on these things, and you start to get to know each other.

And I think our job as editors a lot of the time is to get to know our directors or whoever the creative force is behind the projects we’re working on, so not psychoanalyze them but understand them and be sympathetic to them. And then we know we can be the best creative partner we can be for them.

But yeah, play and trust is, I suppose, the big thing. As soon as you have creative trust with each other, then you can go anywhere. And yeah…

Shauna Foster:

And Shannon.

Shannon Baker:

I think everything that’s been said, of course, I agree with. I live those themes all the time.

I think something that hasn’t been said is that I think directors and producer writers expect you to bring yourself to the project so that the part of you that is triggered or the part of you that questions a character’s motivation, all of those things come into the edit and give what you’re doing so many layers, because if you are not bringing the real world and your experiences to it, it becomes kind of blank.

And like Christian said, you get into it when you have these conversations, and your producer or your director is sitting on the couch. And they’re tired, and they’ve been with it for so long, and I think they expect you to bring something to it that they maybe haven’t heard or haven’t thought of, and I always aim to be that sort of editor.

I don’t want to just push buttons or blankly just cut the script together. That’s just not the kind of person that I am.

Shauna Foster:

Since I have you on, Shannon, I’m going to go around again with this question. Do you get to do the first pass?

Shannon Baker:

Yes.

Shauna Foster:

Is the process you get to do the first pass and then they come in, or are they with you?

Shannon Baker:

Normally, for the television shows, you get to do an editor’s cut. That’s part of bringing your ideas to it.

Some of that stuff may get vetoed, and it goes through many, many iterations, but it’s always a feather in your cap when a scene you cut exactly the way you cut it ends up in the final product.

Sometimes, you’re like, “Oh, I keyed in. That particular day, I keyed into something.”

And you’re always looking for that high, but yeah, you get to do a first pass that is yours. And a lot of times, some of the best editors that have mentored me always say, “That’s your pass.

“That’s your pass. Do what you want to do to it. Stay within the tone of the overall series, but it is yours,” because it might not be yours after you release to the director [crosstalk 00:10:06] no longer.

Christine Armstrong:

Yeah.

Shauna Foster:

Is that a similar experience for everybody in terms of doing that first pass?

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

In the UK, I mean, I don’t know if maybe I’m wrong about this in general, but my experience has been… Maybe we have less time than you guys, but two days after they wrap, the director’s in.

So for us, and I May Destroy You is completely different and is a kind of crazy one because we had a mad deadline to hit. So basically, we finished, and bear in mind, Michaela is writing and acting and co-directing.

She comes in two days later, and then basically, there’s six editors going at the same time, and she’s just dancing between us, so I don’t know. It’s interesting.

For me personally, I was not trained as an editor. I wasn’t assisting or anything, so sort of my way has always been, in a way, in reacting to that, has just been to go for it on the assembly.

So exactly, as you were saying, Shannon: All of the stuff I want to try and put out, I’ll just throw into that. But we don’t get the luxury of a kind of necessarily first proper pass.

The director’s in two days later, and you’re going through it, and then it depends on the director, so on this, Michaela’s in and out, off over there. She has to jump between six edits.

So it was specifically quite different, but in general, yeah, we don’t get that time. I mean, so do you guys literally get some time to fine cut a first cut for yourselves?

Shannon Baker:

[crosstalk 00:11:46] four days. It’s not like you get a whole lot of time. [crosstalk 00:11:48].

But it just depends because block shooting changes everything, changes all of that. And I’m assuming you’ve done a block shot, so to have six going on at once, it’s a different thing.

Usually you’re just in the round robin, and it depends. Limited series are different, but the director is for hire, and the directors, they’re in there for four days, and then the producer writers come in and do the final cut.

Christine Armstrong:

Yeah, you’re cutting as they’re shooting, and then so I’m shaping my editors cut in that time. And using that time while they’re shooting is the best part, because it’s just like, you have no holds barred.

You can have any music. You can put everything. It’s so great to have that kind of editors cut, to have-

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

And it comes back to what Shannon was saying. I’ve found, anyway, that the really good directors and creators are always enablers of other people’s creativity, right? They want your opinion on stuff.

They want a fresh opinion. I mean, I think that the myth of the director genius, the auteur, is dangerous in that sense because actually, the truth is usually that there’s a million people coming up with brilliant ideas all the time, and they’re just open to them.

They have good taste. They choose a good one.

Shauna Foster:

Going off that, that’s a perfect segue into where we’re going next, topic of doing things differently. So in my discussions with each of you, in one way or another, you all talked about how to do the job in a way that’s different from what’s been traditionally done and this notion of being a little bit anti-establishment, which I think is awesome.

And so let’s talk about that a little bit. Let’s watch this clip from episode nine of I May Destroy You.

 

[clip plays]

Shauna Foster:

Hey. [crosstalk 00:15:36].

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Not my editing though, not my editing. The brilliant Amy Hounsell cut that episode, so props to Amy.

Shauna Foster:

Can we talk about though how the show uses POV and the fracture of time and sound in the cutting? And in episode nine that we just saw, it is definitely very heavy in that episode, but in episode 101, which we saw in the trailer, which just uses everything, all the things, can you talk about how you used that in the cutting?

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Yeah, and I suppose also the question you asked before about breaking the mold and being anti, all of that stuff, I think what was fun about this show creatively was that Michaela’s, she’s not someone who’s obsessed with television. So I think her obsession is people and their motivations, and she’s curious about the world and systems.

She has a real sort of amazing, kind of omnivorously curious intellect, so what’s interesting is when they shot all this stuff, and we were sort of able to shape it in an interesting way as long as it reflected the script… So yeah, the first episode, when the lead character, she’s drugged and then comes round and then basically has post-traumatic stress and a panic attack, it was just a way of trying to find a way of doing that on screen.

So I don’t know if anyone remembers in the beginning montage, there’s sort of a jump cut sort of drug sequence where time starts to go back and mix, and then there’s the hardest of hard cuts intended to be the most horrible, sort of badly timed cut ever when she comes to later in the morning, which is also biographical from Michaela’s experience. And then basically, time starts to fracture again, which I was reading a bit about post-traumatic stress and how the brain starts to protect itself by rearranging time, so you forget things.

It’s basically protecting you, and so that’s what we start to do when she goes into the toilet and stuff like this, but I suppose we were never trying to be anti-establishment. We were just free to just try and tell the story.

So I suppose that was a nice thing about working with Michaela and Sam is Sam’s very encouraging. Sam’s the co-director.

He’s done lots of television, all sorts of different styles down the years, and Michaela’s just one of these people who just sees the world fresh. So you were kind of encouraged to just do this sequence as you were interested.

And of course, we had support from HBO and the execs and everyone who were just like, “Yeah, do it. If you have an idea, let’s do it.”

And within the confines of, we had 12 episodes of half an hour, we had to hit those marks. But other than that, we were kind of free to just investigate anything we could do, and there was no style guide.

There was nothing. There was no conversation about that. It sort of evolved from episode one, I guess.

We sort of got that down first with music and everything, but it was an ongoing conversation. And the use of point of view… And that is a good example. Point of view is such a delicate thing, isn’t it?

You stay with a character for 20 frames, and you’re with them in that moment, and then you stay with the next character for another 20 frames, and you’re with them, and you change the shot, et cetera. But yeah, it was interesting because I think when someone says to you, “Hey, I want to do something different and fuck things up,” I always think, “Why?” You have to know to just do it is a teenage thing, just stick two fingers up to establishment figures.

I think you just have to have a reason, and I think for us, I don’t think we ever thought we were doing that. It was never discussed.

If it came out in that way, it was because of the source material, because of what Michaela was writing about. She’s writing about characters and institutions and ideas in flux and change.

And anything we did as editors, playfully or consciously whatever, was just a way of trying to deal with very complex subject matter, stuff that is dramatic ironies; characters where one minute you love, one minute you’re questioning their motivations; all sorts of philosophical counterpoints. Basically, it’s a show where everyone has their own truth, and they just keep clashing, so how do you do that?

You don’t follow a single emotional narrative. So yeah, I guess I’m rabbiting on, but yeah, I guess it’s just interesting that we never talked about [crosstalk 00:20:46].

And I think that’s because Michaela isn’t one of these people who knows every episode of Friends or even cares about television enough to have an argument with it. Television happens to be the medium where she told that story.

And it could well have been a play or a poem. She’s done all sorts of things, and that’s really refreshing because it means you’re not part of this industry.

And suddenly, you are not doing the things you normally do because you’re not having conversations about it. There are a lot of examples where you have this amazing footage where you think, “Oh, great, I’ll just lay down a sad track, and I’ll win her a BAFTA for best actress because she’s doing something amazing.

“I’ll just play the emotion of the scene, and we’ll win every award in town.” But she was saying, “No, no, no. We don’t want to use emotion.”

It’s such a seductive thing to manipulate people in a good way, that we all do it. We love it, but she wanted to make a show that was about ideas and was about argument.

And as soon as you privilege one idea by making it emotional, then we all tend to follow that story, whereas if you just hold back and don’t play for the normal things that we are asked to do in shows and dramas and movies, techniques she probably learned in the theater… And she talks about art cinema, and these distancing techniques to ask us to make the decision ourselves, because she’s not someone who has any answers. She’s someone who’s continually questioning the world.

Shauna Foster:

Thank you, Christian. Can we play this clip from episode five? We’re going to watch something from #blackAF.

 

[clip plays]

 

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

These are good shows, guys. I’m very proud to be on a panel [crosstalk 00:24:34].

Julio C. Perez:

Amen. Amen. I’m dying, man.

Shauna Foster:

[crosstalk 00:24:38]. Yeah. Shannon, can you talk about the challenges of cutting that scene? Because I believe [crosstalk 00:24:44] everything there was filmed separately. Am I correct?

Shannon Baker:

They all-

Shauna Foster:

It was all filmed separately?

Shannon Baker:

… filmed separately-

Shauna Foster:

So yeah, what were-

Shannon Baker:

… six separate-

Shauna Foster:

… what were some of the challenges that you had?

Shannon Baker:

[crosstalk 00:24:55]. It took me three or four days to do that one scene, and on a television schedule, that’s a lot, but they shot everyone separately. Most of the time, Kenya was not there.

Sometimes he was there on the phone talking to them as they shot in their trailers or wherever they were, because they did it iPhone style. And they’re all very, very funny people that do improv.

And they did a lot of improv, and he just wanted to get all of that in, but one person couldn’t have known the improv line that the other person did because they did it separately. So it was about finding reactions and trying to…

There was a script, but the improv is so good that it was about finding reactions and lining them up and lining up Kenya’s reaction to all of that. And yeah, that was one of the scenes that I was like, “Please don’t let anyone try and pull this apart,” because it’s like Jenga.

You pull that one thing, and the whole thing would come tumbling down, and it pretty much stayed the same. There were a couple of jokes that we had to take out because they were, I guess, insulting or whatever.

[crosstalk 00:26:22] too much? Should we say this?

Should we pull back? But for the most part, they went for it.

Kenya went for it, and it’s a tough thing because the whole episode is about critics, and it’s a tough thing when you decide to talk about critics in your medium that is critiqued by critics. So that was an interesting rollercoaster to ride, but yeah, that scene was one of my favorites.

Shauna Foster:

Thank you, Shannon.

Julio C. Perez:

So good.

Shauna Foster:

I love your [crosstalk 00:27:02]-

Julio C. Perez:

So good.

Christine Armstrong:

[crosstalk 00:27:02] Shannon. That’s so funny.

Shauna Foster:

So good. We’re going to continue on-

Christine Armstrong:

[crosstalk 00:27:06] funny as hell.

Shauna Foster:

I feel like if you all have questions, you could pipe in too. I don’t got to ask all the questions because everyone’s [crosstalk 00:27:15], so I feel like-

Shannon Baker:

I love I May Destroy You. I love Euphoria, so I’m just sitting here-

Christine Armstrong:

Yeah, I love them too, big fan.

Shauna Foster:

So tell me-

Julio C. Perez:

Oh yeah. No, I feel like I’m standing right now for everything. It’s amazing to be a part of this as far as excited about the work I do.

But then I mean, watching… Is #blackAF the official way to say it during this panel? But I was just absolutely just laughing out loud with the headphones on late at night where Anna, my spouse, is going to bed.

But I’m laughing in the living room, and I’m like, “Did I wake her?” Because I mean, I was rolling.

And with I May Destroy You, the incredible texture between the lighter comedic moments that could be acerbic and then instantly shifting to something very deep and personal and dealing with some real trauma and hurt, those turn on a dime. I mean, both shows are great, so I’m stoked to be here.

Shauna Foster:

We’re going to continue with #blackAF. We’re going to play a clip from episode number two.

 

[clip plays]

 

Julio C. Perez:

Nice.

Christine Armstrong:

I had so [crosstalk 00:29:50].

Julio C. Perez:

[crosstalk 00:29:50] Butterfly Festival, that’s right.

Shauna Foster:

Christine, Shannon already a little bit touched on this, but I’m curious to know, because the show incorporates a lot of improv, what were some of the challenges in cutting that episode, if there’s any sort of devices that you may have used? Perhaps because when there’s so much improv, you might not have the most seamless footage to work with because of all the improv, and so can you talk to us a little bit about cutting that episode?

Christine Armstrong:

Yeah, for sure. What’s kind of great about this episode or this show is it’s very mockumentary documentary style, and there was a lot of camera movements and everything. So especially in this whole scene at the festival, I used a lot of wipes to cut, if that makes sense, to hide the cut, and adding more jokes and stuff like that.

And that’s kind of what I kind of about comedy too is the challenge of improv and all that kind of stuff, because you kind of can rewrite the jokes in a sense. And I just loved all of that stuff that he was saying about the headdress with her friend, so I was like, “I have to include this, and this has to be in the cut.”

And so it’s so much fun to be able to rewrite the show in that way and put in all the funny jokes, and you have so many options and so many different ways you can cut the scene and so many jokes. And so maybe that’s the challenge is just trying to pick and kind of rewrite the whole scene to make it as funny as possible.

And it’s kind of great because in that scene, they had the iPhone, and then they had the different cameras and all that kind of stuff. And it was just lucky, and I was just happy of how it all kind of came together, and it was really fun.

Shauna Foster:

It looks fun. I wish I was there.

Christine Armstrong:

It was so cool because they created a whole festival for that episode, so it was a fake music festival, of course, after Coachella and all that kind of stuff. And they just did it in a hanger in a lot in California and just made that whole place look like a whole festival, and I thought that was really well done.

Shannon Baker:

[inaudible 00:32:08] big scenes like that [crosstalk 00:32:11].

Christine Armstrong:

I know.

Shannon Baker:

Crowd replacement and stuff now is the [crosstalk 00:32:16].

Christine Armstrong:

The effect [crosstalk 00:32:17] is going to have a lot of work to do in the future.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Can I ask you three a question? Just watching those clips, and Julio, from what I know about Euphoria and Sam, both of your bosses… this is true of Michaela as well… they’re sort of really flailing themselves, aren’t they, on screen? They’re using very super personal stuff or their personas.

I don’t [inaudible 00:32:45] Michaela, but sometimes you’re sitting there thinking, “Wow, you are brave to do this and put this out into the world.” Did you find you had to encourage them?

I mean, what was that like? Because they’re seriously personal things, both the creators, all three of them, are putting out there. How was that [crosstalk 00:33:06]?

Christine Armstrong:

Especially them acting in it as well.

Shannon Baker:

[crosstalk 00:33:08] acting-

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Yeah, exactly.

Shannon Baker:

… first time acting in it, yeah. Ours was heavily leaning on race and race in the industry that he’s still trying to make product in.

And granted, he’s he’s a super producer, and he can do what he wants most places, but he still talked about certain things and still has to go into meetings with people that may have committed some of these race aggressions. So there was a lot of, he would ask me, “Should we talk about this?”

And for the most part, I was like, “Yes, because people are talking about it.” So it’s the same with kind of I May Destroy You.

It happens. It happens to people, so it resonates.

And they it’s definitely had to be brave or brazen. I don’t know what the word for it is.

It’s weird to call it bravery because they’re just being who they are, and there’s no magical thing to it, and it shouldn’t be that way. It shouldn’t be like, “Oh, you’re so brave to talk about issues that everybody’s dealing with on a daily basis,” that kind of thing.

Christine Armstrong:

I feel like all our creators or all our showrunners are being very vulnerable to their audience, which is kind of nice because you kind of feel connected in that sense. It’s like, “Oh, I’m not the only one who feels this way or anything.” And especially them putting themselves in the forefront too and putting themselves in it, I think, is also vulnerable and brave, as you say, for them.

Shauna Foster:

Being your authentic self in the world.

Julio C. Perez:

You hear it in ways that become a little bit cliche about an artist needing courage to the point where you don’t really know what courage is. You don’t know what that means because, oh, this show becomes popular or this or that.

What do you mean? How courageous is it?

But when you blend this autobiographical material, and you blend it with this incredible, fantastical realms, and it’s really hard to tell where imagination and reality begin and end; they sort of blend into each other; I think there’s a courage in the writing stage and then a courage to present it and an obsessiveness linked with that courage to actually have it fully realized through the editorial process. And I find it a really rare quality in directors and showrunners.

But I’m amazed by Levinson and courage, just tons of courage, to the point of sometimes recklessness, because he just believes in what the show needs to be and what he wants to say. And he has to do it.

It’s a compulsion, and it’s amazing to be a part of it. I’m inspired by it daily, and actually, in a bit of a contrast, actually, sometimes as editor, I’m like, “Whoa, should we be saying this? Is this okay?”

Or I actually will bring up some caveats and concerns, and we’ll talk it out and figure it out and see and decide whether it stays or goes. And then that discussion extends to the producers when their concerns come up in notes, and then the HBO execs and drama, HBO, they’ll air their concerns as well.

And then Sam and I will have those long discussions, like, “Okay, do we agree with this? How does this enhance the narrative that we’re telling? How does it shift characterization?”

You get in these long discussions. I feel really blessed to be working with someone with as much courage and audacity as Sam Levinson. It’s pretty awesome.

Shauna Foster:

Nice. Thank you.

Shannon Baker:

I feel like it’s your job as an editor to come at it from all angles, and if somebody says something on Twitter when it comes out, and you didn’t think of that, you’re like, “Why didn’t I think of that?” [crosstalk 00:37:47] may think about it, and I just want to present all those ifs.

Julio C. Perez:

Yeah, that’s why I’m not on Twitter.

Shannon Baker:

Hashtag get off. [crosstalk 00:38:02].

Christine Armstrong:

Yeah, it’s interesting because as the editor, we’re the first audience, because we’re the only people who weren’t on set, even though sometimes you visit, but weren’t on set. And we’re the first test audience in a weird way because we’re kind of cutting it for other people, but I’ve been cutting it for myself too and being like, “This is how see it,” so it’s a gift that we get to do that.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

If I can also add, when we were cutting it, I had no idea that I May Destroy You would be what it… I mean, I know that when a show gets big or popular or has a cultural impact, you can never predict these things.

I was more worried, I was like, “God, are people going to stay with it on episode three?” I had these stupid, pretty minor worries.

I had no idea, and then I remember I had to help out getting some clips for a thing and seeing episode two, and bear in mind, we’ve been seeing each other’s episodes. Normally on a show, you’re bored.

You’ve seen it a million times, right? And you’ve pretty numb to it, but it’s one of the first times I’ve ever been on a show where I was like, “Wow, that is something.”

I didn’t think it would be popular, and I definitely didn’t think it would blow up in the way it’s done and that it’d end up me talking to you guys. But what Shannon said, I think, is really true, that these three creators are just being themselves and that we’ve come on that train ride, and they don’t think twice.

And so yeah, like you guys in the edit, I personally just didn’t think twice about any of the things we put in it and let the execs or the networks worry, if they were going to worry. Most of the times, we had amazing support from HBO and BBC. They didn’t really get in the way.

Shauna Foster:

Let’s watch a clip from Euphoria-

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

We’ve been in lockdown for a year. I need to speak.

Julio C. Perez:

Get it out. Get it out.

Christine Armstrong:

[crosstalk 00:40:02] Christian.

 

[clip plays]

Christine Armstrong:

I must say, that’s one of my favorite Euphoria episodes. It’s so great.

Shauna Foster:

Yes, yes. It’s so fun.

Julio C. Perez:

Thank you so much.

Shauna Foster:

It’s so fun. I mean, Julio, so-

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

[crosstalk 00:40:35] I’m telling you.

Shauna Foster:

In our discussion, you talked about knowing tradition in order to subvert it, and how did that play into cutting the carnival scene? Which I believe you cut on site.

Julio C. Perez:

I did. Yeah.

Shauna Foster:

Actually, let’s go with that, and then I’ll ask the other question after. Let’s start with that.

Julio C. Perez:

All right, great. So yes, much like the Lunar Butterfly Festival in #blackAF, or should I say Black As Fuck or #blackAF?

Shauna Foster:

Whatever you want.

Julio C. Perez:

All right, great. I’ll keep it family friendly since it’s a panel.

Shauna Foster:

No judgment either way.

Julio C. Perez:

#blackAF, much like that Coachella-esque festival atmosphere, they actually put a real carnival down right there somewhere in Pomona, and yeah, they brought Sam. And Marcell Rév, the cinematographer, spent a lot of time planning it out and also storyboarding very, very intricately.

And Sam wanted to make sure, especially with the stitches at the top, wanted to make sure that they got it right, so that was the primary motivator. But then it ended up being just go ahead and cut alongside camera as much as I can right there where they’d pop into the room and get excited or be very, very distraught.

No, I think they usually ended up being okay with it. But so, yeah, that was an adventure, and then as far as with tradition and subverting it, I think part of me that’s locked inside me is still a teenage boy.

And so the way I can channel that into this show, I think, is very joyous, and I feel very fulfilled by that. But I think as a teenager, I had a bit of the iconoclast in me, always wanting to find a different answer than what the generalized establishment had for us or what society at large might say.

And I’d be like, “But what about this?” As I’ve gotten older and moved along in my career and watched more and more film more deeply as well as some series, I feel like you see the traditions that you played in, even if you didn’t know it, early in your career.

And for the carnival in particular, I think you can look at, for instance, these interlocking narratives with a plural protagonist, so to speak, where you have these different characters, and they’re intertwining, and their ideas and lives, little snatches of it you catch here and there.

I feel like it’s hard to not think about Robert Altman as a filmmaker and his influence in telling those kind of tales. He took it to certain heights with 3 Women and Nashville and Short Cuts, things like that, and then so he might cast a long shadow from the new American cinema of the late sixties and into the seventies.

And then you have how that might have been interpreted by American filmmakers in the nineties, American independent filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson and the way he employed very similar storytelling techniques in Magnolia. So you start to look at, let’s say, the traditions that are very deeply entrenched in American filmmaking from classical Hollywood, and you adapt some of those techniques or techniques of using establishing shots.

And how do you subvert that? How do you do something a little different yet get the information across?

Sometimes you want to pay homage to something that you consider exceptional, but then never wanting to lean on convention for its own sake, that when you start to sniff something out as being overly conventional, you start wanting to find angles around it, over it, under it, away from it, whatever you need. And then once in a while, you might use the on-the-nose conventional technique or device in order to have clarity for the audience.

So then you can kind of go on a wild ride of unconventional storytelling, and you still have them because you gave the audience a grounding. So then you can go on these flights of fancy.

I acknowledge and admire those that went before us as filmmakers, and we have to forge our own path with today’s ideas, what’s going on in our society right now, in this moment. And to me, there’s always going to be resistance to something that isn’t conventional.

Even if it becomes popular, you’re going to have factions that want to, let’s say, knock it down a little bit, take you down a peg or whatever. That’s fine.

That’s part of the game, but I’d say it’s just the way that I’m built, and the collaborators and the brilliant directors and writer directors and showrunners that I’ve ended up with, we have a kindred spirit. It’s like, here’s what we call normal or conventional.

Well, how do we mess it up? How do we forge a new path?

How do we innovate? And it’s an exciting thing to just dream on it.

And then to actually get a chance to execute it on certain types of shows or films, it feels indulgent and just so, so beautifully decadent. I get a chance to engage in that kind of cultural dialogue. I feel it’s just the best, just exciting and beautiful.

Christine Armstrong:

That’s so great. [crosstalk 00:46:46].

Speaker 7:

That is good.

Julio C. Perez:

Well, thank you. [crosstalk 00:46:51].

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

You can see the joy and the love of cinema, especially. Even just that clip, I’m going, “Yeah, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, 400 Blows. Oh my God.”

You can see [crosstalk 00:47:05] love. You can see it.

It’s in that lineage, and it’s so lovely that also, cinema is in such a state that it’s so lovely that you guys are doing that with the camera, with style. Yeah, I’m of that. I love the people you’re talking about, and to me-

Julio C. Perez:

Amen.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

… I’m not going to dump on Marvel or anything, but I want independent filmmakers to be given $70 million to make a film as well as Marvel.

Julio C. Perez:

Absolutely. We need those mid to large budgets back. We need to fight for it because, well, what it is, and it’s wonderful, what’s occurred with series work, is that television series and streaming has sort of, let’s say, substituted and sort of drawn some energy for better and… I don’t know if worse is the word for it, but I think there are effects that do maybe harm the state of cinema, but then we do have a bit of a fluorescence of somewhat or very cinematic series I’d say at a fairly high level compared to what it was in the past.

But I am deep in my heart a spiritual warrior for filmmaking and for cinema. That-

Christine Armstrong:

That was perfectly timed.

Julio C. Perez:

I feel it so deeply, so I’m with you. I feel like if we can get enough people that feel similarly, and let’s continue to not only fly the flag of cinema but also celebrate in series work where the cinematic and the bold…

And what we’re talking about here, there’s that mold; I want to break it. Let’s break the hell out of that mold.

Christine Armstrong:

That’s what I like about the streaming services, because working for Netflix and Amazon, I feel like they’re giving the creators this freedom because there’s no time limit to where you can make that space, and I feel the difference in that kind of energy.

Shauna Foster:

I feel it too, Christine. [crosstalk 00:49:27].

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

I mean, I don’t know about American networks, but in England, shows like I May Destroy You, you can’t imagine them happening before all of the streaming services and HBO all upped the ante and upped the quality of work. And we’ve all had dumb exec notes, but they were great on this, I think because they recognized that shows like Black as Fuck and Euphoria are out there.

So you can’t pull your punches, not that Michaela’s ever going to do that. But I think for the general level of dramatic and comedic quality, it’s great, because you can go, “Hey, look at these great shows.

“They’re huge. They’re successful on these huge platforms, and look at what they do.”

Because I know we’ve talked about how our creators are just being themselves, but for execs and commissioners, they look on those as massive risks. They look on, “You want to do it in one shot? No. Sorry, mate.”

“You want to say that? You want to get Ava DuVernay to say that?”

I think it’s so exciting, like you say, that these shows are coming out and being watched by millions, and I think you’re right, Julio. In the nineties when I was younger, both of these shows might have been independent movies developed at Sundance and taken to can and stuff.

But we are lucky that they’re out there somewhere, and not just somewhere; they’re huge. They’re all over billboards and on these massive streaming services.

So yeah, we’re lucky, and yeah, amazing [crosstalk 00:51:13]. Yeah, exactly.

Shannon Baker:

Well, there’s also more opportunity for ideas. Because there are so many shows, I feel like the shows that are trying to push the needle, they have so many more episodes to do that.

When you had just independent features was the only outlet, how often did one of those come along where, on a series, you have four or five different directors; you have four editors; everyone is getting involved, and there’s more ideas in the pot, and that makes everything better?

Christine Armstrong:

So true, Shannon.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Yeah. I mean, look at these three shows. They’re amazingly different shows that all pursue the truth in their different ways.

And there’s so many different pleasures just in these three shows. What an amazing watch viewers have if they watch these three shows.

Completely different views of the world, completely different styles, genres. In terms of TV, we’re very lucky to be working now, aren’t we?

Shauna Foster:

All right, we are winding down a little bit, so I want to get to this last bit of stuff we have. Can we show episode one, a clip from Euphoria?

 

[clip plays]

 

Shauna Foster:

Wow. This is from episode “The Pilot.” This is the pilot.

And before I ask this next question, I want to share this with you. So in a discussion with Julio, he said, “The moment you define art, you miss it.

“The most important thing about art and its function is building empathy to change the idea of being an addict with a capital A to being a human being who just needs the world means something. The moment someone feels less alone because of something I did, I’ve done my job.”

I’m getting emotional. [crosstalk 00:55:26]. The question is, is there a specific moment, episode, scene, a time when you’re in a cutting room where this became especially clear for each of you, where you felt like, “I did my job”? Let’s start with Christine on this one.

Christine Armstrong:

Man, there’s just so many moments that are magic that happens in the edit suite. Sometimes I think for me, when I’m working with a showrunner or a creator on a film or a TV show, and they’re watching it, and they’ve created it; they’ve wrote it; they’ve watched it; they’ve watched all the footage; and they’re still evoking emotion, I feel that’s a great thing for me, because I think in the sense, sometimes when you watch the medium over and over again, you kind of get lost in it.

And to be able to bring back that person who knows it’s coming, who knows that the laughter’s going to be there or there’s a sad moment, and they are still emotionally involved and invested, I feel I’ve done a good job in terms of that, I think, because if they, who’ve seen it many times, and people who are going to see it many times are going to still have that feeling. So that’s kind of my mark, I guess, what comes off my head.

Shauna Foster:

Thank you, Christine.

Julio C. Perez:

Awesome.

Shauna Foster:

Shannon.

Shannon Baker:

I don’t know. I think I’m the opposite. I think I never know. You never feel like you know. I suffer from imposter complex, so-

Shauna Foster:

Me too.

Shannon Baker:

You too. You too. You feel like you do a good cut, but then they always have to take it away from me, always have to take it away from me, because there could be one more frame that could do something, or you just try so many different things.

And I always have to try to remember how I felt about it when I first watched the dailies, and I take very extensive notes. Did this one make me cry?

Because we watch people’s faces so intently, and the good actors are doing something different every single time. It’s very, very subtle.

So you just have to try and remember how you felt about it the first time you watched it and trust that that is still there, but I just never know. I never know.

Christine Armstrong:

That trusting in this whole thing, that’s all you have.

Shannon Baker:

[crosstalk 00:57:54] trusting that it didn’t get lost in all of the notes and all of the iterations that the cut goes through. You kind of have to trust and be like, “Okay, I know I felt this way. Hopefully it’s still there.”

Christine Armstrong:

And sometimes it’s trusting your past self too who was watching it. [crosstalk 00:58:14].

Shannon Baker:

[crosstalk 00:58:15] reading your notes, like, “Why did I say this was good?”

Julio C. Perez:

Yeah. Exactly. That’s so hard to do, to maintain that objectivity.

That’s the single greatest challenge, I think, is to be just as engaged with the ideas and the form and the technique and the emotional sort of oscillations. To stay engaged with that as you’re approaching the final mix, that’s the biggest challenge for me ever as an editor is to keep that the sensitivity open and not sort of shut down and become sclerotic, I guess you could say.

Christine Armstrong:

Christian, what about you?

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Yeah, I mean, kind of echoing everyone else’s thoughts, I suppose you just have to believe the thing you’ve made. You don’t know, do you?

You and your director, you try and get it right. You can tell if someone is working with people in the room who aren’t you because you can feel if they’re in.

You can feel if they’re locked in because you’re so sensitive to body language of other people when they come and watch it. You can feel when they’re locked in.

You know when they’re when the shift of a bum means, “Oh, God. Yeah. Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll cut that scene. Yeah, yeah. I get it. I get it.”

But equally, when it goes out into the world, you just don’t know, do you? I mean, my partner was kind of like, “Right, we’re going to watch episodes one and two when they go out.”

And I was like, “Really? Okay.” And I watch again, and then after episode one cut to black, she was so proud.

It kind of made me go, “Oh, right. Oh, okay,” because I really respect her, but like everyone, you try to do your best. You don’t know.

You just hope. We sort of try and be surgeons of emotion and ideas, but ultimately, just then we’ve all been lucky that other people have felt the same things that we felt on viewing 808 rather than viewing 7,000 or whatever it is when we just can’t see the width of the trees. But yeah, same thing, I suppose.

Shauna Foster:

Thank you. Julio, do you want to add to that?

Julio C. Perez:

I completely understand where Shannon’s coming from too because I think when you get absorbed in this sort of wash of deadlines and pressures and everything that you have to do, and to just remain sensitive and open to the sort of magnetic presentation of certain performances, to sort of make sure that you’re receiving the performances accurately and the little nuances of micro expressions and joy and pain and whatever flashes across a human face, while people are like, “Hey, we got to do this, and by the way, do that. And don’t forget, oh, this is a new rule, and everything’s going on.”

So you can have a low-grade chaos outside your edit bay door, and to maintain that focus is a primary task. That’s a foundational task and can be very tricky.

But as far as any one moment, I’m not necessarily a big person for epiphanies. I feel like if I have revelation, it’s over time and over experience and from hard knocks and from dealing with this and sort of picking yourself back up and keeping on going, less than that one vision on the mount or anything like that.

But so for me, I’d say specific to season one with Rue and saying like, “I’ve done my job,” I’d say it’s after the blur of getting it done, and I barely remember. It was a blur.

I just can’t believe we actually got through it and that it was intelligible, and I’m so excited about it. I knew it was a good script, so it’s even more pressure, like, “Oh, man, I can’t fuck this up.”

And you see that people are loving Rue and that are invested in her journey, accepting of her frailties and foibles and wanting to keep going, and then you’re desperate and afraid that she’s going to relapse. And you want her to do what’s right, but you also want her to be herself. When you see someone else talk about her as if she were a real person and a character that seems fully realized those little moments, I think you can be like, “I didn’t fuck it up.”

Shauna Foster:

Thank you, Julio.

Shannon Baker:

Yeah, just going off of that, tons of people thought that #blackAF was a documentary [crosstalk 01:03:18] they thought that those were his real kids.

When I was cutting it at first, I thought the baby was his real baby. I was like, “Oh, is that your baby?”

He was like, “No, that’s an actor too.” So something [crosstalk 01:03:32]-

Christine Armstrong:

So cute.

Shannon Baker:

… were like, “Oh my God, I hate him so much. He’s such an asshole.” And it’s like, that’s not a real personality.

Christine Armstrong:

Rashida Jones is not his wife.

Shannon Baker:

Yeah. It’s not his real wife. [crosstalk 01:03:50] Twitter [crosstalk 01:03:53], people, but they do. They think that that was a real documentary of his life.

Shauna Foster:

Wow.

Christine Armstrong:

Well, it’s just funny how I was just thinking that the other day, Shannon.

Shannon Baker:

They were very upset. They were very upset.

And especially in the clip that you showed where the daughter calls him a dick, people are like, “Oh my God, how could he let his daughter call him that?” It’s like, it’s a television show. They wrote it.

Shauna Foster:

It taps into where we started because I believe I read that Kenya gets his own kids to read the scripts, and there’s an article where he talks about getting his older kids to read, and they have to kind of be on board with it. And again, all that whole notion of, this is personal.

And we see it. We love it. It’s so there that we think what we’re watching is his real family.

Christine Armstrong:

Yeah. Write what you know.

Shauna Foster:

Write what you know. Exactly.

Julio C. Perez:

That’s right.

Shauna Foster:

Let’s play this clip from episode 10.

 

[clip plays]

Shauna Foster:

I’m going to read a quote, and let’s start there. So Michaela gave an interview to GQ last year, and I’m going to read.

I wish Michaela was reading this quote, and this is what Michaela said. “I need to big up my editors. They’re brilliant, particularly Christian Sandino-Taylor, who did episode 10.

“He’s the controller of that episode. He got my script, chopped it up, threw parts of it in the bin, dragged some stuff, fucked the whole thing, and created something far better than I could have ever made.” Christian, how? How?

And [crosstalk 01:07:44] dig into this next question, but we’ll start with you, Christian. How did you find points where the audience can just absorb the content, and can you talk to a little bit about leading the audience versus just giving us the answers here?

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

I suppose in general, on that show, that actually is probably not a great example of this because that, we do use. We do play on the emotions very strongly.

But I suppose in general on the show, it was about trying to balance truths. So it’s difficult to explain what I did on that episode because I basically was given it and recut it, changed the shape of it, and, as Michaela said, fucked it up.

But I suppose that ending, that last scene, which was earlier on in the episode before, what I try to do is initially, it was an episode just about Arabella and her journey, and the lessons she learned at home, she applied to her life. And then it wasn’t really working, so I realized you could make it about the family.

And what happens in that episode is the brother knows that the dad’s a philanderer, and the mother’s kept it secret, and Arabella is in awe of her father and ultimately finds out that that’s not true.

So basically, I was able to build it so you shifted perspectives. And then at the end, I suppose, yeah, what you’re saying, Shauna, is you allow that scene to play out largely in silence.

You’re basically watching these people have a meal, but by now, you should know the full context of that scene is that Arabella has learned the truth of her father and can forgive him. The brother knows everything about the mother and how long she’s suffered with her dad’s philandering over the years.

So he’s watching the mother, and then the mother is trying to keep the whole thing together and has just been told that her daughter was raped. So placed earlier on, that scene, it had the context but not the power, whereas by placing that scene there and playing it in that way, you allow all the emotions to reach this crescendo and all the ideas, which are conflicting, to become this sort of coherent whole.

But again, across the series, what you’re trying to do is you’re not just trying to build the story of Arabella and make you empathize with her. Michaela wants you to also question her and then also understand the effects her actions have on other people.

So I guess I can’t remember the original question, but I suppose that’s what you do. You just build in those conflicting ideas, and then you let the audience deal with it.

You make the decisions. Here’s all the information you need.

She’s feeling this. She’s feeling this.

And it’s not necessarily going to be a comfortable ending for you. There’s lots of different questions going on here, and there’s no closure often.

So here you go. I suppose in that way, we use emotion to give you an emotional closure, but it still should be complex and should incite a kind of level of debate about-

Shannon Baker:

I remember watching so many of the episodes and being like, “Oh, this could be the end,” because you set up that we were not going to get the answers from the very top, from the very beginning. And I remember being so afraid that we would not find out, Michaela would not find out, who had done what he had done to her.

And I just remember because you just kept setting that up. There are no answers.

You’re not going to get the answers in the show, and I just was so afraid, like, “Is this the last episode? Oh, okay. Okay. We have one more. Maybe I’ll get… “

But it was very satisfying. It was satisfying in that the journey, you were just watching her go through this process.

And it was very real and very guttural, what was happening. So I was okay with that somehow.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Yeah, I mean, lots of people weren’t. Lots of people weren’t.

Julio, God forbid you ever do go on Twitter, but if you do, you’ll see lots of people loved it. But lots of people were like-

Shannon Baker:

But it was so set up. It was so set up. You set up the kind of show we were going to get from the beginning, from the very beginning.

Christine Armstrong:

And sometimes in life, we don’t get those answers. That’s [crosstalk 01:12:23], right? So that’s why I kind of like it. Yeah.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Yeah. Yeah, [crosstalk 01:12:24] Michaela and Sam, all of our creators have done amazing work, haven’t they? We’ve been lucky to work with them.

Julio C. Perez:

Absolutely.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Snuck it in.

Julio C. Perez:

Absolutely.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

[crosstalk 01:12:38].

Julio C. Perez:

Yes. [crosstalk 01:12:38].

Shauna Foster:

Unfortunately, we have run out of time, but we want to wrap with one last question for each of you to answer in one short sentence, and we’ll end with this, okay? Why do you do this work as an editor? Let’s start with Julio.

Julio C. Perez:

Damn, you had to start with me with that question.

Shauna Foster:

[inaudible 01:13:09].

Julio C. Perez:

To discover and explore. I’ll keep it simple.

Shauna Foster:

Christine.

Christine Armstrong:

I think to be a storyteller and help others tell stories and to get their voices heard.

Julio C. Perez:

Yeah, that’s great.

Shauna Foster:

Shannon.

Christine Armstrong:

Because people are complex, and I like pulling out those intricacies.

Julio C. Perez:

Yeah.

Shannon Baker:

Nice.

Shauna Foster:

Thank you. Christian.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

A combination of all three. Honestly, I can’t add anything.

And because it’s really fun to do. Not always, but ultimately, it’s quite fun [crosstalk 01:13:48].

Christine Armstrong:

There are un-fun parts, yes.

Julio C. Perez:

Oh, yeah.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

Yeah.

Julio C. Perez:

Oh, yeah.

Shauna Foster:

That’s another panel, the un-fun parts. Thank you all.

Thank you all. This has been an honor.

Christine Armstrong:

Thank you.

Shauna Foster:

Thank you to the CCE. I hope our audience enjoyed the conversation today.

Sending love and light. Everybody keep safe, and enjoy the rest of your day. Bye, everyone.

Christine Armstrong:

Great work, everybody.

Christian Sandino-Taylor:

You take care.

Julio C. Perez:

Honor and a privilege. [crosstalk 01:14:13].

Christine Armstrong:

Thank you.

Sarah Taylor:

Thanks so much for listening today, and a special thanks goes out to Jane MacRae and Alison Dowler. This episode was edited by Jana Spinola.

The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rush.

Original music created by Chad Blain and Soundstripe. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao.

The CCE has been supporting Indspire, an organization that provides funding and scholarships for indigenous post-secondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at cceditors.ca, or you can donate directly to Indspire.ca, I-N-D-S-P-I-R-E dot C-A.

The CCE is taking steps to build a more equitable ecosystem within our industry, and we encourage our members to participate in any way they can. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, and tell your friends to tune in. Until next time, I’m your host, Sarah Taylor.

[Outro]

Speaker 32:

The CCE is a nonprofit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture editing. If you wish to become a CCE member, please visit our website, www.cceditors.ca. Join our great community of Canadian editors for more related info.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Podcasts

What do you want to hear on The Editors Cut?

Please send along any topics you would like us to cover or editors you would love to hear from:

Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Mandy Germain

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Edited by

Jana Spinola

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blain

Soundstripe

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 063: EditCon 2021: Thrills & Chills

The Editors Cut - Episode 063 - EditCon 2021: Thrills & Chills

Episode 063 - EditCon 2021: Thrills & Chills

This episode is part 5 of a 6 part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place virtually in February 2021.

EDITCON 2021 Thrills & Chills

The past year has brought our lives no shortage of fear-inducing moments, and yet films that offer us frights continue to be one of our greatest escapes. Join editors Michele Conroy (In the Tall Grass, The Silence, Mama), Jeff Barnaby (Blood Quantum, Rhymes For Young Ghouls), Dev Singh (Incident in a Ghostland, Backcountry) and moderator Erin Deck (Rabid) as they share their insights into crafting successful films that both entertain us and play upon our fears and anxieties.

Jeff Barnaby

Jeff Barnaby was born and raised on the rural Mi’gMaq reserve of Listuguj, Quebec. A multi-disciplined artist, he has won several awards for his artwork, poetry, short stories, music and films. His work provides a bare-knuckled view of post-colonial Mi’gMaq life, defying stereotypical treatments of First Nations’ narratives by using horror/sci-fi tropes to explore themes of violence, gender, race and Indigenous futurism.

Michelle Conroy

Michele Conroy is a veteran film and television editor. Her work has earned multiple DGC awards including: Mama, Pompeii and Splice, which was produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by longtime collaborator Vincenzo Natali. Other collaborations with Natali include the ensemble romance Paris, je t’aime, Nothing, Getting Gilliam, and most recently In the Tall Grass. Other theatrical releases include Little Italy, The Grizzlies, and Ginger Snaps: Unleashed. Her TV credits include Vikings, Penny Dreadful, Flashpoint, and This Is Wonderland.

Dev Singh

I edit movies and television. I hold a BSc in Biochemistry from Queen’s, attended Ryerson’s Film Studies program, and was a resident at the Canadian Film Centre. I’ve been fortunate to work with many wonderful artists and it is a joy to count them amongst my friends and collaborators. My credits include the acclaimed Backcountry, People of Earth, and Picture Day. In theatres and festivals soon: Cinema of Sleep and Spiral. I’m currently working on the Resident Evil reboot.

Erin Deck, CCE

Erin Deck is an editor in both film and television. Her work has earned her multiple nominations and awards through the DGC, CSA and CCE. Some of her TV credits include Altered Carbon, Into The Badlands, Ginny & Georgia and Killjoy

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 063 – EditCon 2021: Thrills & Chills

Michele Conroy:

I love cutting horror, especially ghost stories and thrillers. It is magical in the edit suite when you can cut it. There’s so many ways to cut it.

Jeff Barnaby:

As an indigenous storyteller, it’s a space that it seems to be we relate to the most. That’s why I gravitate towards it because I can integrate my stories in there in a way that codifies them for a non-native audience.

Dev Singh:

There’s so many sub-genres in horror, too.

Michele Conroy:

Yeah.

Dev Singh:

As you were saying, ghost stories. And as Jeff is saying, there’s so many variations that you start to play in and mix together when you’re cutting them. They’re so much fun.

Sarah Taylor:

Hello, and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast, and that many of you may be listening to us from, are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral territory that has long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived, met and interacted. We honor, respect and recognize these nations that have never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand today.

We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many contributions and the concerns that impact indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action. Today’s episode is part five of a six-part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place virtually in February 2021, editing dark genre and feature film. This past year has brought our lives no shortage of fear-inducing moments, and yet, films that offer us frights continue to be one of the greatest escapes.

In today’s episode, join editors Michele Conroy from In the Tall Grass, The Silence and Mama. Jeff Barnaby from Blood Quantum and Rhymes for Young Ghouls. Dev Singh from Incident in a Ghostland and Backcountry, and moderator Erin Deck, from Rabid, as they share their sights into crafting successful films that both entertain us and play upon our fears and anxieties.

Speaker 5:

And action.

Speaker 6:

This is The Editor’s Cut.

Speaker 7:

A CCE podcast.

Speaker 8:

Exploring, exploring, exploring the art.

Speaker 7:

Of picture editing.

Erin Deck:

Hello, I’m Erin Deck. I’m joining you this morning from Toronto, and acknowledge that we are on traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Hi, everyone. Just briefly, Jeff Barnaby, Michele Conroy, and Dev Singh, our editors, welcome. Thank you for being here. I’m going to be just a little formal for a second, and I’m going to introduce our panelists properly.

Dev is an accomplished film and television editor. He holds a BSc in biochemistry from Queen’s, attended Ryerson Film Studies program and was a resident at the Canadian Film Center. He is one of only three editors ever named in the yearly Playback magazine 10 to Watch. His credits include the acclaimed Backcountry, People of Earth and Picture Day. In theaters and festivals soon is Cinema of Sleep, Spiral, and currently, he’s working on the Resident Evil reboot. Hi, Dev. Welcome.

Dev Singh:

Hi.

Erin Deck:

Hi. Michele is an extraordinary film and television editor. Her work has earned multiple awards, including for Mama, Pompeii and Splice, which was produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by longtime collaborator, Vincenzo Natali. Other collaborations with Natali include an ensemble romance, Paris, je t’aime, Nothing, Getting Gilliam, and most recently In the Tall Grass. Other theatrical releases include Little Italy, The Grizzlies, and Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed. Her TV credits include Vikings, Penny Dreadful, Flashpoint, and This is Wonderland.

I would also like to point out that when Mama was released in theaters in North America, it was the number one film, so that’s awesome. Hi, Michele. Welcome.

Jeff was born and raised on the rural Mi’kmaq Reserve of Listuguj, Quebec. A multi-disciplined artist, he has won several awards for his artwork, poetry, short stories, music and films. His work provides a bare knuckle view of the post-colonial Mi’kmaq life, defining stereotypical treatments of First Nations narratives by using horror and sci-fi tropes to explore themes of violence, gender, race, and indigenous futurism.

His 2010 short film, File Under Miscellaneous, was nominated for a Genie Award for Best Live Action. In 2019, Jeff premiered his sophomore feature, Blood Quantum, at the Toronto International Film Festival, as the opener for Midnight Madness.So hi, Jeff.

Jeff Barnaby:

Hi.

Erin Deck:

Yay. I’m super happy that we’re all here. I think just to get us in the mood, I’m going to read just three quick horror quotes. Okay. This one’s by Wes Craven. “Horror films don’t create fear. They release it.” This one’s by Stephen King. “I recognize horror as the finest emotion, and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify. And if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross out. I’m not proud.”

Then this last one’s by Guillermo del Toro. “When I’m watching a horror movie with other people, and there is a jump scare or tension, you all react at the same time. It’s beautiful, it’s very connecting. It’s very empathic. There is a joy in being scared. I love that there is a community experience in watching a horror movie.” I love those quotes. Okay. So my first question is just going to be an easy one to warm us up. I’m just curious how all three of you got into editing horror movies?

Jeff, I know that you write and direct also your films. But so when you started, did horror films, was that just the jobs that came or did you actively seek them? How did you get into cutting horror films? Dev, I’ll start with you.

Dev Singh:

Yeah. I did a short film while I was at the CFC and it got the attention of Adam MacDonald, who was the director of Backcountry. I went for an interview for Backcountry and he just sat down and said, “Hey, this isn’t an interview. You’re my guy if you want to do this movie.”

I had done all the research and everything, and I was all ready for it. That never really happens, so I was like, “Yeah. All right, this is great. Yeah, love to do it.” And so then we got into it. That started it really.

Erin Deck:

That’s amazing. That was the same way it happened for me with Darren Bousman. I hadn’t cut a feature before and we just went for an interview, and he just wanted somebody who liked to talk about horror and liked horror movies as much as he did. I had some editing experience, but it was just kind of like do our personalities work together?

Dev Singh:

Totally.

Erin Deck:

Yeah. Michele, what about you? Did you seek out horror movies or did they seek you out?

Michele Conroy:

They sought me out. I was doing a lot of TV and then this one producer, who’s working with Copper Heart said, “Vincenzo Natali’s looking for an editor.” And she arranged an interview and took off from there. He and I just hit it off as soon as we met each other. And then Steve Hoban from Copper Heart offered me Ginger Snaps 2. I realized I really enjoy cutting horror.

I love, love cutting horror, more so than drama, more so than comedy. I love horror, it’s fun. It’s fun when you’re in the edit suite and you can just create something you don’t even know in a scene that doesn’t even have a jump, but just suddenly you can create something like that.

Erin Deck:

There’s fun. You have a good time with horror. Even if you’re dealing with sometimes some more serious moments, there’s a bit of a joy in cutting. Hearing someone scream, you almost block that out and just like, “Oh, that’s a good scream. Oh, that scream’s better. Or that stab actually works a lot better than that stab.”

So Jeff, how did you start? Because I know that you write, direct, and edit. Was it something that you always just moved towards?

Jeff Barnaby:

It was always due to financial necessity. I cut my first film in school and it just progressed from there, where I was doing music and all the stuff you mentioned already. I had a pretty good honed artistic sensibility and it was easily transferable to the editing process. I already had a really keen sense of timing because I’d been doing music forever. I had a really keen sense of organizing my thoughts. So it just seemed like a natural progression to do all this artwork and transfer all that skill into cinema. Then it just made sense to take all that other sensibility and apply it to editing.

There’s an interesting byproduct of being Mi’kmaq is that there’s no editors out there that knows Mi’kmaq, so nobody’s going to be able to edit that material anyway. I ended up having to do that regardless. So it became I’d say, “Well, why don’t I just do it?” And then as I was doing it, I began to realize that there’s a language, there is a definitive, native cinematic language to editing that other people don’t really get. It’s a lot about embedded storytelling and disjointed narratives. This goes way back, thousands of years to oral storytelling traditions.

When you think about telling a story orally, you’re telling a story and you never stick to that linear point. You’d be talking and you’d go, “Oh, you remember Larry, Larry from way back when? He used to pump gas over at John’s place.” It’s all over the place. That’s what attracted me to editing was taking that sensibility of indigenous storytelling and applying it to something that hasn’t been around as long as that tradition has. It becomes a new form. So as a native storyteller, of course, that was super exciting to me and being a native filmmaker. Then it just became about the energy to do all of that shit.

Erin Deck:

Yeah. I guess that going into film because of your music, and poetry, and short stories, it’s just another venue to explore. I guess it keeps progressing.

Jeff Barnaby:

The space between music, and imagery, and sound is pretty negligible, so you’re editing all that stuff. Everybody thinks of us as just image editors, yet 90% of our timelines are going to be sound. It’s like you get three bars of editing images and you get 50 sound tracks. I don’t think anybody really, particularly with horror editing because so much of our jumps or our tension is built from sound. You look at something like Ginger Snaps, the first one, where they have that scene where they all get trapped in the dark.

There’s no image there. It’s just sound. You’re editing sound in that closet where you’re hearing that werewolf footage. It’s horrifying, but you don’t actually see anything. Then your talent, you become a musician. Sure, you don’t know how to play any instruments, but you know the rhythm of sound, you know the rhythm of music in order to apply the images.

Erin Deck:

You’re absolutely right. I feel that horror editing really does rely a lot on being a sound designer and a music mixer because it all plays together in one.

Jeff Barnaby:

The only other genre that could probably contend with it is musicals, where you need to be on point with every image you edit.

Erin Deck:

Absolutely. No, absolutely. And going off of the tension, it’s interesting because I was thinking about this. I was thinking a lot of the great movies have different emotions, but horror films really rely on tension and use a high level of tension. There’s this director, he once described tension as an elastic band.

I guess my next question is I’m curious, how do you guys know how far to pull that elastic band? And when to stop and be like, “Okay, I’ve hit it. That’s the perfect amount of tension.” Michele, do you want to start with that one?

Michele Conroy:

It’s hard to say. Usually, you need an audience to know or just test screening personally.

Erin Deck:

Yeah.

Michele Conroy:

Actually in the project I’m working on now, I cut it very loose. Then the process, you keep on pacing it up, pacing it up. The last pass you watch it, and it just was the same rhythm through the entire film. There was no air. I just realized I took all the tension out of this one scene and we have to add four seconds here, three seconds there.

Erin Deck:

I love that you use the emotional response from an audience how to craft that tension, because you have amazing experience in cutting tension. You’re right. A lot of horror, like the Guillermo del Toro quote, you have to see it with somebody.

Even if it’s your assistant or somebody comes in, you’re like, “Can you watch this?” Sometimes they don’t even need to say a word and you can see how they’re reacting.

Michele Conroy:

That’s exactly it. You know the feeling. You’re watching it. Even when the director watches the cut with you for the first time, you’re like, “No, that’s off. I need to open that up. Or you know what? I know it’s off here. I have to add frames here or trim it there.”

Erin Deck:

Tension is a hard thing to fully know if you’ve gotten it right. Dev, do you feel like when you’re cutting footage that when you’re alone in your room, do you just put it together, and I think I got this? Or do you wait until maybe you can screen it with somebody?

Dev Singh:

No. Part of it’s intuitive. You just feel a rhythm. You’re trying to do it a little bit different. Part of it is you’re thinking about what you had done before, and so how that plays into the particular scene or section that you’re doing, I think. And then just overarching things. It’s like tension is the precursor to conflict. So if you think of it dramatically, you’re like, “Oh, how can I stretch that out?” I remember hearing Joe Walker say a similar thing that you were saying, which is a bow and arrow thing, and how you release it, and when you release it.

I think a lot of it is fun with surprise. They give you set ups, something where a person walks into the back of the frame, when you’re in a long shot or a moving master or whatever. Then the next time, you hold that same shot with the audience’s expectation that it comes from there. Then you bait and switch them with the other side. You’re playing on intention, the things that you’ve done before, a little bit of surprise. Then it’s like everyone expects it, so you get used to that expectation and then you change that on them. That’s the fun part if you play into that expectation and turn it.

Michele Conroy:

Yeah. It’s cutting and it’s not cutting when you expect to cut.

Erin Deck:

Yeah.

Dev Singh:

Exactly. It’s fun to do this where like Jeff was talking about, which is that you’re just changing timing and you’re using your own inner timing.

Erin Deck:

Yeah. Jeff, you were going to add to that?

Jeff Barnaby:

I was thinking about a movie like The Conjuring and The Conjuring is a fucking masterclass intention, the whole thing from start to finish. And for me, it was what Dev was talking about is that you need to know the destination in your head. There’s nothing to feel tense about if you don’t know that something is awry.

So they set up this opening of the doll. From that point on, you’re just horrified about what’s going to come around the corner. The great thing about it is the only thing that dies in that whole movie is the dog. 

Erin Deck:

Oh, my God, you’re right.

Jeff Barnaby:

So the idea of violence or the idea of any real threat is almost all psychosomatic in that there’s something going on in the house, but he’s just being an asshole. He’s not really doing anything real sinister outside of terrorizing the family. And everything happens there off screen. Everything is just, it’s such a brilliant setup of how to do tension. It really is about the destination. Once you set the tension, what they did with the opening in The Conjuring, then you could just mess with it. And that’s what they do the entire time.

It has nothing to do with that doll, but they already put it inside you and you just maintain it. So you just sit there in that creepy house, making all those weird noises and shadows in the background, and the occasional wipe of a person going back in the background. This is all classic stuff. You can go all the way back to Caligari to see some of this stuff happening. And there’s a lot of classic stuff in horror, the frame just abhors negative space, so the classic thing, right? The classic scene is seen in every horror movie.

Somebody opening a refrigerator door and blocking out that fucking hallway, and what’s going to happen when you close it. So it’s really just an extension of that idea of setting up there’s something amiss going on, and just riding it out through the whole film. Really horror is about great openings. It sets the tone.

Erin Deck:

Yeah, I agree. I feel like those first few minutes of a horror film, they really set up. And when Michele was deciding which clip to use, I was pushing for the opening of Mama but she didn’t go with that one, but that’s okay. The opening to Mama is from the first frame. Then it’s five minutes of just, you don’t blink, and it’s tension all the way through. Then that sets it up because I’m not going to talk too much about Mama, like I know it like Michele does, but it sets it up for the rest of the movie. You’ve got that in you now. Like you were saying, you’ve got that fear, you’ve got that tension. Jeff Barnaby:

One more thought about that. I’m sorry, I keep thinking about 28 Weeks Later and the way they set it up there. It’s a microcosm of what I’m talking about, because how do they introduce that tension in the first place? You’re in a zombie apocalypse, but everything seems cool, they’re cooking and everything’s chill. Then you hear a bang at the door, and that kid shows up.

And from that point on, that scene is what’s coming after next? Then it’s just a rapid fire assault on your senses. It’s the best zombie opening in the history of cinema and I don’t think it’ll ever be topped. It’s exactly that. It introduces the idea and follows up with technique of master filmmakers.

Erin Deck:

This is our hour of Sunday morning horror talk and I love this. I was working on a TV show and it was a drama, but they had a Halloween episode. And this Halloween episode, they gave it to me because they know I love horror. I had cut it in a way that I emotionally responded to. As a horror fan, I liked the way I cut it. But then a person came in and they were like, “Well, no, no, you didn’t follow the rules to horror.” And I was like, “There’s rules? What rules am I supposed to be following?”

And they were like, “Well, you have them seeing that thing before we see them see it. And you’re supposed to have them stay on their face to get the reaction and then show it.” I was like, “Yeah, but I don’t like the reaction of their face.” They were like, “Doesn’t matter, you got to stick to the rules of horror.” I was like, “Aw, I don’t like that.” But it’s interesting how some people believe that you have to cut horror a specific way, but I don’t feel that way. I feel that it is your gut, your emotion, and then also how an audience respond.

When you guys are about to start a horror film, cutting it. Let’s say it’s either going to be a slasher, or a zombie, or paranormal, do you research that genre? Do you take in as much of that genre? Do you watch a lot of the horror movies so that when you go into it, you feel more prepared? Or do you just trust in your knowledge, and editing ability, and experience? Jeff, do you want to start that one?

Jeff Barnaby:

I delve in and watch everything for two reasons. One, they might do something that works that I can steal. Two, they might do something that I’m doing that it looks I’m copying. There’s a fine line between those two things, but I’ve learned to walk it. I try to figure out all the things that people are… I don’t do this as an editor, I do it as a director. I’m like, “Well, if it works for them, we could do it for us but with Indians.” That’s the way I approach my films. But when it comes to doing that, composing stuff, I start as a director and make my way to being an editor.

I try to make my job as an editor as easy as possible. I think I do that by just being well-informed. I think it doesn’t hurt to walk in with all the tools and accoutrements you have to fight your fight. I watch everything and that’s exactly what I did for Blood Quantum. Not that I hadn’t seen every zombie thing that came along already, but I reiterated everything. There were some things that we did, I don’t know if you guys saw the film, but there was a movie called Irreversible. There was a scene in there where this dude gets his head caved in with a thing.

I edited a whole reel together of scenes like that from films that I had been watching to show the crew as inspiration. I put together a hit reel for my crew, along with I put a watch list together for crews that include stuff like that. So not only do I expect it out of myself, I expect it out of the people I work with too.

Erin Deck:

That’s cool. I love that idea that you immerse the whole crew in it, so that when they are shooting or when they’re doing something, they are also part of even just that energy that’s on set. Michele, what about you?

Michele Conroy:

I do the opposite. No, I won’t watch a horror film or a film that’s related to it, but if a director wants me to then I will. I will watch all the directors’ work just to see their style and their rhythm. Also, In the Tall Grass, Vincenzo, the hallucination sequence he wanted., He referenced an episode from the reboot of Twin Peaks. I watched that over and over to get the rhythm. I will reread the script over and over. As you know, it’s more about getting to know my dailies inside out.

Jeff Barnaby:

You work off the script while you’re working?

Michele Conroy:

Yeah.

Jeff Barnaby:

You do? That’s interesting because once we shoot, I never look at the script again, ever. I’ll never look at it again.

Michele Conroy:

But you’re the director too. I get it. No. And then as you know, with any filmmaking and any genres, the script is written three times, everyone knows that. Written when it’s directed, it’s a new story. And when it’s edited, when we cut it, it’s another story.

Yeah. No, I try and be true to the script, but it always changes by the time you’re three months into the cut, the story changes completely most of the time.

Erin Deck:

A lot of times, directors really want to see a cut that reflects the script so that they have a base to work off of. But Jeff, I totally get why you don’t need to because you’ve written it, you’ve shot it. It’s so in your head that you don’t need to see a script.

Jeff Barnaby:

It’s almost, you’re so familiar with it, that you resent it. Then you really want to like, “How can I change all of this stuff? How can I make this more interesting than what I had on a page, which is 30% there?” So it’s how do you extract what I started with versus what I have? When you talk about doing horror films, one of the things you’re leaving out is typically they’re pretty cheap. So you’re having to compensate by hiding stuff and you do that through edits, and you do that to a large extent, through post.

And for us, we really underestimated the amount of money we needed. We were a million dollars short and we were daily cutting stuff, huge plot points that were just getting tossed out the window. I don’t think a non-director editor could have done that because I was literally cutting stuff before I even made it to the editing suite. Trying to figure out in real time on set, how can I make up for what I just did to my script?

Erin Deck:

Right.

Jeff Barnaby:

So by the time we got to the end and there was so much of the script that wasn’t there, all the solutions became editorial and post solutions. That’s how some of the animation got in. There was things that we needed to do that couldn’t include going out and shooting more stuff, and making up for the stuff that we lost because of budget.

That’s where your job as an editor really, really starts to become integral and it’s not just I’m cutting the script together anymore. It’s likeI’m trying to unfuck all the things that they screwed up on set. I’m saying this as a director, that was my experience with dealing with the on set stuff.

Erin Deck:

Yeah. I totally get that. So Dev, before we go to your clip, I’m just going to ask do you watch anything? Do you immerse yourself before you begin a horror film? Did you watch all the Resident Evils before?

Dev Singh:

Yeah. Actually, I’d seen a couple and I even worked on one of them, but Resident Evil is different because it’s reinventing it. It was more about getting into its world. I watch the directors’ stuff just like Michele. Then I kinda just watch my own things. I think I read the script in the town for at least Resident Evil had this First Blood feel.

So I was like, “Oh, you know what? I’ll watch First Blood.” And so I’ll start to do things that are completely different than anyone in that same world expects. Hopefully, that gives it a little bit of a different flavor. That’s kinda where I go a little bit.

Jeff Barnaby:

Here’s a question for all of you as horror editors. Do you ever get tired of looking at that imagery over and over again?

Michele Conroy:

Always.

Jeff Barnaby:

Does it desensitize you? If you see a head getting cut off 50 times, does it matter anymore?

Dev Singh:

Yeah. The gore doesn’t get to me anymore.

Michele Conroy:

I laugh.

Erin Deck:

You watch it over and over again, and you start looking for the technical. You’re like, “Did that blade really slice through that bone perfectly? Oh, the blade kind of wobbled.” You don’t see it. I’m going to shift us into our clips section of this, and so we’re going to start the first clip of Dev’s.

 

[clip plays]

 

Erin Deck:

This film, it’s pure horror. Every moment is dark and creepy, and there’s so many really fun jump scares in this film. Especially at the beginning of that clip, you think she’s in a dream because she wakes up, and there’s a wolf and it barks, but she doesn’t react to it.

So you’re kinda all lulled into like, “Okay, we’re going into a dream sequence.” And then right away, there’s a jump scare. I noticed that throughout this film, there’s quite a few jump scares. Was it a lot to take on or just to keep these jump scares feeling fresh, because they do; they land really well. Or was every jump scare planned and executed right, so that it was an easier job for you?

Dev Singh:

No, this was a really hard job, actually. The first one, because the director, Pascal Laugier, who’s French new extremity OG guy. It’s the first person that I’ve ever worked with that has their history in front of them. So he did Martyrs, so everybody in this particular world knows Martyrs.

Jeff Barnaby:

Shit, man. This is exactly what I was going to say is this reminds me so much of Martyrs and I couldn’t figure out why. Now that you say that, wow. Okay.

Dev Singh:

Yeah. That was you’re going in and it was cool because when we interviewed, he had somehow seen Backcountry. He interviewed me in on Skype because he was already back in France, and he was like, “So do you want to do this movie?” I was like, “Okay, sounds good.” He goes, “We’ll put you up in Paris.” And I was like, “Okay, this sounds amazing. I’ll get to work with you.” And then I was like, “Yeah, I don’t know that I’m actually quite ready for this job.” I haven’t done anything this kinda extreme before. It’s a really dark story, but I was up for it.

I was supposed to show after six weeks the rough cut of the film. When I went in, I was like there’d been a previous editor on it that had done the assembly. I watched about 10 minutes of it and I was like, “I know this guy, he knows Martyrs’ feel and stuff, so it didn’t have that tone.” I didn’t want to color the approach that I was going to take because you can’t help yourself. I think I’m like everybody else, probably a little lazy, is that I’ll look at that and I’ll go, “You know what? That is actually pretty good. I’m going to take that and start from there.”

I asked him if I could start it all on my own. And so he said yeah, sure. I would watch the dailies then cut a scene. Then he had waited like a month before we’d even gotten into this, so he was really chomping at it. And to your point about earlier, like working the beginning, we had worked the beginning for six weeks. We only got to 24 minutes after six weeks. I thought I was going to get fired, for sure. I was like, “That was wonderful. I was in Paris for six weeks. I’m going home.” Then the producers came in and they were livid, right?

He was great because he just backed me up. We showed them the first 24 minutes and they went nuts. They were like, “Oh my God, this is terrifying.” Because we fine cut it. We spent six weeks fine cutting for the first 24 minutes, losing stuff, getting it together. And by then that’s kinda an opportunity you get to get into the person’s head space. Then I just watched the dailies for a couple of hours. He shot 40 days in one location too basically, so you can imagine the amount of footage that you have to go through to try and figure that stuff out.

I put the scene together in an hour and then spent six hours doing sound. He would look at it and go, “Hey, that looks pretty good. Let’s do sound.” So then I’d be like, “All right, here we go.” You’re reversing stuff, slowing it down. We would go find YouTube’s of, we create the voice for the character. Obviously, once the real sound guys get into it, it embarrasses all the work that you’ve done. But like Jeff was saying earlier in the show, you just end there.

Erin Deck:

But you have to do that work.

Dev Singh:

Absolutely and that’s how you get the scares. You start to build them. And then each of them, when you do a follow, how do you focus on a certain thing? This point is actually the climax of the second act. It’s actually a 14 minute scene and it really has that like a Martyrs’ feel to it.

It’s weird because I realized once I was watching it again that oh yeah, this is just this tiny little section of a massive thing that you’ve been building for 35 minutes.

Erin Deck:

It’s so true. Yeah. When I had watched the whole film, because we were talking about what scene, and we had talked about a few scenes, but I had watched the whole film. Then when this scene lands, it’s so effective. It’s so effective because it feels like the film just keeps doing this.

It’s interesting when you remove it from that trajectory that it still stands out amazingly, but the impact, it’s not lost but it does lessen a bit. When you watch it on its own, you’re like, “Oh, they don’t get it.” They don’t get how people who are just watching the scene on its own. They’re like, “No, no.” By this point, your mind is like, boom, because there’s also a twist.

Dev Singh:

Yeah. All the shots are echoes of shots that either come up or were before. As you’re building it, you’re like, “Oh yeah, I remember why we went there.” But at first, I would sometimes look and go, “Oh, why did we do that? Oh yeah, right.”

Erin Deck:

When I was watching that scene, I noticed that there’s a lot of angles and I’m like, “Wow, this looks like a lot of footage.” That made me laugh when you had earlier said that he had shot so much and even just this one location.

It looks like a lot of footage to put together and so I’m curious, was there a lot of creating it in the editing room? Did you just have a bucket of just footage to work from, or was it thought through by the director and the script?

Dev Singh:

Yeah, it’s thought through. He knows what he’s doing. He is talented at this world.

Erin Deck:

Yeah.

Dev Singh:

That was a real privilege to be in the hands of somebody. But that having been said, we created everything. It was just we cut out stuff, there was never a plan. There was never like, “Oh, this is how it’s got to be.” It was always looking at everything, trying and finding a new way of saying it. Trying to tweak characters and getting them to feel a particular way about each other and building all that stuff. And then it’s funny, how I approach it all, is just I approach it like drama. I don’t think of it in any other way than that. Then it’s the timing that’s horror. You just bend the content a bit.

Erin Deck:

Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, content. But that’s a really interesting approach. It is, it’s a nonstop film and it was really fun to watch. So our next clip that we’re going to watch is Jeff’s from Blood Quantum.

 

[clip plays]

Erin Deck:

Jeff, this film is so beautiful and it looks amazing, and there’s such a realistic feel to it. I loved it. The animation is such a wonderful addition to it. I’m curious, I love this style, so I have a couple questions about the animation.

First off, was the style always what you were going to do or did that just develop as you were in the editing room?

Also, I wanted more animation just because it was so good and it was so entertaining. I’m curious, was there a thought process on where to put the animation in the film, and did you remove some, did you add some? I guess let’s just talk about the animation, because it’s such a strong element as well of the film.

Jeff Barnaby:

The animation was always supposed to be there, but it was supposed to be specific to an embedded story within the overall arc of the film, where the old man tells a bedtime story to a young boy in the compound about how he gets his sword. It’s a flashback of him getting his sword, the samurai sword in World War II, because the film is set in the ’80s and he’s a World War II veteran. He’s been selling these antique swords as a way to make his grocery bill. So when we got the budget, saw that there’s no way you can afford the animation. It was, how are we still going to integrate it?

It became act bumpers and spatial placements that added to the scene. Or in this case, the old man, I didn’t want him to die at the end and the way we shot it, when I looked at the footage, it was like, “Well, it looks he’s dead.” So it was, we needed to figure out a way to both stay vague about the idea that whether or not he’s alive, while at the same time presenting it as if he survived. It was such an innocuous area to operate in, that it just made sense to do the animation. We’re working with Daniel Gies from ED Films and that guy’s a genius.

He’s one of these mad genius animators and we hit it off right away because when I walked into his office, it looked my office. He had his drawing pad there, he had his music stuff everywhere. It was like he was a multidisciplined artist, so we spent half the time talking about music. So that’s how that came about. I wanted to show that scene because, that scene on that particular day was a shit show. The whole thing was brutal. We were supposed to shoot on the dock, but it was too windy so that got tossed out.

That means every storyboard that we did, gone. Then the stunt that was supposed to happen up on top of that monolith, it was the same thing. It was like we can’t do it because it would just blow the stuntman off. And then it became a matter of a 10-year flood. You can’t really see it in the clip, but the whole area flooded. So that set that we were using, where the zombies were able to run up to the monolith, if you actually cut forward a little bit more, you’ll see that entire area is surrounded by water. 

So it was a matter of cutting around the snow that was there in the morning. It was a matter of cutting around the flood. It was a matter of cutting around the fact that the zombies we shot, we shot two days before. It was all this stuff that we had to cut around that wasn’t there prior, just a couple hours before, so that’s what that was.

Erin Deck:

You wouldn’t know, you wouldn’t know. It fits together so wonderfully. You did a great job.

Jeff Barnaby:

That’s it. That’s the magic of editing. That’s really only… So I was looking at it, I was having traumatic flashbacks, because I had the exact opposite of Dev in that we probably had about three shots to use, plus the B-roll. So we had three shots to cut with, plus the B-roll, to make that scene, and that was the entire film. I’ve been in the same position as Dev too, where I cut this 24-hour doc and they show up with 70 hours of footage. It was a 24-minute doc with 70 hours of footage, so I know what he feels like.

In a way, it’s worse, because when you have just a handful of shots, there’s only so many ways it can go together. When you have a ton of footage, the sky’s the limit. I think that’s what I was looking at there, was just trying to get all those shots to jive in a way that made something. It wasn’t easy. Plus the music, I did the music there too. It was like it’s a fun scene because it works. It works as an editor because you’re using everything. You’re using music, you’re using all the footage you can get your hands on.

And we really did, we used everything. When I was talking about it yesterday, or I forget when we were doing our pre-interview. When I talked about Michel, the DOP just randomly shooting shit on the shore. That’s exactly what I ended up using for that entire final scene. It was just like… you talk about it being a survival movie, it really was, in the sense that we barely survived it. We had to stop filming because we ran out of money. I had to cut the movie that we had, fly to Cannes, sell that, nd come back, reshoot that whole scene six months later, and recut it with the rest of the material that was already there, that we had shot the year before.

Erin Deck:

That’s crazy.

Jeff Barnaby:

It is crazy. They don’t really tell you that as an editor, but when you are director-editor, there’s nobody there with any kind of common sense to speak any, you know, “Maybe there’s an easier way to do this!” 

Erin Deck:

It was interesting because a lot what you said, was a lot of my thought process about it because being the writer-director-editor, you take on a lot on your own and you don’t have that. A lot of times the editor, director, are such great sounding boards off of each other. It’s like, “How can we make this work and how does that…?”

And you’re not in it alone, but you kind of were. And so it’s really interesting to see how you developed that over, now I know, over a span of time because it looks really great. Also, I was really happy that you didn’t kill the grandpa, because when I saw the zombies going on him, I was like, “No.” I was like, “I accept it because it’s a horror movie,” but I was sad. I was sad.

Jeff Barnaby:

You have to be there for the sequel.

Erin Deck:

Amazing. Can you just tell me about how you did the transitions from live action to the animation? Because they’re pretty seamless in the film. And was that again, while you were shooting, was that thought out, so that once you got into the editing room, you knew that they could just fit together, or was it something that developed in the editing room? You’re like, “Okay, this is where I want the animation to start.”

Jeff Barnaby:

It’s such a long, really…that alone could be two hours of just talking. Because really what I’m doing in the space of being an indigenous filmmaker in a predominantly non-native space, is I’m trying to figure out via vis-a-vis being an editor-director, what the indigenous narrative looks like on screen.

Erin Deck:

Yeah.

Jeff Barnaby:

A lot of what I’m doing is trying to figure out how I can shoot transitions to help me integrate either stories from the past, or animation, or anything else. Because if you’ve seen my prior films, this isn’t the first time I’ve integrated animation. And we did it there, we did it, we drew it right into the book. I shot the book. We used that as a transition. The same thing with the opening of Blood Quantum, we shot the ground, knowing that I was going to have that pregnancy was all going to just dissolve from animation to real time.

So really, it’s overwhelming sometimes being an editor-director, but I can count at least 10 times where I’ve been on set where I’ve pre-cut a movie in my brain. One of the famous scenes from Rhymes was another issue of we didn’t have enough money, and I wanted to do a “Let’s introduce everybody in the party” like Goodfellas. Let’s do that and we’ll have an introduction. We couldn’t do that because we didn’t have the money. It’s like we fucking literally don’t even have enough lights to light that, so figure it out.

I’m sitting there, it’s like, “Well, how do we do this?” So what I did was I told the DOP, and we did it in probably two seconds. I said, “Let’s hook up the mask to the camera and let’s take two shots. Let’s get everybody coming towards the camera, talk to Devery’s character sitting at the desk.” And when you’re looking at it, DOP is like, “What the fuck are we doing? We’re just panning, this makes no sense.” But when I got to the edit, I took both versions of the shot, I combined them. It made it look like the mask didn’t move, while everybody else came flooding towards the camera.

I figured that out six to seven, eight months before we actually sat it down and cut it. So it was like things like that really help. Then for that particular scene, it was they were supposed to come out with a bunch of survivors. We had them there, but it was like we ran out of time, we can’t shoot it. So we again had to figure out how to shoot all that stuff. We lost our deck, we lost our survivors. It was like we were making it up as we go along. And I was cutting it as I went along, knowing I needed this, I needed that. We can cover it with a lot of handheld integrating shots.

Erin Deck:

It is amazing.

Jeff Barnaby:

It’s a handbook on how to be a director, writer, composer with no money. That’s was that was.

Erin Deck:

It’s a beautiful film. I really love it. I’m going to now jump onto Michele’s. We’re going to do a clip from Mama.

 

[clip plays]

Erin Deck:

The first time I watched it, you know as editors and filmmakers, you watch a film and you’re like, “Oh, I want to cut there,” or “Oh, they did that.” I didn’t do that with this film. The editing was so seamless and the tension just stays at such a level. It’s a wonderfully put together, cut film. I was just like, it was really good. Michele, you did such a beautiful job on it.

I was curious, it’s funny in that, I’ve seen Mama a couple times. But when I got the clip, and we were talking about it and I watched the clip, my headphones were dying on me so I watched it without sound.

The pacing, it’s so strong that I was like, “It works, the scene without even dialogue, sound effects music.” It works so well because the cuts are just right at the right spot. I’m curious, because I know that you enjoy working with sound effects and music. I was Michele’s assistant editor for three years so I know her work process. And I also know that you really enjoy playing some things really quiet. When it came to this scene, did you first start it off very quiet, or was music and sound effects a part of the scene right from the beginning?

Michele Conroy:

It’s funny that you mention that. Actually, watching this clip after all these years not watching, seeing the film, I felt we shouldn’t have had music at the end. I felt it should have been dry, just with sound design. That’s what I tend to do too. Even the project I’m working on now, I put in too much music, wall-to-wall music.

And when you strip it down because there’s a lot of sound design. You have creaks, you have the light bulbs flashing. It’s just even the atmos, and the kids playing. I think that would’ve been much stronger without music.

Erin Deck:

Yeah.

Michele Conroy:

I use this clip because there’s another scene where Jessica, walking down the hallway, she hears something. So this was cut differently. When I assembled the cut, I realized they were almost identical scenes, the way they were cut. So this one, I couldn’t cut to her walking down the hallway, but I just thought we’d stay on her back and follow with her. And also, because I overcut the scene and then as the process goes, I pull more and more shots out. When we go around the horn, when the kids are looking at the closet when she’s about to open the door, I overcut that sequence, that bit.

So when I watched it I thought, “What if we just stay on Jessica down to the door and then back up to her?” Because people are probably expecting me to cut to her, the kids again, expecting that cut and it’s when not to cut. To me, that’s what’s difficult, because especially if you’ve seen these scenes over and over, you just want to cut, and cut, and cut, and take the air out. That’s just why I selected this clip because nothing really happens. It’s just what is about to happen, we’re not sure. And you do see mom in the closet after in another scene.

Yeah, but actually it’s the sound design, which I thought was as in any horror film, it’s really it’s half of the film. Yeah. I don’t think we should have music at the end watching it. I just think we should’ve stripped it.

Erin Deck:

Isn’t it interesting when you watch something, when you’re so far removed from it, how you’re just like, “Oh, that could have been better.” But I think that’s so great also, just as editors, you’re constantly evolving and learning. And so I know that with Vincenzo Natali, he loves to do storyboards, and he’s very strong at storyboards.

I know that for Splice, every scene was storyboarded out. I’m curious, do you actually enjoy that? Do you enjoy that a director comes so prepared with storyboards, especially into the editing room? And like, “Okay, I have to follow the storyboards.” Or is it irksome being like, “Let me just feel the footage with the storyboards?”

Michele Conroy:

It depends on the director. Some directors have storyboards and you’re like, “No. No, we can’t cut it this way.” Vincenzo, he has a vision. He knows his script. I trust his storyboards because they do cut together. Even Andy with Mama, he’s an artist just like Vincenzo. Vincenzo was a storyboard artist before he started directing. They have a good vision. They come well-prepared.

I have other directors that’ll have storyboards, and they don’t shoot the storyboards, which is fine for me. I think with an action sequence though, you do need it storyboarded. And you cut according to the storyboard and then it changes, it evolves once you’re in the edit suite, and you string it together, and you’re sitting with the director. But Vincenzo though, his storyboards we do go by it a lot. Yeah, we follow his storyboards. That’s the rule.

Erin Deck:

They could be artwork. He did storyboards for In the Tall Grass also, I assume, right?

Michele Conroy:

Yeah. He had very detailed. But the first opening In the Tall Grass, we changed completely because it just took too long for them to get into the grass. We lost this whole brother and sister argument that just went on and on. We just like, “Get them into the grass right away.”

Erin Deck:

That’s amazing. You wouldn’t know with that movie that you guys cut anything out, because In the Tall Grass, the brother-sister relationship, it’s there. I like that you guys did get them into the grass sooner, but it’s so funny. That’s the joy of editing is when there’s all of this footage or scenes that you remove, then you just have to make it seamless.

Michele Conroy:

Well, as you were saying, the opening of a film. It was like, “This can’t be the opening of our film. It’s just not strong enough.” It’s happening on the film I’m working on now. You got to work it, as Dev said. I’m working on this opening scene. I’ve spent so many hours on it, and it’s only two minutes long.

Erin Deck:

Right.

Michele Conroy:

I hope it stays.

Jeff Barnaby:

There’s six scenes in a movie that you work on the whole time.

Michele Conroy:

And you know I’m going to be working on this scene until the very end, until the day before lock.

Erin Deck:

Yeah. And then sometimes like you said, when you’re removed from it and then you watch it back, you’re just like, “Oh, I could’ve done that just a wee bit better.” When I watch the opening of Rabid, I’m just like, “Oh, I wish I would’ve cut it just slightly different.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s fine.”

Jeff Barnaby:

Well, you never really finish anything as an artist. You just put it down.

Erin Deck:

No, it’s so true.

Dev Singh:

That’s right, that’s right.

Erin Deck:

I can’t think of something that I’ve cut that I’ve watched later and went, “Yeah, that’s solid.”

Jeff Barnaby:

I’ve had scenes like that in my movies, but not a whole movie. No.

Erin Deck:

Yeah.

Michele Conroy:

I usually can’t watch my stuff. I can’t watch it again.

Dev Singh:

No, me neither.

 

Erin Deck:

Oh really?

Michele Conroy:

Yeah. I cringe.

Erin Deck:

Yeah. You know what? I think about it and that’s true. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen any of my films after the fact, which is so interesting.

We’re starting to wrap up I see, but I’m curious, do you love cutting horror? Is it what you would prefer to cut, and direct and write for Jeff? So Dev, do you love cutting horror? Is it your main thing?

Dev Singh:

I mean I love editing, so it doesn’t really matter what it is. But, the great thing about horror is, particularly kinda given this time, it’s one of the last bastions of real cinema, so you get really great shots.

Jeff Barnaby:

Amen.

Dev Singh:

And images that you can really play with. Sometimes when you’re in a drama or something you’re like, “Oh yeah, I get this.”

 

Jeff Barnaby:

Two people talking!

 

Dev Singh:

But in horror, you’re like we get it, totally. And it’s like, this is cinema you know? And that feels great to cut. That’s why I like genre so much. Genre is just a blast to edit.

Erin Deck:

I completely agree. I love it. Jeff, you agree, I assume?

Jeff Barnaby:

As an indigenous storyteller, it’s a space that it seems to be we relate to the most, so that’s why I gravitate towards it, because I can integrate my stories in there in a way that codifies them for a non-native audience.

Erin Deck:

Yeah. Michele, what about you?

Michele Conroy:

I love cutting horror. I do. I do, especially ghost stories and thrillers. Really, it is magical in the edit suite when you can cut it. There’s so many ways to cut it.

Dev Singh:

There’s so many sub-genres in horror, too. There’s just, as you were saying, like ghost stories. And as Jeff is saying, there’s so many variations that you start to play in and mix together when you’re cutting them. It’s so much fun.

 

Jeff Barnaby:

It’s the bastion of the existential crisis that we’re going on to right now. There’s no better genre besides science fiction and horror to articulate the insubstantial-ness of the things we fear right now. Horror and what else?

Erin Deck:

No, you’re absolutely, you’re absolutely. And on that note, that is all we have. Honestly, I have 10 more questions that I had for everyone that I wanted to ask, but we’re at the end. That was super awesome. 

Thank you to Dev, Michele and Jeff for joining us. Thank you EditCon for having us. And honestly, if you guys ever want to do this again, we could just Zoom and talk horror, any Sunday morning. All right. Thank you, everyone.

Michele Conroy:

Thank you.

Erin Deck:

Have a great Sunday, everyone.

Jeff Barnaby:

Thanks. Thanks for having us.

Erin Deck:

Bye.

Michele Conroy:

Thanks. Bye.

Dev Singh:

Bye.

Sarah Taylor:

Thanks so much for listening today, and a special thanks goes out to Jane MacRae and Alison Dowler. This episode was edited by Alex Schead and Karen Alec. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Virtual music created by Chad Blain and Soundstripe. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao.

The CCE has been supporting Indspire – an organization that provides funding and scholarships

to Indigenous post secondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at

cceditors.ca or you can donate directly at indspire.ca. The CCE is taking steps to build a more

equitable ecosystem within our industry and we encourage our members to participate in any

way they can.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and tell your friends

to tune in. ‘Til next time I’m your host Sarah Taylor.

The CCE is a non-profit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture

editing. If you wish to become a CCE member please visit our website www.cceditors.ca. Join

our great community of Canadian editors for more related info.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Podcasts

What do you want to hear on The Editors Cut?

Please send along any topics you would like us to cover or editors you would love to hear from:

Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Alison Dowler

Chen Sing Yap

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Edited by

Alex Schead

Karin Elyakim

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Original Music by

Chad Blain

Soundstripe

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 062: EditCon 2021: In Conversation with Jinmo Yang, ACE

The Editors Cut - Episode 062 - In Conversation with Jinmo Yang, ACE

Episode 062 - EditCon 2021: In Conversation with Jinmo Yang, ACE

This episode is part four of a six part series covering EditCon 2021.

Action, comedy, drama, romance, horror and thriller – Jinmo Yang’s outstanding body of work covers almost every genre in filmmaking. His mastery of pacing and tone is often on display as he rides the line between genres, from the action/comedy of LUCK-KEY to the thriller/comedy PARASITE. Whether working on or off set Mr. Yang is truly a master of his artform. Multitalented moderator Sook-Yin Lee sits with Oscar-nominated editor Jinmo Yang for an in-depth conversation about the craft of Picture Editing.

Jinmo Yang, ACE
Photo by Irina Logras.

Jinmo Yang, ACE

Jinmo Yang is an award-winning South Korean film editor who has edited over a dozen feature films, including the international hits PARASITE, OKJA, and TRAIN TO BUSAN. 

With PARASITE, directed by Bong Joonho, Mr. Yang gained international acclaim and recognition including an Academy Award nomination for Best Editing, and an American Cinema Editors Award for Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic), the first non-English-language film to win this top prize.

Sook-Yin Lee
Photo by Yuula Benivolski

Sook-Yin Lee

Sook-Yin Lee is a Canadian filmmaker, musician, actor, and multimedia artist. The award-winning radio and TV broadcaster starred in John Cameron Mitchell’s groundbreaking LGBTQ movie, SHORTBUS, which premiered at Cannes. Year of the Carnivore, Lee’s feature film debut as writer-director, premiered at TIFF. Sook-Yin won the 2014 Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by a Lead Dramatic Actress for her role as “Olivia Chow” in JACK. Her movie, OCTAVIO IS DEAD! won Best Director and Best Picture awards at the Downtown LA Film Festival 2018. Her feature movie DEATH AND SICKNESSDeath streams on CBC Gem in Canada.

This episode was generously sponsored Boris FX

Jinmo Yang’s short film BANG.

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 062 – EditCon 2021: In Conversation with Jinmo Yang, ACE

Sarah Taylor:

This episode was generously sponsored by Boris FX.

Jinmo Yang:

[foreign language 00:00:10].

Jason Yu (Translator):

His style is having no style. He believes that editors having a signature editing style is not good for the movie itself. So he adapts his style to each film and the director’s intention for each film. So he naturally melts himself into what the film requires of him.

Sarah Taylor:

Hello and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast and that many of you may be listening to us from are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral territory that has long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived, met and interacted. We honor, respect and recognize these nations that have never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand today. We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many contributions and the concerns that impact indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action.

Today’s episode is part four of a six part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place virtually in February 2021 in conversation with Jinmo Yang, ACE. Action, comedy, drama, romance, horror and thriller. Jinmo Yang’s outstanding body of work covers almost every genre in filmmaking. His mastery of pacing and tone is often on display as he rides the line between genres. From the action-comedy of Luck Key to the thriller-comedy Parasite, whether working on or offset. Mr. Yang is truly a master of his art form. Multi-talented moderator Sook-Yin Lee sits with Oscar nominated Editor, Jinmo Yang, ACE for an in-depth conversation about the craft of picture editing. Enjoy.

Speaker 4:

And action.

Speaker 5:

This is The Editor’s Cut.

Speaker 6:

A CCE podcast.

Speaker 7:

Exploring, exploring, exploring the art.

Speaker 8:

Of picture editing.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Welcome to EditCon 2021. I’m Sook-Yin Lee here to interview and speak with Jinmo Yang, editor extraordinaire of Parasite, the Academy award-winning movie that took home a truckload of awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best International Film. Jinmo has edited Director Bong Joon-ho’s last three pictures, Snowpiercer, Okja and Parasite. He began as an onset editor, assembling footage from video feed and providing VFX. Now he is the head editor who works in the studio with Director Bong. And together they weave a seamless, captivating and punchy style that is also very spare. His movies lean toward genre filmmaking, they’re action-thrillers with zombies and giant genetically modified pigs and speeding trains with a very unpredictable and artful twist. I could choose to play clips from any of Jinmo’s 21 movies but today I’m going to be focusing mostly on Parasite, a movie that sees Jinmo’s editing powers come together in an incredible sort of, I guess it’s like editing awesomeness, absolute editing awesomeness. Jinmo Yang and his translator Jason Yu join me now from Seoul, Korea. Hello fellas.

Jinmo Yang:

Hi. My name is Jinmo Yang, editor of Parasite. And this is Jason Yu, my translator.

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes, thank you for having us today.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Great to see you. You are 15 hours ahead of me. I understand it’s midnight tomorrow where you are. How are things in Seoul,Korea?

Jason Yu (Translator):

It’s late into the night in Korea and regarding the pandemic, things have gotten a little bit worse than our previous situation.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Is that what’s on your mind mostly, the pandemic?

Jason Yu (Translator):

In the back of his mind, the pandemic is always very concerning but his first concern, his major, his core concern is the Netflix miniseries he is currently editing.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Yes, I imagine so. Okay, so where you are right now, are you in the studio, your studio where you’re editing for the Netflix series?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes, he is currently in his edit suite. In Korea, it’s usually the norm that each editor owns their own edit suite and this is where he does most of his editing work.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wow, that’s the brain central. So Jinmo, of all the things you could have done in your life, you chose filmmaking. Why?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Oh, to be completely honest my first dream was to draw and I also had a lot of other dreams, none filmmaking related. But throughout my life, I always had a love for films.

Sook-Yin Lee:

You began as a visual artist.

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes, that’s correct. Whether that be drawing or animation, he was always interested in visual media. And out of all visual media, he was always more interested and had more fun with filmmaking, with films.

Sook-Yin Lee:

How did you end up in the editing arena?

Jason Yu (Translator):

To be completely honest, as an undergrad I decided to become a filmmaker as an undergrad. So I majored in filmmaking. And at that time, my main aspiration, my main goal was to become a director. Never in my life have I ever aspired to be a famous editor but my goal shifted to becoming a famous editor in order to become a director of my own film. And of course, that film I would edit and then life happened and this is where he’s at now.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Yeah, you really excelled at the editing. So how would you describe your editing style?

Jason Yu (Translator):

His style is having no style. He believes that editors having a signature editing style is not always good for the movie itself. So that’s his style to each film and the director’s intention for each film. So he naturally melts himself into what the film requires of him.

Sook-Yin Lee:

That’s so nice. We’re going to take a look at a clip from Parasite. Now Parasite is a movie about the impoverished Kim family who infiltrate the home of the wealthy Park family, who unwittingly hire the entire Kim family to work for them. So it’s kind of like postmodern Goldilocks and the three bears with greed and class struggle. When another family hiding in the basement enter the picture, things really go off the rails. We’re going to look at a bit of the opening where a young man, Ki-woo gets his sister to forge a fake college diploma so that he can land an interview to tutor the wealthy Park family’s daughter. Let’s take a look.

[clip plays]

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wow, so the scene is set from one world to another. I love what you were talking about, Jinmo, in terms of your having no style, that you adapt every movie looking at the intention of the director. Here, we just saw a sequence of images, a very graceful entrance from his world, the cramped underground world of his family to the spacious luxury world of the Park family. Wondering when you were speaking with Director Bong about his intention, what was the intention that helped to guide this editing style of Parasite?

Jason Yu (Translator):

As you know, Parasite mixes a lot of genres. So one of the main goals was to make the transition of each genre seamless and not to be jarring. So that was one of the main goals. Another one is, towards the climax of Parasite it’s very turbulent, it’s very dynamic. And what he wanted to do was to exemplify this feeling of turbulence.

Sook-Yin Lee:

I understand that the movie was based upon, inspired by an event in Director Bong’s life. Is that true?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes, that is correct. Some of the screenplay, the stories of Parasite is based on Director Bong’s experience as a private tutor for rich pupils during his undergraduate years.

Sook-Yin Lee:

What’s your relationship like with Director Bong?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Director Bong to him is a coworker, a collaborator. And he feels Director Bong is his friendly older brother in some sense. And yes, Director Bong is incredibly rich but he never really shows it. He is never really extravagant in any sense and he just feels like a friendly older brother.

Sook-Yin Lee:

I saw a photograph of you winning an award for editing and there was Director Bong with his arm around you looking so happy. Do you guys hang out outside of work as well? Are you friends?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Director Bong is a person you cannot really meet frequently but when they are in collaboration together, for example when it’s editing season of a certain project, they also have a drink or two outside of editing as well. And Director Bong is also very famous for caring for the people around him.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Director Bong is known for meticulously tight storyboards that he maps out ahead of the movie production. He is able to see the movie from beginning to end, from shot to shot. And then by the time the two of you are working in the studio together, what is it that you focus on?

Jason Yu (Translator):

So during production, Director Bong relies and focuses on the storyboards. But during editing and inside the editing booth, everything is new. The goal is to perfect each scene and by perfecting each scene, what they focus on mainly is capturing the perfect rhythm of each scene.

Sook-Yin Lee:

What determines that rhythm?

Jason Yu (Translator):

So what we usually do is we have a rough assembly of the film, the whole film and we watch it and re-watch it constantly. And as we do this, there’s always this visceral, intuitive timing that we feel. And what we do is, we omit certain scenes or tweak certain scenes to discover new rhythms and perfect it each time we do this process. But, there is no set answer. There is no rule set that they adhere to, it’s very intuitive and visceral.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Very interesting. So it’s almost like the two of you have a mind-meld in the studio where you’re almost feeling like an internal musicality tied to the visuals that you’re sort of dramatizing through the edit and the sequence of images. You refer to dropping things, getting rid of things in order to serve that inner sense of rhythm. The remarkable thing about your work with Director Bong is how incredibly minimal it is. I mean, I was astounded to find out there are only 960 shots in total in this whole movie, which is incredible, because it doesn’t look minimal. It feels like I’m just going, you’re taking me, like expert filmmakers, you have me in the palm of your hand and you’re taking me on a roller coaster ride. And it’s almost as if it just sort of unfolds in this seamless and beautiful way. And I cannot believe that it’s done with so few shots. I understand that Director Bong does not include any coverage, he never includes a master. No master, no coverage. Why not?

Jason Yu (Translator):

He doesn’t rely on that traditional method of getting coverage, getting masters and whatnot because before production he always has a detailed plan of the camera work, which is tailoralized, which manifests in the storyboard. And also an important reason why he doesn’t need coverage per se is because there’s an onset editor on board who determines whether shot is enough or whether he needs more coverage, et cetera.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Yeah. So there’s key decisions being made on set. Is he just kind of like throwing away that master shot because it’s kind of old fashioned to actually have a shot of like a exterior space? Is he just more interested in getting into the action?

Jason Yu (Translator):

So that’s not really the case. In Korea and especially for Director Bong, it’s all about efficiency. So when shooting a certain scene, he believes that there’s no need to shoot the scene over and over again with different setups. There’s only one sort of setup that he needs for each part of the scene. For example, for this moment we need a close up and for this moment we need some other setup and that way he doesn’t need to be inefficient and have excess coverage. Nevertheless, there are overlapping shots. For example, when he does shoot a wide shot, he does make it a bit more lengthy compared to other shots and whatnot.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Okay. So efficiency effectiveness is very key to this process. We’re going to take a look at a key montage in the movie. It covers a lot of ground in very few shots. This segment in which the Kim family is plotting to overthrow the Parks’ longtime housemaid so that Mrs. Kim can take her place. Jinmo, what were some of the challenges of this montage, this sequence for you?

Jason Yu (Translator):

This sequence was one of the most important sequences within the film. Director Bong stressed multiple times that it was one of the most important sequences. But nevertheless, it wasn’t necessarily challenging in the sense that it was difficult, but it was still a challenge in itself. And he’s very thankful for this sequence for having to have the opportunity to edit this sequence. And he’s very proud of it, of the finished product. For an editor, the hardest things to edit are not necessarily the most extravagant montage sequences, but rather the mundane eating by the dining table sort of scenes that are the hardest.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Why is that?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Because those sort of scenes are incredibly familiar, you’ve seen them a million times. So the goal is to express them in an interesting and a fresh way.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Let’s take a look first here it is.

[clip plays]

Sook-Yin Lee:

You were saying that’s the big showy montage. One of the key things that really impresses viewers, editors when they see the movie. And yet you’re saying it’s a small little minutia of like eating that are challenging to make interesting. But particularly with that montage, how is that different from what we just saw than what was originally planned?

Jason Yu (Translator):

So it’s pretty similar to what was initially planned but a lot of the details were tweaked. One of the main goals while editing this sequence was to only leave the essence of the sequence. So in order to achieve this, we have to perform a lot of tricks. For example, combine two takes of the same shot and make it look like one single shot. For example, if you see the father talking to the lady while traveling down the escalator, the background of that shot is a different take completely but we had to combine it to make it look… I’m sorry, let me correct what I said. So during the acting sequence, when the son teaches the father how to act. When we pan, that’s actually two shots sticked together to make it look like one single shot. And examples like this show that what we wanted to do was capture the essence of each shot. So editorially we tweak each frames, we combine shots like this, to capture the essence, to keep it as short as possible, but essential.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wow, okay. So efficiency and essence and rhythm, these are all qualities of your editing. Essence, what is essence? Is that as a kind of internal or intuitive as rhythm?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes, that’s absolutely correct. And to him the essence of each shot is, the correct timing of each shot and each scene. And when we connect these shots and scenes together, you get the rhythm that he strives towards, the perfect rhythm. So for example, in the montage just saw, we can see a shot where the son is shedding peach fuzz, collecting the peach fuzz to later use on the housekeeper. And when he sifted through all the takes, the timing of shedding the peach fuzz was off ever so slightly for every shot. So his job was to find the appropriate shot with the best timing that had the shedding of the peach fuzz. And that was one of the examples of capturing the essence of a shot.

And another example would be when the daughter fiddles with the peach, holding it up in the sky. His job was to figure out which of the shots had the best angle of the peach and so on. Those kind of minute details were him trying to find the essence of the shot. So those little details accumulate and in his opinion, it’s those details that make it more perfect.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wow. It sounds like a magnifying lens. You have a magnifying lens in your head when you’re watching all of these moments. It seems to me, hearing about your process, that there is a kind of relationship between control and chaos. On the one hand, your work with Director Bong, the camera, and the editing are a very tightly controlled dance. And yet when it comes to acting, I understand that Director Bong does not rehearse with the actors. Why is that? Why does he not rehearse with the actors?

Jason Yu (Translator):

That’s Director Bong’s MO and he is not really an authority as to say why he does that. But he overheard that doing so captures the freshness of the acting, he believes that constant rehearsals and practice of acting kind of fade away this freshness, the rawness of the performance. And that’s why for the first assembly what we usually do is, we assemble the first assembly using the cut, the takes that Director Bong okays, so the good takes. But when we sift through them later on, shot by shot, we realize the first couple of takes, although maybe technically faulty regarding camera moves and whatnot, but the performances, the best performances are usually in those first couple of takes. Oftentimes we switch the takes with the first couple of the takes where the performances were better.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wow. So when you’re watching all of the takes in the editing studio, the best takes have… What are the qualities of those first few takes that are much better than the later ones?

Jason Yu (Translator):

It’s usually as I mentioned before, the freshness in the performance, the rawness of the performance, that’s what makes it the best take. Adding to that, later on as the takes progress and the takes pile up, the rawness, the freshness of the performance fades.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Do you ever encounter surprises where an actor bumps into something accidentally or something’s thrown into a shot that gives it energy?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes. And surprisingly, there’s a lot of that in Director Bong’s films, maybe because he casts the actor Song Kang-ho who plays the father. For example, an example he can think of right now is during the rain, when the whole family is traveling down to their own neighborhood, Song Kang-ho twists his ankle unintentionally and that kind of gave the shot a more pitiful and a more appropriate feel than what was intended because twisting and spraining his ankle was never intended in the script. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wow, and thankfully it was captured. Well done. Your forte is VFX work. You discovered that when you were studying at Bard College, art college in New York State as a young person. And that is really one of your strengths, much of what you’re talking about in terms of marrying different takes together is based upon your VFX abilities. I’m going to be talking further about your VFX work, but we’re first of all going to take a look at a scene in which the tensions are mounting with the discovery that the former housekeeper’s husband has been hiding in the Parks’ basement for four years, 3 months and 17 days. There is a struggle for power when suddenly the Park, the wealthy family returns home early from camping and the Kims have to shove the housekeeper and her husband into the basement. Let’s take a look at that. Viewers, please keep an eye in this scene, looking for potential areas where VFX is being done.

 

[clip plays]

 

Sook-Yin Lee:

So where was VFX there?

Jason Yu (Translator):

So there are a lot of VFX stitching work done in this sequence. For example, the overhead shot of the stove top, you see the hands entering the frame and whatnot, doing certain tasks. And these are all different movements from different takes that were stitched into one shot, because to perfect the timing. And another shot was, you see in the background the blurry figure of the father dragging the husband while the son is dragging the housekeeper, they’re following suit. These two figures are also two very different shots from two different takes which were combined into one to perfect the timing.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wow. So do your VFX work involve a lot of little digital tweaking or? Could you explain what that is? What is that VFX?

Jason Yu (Translator):

During editing Parasite, he used Final Cut Pro. And what he usually did, for example, for the overhead stove top shot, he just comped, used comp and comped two shots together. And sometimes for more intricate scenes or intricate shots, he would resort to After Effects and use pre-comp and then do the stitching there.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wow. We have an audience question from an editor. His name is Craig and he asks, and I’m going to just read what he said. “As an editor with a VFX background, I have a huge interest in your career and how you have used VFX as a tool in the edit room. In Canada at least I have observed a lot of pushback from VFX supervisors when high quality temp is created by editorial whereas the sound department really appreciates receiving a lush temp soundtrack to work from. This seems to be new territory here for VFX. I often receive requests from VFX supervisors to be in the edit room while they are creating our temps which is tricky to navigate when the director hasn’t had a chance to give feedback. Have you encountered this in South Korea? What advice might you have for navigating the collaboration between the editorial and the VFX supervisors.”

Jason Yu (Translator):

So this is really a case by case thing. Some, like he mentioned, some VFX supervisors don’t quite like it when editors use their own VFX work, but some do. But what’s important is, what is the best for the film and what’s best for the director, that’s what everybody should consider. Because directors in the editing booth prefer to see what it would look, the final product of the shot instead of green screens and blue screens and whatnot. So although the VFX supervisor and the VFX vendors perfect the CG, he thinks it’s good to have what it might look like, to have a general idea of what it would look like before it moves on to the vendors, the VFX vendors.

Sook-Yin Lee:

It’s interesting because you cover both avenues. You have abilities within both domains so you’re able to bridge those together. But what I really appreciate in what you’re saying is take a cue from the director, keep the director’s intention and priorities at the fore. So the idea of doing something without the editor or without the director knowing is not really that cool, you always sort of are guided by what the director wants, which is a good rule of thumb. Parasite is a movie that, as you were saying, part of your job, part of the intention was to seamlessly bring together many different kind of moods. There are many moods in this movie, very many tonal shifts. It goes from scary and funny and sad, dramatic. It’s very much a hybrid movie with very big unpredictable tonal shifts.

I’m wondering what is about the Korean outlook that is open to this kind of hybrid storytelling because in America there tends to be much more of a focus on single genre, kind of one kind of feeling, one mood. If suddenly you’re moving from funny to sad in a heartbeat, they’re like, ”What? I don’t get it.” But what is it about the Korean mindset? And I’ve noticed that the same similar quality in other pictures as well, that allows for this kind of mercurial shift of emotions.

Jason Yu (Translator):

It is a characteristic of Korean films that certain directors who are able to express their own individual colors more expressfully, for example, Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook. It’s a trait that they have mixing certain tones, mixing certain moods. But overall he does find it’s more prevalent in Korean films for some reason.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Yeah, it’s really great. It’s really, really great. And what I love about it is that your movies are such huge, big blockbusters. I mean, it’s not just Korean audiences but internationally. Parasite alone has made 246 million dollars at the box office worldwide. So even though it’s a very specifically kind of Korean aesthetic, I love that you’ve been able to demonstrate that you can have this hybrid movie and still have people resonate and love it. Why do you think audiences around the world are so endeared to this movie? They love this movie so much?

Jason Yu (Translator):

He believes that the audience worldwide are now getting a bit too familiar with the formulaic Hollywood films that are prevalent today. And they are more, relatively more open to watching new films, whether they’re mixed genres or not, and new experiences. And he believes that Parasite was one of those films that fit the bill.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Very good. I’m going to fast forward to talking about tech. What is interesting is that you use the Final Cut Pro 7, which is a very, very old editing software. Why is it that you… Why do you love Final Cut Pro 7?

Jason Yu (Translator):

There isn’t a deep answer to this, a reason to this. It is just that he used Final Cut Pro 7 since college and he says it’s the most familiar software for him. Ever since he was young and he believes that Final Cut Pro 7 has the least errors and it’s just the most familiar software for him. FYI he changed, he switched over to Avid now.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Oh, good, good. Because I was thinking that’s Yosemite operating system, that might become obsolete. So you have to figure out a new system. So do you like the Avid now?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes, he’s very happy with it. He met a couple of Avid’s department people while he was in the States and they asked whether he would like to make a switch and he was very happy to do it. Avid supported him a great deal in making the switch. And he’s very happy for the upgrade.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Excellent, you’re now in the future. How much does temp music influence the rhythm and pace of your edit?

Jason Yu (Translator):

So he believes that temp music for editing is incredibly important, especially for rhythm sensitive scenes such as the montages that you saw. Although he’s aware that the temp music is not the final score or the final music, but it does give him a guideline as to fathom the length of each shot. And this is an FYI to the editors who are listening to this talk, like the VFX supervisor previously, some composers hate the assembly having temp music in it. This is also a very case by case thing so VOA.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Yes. I understand that with Director Bong’s movies, you use the score from his previous movie as temp tracks when you’re editing. But then when you remove the temp tracks, does the new composer for the film have to write music to the same time signature and mood that you’ve been cutting to? And how much of communication do you have with the composer?

Jason Yu (Translator):

So Director Bong usually communicates with the composer, he doesn’t communicate with the composer directly himself. And the composer while composing the music, tries to fit the rhythm of the score to the rhythm of the edit. And there are times of course where the new score has certain rhythms that are not in sync with the initial rhythm of the edit. And those parts of the shots are always tweaked to better service to score.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Very good tip as well because I know sometimes editors talking to composers, there can be a clash. But with you, you just get Director Bong to talk to them.

Jason Yu (Translator):

This is just a small tip as an editor, always keep in mind that a film is a collaboration with various different professionals from the various different fields. So always, he feels that it’s important to be always respectful of other professionals’ fields and try to be a collaborator instead of being too precious about your own field.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Yes. So not only are you committed to making good work, but you’re committed to having a good process and good teamwork. I want to play our final clip, but it’s not from Parasite. We’re going to go back to the beginning, to your very first film credit on IMDb. It’s from 2010. You edited a short film that was part of an iPhone 4 film festival. It was called Bang directed by Kyung-pyo Hong. Here’s a clip of that very, very early editing job.

 

[clip plays]

Sook-Yin Lee:

Oh yeah. Yeah, rock on. Guns, babes and architecture. Jinmo, how much of you is that same editor as you were, so many years ago?

Jason Yu (Translator):

That was more of a student project than a legitimate editing project. And so what you can get out of this project is not really an editing parable but more about, you never know what you’d become, what you’d become in life. So that’s probably the message of that embarrassing film. An interesting trivia of that short film is that the DP of the short film, it was the same DP of Parasite. And at that time he wasn’t a legitimate editor, more of an errand boy who would fix computers of Hong Kyung-pyo, of the DP.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Oh my God, that is so great. You’ve come a long way baby. It’s interesting, you did study in America, you moved as a young guy, your family moved to the States and then you went to school, university, learned your chops there, a little bit of stuff there, but then you moved back to Korea and where you’re based now. And can you describe a little bit of your filmmaking community in Seoul, Korea.

Jason Yu (Translator):

In the States he usually worked on indie film projects. But then a famous Korean director, he met a famous Korean director in the States who persuaded him, or that’s the reason why he returned to Korea, because he had a gig working as an onset editor for his films. And during that time he met numerous filmmakers, not really famous at that time and made short films like the ones you just saw, and just kind of learning the chops, keep making things and collaborating. And as time passed, the same people begin to work on bigger projects and they have Jinmo on for these bigger projects. And one of those bigger projects was Snowpiercer and that’s how he met Director Bong who then connected him to other projects of Director Bong. So it’s kind of a link of people that he met that helped him get to where he is today.

Sook-Yin Lee:

And today is it quite a vibrant community where you all are kind of mix and sort of influence one another?

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes and no, because now everybody’s too much busy doing their own thing in their own field, so its it’s hard to meet up.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Can you tell me a little bit about where you currently are, what you’re working on and what’s next.

Jason Yu (Translator):

Currently he’s editing the Netflix mini series titled The Silent Sea. And he will also in the near future edit a couple of feature films, which are currently in production. And in the distant future he plans to edit the next project of Director Bong, but he doesn’t know the exact date or when exactly that would be, but that’s the plan.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Great. And in terms of being a filmmaker, an artist, an editor while we’re living in a pandemic, how is that affecting your work?

Jason Yu (Translator):

To be honest, yes because of the pandemic, the film industry in Korea has worsened. Nonetheless, the special circumstances do create new special opportunities. And one of those is OTT streaming services such as Netflix. And there are extra gigs that Netflix provides him. And previously, previous to the pandemic he was never really concerned about these projects by streaming services. But because of the pandemic, they have given him a lot more projects. And currently half of his editing work is the streaming services such as Netflix and half is the traditional feature films that are currently under production.

Sook-Yin Lee:

So are the streaming, Netflix, are those American films that you’re working on? Are you doing more English language movies?

Jason Yu (Translator):

No they’re all Korean, original Korean content.

Sook-Yin Lee:

You originally said that you started off in film wanting to be a director. Jinmo, do you ever see yourself as making that step towards directing a film?

Jason Yu (Translator):

There’s no plan for it right now as an editor. He witnessed how hard directing is, just by observing other directors. So currently the plan is just sticking to editing.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Well, I mean, I think a lot of the story has to do with the edit because you could give raw footage to 10 different editors and you’ll have 10 different stories, because everybody kind of picks something different. And so you really can affect and influence the outcome of a story through the sequence of images. And so it seems to me when I’m talking to you that you are kind of using a director’s mind in the editing. You had said so many times here that you served Director Bong in the case of Parasite. But at the same time, you’re moving to find essence and spirit and get to the heart of the film. And that is to me, a lot of the qualities that a director has as well. How important do you think that this editing discipline is to the final outcome of the movie?

Jason Yu (Translator):

So he can’t quantify a figure or a percentage of his influence as an editor on a film, but he does believe that the influence is significant. And regardless of how big the influence is, he feels it. And when he watches the film with an audience, that’s when he feels the most proud of his work, his influence on the film.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Seeing how audiences engage with the work. And I also really love the idea that it seems like you have almost like a sense of rational mathematics also within that attempt to capture the essence. You’re talking about rhythm and kind of like almost like there’s specific logical qualities that are part of your storytelling as well.

Jason Yu (Translator):

Yes, you’re correct. And just to add onto that, he believes that whatever field you’re in, experience provides the best outcome. So for example, in film, if you watch a lot of films, make a lot of films, you just get a better sense, a better handle on things and provide the best outcome for it.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Wonderful. Well, I’m looking forward to more stories in the future, more films. And it’s been such a pleasure to speak with you Jinmo and also thank you so much Jason for translating. Have a great day. Good luck with all of your projects and have a good night’s sleep.

Jason Yu (Translator):

Thank you, thank you so much.

Jinmo Yang:

Thank you. Thanks again.

Jason Yu (Translator):

Thank you so much for having us.

Sook-Yin Lee:

Okay, thank you. Bye-bye.

Sarah Taylor:

Thank you so much for joining us today. And a big thank you goes to Alison Dowler and Jane MacRae. This episode was edited by Danny Santa Anna. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rush. Original music created by Chad Blaine and Soundstripe. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao.

The CCE has been supporting Indspire – an organization that provides funding and scholarships to Indigenous post secondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at cceditors.ca or you can donate directly at indspire.ca. The CCE is taking steps to build a more equitable ecosystem within our industry and we encourage our members to participate in anyway they can.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and tell your friends to tune in. ‘Til next time I’m your host Sarah Taylor.

[Outro]

The CCE is a non-profit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture editing. If you wish to become a CCE member please visit our website www.cceditors.ca. Join our great community of Canadian editors for more related info.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Podcasts

What do you want to hear on The Editors Cut?

Please send along any topics you would like us to cover or editors you would love to hear from:

Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Alison Dowler

Chen Sing Yap

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Editied by

Danny Santa Ana

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blain

Soundstripe

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

Boris FX

Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 061: EditCon 2021: When TV Saved Us

The Editors Cut - Episode 0061 EditCon 2021: When TV Saved Us

Episode 061 - EditCon 2021: When TV Saved Us

This episode is part 3 of a 6 part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place virtually in February 2021.

As the world settled into lockdown, TV entertainment went from distraction to lifeline. With audiences trying to make sense of world events, stories and characters matter more than ever. As the entertainment landscape shifts to meet an unprecedented need for engaging content delivered on-demand to an audience stuck at home, how will this change the stories we tell, and the way we tell them? The editors of some of the most binge-worthy shows reflect on how their work landed in this time and place, what the stories meant to audiences, and how that affected their process during a pandemic. 

In today’s episode we hear from Amy E Duddleston, ACE, Wandy Hallam Martin ACE, CCE, Laura Zempel and Stephen O’Connell.

This panel was moderated by the wonderful Christopher Donaldson, CCE.

Amy E Duddleston, ACE

Amy E. Duddleston, ACE has over 30 years of experience in feature and television picture editing. Starting out as an Apprentice Editor, she made her way up to Assistant Editor, working on films like MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, CORRINA, CORRINA and TO DIE FOR. As an editor, she cut 20 features, including HIGH ART, LAUREL CANYON, ELEGY and Gus Van Sant’s remake of PSYCHO, as well as over 70 hours of television on series such as DEXTER, THE KILLING, VIDA and most recently, HUNTERS. She is currently editing the limited series MARE OF EASTTOWN, starring Kate Winslet, for HBO.

She has been a member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild since 1991, and currently serves on the Board of Directors. She is also a member of American Cinema Editors, AMPAS and the Television Academy.

Amy is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a BFA in Fine Arts Studies. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife Hilary and daughter Lucy.

Wendy Hallam Martin, ACE, CCE

Multiple award winner editor Wendy Hallam Martin, is best known for her work on the Emmy and Golden Globe winning series, THE HANDMAID’S TALE. Wendy has received two Emmy nominations and won her first Emmy for the second season premier entitled “June”. She also won an ACE/Eddie award for the pilot, “Offred”. Her other work includes the critically acclaimed cable series AMERICAN GODS, MGM’s spy thriller CONDOR which she edited and co-produced, Showtime’s THE TUDORS, THE BORGIAS and QUEER AS FOLK to name a few. Wendy resides in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two children.

Laura Zempel

Laura Zempel grew up in Sacramento, CA and received a BFA in Film Production from Chapman University. She began her career in Film and TV as an assistant editor on DEXTER and has gone on to edit HBO’s ROOM 104 Room, EUPHORIA and most recently AMC’s DISPATCHES FROM ELSEWHERE.

Stephen O'Connell

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Stephen has been editing drama & documentary across Europe for 25 years. His work spans time with U2 on music promos and documentaries in the 1990’s to television dramas for BBC, RAI, Amazon, Netflix, Starz, CBC, HULU, SKY amongst others. Projects include THE NAME OF THE ROSE, HOWARD’S END and NORMAL PEOPLE, to feature films VIVA, THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS and MAUDIE for which he won the CSA award for best editing in 2018.

Christopher Donaldson, CCE

Christopher Donaldson’s work as an editor spans an extensive variety of dramatic and documentary features and television. His credits include THE HANDMAID’s TALE for Hulu, AMERICAN GODS for Starz, PENNY DREADFUL for Showtime/SkyAtlantic, Atom Egoyan’s REMEMBER, Sarah Polley’s TAKE THIS WALTZ, THE KIDS IN THE HALL: DEATH COMES TO TOWN for CBC, and SLINGS & ARROWS for TMN/Showcase/Sundance Channel.

This episode was generously sponsored by Adobe

Adobe EditCon 2021 Sponsor

 

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 061 – “EditCon 2021: When TV Saved Us”

Sarah Taylor:

This episode was generously sponsored by Adobe

Stephen O’Connell:

We’re creative beings. And we tend to be very conservative and timid about our place in the world, but we have needs, and I think our basic needs, and the reason we choose these jobs, I think is that we have this need to output. To feed the endorphins and to feed yourself, your soul. And that’s just how we’re built. It’s our DNA. And I think when somebody pulls the plug, we really feel it.

Sarah Taylor:

Hello and welcome to the Editors Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast and that many of you may be listening to us from are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral territory. That is long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived, met and interacted. We honor, respect, and recognize these nations that have never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand today.

We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many contributions and the concerns that impact indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action.

Today’s episode is part three of a six part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place virtually in February 2021.

When TV saved us. The shift to home viewing as the world settled into lockdown, TV entertainment went from distraction to lifeline. With audiences trying to make sense of world events, stories, and characters mattered more than ever. As the entertainment landscape shifts to meet an unprecedented need for engaging content delivered on demand to audience stuck at home. How will this change the stories we tell and the way we tell them?

The editors of some of the most binge-worthy shows reflect on how their work landed in this time and place. And what the stories meant to audiences and how that affected their process during a pandemic.

In today’s episode, we hear from Amy E. Duddleston, ACE. Editor of Mare of Easttown, The Killing and Vita. Wendy Hallam Martin, ACE, CCE. Editor of the Handmaid’s Tale, American Gods and Queer as Folk. Laura Zempel, editor of Room 104, Euphoria and Dispatches from Elsewhere. And Stephen O’Connell, editor of The Name of the Rose, Howards End and Normal People. This panel was moderated by the wonderful Christopher Donaldson, CCE. Known for his work on the Handmaid’s Tale, American Gods and Penny Dreadful.

Speaker 3:

And action.

Sarah Taylor:

This is the Editors Cut.

Speaker 4:

A CCE podcast.

Sarah Taylor:

Exploring, exploring, explore the art-

Speaker 4:

Of picture editing.

Christopher Donaldson:

Great to have you all here. Thank you so much for joining us today and all the other editing types here at EditCon. This is an interesting topic for me in so far as, I kind of feel over the past year, I’ve not only have I gained a great insight into what I want to watch, but also how I want to work and how I’d like to work. I guess my first question for everybody is how would you say that TV saved you over the course of the pandemic? And how about we go and reverse alphabetical order here, Laura?

Laura Zempel:

Well, for me, I think TV gave me something to look forward to when I didn’t have much to look forward to when I was stuck at home and the days all bled together. Having TV and entertainment gave me something… like brought inspiration into my life when I haven’t had much. It saved me I think in that way where it was something to look forward to and then since I wasn’t working much, I kind of used it as an opportunity to observe and probably think more critically and like, “Oh, I’d like to work on that.” Or like, “Wow, that’s amazing how they did that.” And so I used it as a tool to keep my muscles fresh. So when I went back to work, I didn’t feel like I lost too much time.

Christopher Donaldson:

I agree. I think the perspective was one of the main things for me. You know, Certainly, I have three kids and I felt as long as the wifi holds, I think we’re going to be able to survive this. But then, it became something much more on some level, rich. Now going in reverse again, alphabetical order, Steven, how did TV save you during this pandemic?

Stephen O’Connell:

Well, I think it made me watch more things that kids watch. I was forced to witness what was keeping them going. I don’t want to say that it saved me or it did anything bigger than it normally does. I think from an industry point of view, it maybe made me value what was being made more. So, it made me focus on the lengths that we go to, to actually produce material and to be a little bit more discerning because I think we all binged and we didn’t feel very good after it. So, I think it maybe helped me hone my taste a little bit down to what was important at that particular time.

Christopher Donaldson:

You know, certainly, in my house, we watched, finally all five seasons of Breaking Bad, excuse me, Better Call Saul. We finished The Wire. It was that moment where you’re like, “It’s impossible.” We’ll never catch up to all this TV. All of a sudden we had that. And I had the opportunity to finally see the shows I’ve been waiting to see but for lack of time. Amy, how about you? How did TV save you?

Amy E. Duddleston:

TV kept me employed 50 weeks out of 2020. Let’s just say it saved me that way. I was lucky to be on a show. When we had to shut down, we moved to working from home and through this weird circumstance, it’s a limited series on HBO and I became the editor of all of the episodes. So they made me… they let one of the editors go and made me recut the entire series of what we had.

So, I was employed the entire time during their hiatus, which was March, April, May, June, July, August. And then they started shooting again in September. We’re getting ready to air the series soon so that way, it saved me, like  literally. But also binging shows like you said, it was like, “Oh, I can finally… there’s finally time to watch seven seasons of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer with my daughter.” It was time to do that. So, that’s what happened. That was the show that we watched together a hundred and some episodes of… that was a great experience.

Christopher Donaldson:

Beyond now just wanting to watch shows that take place in diners and really pedestrian things. I don’t need to go to outer space. Literally, watching people eat breakfast in a diner just is incredible. And I think that reconnection to what we’ll call ordinary life, I think has probably been for me anyway, the treasure of this. Like Stephen, I spent a lot of time watching with my kids and Amy too. And we’re able to connect in a way and take a breath from work, which was extraordinary. With all this, how did it affect what you thought of your work? That’s what I’d be curious to think of. How did it change the way you thought about your work?

Laura Zempel:

I think, for me, it’s really funny. I tend to get really consumed by my work and I get really stressed and anxious about it and it feels like very big and heavy. And I think, for me, in the pandemic, when everything outside of my work is so big and heavy, it made me actually think of my work as more fun, like, “Oh my gosh, I get to make entertainment that makes people feel good. How lucky am I?” And I just could not wait to go back to work.

Unlike Amy, our show was supposed to come back. It was supposed to be first day of production when LA shut down so we didn’t even get season two. And then, because of the delayed pandemic, it was like, “Oh, six to eight weeks. Okay, September. Okay, January and now, it’s just been pushing.”

So, thinking about work actually made me really happy and I’m hoping I can keep this perspective as I go forward because it’s been a really nice shift to actually enjoy all of it and think of it as fun rather than something that is causing me stress.

Christopher Donaldson:

Wendy, would you concur with that idea?

Wendy Hallam Martin:

Yeah, I think during the pandemic, I have not really watched a ton of television since, especially since we’ve been back at work. And when I did, I started off binging on the drama, but I then switched over into the news and documentary world a little bit. So, that kept me away from doing too much binging.

Christopher Donaldson:

Did the break from work, give you a different perspective on our work in general? Like our career and how we do our work and so on and so forth?

Wendy Hallam Martin:

Yeah. I missed it so much. I thought at first, it’d be like, “Oh, super cool. We’ll get a bit of a break and get some family time and that was all fantastic.” But I really missed the creative outlet. I mean, I started painting again and listening to a lot of music and that kind of thing but, yeah. No, we’re very lucky to be able to do what we do. I’m so happy to get back.

Christopher Donaldson:

Amy, what’s your thoughts on that?

Amy E. Duddleston:

On what we do? Just going on Twitter and seeing all the people that are watching television shows, I felt like really good about what I do for a living. Like, “Oh my God. Everybody’s watched all 10 episodes of Hunters and I’m getting emails.” And that was really fun. And just people discovering shows that I worked on a million years ago, that was really cool because, “Wow, everybody’s watching television and now I work in this industry.” That like, “Wow. I’m so…” That made me feel great. What I do actually contributes to somebody’s sanity. I’m happy to do that even if it made me insane at one point. 

Providing that entertainment, because I was working during the worst part when we were all shut down, I was so grateful to have a job. I will never not be grateful for the fact that I was working. That will stay with me for a bajillion- like my life. It just will. I’m so lucky to do what I do. And I was so lucky that I was working nonstop.

I worked from home. We had internet issues at our house because my daughter was homeschooling so I had to go into the office where I was the only person there. To use the internet, to talk to the director. It was crazy but we started keeping these really nice hours where I was literally like, “You’re working from nine to five or ten to five.” And you’re like, “This is great. Why can’t it be like this all the time?”

And even when we moved permanently to our house, it was still like the director wants to stop at five. Even if we’re working on [inaudible 00:11:36] together or six o’clock, it’s still like a nice day. Because it’s really intense working on the computer, but I’m just grateful.

Christopher Donaldson:

I completely concur. I mean, I think we can all relate to being tied to the production heart attack schedule. The idea of we’re shooting, we need to know, we need to do this right away and that is addictive. And yet, also, as Laura said, I think consuming. Just having the space to breathe and Wendy and I were very fortunate to live in Canada, where there was a social safety net and, you know, various things kicked in and we didn’t necessarily have to worry about not being able to feed our family. And so that gave me a breath that enabled me to, in a sense, find its place within my life. The person that is the editor, that is the artist. Stephen, how did this pause give you a different sense of perspective?

Stephen O’Connell:

Yeah. It’s interesting that we all have very different experiences of it. And I think it’s really great, really valuable to talk about it because I don’t quite know my take is that we’re in the middle of this tornado and we won’t really get perspective until we’re out of it. But I think, we finished mixing Normal People in March. The last two episodes were done in isolation. And there was a build up to that in going out in- at the end of April.

So the timing was interesting but it wasn’t financially very prudent for me because the nothing was happening. Nothing was going on, obviously. So unlike Amy, I was cut loose and nothing to do. I did a few commercials over the summer that just about put bread on the table.

When it came to doing the next job, which is what gave me a bit of perspective. I started on a job for Amazon over here in Dublin. I think in the beginning of November. And the day before… Well, I guess, the morning I went in for the first day of dailies and making coffee and bringing up a jug and putting it in on the table and sitting down and watching synced rushes has to be one of the best moments of my life. I just felt so giddy and grateful. There was relief. There was love. There was just gratitude for being part of the 1% on the planet and a huge amount of perspective.

We’re creative beings and we tend to be very conservative and timid about our place in the world, but we have needs. And I think our basic need, and the reason we choose these jobs, I think, from reading other stories about what we do and the greats have gone before us, and is that we have this need to output whether you’re a painter or a sculptor, or you’re making film, you’re a cinematographer or anything in the arts.

If you work in theater, you need to be producing to feed the endorphins and to feed yourself, your soul. And that’s just how we’re built. It’s our DNA. And I think when somebody pulls the plug, we really feel it. Me, personally? I get really down. I mean, I get anxious unless there’s something for definite coming up. It’s really interesting for all of us, I think. And not just in our little business, but perspective is really, really interesting, but it’s given me personally, anyway.

Christopher Donaldson:

Yeah. And as you say something that will just continue to grow over time as we actually digest what is still happening to us and how it changes us and what we do. Where are people working from? It sounds like most people are working in studio. Is that if we start with Wendy? Well, Wendy, I know you’re working in an editing room right now.

Wendy Hallam Martin:

Yes. I’m going in.

Christopher Donaldson:

And how about you, Amy? And-

Amy E. Duddleston:

I’m working from home. I’ve been working from home since October. They’ve closed our office, finally. So, it’s been interesting.

Christopher Donaldson:

And Laura?

Laura Zempel:

I’m working in an office right now. It’s a small office and it’s just me, and my assistant, and our director comes in and we’re in together. We wear masks the whole day. So…

Christopher Donaldson:

And Stephen, are you in studio?

Stephen O’Connell:

Well, I’m at home now, but I’m in a post facility in the middle of Dublin. The entire company has gone remote. They do a lot of VFX work and it’s a very old Georgian building. Not very space efficient in terms of what we do, but I’ve got one floor to myself and my assistant is upstairs and as the exit was happening, we just snuck in and we happened to have that.

We have the building to ourself. I’m working with Amazon at the moment. We get the director coming in, occasionally, so we’re tested twice a week. So there’s a bit of security there. So, yeah, we’re going against the flow. I can work and I did do a couple of weeks on this job on the 14th or 15th week at this now.

I craved the commute on my bike and I craved meeting any stranger will do, you know,  just somebody. The routine of a coffee shop and masks and all. And with the assistant, I mean, I was really keen to give her a positive experience as well. As much as we could within being safe and all that. So, yeah. If it gets any worse, we’ll certainly button down the hatches and we have all the tech in the world now to make it easy.

Christopher Donaldson:

Wendy and I are both working on the Handmaid’s Tale right now and they gave us the option to where I’m working at home with a system that is streaming my Avid over the internet. So I don’t have the media, I’m just streaming. I have a computer set in my basement and it actually, I was like, “That is never going to work.” It actually works.

Amy E. Duddleston:

It works pretty great.

Christopher Donaldson:

And yeah. And the amazing thing is- and this is the perspective that came from me is that I get to have dinner with my family. I have three kids. The oldest is… they’re still fairly young and that’s just not something I was able to even consider for most of their lives.

Amy E. Duddleston:

I get hugs at lunch time.

Christopher Donaldson:

Yeah. Oh, my God. My son makes hot dogs. I’ve eaten more hot dogs in the last month. You actually can get sick eating hot dogs. I didn’t think it was possible. But that thing, of also, part of working and collaborating with Wendy is seeing her and hanging out with her and showing scenes to one another and not having that is strange. I mean, Wendy, right now, what’s it like? There’s not a lot of people around is there? Around the editing room?

Wendy Hallam Martin:

No, there’s me and Max, our assistant. The two other assistants work from home and our PA, poor Jesse who sits in the main room by himself. And we have our own offices that close. And like you, Stephen we’re being tested and we’re completely separate from everybody. And we wear double masks when we’re out in public spaces. So it’s really safe. I don’t feel in any danger at all. However, like you, Stephen, I need that social interaction. So, I enjoy getting in my car and doing the commute and seeing people.

Christopher Donaldson:

Yeah. And just going for walks and it’s hard when you’re working at home. I don’t know Amy, if you’re doing this. It’s hard to shut off. It’s like, “Just go. I’ll finish that later. I’ll go.” And that sort of thing.

Amy E. Duddleston:

It’s like the music editor texted me and like, “Oh, well. Let’s just have a spotting session.” It’s like, “Oh, I have 45 minutes.” It’s seven o’clock… seven something. And it’s like, oh my God, I should have said no but it’s right there.

Stephen O’Connell:

We have two editors in New York and three assistants over there working on the same project and a post producer and a supervisor and various assistants. So they’re obviously five hours behind us. So our day already is quite a long day because we were available. We talk up until midnight. So for me, it’s very important to have the end of some of that day. So, at 7:00 PM, I leave the building in town and I come home and it becomes a different part of the day becomes that other bit, the American end where it’s mostly emailing and some FaceTimes and whatever. So if it was an entire… if it was a 16, 18 hour day in one location that wouldn’t be- it would draining.

Christopher Donaldson:

Laura, quickly, I’ll ask you this. Just this idea that’s Stephen brought up of there’s editors in New York and there’s editors in Dublin, do you think that this sort of flexibility in terms of production is something that producers now because of the pandemic have realized, “Oh, maybe actually we all don’t need to be in one place. Maybe actually, we can hire an editor in Dublin or Los Angeles and have them work on the same project at the same time.” I mean, have you heard of any other examples like that or what are your thoughts on that?

Laura Zempel:

I think it’s very exciting that we could be able to do that because I think that just opens up the world for all of us and we can now work with whoever we want to work with or whoever wants to work with us. And I remember when the pandemic first started, I thought there’s no way they’re going to let us work from home. Well, security issues, all of those things and to see it working as well as it’s working, it’s really exciting. I’m curious more so to see if studios are open to work from home or if this will continue to be an option once it’s safe to go back to work or if we’ll still be expected to be in the office. Because I think people with families, it’s nice to have that flexibility. And so, I’m actually really excited to see if my hope, which is maybe a little optimistic, is that a more productive work-life balance could be a positive results of all of this.

Amy E. Duddleston:

That’s my hope too.

Christopher Donaldson:

I’ve never seen it quite so possible as I do now. Wow.

Amy E. Duddleston:

Well my assistant is in Chicago. We’re just all on video cast all day long.

Stephen O’Connell:

We’re talking about whether it’s going to go back which way it’s going to go. And maybe it will be a bit of both. There was a really interesting discussion at EditCon earlier on about all this as well. But, I think, maybe it’s up to us. Maybe there’s a chance now rather than sit back and go, “Oh, it went back.” Do you remember it went back to the way it was? Or this maybe we have an opportunity to get into that gap and go, “No, we’re calling the shots now.” I know traditionally, our craft has been a long day, long weeks, relentless self-sacrifice.

And now, maybe we have the chance to go, “Well, there is another way.” That is just as productive. Can we bring… can we move forward with the developments in science, and medicine, and self care, and creativity and understand that no, we can actually deliver episodes and movies and do that in a civilized timeframe.

We seem to have gone on for the last… certainly, as long as I’ve been working, it’s a given that you’re going to throw away… You’re going to be working 20 hour days or 18 hour days. And if you’re not, you’re not going to cut it.

Christopher Donaldson:

I think that’s a great hope for the future. And certainly, the one that I have that this is going to reframe how it is we do and the importance of how we do it. Now, this has been great, but I also wonder if maybe people are hungering for a little shop talk and so on and so forth.

So, we’re coming to the clip section of our panel. We’re going to start with a clip from Euphoria, episode 103, you know Euphoria is really special. Stephen was talking about all this binging and people binging. It is not a show I can binge, it’s a show I need to watch it and then be like, “See you next week.” So if wouldn’t mind, if you could set up the clip we’re going to watch.

Laura Zempel:

Sure. So this is the end of episode 103. Rue is a drug addict and she’s having a hard time staying sober. She’s having feelings for her best friend, Jules, and the scene before this, she’s just kissed Jules and Jules gave her shocked reaction and she rushed out of the room and she’s going over to her drug dealer’s door. And this is Fesco, who’s kind of like a big brother to her even though he’s her drug dealer. But anyway, so that’s where this scene comes in the episode.

Christopher Donaldson:

What I’m so excited to talk about is that I think for somebody who says isn’t necessarily familiar with what we do or is… that’s a scene, that beautiful and simple is can be so incredibly challenging in a ways that people look at action films and go, “Well, that’s editing.” Whereas aren’t like, “No, that’s editing.” And you spoke a bit about the collaborative nature of how you work on Euphoria. So, first of all, I’d love to know why you wanted to talk about this clip. Why this scene was important to you?

Laura Zempel:

I think this scene is, well, for me, it was the hardest, hardest scene that I cut, which is interesting. And it’s for that same reason, people watch Euphoria, the camera’s always spinning and there’s push-ins and wet pans. And it’s like, “Well, that’s all done in camera. And that’s the easy stuff to cut.” The ruse emotional journey is the hardest thing to cut. And the show really… addiction is a big part of the show. And this scene specifically, it’s a pretty big moment for her in the arc of her character in the show. And everyone knew that this scene was- we had to get it right. And this scene was the only scene that they shot that day, which it’s two and a half minutes of the episode, but they spent a full day shooting it.

And so, it does seem deceptively simple, but actually it was one of the hardest and most important scenes in that episode and maybe in the series. I also know that this is the episode they submitted for Zendaya’s Emmy episode and she won. And I really think it’s because we all worked so hard on this episode and that scene maybe, specifically.

And the thing that I like about this scene so much is I have to give credit to the structure of how editorial worked. So, on Euphoria, we have Julio Perez, who’s our supervising editor. And so, the way it works or with this scene, specifically, 103 was my episode. And I got all the dailies. I had over two and a half hours of dailies. I had 10 takes that were over, what I wrote it down. I had nine takes that were over 10 minutes. I had had one take that was 23 minutes.

So, I went through all the footage, pulled selects, pulled selects, pulled super selects, put super selects on different levels with different locators and then started to build the scene. Showed my first cut to Julio and this is how it would work. So I would, especially big scenes, if he’s like, “Hey, how’s that door scene? How’s that coming?” I would do my first pass. And then when I felt like I was ready to show it to him, I’d have him come in and watch it.

And I made him cry with my first cut. So I was like, “All right, we’re onto something.” And then from there, we would work on it together. And he was like a sit-in director because Sam Levinson, our showrunner, directed a lot of the episodes, wrote all of the episodes so getting him in the room is really hard. So Julio is almost like a Sam proxy.

And so, Julio and I worked on it for a while. We got it to a place where we showed it to Sam. Sam watched it, gave notes. It’s a hard scene because there’s so much footage and they’re so good that getting it down to time was actually really challenging. So Julio, I think at a certain point, then I was onto my next episode and Julio had some free time. So he worked on it, he cut it down a little bit more, but he was very precious and in love with it as I was. And then, once it got closer to lock, and we had to get down to time, Harry Yoon, our third editor, he came in my room and he was like, “Hey Sam wants to see if I can cut down the door scene, do you mind?” And I was like, “No, be my guest. I’d love to see what you do with it.”

So all three of us touched this scene and I think, it’s part of the reason I feel like we all contributed to it and it’s a perfect example of all of us bringing ourselves to it. And I know some people are not thrilled about the idea of the supervising editor or maybe it’s a deterrent for people to take those jobs. But I mean, for me, I really enjoyed it. I love working in a collaborative editorial environment where we were all able to set our egos aside and work on making the best scenes and episodes that we could. And I think that’s why this scene is so special to me. And I think hopefully, why it’s so good. Well, in my opinion, it’s so good.

Christopher Donaldson:

No, it’s great. And even watching it, you can tell, “Oh, I betcha. There’s tons of footage here.” I bet you, they just ran the camera and let the actors emote. And what I find when I’m managing that thing and that I find difficult is how very quickly it feels like less than as I make selects, selects, selects, selects, it starts to feel less and less and less and less. To the point that when I put it together, I look at it and I go, “Well, this wasn’t… I’ve somehow lost some magic here.” How did you navigate that sense of, “Okay. You remember the full, the select selects real?” How does it still feel organic and real to you as you… Did you have any tricks in terms of how you managed that process?

Laura Zempel:

Saving old versions and it’s funny because I sometimes… one thing I learned from Julio is I tend to get like, “Oh, it’s too long. I’ve got to cut it short.” And he’s like, “No. Make it good.” And then worry about making it short, get all the best bits in. And so, keeping- saving like older versions as I go along is really helpful because then I can go back or see if I’m missing anything. Having my selects sequence saved. And I go back to that a lot just to see if there’s anything else.

But I think with that, anytime in there, anytime we could hold on a performance, we did to hopefully make it feel more real and organic. And I mean, I know you edit… Euphoria is a very crazy show, but it’s the editing is actually fairly restrained most of the time and we do that on purpose to help the emotional scenes like that land, where you don’t feel like you’re being manipulated. Where it actually feels real and you have to sit in it.

And we found moments. It’s funny. Fez had a lot more lines. He had written dialogue and he’s terrific. He’s a great actor but watching him listen to Rue, actually, felt more painful to just have him sit there and experience it. So sometimes it’s about losing dialogue and just living in these moments or watching someone experience something. And so finding moments that we could hold on Fez and moments that we could hold on Rue to just make it feel more authentic and less manipulated.

Christopher Donaldson:

And I just love that idea of the egoless collaborative environment. I think, in the beginning of my career, I did more features and then eventually was considered employable in television. And one of the things I loved about working in television is that collaboration is that… with Wendy is an incredible collaborator and I’m constantly going like, “Okay, is this as bad as I think it is?” And she says, “No, it’s not that bad, especially if you do this or that and so on and so forth.”

So I think, in the Big Little Lies team, talk a lot about that. Jean-Marc Vallée editors, passing versions of the scene back and forth to one another, trying different things. I think it’s great that we’re moving towards the idea that we don’t necessarily have to be the one- because that we are creating something together. That is the true spirit of collaboration.

Thank you for that, Laura. Now, I’m going to go on to our, our second clip, who is, Stephen it’s you. I didn’t do alphabetical order. I maybe I did it by shows. No, I didn’t, but somehow the technical people are ready for you. So, we’re going to get just about ready for your next clip, which is from Normal People. And could you give us a little preamble or set up for the scene we’re going to see?

Stephen O’Connell:

Okay. This scene is when Connell, our lead character, when his best friend takes his own life. And it’s a moment of reflection for him while we’ve used the scene in flashback. I’m not quite sure, I didn’t appear in the script and as a flashback so we integrated that into the counseling session that he partakes in.

Why I chose it was that it’s an investigation into when the absence of a character you’re feeling. And very often, in the scenes in Normal People, when there’s a single character, it’s always about the absence of the other character, which is quite interesting as a concept. It’s a funeral scene so it’s pretty grim. Sorry, Laura, I’m going to bring a tone, even lower down. But it’s about loss, but it’s also about exploration. And I think what was interesting, what Lenny, the exec and showrunner setup was this idea that we’re seeing a lot of reversals of what you expect to see. So the absence of people, the moments where you’re not used to seeing characters, the bits in between that are lost, like normally, the action is around these scenes, not these scenes. These are the bits that are in between that never make it even into the script.

And a lot of the show is about revealing those and letting them, giving them air where there’s not necessarily anything dramatic happening, but there is inside somebody’s head. So it’s like another going… it’s like 3D drama in terms of you’re going into somebody’s psyche almost and their turmoil while there’s nothing happening externally. And that’s a really interesting thing to play with. I think the absence of a B story in the whole series was a very- well parallels, the book, obviously. But it means that you have to stay with these characters. They are in every single solitary scene in the entire show.

So it’s a high wire act. They are on a tightrope as characters. A really interesting thing happens with Paul Meskel as an actor where he just… Well, both actors, will they go with that? And we have just entirely trusted them because they were in… they were wired into the DNA of the story more than anybody else. There are moments like this where you get an actor or actors who are digging deeper than way deeper and successfully, mining a character. So I guess this is a little bit of that where we’re just happy to be with them.

Christopher Donaldson:

I love that scene. I love that book. I love the show. And one of the things I find that is in this scene that is in your or series that was in the book is the subjectivity is the way that as desperate as we are for Maryanne and Connell to be together. They can’t be. They can’t seem to be in the frame. They can’t seem to be together. They can’t seem to be entirely honest together, and we’re frequently seeing it from their perspective. So I’m curious as this scene as an example of which is to me, you’re the absence of the friend, but really, I just want Maryanne to be in every shot with him and I want them to be together. So, I’m curious how you tracked that subjectivity, that keeping the two characters as you say, that you want to be together, but absent and separate for one another through the editing.

Stephen O’Connell:

With that episode, scenes moved around quite a bit. And to be honest with you, it is- it’s entirely organic. I think it’s a sequence of scenes. That episode is a sequence of scenes that on their own, you really can’t tell one or two or three scenes what they do to you, emotionally. And what they say about the characters. And it’s almost like we were trying different sequences within that episode to see which one revealed the essence of where those characters were. So, it wasn’t as anything as strategic as tracking them. It was more about feeling where they should be.

And in the scripted running order, there was something that maybe wasn’t… I was going to say it wasn’t dynamic enough. That’s not the word but it certainly wasn’t. There was something not clicking, but it just took a few small little maneuverings of scenes. I think the content of the scenes are the same that make it land. And I think that’s what’s really enjoyable about what we do is where you go, you juxtapose scenes, and no matter how delicate, and these are all really, really delicate, very fragile scenes about Connell, about his breakdown.

And you find that just a slightly different ordering of scenes will open that door. And all of a sudden it’s like the floodgates opening. It makes sense. And then within that at a more macro level, it’s about spending a little bit more time with the characters and letting shots linger. And I think what I learned not to love in the show was although it doesn’t necessarily reflect in that scene exactly, but the absence of cutting is sometimes really pleasurable now of just letting the actors do their thing and not get in the way. I think looking at that scene now, geez, God, it’s far busier than I remembered, and I wish I’d maybe cut back a bit, but it was a really good example of letting them do their thing and trust them and almost be guided by them.

And I think the director was there facilitating them, and I’m just there facilitating them by proxy as well and not getting in the way that was really… because I think if you try it with something like this, try and impose your own objectivity, it’s not necessarily going to end well. I think you’re going to tie yourself up in nuts. Occasionally, I don’t know what the others think, it’d be interesting to know, but I’ve only had one other experience on a film actually, where you get actors. And again, it was two actors who transcended the material to a point where they knew more, if not, they went through the novel out the other side to somewhere that possibly the novelist or a screenwriter wouldn’t have gone, but loved it if you know what I mean.

And I think that was the case with this as well, where they saw more and you’re almost led by them, which is really interesting. And then when you start trusting them, you begin to know them and know when they’re going off a little bit, because they have their bad days and they’re not always on because these were young actors and well, any actor will, they won’t be on it all the time.

So it was very emotional cutting to a degree that’s… it can be very upsetting at times because you end up doing a day’s work and on a show like this and you’re absolutely shattered and you’ve only done… only cut two scenes, but you’re fit for bed for a week. The weekends of this job were knockout. It’s like go to bed on Saturday or Friday night or wake up on Monday morning. I don’t know yoga in between or anything like that.

Christopher Donaldson:

I can totally see that. And I think now, that’s actually the perfect segway. If you’re worried about being too dark, don’t worry. We’ve got a clip coming from the Handmaid’s Tale coming up. So we’re just heading the downward trajectory. Speaking of super intense-

Amy E. Duddleston:

I feel so bad that I didn’t bring a clip of my comedy, my half-hour comedy. Damn.

Wendy Hallam Martin:

That would’ve been good, Amy.

Amy E. Duddleston:

I ruined everything!

Christopher Donaldson:

So Wendy, if you could give us just a quick setup for what we’re going to see here.

Wendy Hallam Martin:

Yes. This is the season premier of season two and season one ended with June, in the van being taken away and she doesn’t know where she’s going to, and she thinks she’s in big trouble, even though she’s been told by Nick that everything will be fine. So, this is an interesting scene where I was, I mean, I’ll get into it a little bit after, but June isn’t going to die, but continually, through the whole thing, you think she’s going to die. So, it’s got a nice juxtaposition of reality and what’s in her head and what the audience expects and what ends up happening.

Christopher Donaldson:

I know you got pounded with footage and I know in many times in production they said, “Do we have it? Can we see it? When can we see it? Mike Barker, the director, wants to see it.” And you were able to throw that together in a way that while I’m sure different, not appreciably different than what is in the final cut very quickly. And I’d love to know what your process is and how you manage that because I would be a puddle if I had to get that scene out very quickly and you have the ability to do that. But also I’d love to hear whatever else you want to say about it, too.

Wendy Hallam Martin:

Putting that scene together was an out of body experience. It’s not really typical of the Handmaid’s Tale to have an action-y scene like that. And we live in June’s head a lot of the time and therefore, we’re on her face a lot of the time. And so, this was a scene where it was a completely different thing than we’d ever done before. That clip had to be cut the top end, the tail off of it. It’s a actually a 10 minute scene and I had bins and bins and bins of dailies. Four cameras running plus drone for pretty much every setup. And Mike Barker, our illustrious director, who I adore, was on a plane the next day after I got the second day of dailies, they shot it over two days.

So, I had to take an approach where I had to go with my gut instinct and put it together as fast and efficiently as I could, but also maintain the narrative of our series, which is June’s perspective. So I found myself just really going with my gut. I couldn’t breathe a lot of the time editing the scene because it was so intense. And it’s funny because there was- the scene really told you how it needed to be cut and how long to be with certain things.

There was the hallway sequence and I tried to jam in more girls and it didn’t feel right. You couldn’t overstay your welcome in any situation, except for the ending where I extend that moment forever. It was just one of those scenes that just magically, I swear, something takes over you and you just cut it and then you look at it and you go, “Oh, that’s okay. That’s, that’s working. Or no, I need to dive back into the bins and find this.” And Mike Barker came in and sat on my couch and cried and left and said, “Great.” So he really didn’t have any notes on it, which was unheard of. So it was just a lucky scene.

Christopher Donaldson:

Well, I mean-

Stephen O’Connell:

It’s fantastic.

Christopher Donaldson:

… not luck in its execution in any way, shape or form. I mean, it’s masterfully done.

Wendy Hallam Martin:

It felt like it.

Christopher Donaldson:

And when you’re managing, like what Laura talking about earlier, with reams of footage, for me, the hard part is getting out of my own way and not seeing the diminishment of it. Not going, “Oh, that was that.” Or worse, the worry about the shot I missed in the bin. “Oh, I betcha. There’s a better thing for that.” And I was really amazed that we were able to, as you say, go to a different place and channel, whatever it was into bringing that to life very quickly. It was really astonishing to me. When you’re working on a big… there’s no doubt when you’re looking at that, when you know this is the scene. This is going to be the thing they talk about in the entire season. I’d love to know what everybody else feels like when they know… Okay, I’m working on that scene. Laura, you said it about Euphoria, too. This is going to be the scene that sells it.

Laura Zempel:

I feel terrified. I am terrified, but I think it’s actually, I think there’s been a lot of, on this panel, we’ve been talking about staying out of the way and trusting the actors and finding the footage. And I think, in those scenes, that’s really… that’s the main thing that I keep trying to do is like, “Okay, what’s good? When am I as a viewer moved?” Because I’m the first viewer of the footage. And so I’ll have a color for markers when I feel something. I put a cyan marker just in the daily. So when I go back into dailies, I know. Okay, I felt something around here or something really stood out to me around here. But yeah, I feel terrified.

Amy E. Duddleston:

It’s scary. Yes. Having the big scene, but I love it too, because it’s just going along with it. I’m working on the show right now that Kate Winslet is the lead actress, she’s the lead. And I mean, there’s nothing she can’t do. So, I just get out of the way. You just get out of the way of Kate Winslet. I don’t edit around her, I just don’t. So there are a lot of scenes in the show that she’s just talking about her past and you just stay on her because it’s… you just get out of the way.

Stephen O’Connell:

I think it’s really interesting what Wendy was saying there about going into an altered state. I think that altered state is probably- it’s in your system. You’re pre wired for that, I think. It’s a form of surrendering, maybe? I wonder. Is it just becoming a viewer, becoming the audience because you can’t actually connect with some material sometimes like that? And on a scene in… there’s a scene shot in Italy for Normal People, there was a dinner scene that goes pretty badly. There was 10 hours of material and it was a really intense scene. And it was the one people were dreading in terms of… it was a big deal.

10 hours of material for a seven minute scene and in a less dramatic way than that scene that Wendy’s talking about. You just have to surrender, just go in with your hands up. First of all, that’s your opening gambit. Swim around and go, “Okay, what would happen here? What’s the sequence?” And I think we have an internal rhythm that maybe takes over then that you just fall back on. And it’s going into a driverless car. You just let it go.

Christopher Donaldson:

Amy, we don’t, unfortunately, have a clip of Vita, but I’d love to ask you a question about Vita.

Amy E. Duddleston:

Sure.

Christopher Donaldson:

Vita is this really remarkable show that takes place in a neighborhood, a gentrifying neighborhood in East Los Angeles that is incredibly rich. And one of my… what I really loved about it in my pandemic was I got to go there. I got to leave my house. And I felt like I got to go to that neighborhood in Los Angeles. And one of the things that I thought was really remarkable was it felt extremely specific to a place and yet, universally, I could recognize it.

So my question was, how did you come up- Was there a process in the editing by which when we’re cutting, we’re usually incredibly efficient, be efficient in your storytelling. But I think that you had to have this dual thing of… it had to be instantly recognizable and uncommon upon for somebody who lives there and yet, recognizable to a general audience. So, I’m curious how you found that balance in the storytelling.

Amy E. Duddleston:

Well, it is ye oldie storytelling. You might be in East Los Angeles, but it’s like maybe you have a bad relationship with your sister. Maybe you have a boyfriend that you just can’t let go of. Or maybe… there’s something, all of these characters have something that you can identify with, even though you don’t even have any experience like they have, but you do. And so that’s what really… it’s about family. It’s about creating family. It about all these things that it would touch you even if you didn’t live off of in Boyle Heights. You had something that you could reach. There’s something that you could identify with it and all of these characters. There just was.

Christopher Donaldson:

And would you ever say have the experience of when you’re… say looking at the dailies or something where something that would go past you, but somebody who’s more familiar with the neighborhood or would say, “Oh, they start laughing or something.” And you go, “Oh, that’s something I gotta….”

Amy E. Duddleston:

Oh for sure! All the time, all the time. I mean, that was a great thing about our editing room was I can speak Spanish, but it’s I don’t know lot of slang. And so, my assistant would teach me some of the slang or the showrunner, it was just like a nonstop process of learning stuff. Just stuff that goes way over your head. That the post producer would be rolling in the aisles. And I’m like, “Well, what is it?” And she’s like, “Oh, no. It’s the grandma. That’s my grandma!” It was that kind of stuff. It was a very fun show to work on and I’m sorry, I didn’t bring a clip to uplift everyone’s spirits.

Wendy Hallam Martin:

Sorry.

Amy E. Duddleston:

I’m so sorry.

Stephen O’Connell:

Sorry.

Christopher Donaldson:

Our joyful spirits and speakings were enough to lift the moods of all the people who are here and amazingly, I can’t believe it. It’s actually 3:15, and I believe, we are out of time. So, I’d like to thank Laura Zempel and Stephen O’Connell, Wendy Hallam Martin, and Amy Duddleston. Thank you so much. This was far easier than I feared for myself and it was actually really great. So, thank you so much-

Amy E. Duddleston:

Thank you for having me.

Wendy Hallam Martin:

Thank you, Chris.

Christopher Donaldson:

Our pleasure.

Laura Zempel:

Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much, Chris.

Sarah Taylor:

Thank you so much for joining us and a big thank you goes to Jane MacRae and Alison Dowler. This episode was edited by Jason Kenosa. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rush. Original music created by Chad Blaine, and SoundStream. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao. The CCE has been supporting, Inspire, an organization that provides funding and scholarships for indigenous post-secondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at cceditors.ca, or you can donate directly to indspire.ca, indspire.ca. The CCE is taking steps to build a more equitable ecosystem within our industry and we encourage our members to participate in any way they can. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple podcasts, and tell your friends to tune in. Till next time. I’m your host. Sarah Taylor.

Speaker 4:

The CCE is a non-profit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture editing. If you wish to become a CCE member, please visit our website, www.cceditors.ca. Join our great community of Canadian editors for more related info.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Podcasts

What do you want to hear on The Editors Cut?

Please send along any topics you would like us to cover or editors you would love to hear from:

Credits

A special thanks goes to

Calgary International Film Festival

Jane MacRae

Alison Dowler

Leo Woolley

Hosted by

Sarah Taylor

Edited by

Jason Konoza

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blain

Soundstripe

Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 060: EditCon 2021: In Conversation with Michelle Tesoro, ACE

TEC EP60

Episode 060 - EditCon 2021: In Conversation with Michelle Tesoro, ACE

Today’s episode is part 2 of a 6 part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place virtually in February 2021.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE, is a master of drama, intrigue and suspense. From FRINGE to THE NEWSROOM, Michelle’s work shows a range of storytelling techniques.

Paul Day, CCE, and Michelle Tesoro, ACE, discuss Michelle’s work, including her most recent feat of editing an entire mini-series, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE

Michelle Tesoro, ACE

Cutting-edge picture editor Michelle Tesoro, ACE, is an industry rising star. Tesoro cut Netflix’s top-rated series The Queen’s Gambit, Emmy-nominated series When They See Us, Godless, House of Cards, and HBO’s series Newsroom. She also cut features like Focus Features’ Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg biography On the Basis of Sex, Participant Media’s Shot Caller, and SXSW’s Grand Jury Prize-winning film Natural Selection, which earned Tesoro the 2011 SXSW Award for Best Editing.

Paul Day, CCE

Paul Day, CCE

Paul has been a picture editor for 25 years and has worked with such companies as Netflix, MGM, AMC, Showtime and many more. Some of his recent editing credits include Another Life, Ransom, Into the Badlands, Dark Matter and Lost Girl. He is one of the Canadian Cinema Editors’ co-founders and currently sits on the National Board for the Directors Guild of Canada.

This episode generously sponsored by Jam Post!

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 060 – “EditCon 2021: In Conversation with Michelle Tesoro, ACE”

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Relationships are more important, sometimes than what the job is, because you just never know what weird TV show is going to lead you to another prestigious TV show. Because those players, whoever you’re working with, do a variety of things and things are always changing. Try to keep in mind what relationships you’re creating and what that may mean later on.

Sarah Taylor:

Hello and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast and that many of you may be listening to us from are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral territory that has long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived, met, and interacted.

We honor, respect, and recognize these nations that have never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand today. We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many contributions and the concerns that impact indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action.

Today’s episode is part two of a six part series covering EditCon 2021 that took place virtually in February, 2021. In conversation with Michelle Tesoro, ACE. Michelle is a master of drama, intrigue, and suspense. From fringe to the newsroom, Michelle’s work shows a range of storytelling techniques. Paul Day, CCE and Michelle Tesoro, ACE discuss Michelle’s work, including her most recent feat of editing an entire mini-series, The Queen’s Gambit.

Speaker 3:

And action!

Speaker 4:

This is The Editor’s Cut.

Speaker 5:

A CCE podcast.

Speaker 4:

Exploring, exploring, exploring the art.

Speaker 5:

Of picture editing.

Paul Day, CCE:

First of all, I want to welcome Michelle Tesoro for joining me live from Los Angeles. You got up early to join us. She has cut such wonderful shows as Godless, Luck, of course, The Queen’s Gambit, House of Cards, When They See Us, Newsroom. Again, thank you for joining us so early from Los Angeles.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Thanks Paul. Thanks for having me.

Paul Day, CCE:

I want to jump right in by saying, or at least asking you to just give us the journey of Michelle to where you are today. I know you started in Chicago. You now reside in Los Angeles. And of course along the way, I’m sure you’ve had your trials and tribulations of getting to where you are today in such an outstanding career. So can you just give us a quick little sort of Reader’s Digest version of how Michelle went from Chicago to Los Angeles?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Well, I’m from Chicago, and I spent my first two years of college at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. And I always wanted to get into film, I just didn’t get into any of the film schools for my freshman year. I wasn’t that great of a student. I was an average student. But for my junior year of college, I got into NYU and I decided to pursue a career in film that way. So I went to Tisch and finished my degree there. And it was there that I got bit by the editing bug. I just decided to move forward there.

At the time when I graduated, there wasn’t a whole lot of work, but I was able to get a job at a music publishing company, which is Echo Music and Records. I was their in-house video editor, librarian person. And I did that for about three years, cutting special things and little promos for all their music CDs and things that were going out.

Probably after about three years, I decided to move to Los Angeles. So I came out here through ACE. I had applied for the internship program. I didn’t get it, but I did attend their three-day workshop that they had. And I met a lot of people there at the workshop. This was probably 2005. And I just started through some connections. I had started post-coordinating and assistant editing in network television, and it sort of starts there. I joined the union and everything. And I think it was maybe three years of just assistant editing until I was able to be lucky enough to get a bump up on Swingtown and In Treatment.

Paul Day, CCE:

When you first started out, you started meeting people like this. That whole networking process, being parachuted into Los Angeles, is that when you start meeting the people who inspire you, the people who support you along the way. Are there a few people that you can name that helped guide you, mentors, people that you even maybe even call upon today for advice?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Oh, there’s so many people. But I would say… like… the people who gave me the crucial advice that I needed in the beginning, to.. before I moved out here, would probably be Marty Nicholson, ACE, as well as Paul Barnes, who’s also an ACE member. I met Paul in an editing class at NYU back when I was in school, and he connected me to Marty Nicholson. They told me just the practicalities of having to move out to Los Angeles, which was joining the Guild, getting your hours, and being an assistant editor, how important that is. And so initially that information was really important.

And also another editor I met in New York is Peter Frank. He’s also an ACE member. I did my first couple of assistant editing jobs with him, and he was so supportive and really understanding. For…Now when I think about it, I was really green. I remember I didn’t even know how to organize a lined script, like with the facing pages and all that. So he’s super patient. And I think-

Paul Day, CCE:

You got to learn somewhere, right?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

I guess so. And just be with people who are nice enough to not be annoyed by you. But I think the first few people I worked with, and that would be Michael Ruscio and Lisa Bromwell and Ron Rosen, I got in with the right group that were doing, at the time in television, really great work. And they were willing to.. kinda bring me up and really help me become an editor and also let people know that I edit and without any preconceived notions or protectiveness over their own. So they’re very willing to share. And I still talk to these same people to this day. We’re all close.

And I would say, even along the way, one mentor, he doesn’t like me calling him a mentor, but he’s sort of an accidental mentor, I’ll call it, is Sidney Wolinsky. He’s been just instrumental. He’s such a good friend. We met on Swingtown, which is the first show I got bumped up on when Ron Rosen left to do a pilot. I took over his rotation. But Sidney was one of the other editors and we became fast friends and talked a lot about… And ever since then we call each other about, “What would you do in this situation? Do you think you should take this job? What would you say about this?” And that’s just been so good for me, just how to understand how to conduct myself as a professional. And he has so much experience too, other than a great editor and I could talk about that kind of stuff with him.

Paul Day, CCE:

Sure. I couldn’t agree more with having that resource of having people to call. I definitely have several people who I can call upon and bounce ideas off and career advice and stuff. This is a two-part question and this sort of goes hand in hand with you getting the opportunity to start cutting. But also now that you’re an extremely established editor, how do you also encourage your assistants in getting bumped up or getting cutting opportunities? So tell us a little bit about your transition from assisting to cutting, whether it was easy or difficult, or who you had supporting along the way. And then also tell us a little bit about how you conduct yourself as an editor with your team.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

So.. I think I was always doing a lot of stuff on the side, like whether it was cutting what we used to call little webseries for YouTube with my friends, or somebody, first time filmmaker like Robbie Pickering, we did Natural Selection together. That was completely for nothing. I literally did it for nothing. And I did it while I was cutting In Treatment season three. Amy Duddleston will remember this because she was working with me at the time. But yeah, I practically killed myself doing other stuff while I was trying to just do the practical thing of working.

So I did a lot of that and I think the people I worked with saw that I did that and saw I was putting the hard work. And I was also, if they asked me for help, I would help them. I also think at the time, the assistants were doing a lot of the previously-ons in network television. So you got to showcase your editing work, not just to your editors, but also to the producers. So that enabled me to showcase and have the producers work with me one-on-one other than other things I did for them for the main show. Like for Swingtown. I did a lot of the dissolves. I created the look of those dissolves and transitions. We had special soft iris dissolves that close and different things. So that was something that, it made people see how you would work with a producer. Because that’s the biggest thing, is how do you act in the chair.

Paul Day, CCE:

Sure, sure.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

And to segue way to how… Well actually… And then when once you get a bump up, it’s never secured that you’re going to work again as an editor. So…There was a period of time, I think every editor who can remember their transition between assistant editor to editor will know that you’re kind of riding that fence. And I did that. I was an editor. Then I was an assistant editor. It was a period of time where you go back and forth. And you’re just waiting for those first three credits to say, “Okay, look, I have enough editing credits, can I just do this?”

And I think now with my assistants, I try to give them, if they don’t have enough time of it, enough time in the chair. Because I think that is the biggest thing, if people question whether they can handle something or not. Because oftentimes it’s fine when you’re… A, yes, they should be cutting on their own and honing their own craft and getting fast. And I, of course, encourage that and I try to get assistants who want to cut, cutting, get them involved. But the biggest thing is also to be able to know that they can take a note, know that they can take a note in the room with you within a certain speed of time.

And that’s sort of how I try to help them, other than if I get any calls like, “Oh, I’m doing this short,” or, “I’m doing this,” or whatever, I try to recommend, if I feel like somebody is ready. I’m always recommending.

Paul Day, CCE:

It’s interesting, [Gillian 00:11:00] and [Steven 00:11:01] were talking earlier about doing all this remote stuff and not really catching the vibe that’s going on in the room. It’s one of those things where I was always trying to pass along to assistants to sorts of read body language and mood. And you just don’t know what other things have happened to a producer or director before they get into the room. And I always looked at it, it’s sort of like you want a calm, warm, comforting environment for who’s ever coming in so you can at least get the true creative self coming out of them once you get into it.

All right. So once you’ve transitioned into becoming a very established editor, you meet Scott Frank. Can you tell us the story of your relationship with Scott Frank? That you worked on Godless and of course The Queen’s Gambit. But I think you did one other project with him as well. I think this is your third project with Scott? But just tell us about that building of a relationship, because you cut all episodes of Godless and you’ve cut all episodes of Queen’s Gambit. I want to talk about that maybe a little bit later, but just tell us about meeting Scott Frank, and that evolution of a creative relationship.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Well, it’s interesting because yeah, I met him, I wanna to say kind of in the middle of my… Well, it was now 10 years ago, 2014. Oh, actually not that long ago, I guess… I met him in 2013, 2014. I was doing a movie, Revenge of the Green Dragons, but it was after I did The Newsroom. Yeah, so I had a pretty good run of it. And we met on a pilot called Hoke for FX, which did not get picked up. And the producer on that was David Manson, who I had assisted one of my very first jobs when I worked with Peter Frank. And I think I had done one other recut for him on a Movie of the Week just prior to interviewing with Scott.

So I think he was the one who actually recommended to Scott that he meet with me. And I see at the time Scott was looking for a new editor, and now that I know him, he’s super open. And we met, and I don’t remember this, of course, but Scott does. He said, because somebody else asked him about this in an interview… That what he.. What he liked about me is that we talk a lot about story. We focus a lot about story and how things are playing out. And that’s just sort of… You know, how it happens with us. And I did the pilot. It didn’t get picked up. He really liked me. And then I think two years later he… Or that year he moved to New York and was developing Godless, I think. And then he asked me to do that. So that was 2016.

Paul Day, CCE:

Okay. Because we don’t have a huge amount of time, I want to jump in to our first clip of The Queen’s Gambit. So I think we’re going to show the audience two different chess matches. We’re going to start with the one that takes place in Ohio. Why don’t we roll that, and then we’ll talk a bit about the style of that particular clip. And then we’ll show the other clip.

[start of the clip1]

Benny:

Why, hello Beth.

Beth:

Why, hello Benny.

Benny:

I read about your game with Borgov. That must have felt terrible.

Beth:

I felt like a fool.

Benny:

I know that feeling. Helpless. It all goes and you just… push wood. 

Who have you got up first?

Beth:

Manfredi.

Benny:

That shouldn’t take too long. Highest rated players in the whole fucking country, and yet here we are in some second-rate university playing on cheap plastic boards, with cheap plastic pieces. If this were a golf or a tennis tournament, we’d be surrounded by reporters as opposed to… whoever these people are. You should see the places they play in the Soviet Union.

Beth:

Oh, I’m planning on it.

Benny:

You have to get past me first.

Beth:

I’m planning on that, too.

[end of the clip1]

Paul Day, CCE:

So that was clip one. And there was a lot of split screens, a lot of exciting DV movements and stuff like that. How much of that was written? How much of that is designed? How much of that was you? And how long did it take to put that particular sequence together?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Well, that’s a crazy one because I think the idea of the split screens was definitely was written in the script. That wasn’t anything that he could write in like, “Oh, it’s going to be placed this way.” But I do seem to remember that in the script he described, they don’t look at each other until the end. They never face each other until the end. And when they went to shoot the sequence, actually, they were running out of time. Something was happening with the schedule where they didn’t have as much time in the location as they originally planned. So he completely had to throw all of his plans out in terms of how much of that was done in camera. He was going to do this whole choreographed scenario where they were going to face each other and do all this stuff ..and that never happened.

So they just did the best they can, which… They did the best they could, with covering it in a way that sort of made sense. And he called me saying, “So… the day didn’t go that great, but.. there you go! figure it out!”

Paul Day, CCE:

Did they do any pickups or anything for that?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

We did. I think the surest thing though, I do have to say because it was important to him, is that he knew that he wanted classic or gas and he had that music cleared prior to shooting it. And he told everybody to listen to it so that they knew what kind of rhythm they were going to… Or the vibe of the whole thing. So I knew that I at least had some sort of rhythmic spine to work with.

So basically, what they shot was her playing with the other players and all that. And I kind of mapped it out with… okay, here’s day one, two, and three. And it’s also not being… What you don’t see here is the scene where she comes out and Benny is talking to the reporter. That was supposed to be in the middle somewhere. So there was a lot of other scenes that were getting in the cut with day one, day two, day three. So it was never supposed to be in one section, but it was very clear to me that we had to even just restructure the reel in its entirety. So-

Paul Day, CCE:

You say the reel, do you mean the episode or do you mean that particular segment?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

I mean the 20 minutes. No, I mean literally the reel that that segment was in, which is like the 20 minutes around that scene.

Paul Day, CCE:

Okay. Right.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

And there’s all these other complications of, well, what shirt is she wearing? And I was like, well, hopefully if it’s working dramatically, no one’s worried about what shirt she’s wearing, but if you really keep track of it, it doesn’t make any sense. But I was like, well… And I don’t think anybody has a problem with it, obviously. But yeah, so I kind of mapped it out. I think the overhead part where you see the chess board and the faces come out of it, I had used a shot from one of the Shaibel matches in episode one. I used that and I used their little faces. And then I think, when they’re circling the names, I had used footage from episode two, I think, in there. And I made a shot list of what second unit needed to shoot for that particular sequence so that we could have more to play with. Plus I just asked, “So just get some shots, close up shots of the board,” because that wasn’t shot at the time either.

So..Basically with my two other assistants, Charlie Greene and Phillip Kimsey, we created… Like I think I did day one and then I created the kind of structure of it. And I had them try their hand. I think Philip did day three and Charlie did day two. And, you know, we created, we tried to make it look different. Because I was like, “This Brady bunch thing, is it going to last for the other segments?”

Paul Day, CCE:

Does Scott Frank shoot a lot of material? Does he shoot a lot of footage?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Comparatively, no. No. When I compare to some other directors who might shoot three cameras and you end up with four hours of footage every day, it’s half that. They really try… That’s when he and Steven Meizler is DP, they really try to shoot what the elements that they want and not just shoot a bunch of coverage. You know… So I think, yeah, it wasn’t really a lot. But luckily, when you do these split screens, you have higher resolution when you make the image smaller. So for example, at the beginning of day one, you see the closeup on the chalkboard, Benny Watts and Harmon, you know, that was from some other wide shot that I really zoomed in on and had to make sure that [inaudible 00:19:51]. That wouldn’t be a problematic. So…

Paul Day, CCE:

Oh, okay. He made footage. That’s good. During some of these chess matches, there must have been a lot of footage of chess. Did you know chess going into this show? Or did you learn chess? Or did you have anybody to guide you along in the rules of a chess board?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

I knew the basic rules of chess, of how pieces move and how pieces get captured. But to know chess, no, I did not know chess. I thought… I think I tried and I realized, oh, this is like learn how to be a first-rate tennis player in a month, that’s just not going to happen.

Paul Day, CCE:

I was the chess president at high school. I was the president of the chess club for two years. So… I played a lot of chess. So watching the show, I definitely had a reminiscent of going back to sort of the early stages of learning all the moves and learning all the names of the people. And I think you had a couple of consultants who are world champions. So it pays to have those people.

Hey, look, I want to roll the other clip by comparison. This is a chess match that takes place now in Paris. 

[start of the clip2]

[end of the clip2]

 

That’s just amazing. The emotional context within that. And it’s one line, which is, “I resign,” to go five minutes of screen time with just music and faces sweating, drinking water. You know… You suck the audience directly into exactly how she’s thinking. Tell us about the process of getting to that point. I mean, was there more dialogue? I felt like, did we want to hear more conversations? And there’s one thing I just love, which is when she makes the move with the rook, there’s a gasp in the room, but it’s so subtle and it’s designed that you just know she’s made a mistake, and there’s something that’s about to go wrong for her. Tell us about creating that sequence. And it’s such a contrast to the other chess match. How did you come up with both those scenarios?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

I mean… I think this sequence, you know.. they were very deliberate about the kind of footage that was available to me. I specifically remember in the script, there was no dialogue. So there wasn’t other dialogue that was cut out. It was all supposed to be just performance-based in terms of Anya, in terms of her memories, of thinking back on studying with Benny, the faces in the room, trying to maximize as much pressure from exterior sources onto her. And the way they shot her, you know, very tight, very intense, the pieces that they got for me to play with already put me in a mode of just trying to tell the story with faces.

I think though, and I was noticing this time around watching it, how informative the sound design and the music really help tell you where those moments are when you’ve gotten to a different mode, like when she moves the rook. You know, or actually, when she decides that she’s not sure if she wants to move the rook (laughs) There’s a little tick, tick, tick, tick, that adds on top of the ticking.

The other thing that I employed after the fact is the use of the clocks. At that point, you’re familiar with how the chess clocks are utilized in these tournaments, but in here I wanted to use it as like a more subjective running out of time. I’m running out of time, and literally the ticking clock that is actually the rhythm for the entire sequence, like all the moves I wanted to keep to make sure I was keeping in time with the rhythm of the clock. And I think also music and sound… kinda of took that and ran with it. ‘Cos literally when I cut that initially, I just had the ticking clock and I had things moving to it. And when I first showed Scott, he just saw it and he was like, “Oh great. We just need a tick there.” I was like, “Uh, wait a minute.” Let’s just see what music and sound can add to this. Because I still want to be informed about when it’s over for her, because there is nothing, unless you really know chess, you don’t know when it’s over. You don’t know when it’s reached the point where she knows she’s going to lose. And I think that the music and the sound effects do take you there.

Paul Day, CCE:

And also those oners, those straight-on shots of people looking down the camera, the uncomfortableness, the tension, like being stared at and being scrutinized over. Another aspect of that is also just, you could play that silently and completely understand what’s going on. So to add the elements of the sound design and the music is brilliant.

Now I’m going to touch upon really quickly. You cutting all seven episodes. I mean, to what benefit did you have because of that choice of style from episode one to episode seven?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

I think there’s probably a consistent feel when you go from episode to episode. It’s consistent, yet different. We were trying to bring a different element to every episode, certainly to every chess match. You know I was recalling a lot of things from the opening, the Paris opening in episode one there, that I wanted to just remind people of what they initially saw. So I just think having that knowledge of where all the episodes are, where she is personally in the storyline was useful. Other than that, it’s a lot of work. (laughs)

Paul Day, CCE:

Of course, it’s a lot of work! In keeping with our schedule, I just want to have a conversation that about When They See Us, which is another series that you were involved in. This one is a very emotionally charged mini-series based on true events that happened in New York City, where five… I think, five teens got wrongfully charged for rape and murder. A tour de force of a mini-series, I have to admit. And I’m just surprised it didn’t get as much attention as it did. But I know it was nominated for I think, 15 or 16 Emmys. I just think that the contrast again, of your career with the many different facets that you’ve worked on from Godless to Luck, Queen’s Gambit, this series is a tour de force. And I can’t express how amazing it was to watch it. It was so wonderfully put together. Tell us the story leading into working with Ava and working on this project. And how were you able to get through some of these such emotionally charged scenes?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

I mean, I think we all had, and when I mean all, all the other editors, Terilyn Shropshire, and Spencer Averick. And with Ava, you know, we felt obligated to.. tell the story on behalf of the men. You know, do it justice. Having people understand what their experience was. And… what was interesting about this, about the show, is that every episode gives you a different perspective on the story, on what happened to them. If you’ve watched the first episode, which is just this horrifying experience for the boys, and then you see this episode, which is how they each come out of prisons and how fragmented their lives are, as a result, the context of it really, really puts you in their shoes, which I think was the point. And ultimately is the point of why we tell these kinds of stories, is so that people can relate on a human level to what they’re going to.

I mean, I was really interested in becoming a part of this project. For a long time is just going to be Teri and Spencer, each cutting two episodes. Ava had directed all of the episodes very much like how Scott directed all of the episodes. And I think at some point, because Teri was cutting episode one and that’s such a beast of an episode, like from top to bottom it’s… I mean, not only are you trying to establish the look and the feel of the show, but.. you know, you’re also trying to tell that part of the story. It was just always a very difficult episode to work on. And I think by the time you get to episode three or… when it came time to her to start putting that together, she kind of knew, she thought down the line that she wasn’t going to be able to handle another episode. Because all these episodes were running like, I don’t know, 80 minutes. They’re like little movies. So.. they brought me on at that point. So.. I was, I came on in the middle of them shooting. And it was such a different process. You know… Very, very collaborative. And it was fun to kinda bounce ideas off of the other editors and see what they were doing and.. try to not necessarily match styles, but… have some continuity, what we were doing editorially, so that it felt consistent. But you know, each story is different. My story, my challenge was to try to tie the young versions of the characters to the older versions of the characters. And.. you know, the sample that we watch is just an example of how different they could be. And what occurred to me is that Antron’s… They kind of coincide with their relationships with their fathers. Like Antron’s relationship with his father is very fragmented. The style of the editing there, even though… those two scenes were never put together, none of those were ever put together in the script, but it was something that Ava and I felt like we needed to do, we needed to go from young boy to older boy, so we tried to make direct transitions. But in a lot of ways it represents their fragmented relationship. Whereas Raymond and Ray Sr., you know, they were always together and in contact. And.. sort of the fluid way that you see you know, his growth in prison and how the father was always talking to him. And then obviously at the end, it’s so different than Antron and his father’s reunion.

Paul Day, CCE:

How much did Ava give you that leeway to play with that back and forth between the storylines? Was it per the script, or did you massage that into that evolution with the other editors?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

So, for my episode is completely different than the other episodes.I mean, this one Ava and I had to do a lot of restructuring of the episode itself. Yeah, she gave me carte blanche, you know? I think the first cut I gave her was basically the script and she was like, “No, no, no. Go back and make it what it’s supposed to be. And here’s my problems with basically how the script was, so can you fix these in editorial?” So… it was really great to just do what I needed to do to get the episode together. Yeah, this is a good example of… Like, so the Raymond transition part, that was all storyboarded, they had previs, they really prepared for that.

Paul Day, CCE:

Oh, interesting. Okay.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

And Antron’s… Whereas the Antron transition, that was all created in the editing room, really.

Paul Day, CCE:

That’s great. And so let’s touch upon just briefly about your experience working as a solo editor, cutting a full mini-series, and working with other editors. I think there’s some audience members who definitely always constantly have those questions about what’s it like on a series maintaining continuity, but also just working relationships with people, that kind of aspect. You know, how do you guys organize yourself as far as making comments on shows and stuff like that?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

I think When They See Us, you know, as opposed to how Godless and The Queen’s Gambit were done where I was the only one, on When They See Us, it was really important, for even during dailies, how we all commented on dailies. Ava wanted a breakdown from all of us of what we thought of the footage, if we needed any, if we needed her to get anything, based on what we thought. And so we all knew, what we had that collaboration from the get-go, and because she was shooting it all at once, it’s not like somebody was finished before the others. I suppose like episode one was finished sooner than say episode four, for example, but just the way it worked in terms actor schedules. But I think… What was great is we just made it a point to sit down and look at everything and comment on everything. And when episodes were coming together, Ava was very much like, “Okay, come in and you see it, you give your feedback, and you give your feedback.” And we did that. And towards the end, when the episodes were two studio cuts in, we actually sat and we did a whole binge of the four, which is just really emotionally draining. And we were able to give like the feedback by sitting all together, watching it and having an opportunity to go over it one more time. You know, so that was interesting on that show. Now, if you’re on a show that’s more episodic, where you have different directors, it’s a completely different thing. I think what makes a difference is how many directors you have on a show.

Paul Day, CCE:

Having that one guiding force, moving you through it.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Exactly.

Paul Day, CCE:

Let’s talk briefly about your method, your isolated… How you approach dailies and how you sort of break down looking at footage. Just give us a day-to-day habit that you go through.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

The day in the life in the cutting room of Michelle Tesoro. It depends on the show, but I’ll just say what it was on The Queen’s Gambit just because it’s the most recent thought of me being in dailies. The footage comes in and I have the assistants organize it and in sequences that I call pulls, which are basically the segments of the scenes in script order. All the setups, all the cameras, everything in one sequence. And, so, they do that for the day, and on Queen’s, those were usually ready by right before lunch or just after lunch. So we’d have a leisurely lunch, and then after lunch we’d sit and we’d watch all these things together, all the sequences, meaning everything that was shot for the day. And I would make my notes, we would make our comments on it. We’d talk about what we saw, basically me and the assistants on The Queen’s Gambit. I had two. And… by the end of it, I would say, okay, if there were scenes that I think I could give to them, I would give to them. So every time they would have something to cut, I would say, “Okay, you do 3:24 to 3:30,” or whatever. And then I usually would give myself the hardest chunk, which actually sometimes it sucked because sometimes you look for those oners or those easy scenes to give you a mental break. And so on The Queen’s Gambit and I was always doing the hard stuff. I was like, “Goddamn it.”

Paul Day, CCE:

Got to hand over one of the hard [inaudible 00:34:45].

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Yeah. Which I did, but I didn’t want to overload them because I knew they already had a lot of work that they were doing. So… But it was fun because whatever they did do, how it rolled is once they started cutting, they would show me, like they would show us, we would screen their versions of cuts and we would make comments. We would all make comments on each other’s cuts. And I could give feedback if they had time to do that. But, you know, you have a certain amount of time, so we worked well with what we had. And I think that was basically the daily routine for many weeks. And at some point at the end of every week, we would get everything together so, to pick sequences and send it to Scott for his feedback.

Paul Day, CCE:

Now you were talking about pulls, I think you referred to them as. Is that like a selects reel? Would you just have everything in the selects reel or would you just have circle takes or would it be based on director’s choices or your choices?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

So we typically get everything even B neg footage. And within the… when we’re naming the clips, if there was a director select, that would have an asterisk next to it. So I could see in the timeline, what were circles, other than looking at the facing page, but I could see in the timeline what they were. So if we were really pressed for time, we wouldn’t watch all the B neg stuff, we would just watch the director selects. But in the pull sequence itself, which is, as you described, like basically I would say, “Okay, line one to line eight would be this section.” And then you’d see all the setups for that and all the takes for that, or all the cameras for that. You would have everything there.

So it’s mostly set up. So while you’re cutting, if you need to reference other takes, you had kinda an easy way. It’s just, I can’t just [crosstalk 00:36:35] sync.

Paul Day, CCE:

Yeah.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

[inaudible 00:36:35] sync is hard for me because it’s just words. I need pictures.

Paul Day, CCE:

Right. You’re a picture editor. That’s why. You need the visuals.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Yes.

Paul Day, CCE:

Nothing wrong with that at all. Don’t have to say you’re sorry. One of the things I wanted to talk to you about was the series Godless. I think I told you when we met for pre-interview, it’s like one of those shows that I think I’ve binged twice now because it’s so deliciously done.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

[inaudible 00:37:02]. Oh my God, thank you!

Paul Day, CCE:

It’s so well done. It’s amazing. I can’t gush enough over this series. Watching it is just so much fun. And Canadian Kim Coates just chews up the scenery in just about every scene that he’s in, because he’s just so good. But I have two questions actually. And one of them is just, I just noticed that Godless and Queen’s Gambit are seven episodes. Why seven? Why not eight? Why not six? Why not 10?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Seven episodes means we’ve gone over and had to create a seventh, for both.

Paul Day, CCE:

Oh. So it always started off at six?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

It always started off at six. Yeah, it’s funny. I think the run times for both of them both ended up about seven and a half hours.

Paul Day, CCE:

When you sit down to cut a whole mini-series like that, do you know where the changeovers are as far as the episodes are concerned? Or do you cut it like one big seven, nine-hour movie?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

You cut it like one, what starts as almost nine and a half, 10-hour movie. And then you wind it down. Obviously when he writes the scripts, they are episodes. They’re written in episodes. He has already decided, “Okay, this ends here, this starts here.” But I think Godless is a little clearer where things started, we shifted things around. I can’t remember if we… Oh, no, we did break up. We broke up episode five into two for Godless. For Queen’s Gambit, we broke up episode two into episodes two A and two B, which is episodes two and three. It’s funny because you look at it, it’s like, well, we do want to keep all this story, but we’re always struggling with length somehow. He hasn’t quite hit that… Been able to write a good 45 minute episode. (laughs)

Paul Day, CCE:

But I think that’s a testament to the fact that all the characterizations and the dialogue and just everything that’s put together. That sequence, the second question I have for that particular was sequence is, was it written that way or were there a lot of embellishments that you added to connect it all together and make it so cool?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Yeah. What’s fun about that… Well, it was a little bit of both, you know, I think it was definitely written in a certain way. If you’re counting, we definitely are stick tight to how many clips, how many bullets, because it’s very important that, ‘oh, there was a seventh one!’ but where is it in terms of scoop, putting everything together. And they did storyboard that. They had to, there was so many stunts involved, especially with the horses. But I think that… And I remember I put it together exactly as storyboarded in the assembly and he was looking at it, going, “There’s something wrong with it. Just do another pass where you’re making it cool.” And I’m like, okay. And that’s when we see the intercutting of Roy and McNue on top of each other when he’s, “Shoot, shoot, shoot,” is when I started getting a little bit more into it there.

Paul Day, CCE:

Right. So well done. So well done. What advice would you give for up-and-coming editors, assistant editors, people wanting to get into post. What is your top secret go-to advice?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Oh my gosh, I guess it would be, you know, keep cutting, keep challenging yourself, and let people know if you’re trying to move on up. I think in my earlier story, I sort of I made that clear as everybody knew that I was doing it and it was just a matter of time. That’s what I would say.

Paul Day, CCE:

Another question is, if you’re put into a situation that you may not necessarily think it’s an advantage to you, do you look at it as at least a stepping stone? Like if you’re involved with a show that might not be something you want to do or being put into a situation that, you know, what it’s going to take to advance you to the next level.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Yeah. I mean, I think… Troy Takaki gave me this advice recently. It is, in so many ways, about your relationships. Relationships are more important sometimes than what the job is, because you just never know what weird TV show is going to lead you to another prestigious TV show. Because those players, whoever you’re working with, do a variety of things and things are always changing. So… I mean this sort of attaches on to the first question, like what would be the good advice, is try to keep in mind what relationships you’re creating and what that may mean later on.

Paul Day, CCE:

Well, tell us about the things that really get you jived up, like the shows when you’re on shows. What is it that you wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get into the cutting room?

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Usually when there is a puzzle to solve that we haven’t quite cracked and I’ve been mulling it over in my mind, whatever it might be. And I think I have that, “Ah! Ah! I know what I want to do.” I need to get in the cutting room and makes, see if it works or not, or if it’s just a fantasy that lives in my head.

Paul Day, CCE:

Well, I think we’ve come to the end of our road. The one thing I just wanted to say is thank you for taking the time to join us and be part of this. Again, your career, your.. all the shows that you’ve worked on have just been amazing and you should be quite proud of yourself. And I want to thank you on behalf of the Canadian Cinema Editors and EditCon that you had joined us. Thank you so much.

Michelle Tesoro, ACE:

Thanks so much. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. Take care.

[Sarah Taylor:

Thank you so much for joining us, and a big thank you goes to Jane MacRae and Alison Dowler. This episode was edited by Alex Schead. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music created by Chad Blain and Soundstripe. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao.

 

The CCE has been supporting Indspire, an organization that provides funding and scholarships for indigenous postsecondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at cceditors.ca or you can donate directly to indspire.ca. I-N-D-S-P-I-R-E dot C-A.

The CCE is taking to build a more equitable ecosystem within our industry and we encourage our members to participate in any way they can. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and tell your friends to tune in.

Till next time, I’m your host, Sarah Taylor.

Speaker 5:

The CCE is a nonprofit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture editing. If you wish to become a CCE member, please visit our website www.cceditors.ca. Join our great community of Canadian editors for more related info.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Podcasts

What do you want to hear on The Editors Cut?

Please send along any topics you would like us to cover or editors you would love to hear from:

Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Alison Dowler

Jana Spinola

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Edited by

Alex Schead

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blain

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

Jam Post

Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 056: Editing Unorthodox with Gesa Jäger and Hansjörg Weißbrich

The Editors Cut - Episode 056

Episode 056: Editing Unorthodox with Gesa Jäger and Hansjörg Weißbrich

This episode is the master series that took place on October 18, 2020 with the editors from the Netflix mini-series UNORTHODOX - Gesa Jäger and Hansjörg Weißbrich.

Unorthodox Poster

Released in spring 2020, Unorthodox became one of the most popular titles on Netflix immediately after its premiere. With millions of views around the globe, this mini-series received rave reviews and eight Primetime Emmy Award nominations, culminating in a win for director Maria Schrader (Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series). This talk focused on the collaboration between the series’ two editors, and their journey in making the project a success.

 

Hansjörg Weißbrich photo

Hansjörg Weißbrich is an award-winning German film editor. After 25 years in the industry, he has worked with numerous German and international directors on more than 50 feature films so far. In addition to his close collaboration with highly acclaimed German director Hans-Christian Schmid (“Requiem“, “Storm“), he also worked with Danish director Bille August (“Night Train to Lisbon“ with Jeremy Irons and “55 Steps“ with Helena Bonham-Carter and Hilary Swank), Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov “Francofonia“, Academy Award-winner Florian Gallenberger (“Quiero Ser“, “Colonia“ with Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl), and Marco Kreuzpaintner (“Trade“ with Kevin Kline, produced by Roland Emmerich). 

His latest works include “Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe” by Maria Schrader (Austrian Oscar submission 2017), “The Divine Order” by Petra Volpe (Swiss Oscar submission 2018 and Tribeca winner 2017), “3 Days In Quiberon” by Emily Atef (Berlinale 2018 Competition), “The Aspern Papers” by young French director Julien Landais, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and co-produced by Academy Award winner James Ivory, and Diane Kruger-starrer “The Operative” by Yuval Adler. 

Weißbrich’s documentary work includes “Master Of The Universe” (European Film Award 2014) and social media doc “The Cleaners”, which premiered in Sundance 2018. 

For his work, Weissbrich has received numerous awards, most recently the German Film Award in 2014 for “Two Lives” by Georg Maas, that made the Oscar shortlist for Best Foreign Film in 2014

Weißbrich is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the European Film Academy and the German Film Academy.

Gesa Jäger Photo

While studying history, Gesa Jäger went through various internship programs, where she discovered her passion for editing and subsequently completed an apprenticeship for film and news editing at the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) in Hamburg. Following a brief period of employment at NDR, she enrolled at the Filmuniversity Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, studying Film Editing and editing several shorts and a feature film. Gesa Jäger graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in September 2013 with the feature film “Love Steaks”, which was not only nominated for the German Film Awards, but also won her the “NRW Schnitt Preis Spielfilm” at film+ festival in Cologne 2014 and the “Award for outstanding achievement in Editing” at New York First Time Fest 2014. 

In 2019, she was awarded the “Filmkunstpreis Sachsen-Anhalt/Special Schnitt” by the Filmkunsttage Sachsen-Anhalt, which also presented an exhibition of her other work. That same year she was awarded the “Bild Kunst Schnitt Preis Dokumentarfilm” at the film+ Festival for her editing of “Dreamaway”, an Egyptian-German co-production. “Unorthodox”, which she edited alongside Hansjörg Weißbrich in the fall 2019, has just won director Maria Schrader a “Primetime Emmy Award” for outstanding directing of a limited series.

This master class was moderated by Sandy Pereira

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 056 – “Editing Unorthodox with Gesa Jäger and Weißbrich Hansjörg”

Sarah Taylor:

This episode was generously sponsored by Jack’s, a creative house, Annex Pro and Avid.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

In the beginning when I first started editing, I dreamt in loops. So I am very happy that this was only in the beginning because otherwise he would get a little, I don’t know.

Gesa Jäger:

How short were the loops? Like three seconds or three minutes?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Three seconds. [inaudible 00:00:26]

Gesa Jäger:

Oh my God!

Sandy Pereira:

That’s very stressful. So good on you. 

Sarah Taylor:

Hello and welcome to the Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast and that many of you who may be listening to us from are part of ancestral territory. It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral territory that has long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived, met and interacted. We honor, respect and recognize these nations that have never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters on which we stand today. We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land, the rich culture, the many contributions and the concerns that impact indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start to a deeper action.

Today I bring to you the master series that took place on October 18th, 2020, editing Unorthodox with Gesa Jager and Hansjörg Weißbrich. Released in spring 2020, Unorthodox became one of the most popular titles on Netflix immediately after the premier. With millions of views around the globe, this mini-series received rave reviews and eight primetime Emmy Award nominations, and a win for director Maria Shrader for outstanding director for a limited series. This talk focused on the collaboration between the series’ two highly successful German editors and their journey in making the project a success. This panel was moderated by editor, Sandy Pereira.

[Show Open]

And action!

This is the Editor’s Cut.

A CCE podcast.

Exploring the art- 

Of picture editing.

Sandy Pereira:

Thank you everyone for joining us today for this discussion and welcome, Gesa and Hansjorg.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Hello. 

Gesa Jäger:

Hi.

Sandy Pereira:

Hello. So I guess first, question, how did you come to work on this project? How did you become involved?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Actually, I worked with director Maria Shrader before, especially on Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe, which was the Austrian entry for the Oscars that year. And Maria asked me if I would like to do the show with her and was clear from the beginning that we would have more than one editor. So Gesa came on board as a suggestion from the production. I knew Gesa a little bit, but we never worked together. And I’m very happy that we took Gesa on board because it has been a fantastic team.

Sandy Pereira:

And Gesa, so how did you get involved? Did you get the script? Did you know anyone on the production or how did that happen?

Gesa Jäger: 

I didn’t know anyone. I just got call from the production and they told me what the story was about. And I thought, okay, well it’s a strong female character. I could connect to that right away. And then at that point it was not yet official that Maria was going to direct it, but I asked who’s going to direct it. And they said, “It’s not really official yet, but it’s Maria Shrader.” And then I was like, okay, because I loved her. And then I asked, “Okay, this sounds like there’s more than one person editing, who’s going to edit it?” And then she said, Hansjörg Weißbrich. That was kind of my moment when I was like yeah, I know him because Hansjorg has edited most of the German films from the early 2000s that I love. And at some point when I got into editing, I realized that all of the films from that time span that I like are edited by him. So that was my connection and that was one of the reasons why I wanted to work on this project.

Sandy Pereira:

That’s definitely exciting. Yeah. I know having worked with somebody I admired and who hired me as an assistant and being able to mentor under them, it’s like, you have that moment where you’re like, this is life, is this real life, is this is happening. So that’s amazing that you two got to work together. What drew you to the series? You mentioned, Gesa, that it was a strong female character. Did you get to read the script or any of the script ahead of time, an outline, how much information did you get before you actually got to work?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

When Maria asked me at that moment, there were no scripts at all. I think that there was not even a summary or something, but of course there was the book by Deborah Feldman. And I met with Anna Winger, the producer and the showrunner. She gave me the book by Deborah, so I knew basically what it was about. And as Gesa already pointed out, a strong female character, but also the cultural background was something that I was very interested in. When Maria asked me, and we are good friends. I was sure that it was something relevant, emotional, and a story worth telling. So it was a little bit blind date with a script to come, but it– worked out

Sandy Pereira:

It worked out.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

It was interesting because I rarely am in a situation where you don’t have a script and you have to make a decision, but if you can rely on the people involved, you can be pretty sure that something good is coming out of it.

Sandy Pereira:

And did you get a chance to read the book then before you started?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

I was in the middle of another project and I was waiting for the script for the screenplay to come. Then I got episode one and couple of weeks later, episode two and so on.

Sandy Pereira:

And Gesa, did you get a chance to read a script before you started?

Gesa Jäger:

The script, yeah. Also the novel, I think I ordered it the same day they called me because I wanted to know right away what it was about. I still haven’t read it through yet because shortly after, that the scripts came and then I thought, okay, now I’m going to confuse the novel and the scripts. So I stopped reading, but I liked it as far as I got. But knowing what it was about was enough and knowing the people involved was enough. So I didn’t need the script to make my decision. Also, I edited a documentary about a guy leaving this kind of community three or four years ago, so I could connect to the whole theme very, very fast. I wanted to do it right away.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah, so a leap of faith from both of you to work on this, which is pretty cool actually. A testament to the people involved, that’s for sure. So when you did start working, how did you collaborate? How did you split up the work and how long did you work on the project? How long did this take?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

I started editing during shooting and I did a rough cut for all the four episodes. And then Gesa came on board and took over episode two and three. We discussed how to split the work best. And there were several options in the beginning. I think that there was a plan to even get a third editor on board for just three weeks. And we constantly had to switch episodes, Gesa and I preferred to not to switch so much and make it more a plan that splitting episodes as a whole would be better. And finally, we found a solution not to get a third person on board, and I think it was a very good decision.

Gesa Jäger:

You have this kind of Netflix post-production schedule. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked for Netflix, they have a very… quite a strict plan what happens at point to what episode. And that was why we had to switch so much. You have one week for your editor s cut, one week for director’s cut, one week for the show runner’s cut. And then there’s three Netflix cuts. At the end of the week you give the episode to Netflix, then they have one week to send their notes and then you rework the episodes. So I think after the rough cut, every one of us had six to seven weeks per episode.

Sandy Pereira:

Okay. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time.

Gesa Jäger:

It’s not.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

I think it was about 12 weeks during shooting and then 12 weeks for each of us after shooting, 36 weeks. Yeah, editing, which I think is better.

Sandy Pereira:

It’s just, when you have so many people involved, sometimes that just doesn’t feel like enough time, but you did it.  

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

The plan was, when you give one episode to Netflix and wait for their feedback, you continue working on the other episode. So we too also switched between our respective episodes, but that was the basic plan. And we somehow stick to that plan. But of course, there were episodes or scenes that took a little more time or more attention, of course. And somehow we did our own schedule, except for of course, that there were the dates you had.

Sandy Pereira:

You had to hit certain dates, but you could kind of massage what you needed in between.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

There was not so many remarks on one episode, you could steal one or two days for the other one.

Sandy Pereira:

Right, exactly. Do what you have to do. Four episodes, two editors, several timelines, well, two different timelines, more than two different timelines. And then there’s also the story of Moishe and Yanky and her aunt and Bobby back in Brooklyn. There are so many stories and layers at play. How do you manage it all, splitting the work, making sure it’s a cohesive whole? You had assistants who I imagine would’ve helped in sort of trying to manage this. How did you see the bigger picture while you were trying to put this all together?

Gesa Jäger:

Since I started editing, I’ve been using magnetic boards. I don’t know how you work, but we had this great apartment in which we were editing in, which was like a whole space just for us. Hansjorg had his room, I had mine. We had two great assistants, Daniela Schramm Moura and Sandra Böhme. They both had their own rooms. And then we had a big kitchen. And between that, there was a hallway. And in this hallway, there was a big magnetic board. So we chose still frames from every scene. We had printed them and put them on this magnetic board. And so we could take a step away from the puzzle and then get back to the Avid, which always helps me a lot. And in the beginning, I think Hansjorg said he doesn’t need it, but then he was quite happy that it was there.

Sandy Pereira:

You were a convert.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

In fact, I’m used to edit feature films and not series. And I somehow prefer to do it on the Avid and watch it and see if it turns out or not. But of course in this specific case, the stretch was a little longer and it was far more complicated with, as you said, the two different timelines and the three different storylines. It was in fact, most of the time that we spent a lot of time on structuring the show. And we did change a lot in fact and with a help, by the way, of Anna Winger, who was the writer, producer and show runner on film. And she was very open to, sometimes she was the first to say, “This doesn’t work, let’s change it. Or what can we do?” And the magnetic board was very, very helpful because we tried a lot, different orders…

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. Were Maria and Anna in there changing things around as well? Or was it mostly the two of you?

Gesa Jäger:

Sometimes it was Maria and Hansjorg and I was standing behind them being amazed how fast they can think.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Sometimes we had a coffee in the morning, Gesa and I, and we thought, well, how can we solve a specific question? And it was a very open atmosphere.

Sandy Pereira:

It sounds like it. It sounds really ideal, like it was just sort of this hub where you guys could stand around and really look at the big picture. You can’t really do that in the Avid. You could watch it and talk about it, but to actually see it all in one, it’s a handy tool that’s for sure.

Gesa Jäger:

Yeah. It makes it easier to put a scene from one episode to another, which didn’t happen very often. I think just once or twice maybe, but that’s easier, just to take it and put it there, seeing at all.

Sandy Pereira:

And even placing flashbacks. If they come in at the wrong time, you really notice it so having something visual sometimes to just play before you actually get in there and do the work was probably really handy with something like this, because it really is layered and complicated. There is one moment, I think it’s in episode one where we’re in a flashback and then that flashback goes to a flashback. So you’ve got these and you would think something like that might not work, but it does. But I know a lot of this sometimes is trial and error. I’m not sure how much was written, but we’ll get to that later. I don’t want to jump ahead of myself. I guess we should start talking about the first episode, which Hansjorg would have been your episode. You cut episode one.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

The moment when Esther finally decides to liberate herself by putting off the wig. She doesn’t undress to take a bath, so she takes that bath fully dressed, which somehow explains the difficulties of course, she will face in the new environment. And then the whole moment is loaded with, of course, with the ritual of the Mikvah that we will see later on in episode two. And the past, you mentioned it, an artsy past of Berlin, especially of course, the capital of Germany. It’s of course a difficult decision to go specifically to Berlin for her. Why would she do that? But of course, she follows her mother. And I specifically like the moment when we see the photo of the grandmother being taken out of the envelope, she lived through that past and she is wearing the wig. And it all reflects the now and the past, and the really complicated decision Estee is taking for herself.

Sandy Pereira:

It’s almost like, this is my religious background, it’s almost like a baptism. She walks in, she takes off the wig. It is like the Mikvah as well, but this sort of baptism and she’s faced with the past and she’s faced with her future. And it’s just this layered moment. Her friend, Dasia, is sitting on the beach watching her. You don’t even really know this character yet, but you really feel. And that’s something that I have to say, and I’m wondering how you arrived there, we start with Estee escaping, the whole series, we start with her escaping essentially, without knowing her, without knowing why she’s escaping, why she’s leaving, why she’s so desperate.

We get a sense, but we don’t really know her yet. And even in this moment, still don’t really know why she needs this escape, because like you said, she’s in Berlin. On the car ride over, she talks about how this is a horrible place for her, this is a place of historical horrors. And yet here she is basically being welcomed in this lake. How in the cutting room were you able to make that moment have such an impact when we’ve only really just begun this series? We’ve only really gotten to know these characters. Was there a lot of discussion? Was this scripted this way, or did you rework the script and the opening to make that work? How did that all land?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Well, I think it has to do with the way the scene builds up. And of course we worked a lot, especially on the beginning of the show, with the escape and how much information do we give the audience and how much do we stick to the lead character? Because originally in the script, it was a little bit more intercut with the action in New York, with Estee missing in New York, with people wondering where she is. We cut that a little down to stick to her and to have her arrive in Berlin a little earlier. And then there’s a funny thing in the script. 

There was a scene in the music academy when she first meets her future friends, they invite her to join her for the lake. And she sneaks into the bathroom and takes her wig off for the first time, like to find out if she would be able to do in public. So she did it for herself, but it felt like giving away the moment. So I suggested to cut that scene out to have the full impact when we see her first without the wig and with the short hair, which is a revelation as well at that moment of the show. So I think these are the questions that build up the emotional impact of the scene as well.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah, definitely. And removing that scene was a wise, I think, very wise choice, because seeing that reveal in the lake really hits you. And if you had teased it beforehand, it definitely wouldn’t have hit the same way. So yeah, great suggestion. One of the things that I noticed the most in the series is this feeling of authenticity. There’s so much detail and so much specificity to this culture and way of life that sometimes it almost feels like a documentary. There are moments that feel so objective, but yet you never feel like you’re not with the characters.

But there are these moments, and the wedding is one of the ones that, the whole ritual leading up to the actual marriage, there’s just this feeling that you’re watching a documentary. I think it’s a combination of the sound, of the way it’s shot, of the location. There’s just so much there that’s going on. And then you have these like ultra tight closeups of her face and her eyes and the back of her head, which just kind of break that up. How did you balance that? Balance the objectivity and the subjectivity so that yes, you’re feeling like you’re watching something very authentic and you’re immersed in it, but to remind everyone this is really Estee’s point of view. How did that play out?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Generally, I think the overall topic for Anna Winger and Maria was to be as authentic as possible. They didn’t want to characterize the cultural environment as bad or something like that. It was clear from the beginning that they are telling Estee’s and how Estee experienced that environment and what brought her to flee the community. They had an advisor on board throughout the whole process, Ellie Rosen, who grew up in an ultra Orthodox community. And he advised the whole shooting, the preparation, the whole shooting and the editing process also in terms of language. He came once or twice to the editing and approved the final editing. So that was very, very important to the producers and to the director.

Sandy Pereira:

Let’s talk about the wedding. And A, how complicated was this wedding to put together and I imagine shoot, but put together in our case? And how were you able to keep it as authentic as possible, but within Estee’s POV? I imagine it got restructured and how you managed to sort of weave that into that second episode.

Gesa Jäger:

Okay. So that’s a lot of questions.

Sandy Pereira:

A lot questions, I’m sorry.

Gesa Jäger:

A lot of things to say. First, there was an immense amount of material. It’s five scenes, five wedding scenes, and they’ve shot at least three of them, I think with two cameras. Hansjorg, do you know? The first two parts and the dancing, at least one of the two dances I shot with two cameras. So there was a lot of material. And I took over Hansjorg’s rough cut, which for these four scenes, I think, or five scenes, was about 40 to 45 minute long. And every episode is 55 minutes long so it had to be shortened a lot, and with  authenticity. Because all of these rituals, which each of them is really important for this kind of ceremony and deciding what part of the ritual you can take away without taking away the essence was hard, but we had Ellie Rosen guiding us through this.

And there’s also this music that’s being sung live by the men in the takes. Like for the first scene, we had to loop it a lot and try to de-synchronize it a little so it sounds like they’re starting and we had to make it a lot longer to have the whole procession a lot longer. So that’s a part that we had to, not to tighten, but to make longer.

And then it was written as one block in the script. We looked it up earlier. Episode two is one of the episodes that got restructured all the way. I think the Mikvah was in the beginning of act two, and the wedding was the whole act three. It was a five act structure. And the wedding was one block. And we very early had the feeling that we couldn’t show it in one because it’s so intense. It’s so emotional. And you get so close to Estee and to Yanky. You have all of these moments where they get really, really close to each other. And if you use that and weave it into the present tense, the present gained so much from this intensity they have in the past. 

So we tried to put it in groups of two. The first one, we just watched where in the end, all this tension and this pressure comes off for a moment, which is a great moment to get back to the present. Most of the time we were just under Estee’s veil. I kind of fell in love with that in the script because we were supposed to only see feet for minutes, only feet and hear the rituals. I kind of liked that, but I still connect to that being under the veil a lot. And I think that you see that wedding kind of being shot with a, is the English word, hand camera.

Sandy Pereira:

A handheld camera?

Gesa Jäger:

Yeah. The camera was moving all the time so it felt a little more documentary. And then we have these very strong closeups seeing Estee under the veil. And I remember that we tried to show her a lot just being under the veil and moving, being close to her even if we can’t see her. And the moment of the revelation of the face gets even stronger. The authenticity part, I feel like I’m a little lost with the authenticity.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Basically, I think it’s a decision taken earlier on costumes, research, shooting. The way that the scenes are shot are really shot in a documentary style. And I think everyone involved knew that the scene wouldn’t be 40 minutes in the end. And that was the funny thing. I remember in the first script I wrote, there was just scenes from a Yiddish wedding to be researched, something like that. And I think that indicates the process. It was very much about research, documentary style for this specific wedding scene. And yeah, they shot it, I think in two days.

Sandy Pereira:

Over two days, wow. Yeah. 

Gesa Jäger:

With immensely long takes. They’ve been dancing and dancing and dancing and they were sweating. It felt very real. 

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah, I could see why. It really comes off like there was a wedding and somebody shot it.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Our DOP is a very famous for his handheld documentary style camera. So I think there’s also an artistic influence in it.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah, it’s beautifully done. And to go back to the subjectivity of it, sometimes it’s the opposite. We see lots of subjective tension happening, and then we break to something wide or objective, and then we get that relief. And I think this is the opposite. We have this long ritual, very real, very authentic, very naturalistic and then we smash to this like ultra closeup, or the veil or something that is very subjective. And so it’s doing the opposite of what our expectations are, which I find really striking in this, because I think that also reflects a lot of what’s going on in Estee’s world. We’re in her community and then we’re outside and we’re in just her sort of her point of view. And anyway, this scene, when I first watched it, I thought, oh my God, that would be the scene that would come in that you would keep saying, I’m going to cut that later. Because that’s what, five, six bins, multi camera. Okay, I’ll get to it. Let me cut all these small scenes first. Was that a little accurate?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Yes. So Gesa said she took over my rough cut. I think it was more like an assembly, because that’s exactly what [inaudible 00:29:42] when I got the material. And there were some more urgent topics or scenes to work with. And as I knew that Gesa would work on the scene or on that episode anyway, it was somehow a little bit like you described

Sandy Pereira:

Procrastinate a little bit on that one because it’s overwhelming, two days. Anything that is that intensive footage wise, you really have to steel yourself for it. And then to rework it over and over again, it’s a lot of work, but it truly pays off because I think that whole arc of the wedding and the relationship with Yanky, it all pays off in the end. So it’s a Testament to a lot of hard work on both your parts. Bravo.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

I like the cut how the wedding ends. I just re-watched it with the shaving, it cuts straight into the shaving and that is a very, very powerful cut I think. And that’s something that Gesa and Maria found out in the editing because originally, episode two would’ve ended with a shaving. So they replaced it earlier.

Gesa Jäger:

Yeah, because the shaving of the head is something, we’ve already seen her with a shaved head multiple times. She had a big reveal she had in episode one. So closing the episode with something we’ve already seen multiple times wasn’t that strong, but putting it at the very point where they start getting close to each other and then showing the other side of the coin, was so much stronger. And also ending the episode with being let down by the very person you love in the world, and she hangs up on her is so much stronger as a.

Sandy Pereira:

As an ending, yeah. That image of her getting her head shaved, it’s funny, you would think it would be horrific, but the way she played it. I know you didn’t have a lot of options to cut there, it looks like there’s only a few shots, but you don’t want to cut. You don’t want to cut away from her face because it’s a mixture of letting go, of grief for her hair, but it’s also there’s joy in her face and not what you’re expecting in that moment. And so it’s incredibly powerful.

Gesa Jäger:

It was a shot on the first day of shooting.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

[inaudible 00:32:26] a good wife and have children. Yeah, it’s multi-layered.

Sandy Pereira:

Very multi-layered, yeah. So her hair that she has is a wig normally.

Gesa Jäger:

It’s her real hair that gets shaven off it’s on the first day of shooting.

Sandy Pereira:

Wow. 

Gesa Jäger:

The Mikvah scene is her real hair and then this one is her real hair that gets shaven off. And after that, she always wears a wig when we go to the past.

Sandy Pereira:

Okay. So that’s another wig.

Gesa Jäger:

Yeah.

Sandy Pereira:

I didn’t know that. That’s amazing. So she’s started it off with a bang. Good for her. That’s a tough one.

Gesa Jäger:

So everything we see is real, the whole range of emotion is kind of real. And that’s just one shot, shot with two cameras, one from the side and one from the front.

Sandy Pereira:

And then some reactions. And even the reactions, those kids, they’re just fascinated, it’s just so great. I could watch that scene over and over. So we have a question, actually, Travis [inaudible 00:33:28].

Audience Question:

As an editor in Quebec who is somewhat bilingual, I find it difficult to work in my second language, French, when cutting dialogue. How do you overcome the barriers to work considering you are German working in the English language? 

Sandy Pereira:

And also Yiddish in this case, there’s three languages really.

Gesa Jäger:

We have English in school very early on and almost everything I watch, I watch in English. Most of the German TV is dubbed so you hear it in German. But at one point I stopped watching TV and started watching things in the original languages. So I’m very, very used to the rhythm of the English language. So that didn’t feel like a bigger problem to me. Yiddish was another thing, but we had subtitles from a very early point on. And after some time you could even turn that off because you knew what they were saying. And the rhythm is quite close to German. There are even words that are very close to German. So that wasn’t that problematic as I thought. I’ve also edited in Arabic once. That was another thing. So if you are really lost with rhythm, then it’s really hard to edit something, then you need someone by your side who can help you. But in this case, I didn’t feel like it was such a big problem. I don’t know. What do you think Hansjorg?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Same to me I think. English is somehow not the problem. And the Yiddish is very close to a German in fact. As Gesa pointed out, the whole rhythm is similar. So I did films in other languages that were more complicated for me than Yiddish in this case. But of course you have to double check in the end with a native speaker. And in that case, we had Ellie Rosen on our side, went through the whole film with him and that there were tiny little adjustments. In our case, the actors didn’t speak Yiddish either. So I think it’s far more complicated to deliver such a performance in a language they don’t speak.

Sandy Pereira:

 I would’ve thought that they spoke Yiddish. They were very convincing. 

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

They learned it with the help of Ellie. I guess they were somehow familiar, Shira with some Yiddish of course, but they didn’t speak it, they had to learn it.

Sandy Pereira:

Okay. And then I guess you have tools too as editors, you have a translation that you can work with, right? And your assistants, I imagine. Was it your assistants who subtitled the clips for you so you knew what you were? It gets complicated when you’re cutting dialogue. You’re cutting stuff out to make sure that it still makes sense and stuff.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Yeah. In fact, I did the rough cut without subtitles, with the script and the translation, and it helped that Yiddish was so close or familiar to German. Then we had the rough cut subtitled for the first time by my assistant. We also needed to subtitle every delivery, of course, to Netflix. So even if we spoke Yiddish, we would have to subtitle it. That of course is an enormous work for the assistants. All the delivery process for Netflix is quite a bit of work because they have certain specifics. Though both of our assistants [inaudible 00:37:16]

Sandy Pereira:

They had their work cut out for them with this one. But it’s always fun. I’ve cut some stuff as well in other languages and we get sometimes a transliteration if it’s in an alphabet that is not English in my case. And it’s the cutting out dialogue that gets you nervous because you’re like, is it going to make sense after if I cut out these words? If I reverse the conversation and start it here, and it’s always handy to have, like you guys had a consultant who could do that. And so you always have to find someone.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Pretty well. I think during the editing, without a consultant, combining two takes also was not that complicated. But I did do films in Arabic, for example, or in Chinese or Japanese, that really is a problem.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. It gets complicated. Because obviously your English, you’re fluent both of you, but you get into languages you really are not familiar with, it gets really hard. My next question would be, and we’ve talked a bit about this, about how much the script changed. And you talked about how the wedding episode changed a lot, the first episode changed a lot. How different was the final four episodes compared to the first four scripts? How much did it evolve in the edit? Was it like night and day or?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Basically we didn’t cut out so much. The scene I mentioned earlier on was one of two or three scenes, I think, that have been cut out completely.

Sandy Pereira:

Just gone. Wow, that’s it.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Yeah. Other than that, it was more like tightening and shortening and of course restructuring. I never compared the scripts to the final editing, but it changed a lot. But it was like the whole script writing, I think was kind of a process because the whole production took place within one year, from starting the scripts to the final deliveries of the show. You can imagine that there was not so much time [crosstalk 00:39:28] the script before shooting started. So it was a fluid process. And as I mentioned, Anna, the writer and showrunner, was so open and she considered it; I think that kind of process that there is not a script you have to stick to literally, but you have to work with the scenes you shot and put it together. And she also was in the editing of course and we worked together on the restructuring.

Sandy Pereira:

So this really was truly a series that was found in the cutting room in that sense, the way it’s told. And so Gesa, was this somewhere where your board came in handy? Really, if it was this fluid, almost like a documentary in that sense where you’re getting scenes and there was more of a script in the sense, but really there was this freedom to play around. Was it mostly because of the flashback structure or was it just because of all of the storylines and they just all needed to make sense?

Gesa Jäger:

I think it’s all of the storylines, but primarily the flashbacks. Because sometimes I felt like there’s a German expression, [00:40:42]. Hansjorg, do you know the English translation maybe?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

You have plenty of options.

Gesa Jäger:

Yeah. That doesn’t sound as beautiful.

Sandy Pereira:

Too many options?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

An abundance of options.

Sandy Pereira:

An abundance of options.

Gesa Jäger:

And you feel like everything is there, it’s just not yet in the right place. And then I felt like Hansjorg was pretty good at making these kinds of connections. Like my episodes, he remembered lines from scenes. I feel like this one picture you have, of course, has to reflect the whole scene when you’re puzzling. And he sometimes remembered like that one sentence and said, okay, but if we stop at this sentence and then go to the past and not have these three more sentences, then the past would be like a magnet connected to the present or so. So the board kind of helped making those connections easier. For me, it’s standing up, going somewhere else, leaving something behind, getting my head free, puzzling, going back and then trying out. It helps me a lot.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. A lot of trial and error with that. And a lot of moving things around.

Gesa Jäger:

Yeah.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. Getting up and getting a coffee and just leaving for 10 minutes, coming back, it’s amazing how it’ll just sort of reboot your brain a little bit. Sometimes I find, I don’t know if you guys find this, if I go to sleep, I will dream. Do you ever do this? You dream about the scene because that’s all you can think about. You don’t do it?

Gesa Jäger:

No.

Sandy Pereira:

I do.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

In the very beginning, but somehow I think I decided I stopped that.

Sandy Pereira:

Get out of my head. 

Gesa Jäger:

Good for you.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah, good for you. But the one good thing is sometimes I’ll wake up and I’ll think, I got it. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not, but it’s the ultimate break, that sleep state.

Gesa Jäger:

For me it’s the shower. I don’t know why, but it’s like almost every time I go under the shower that I have an idea. I have never tried that, doing it on purpose.

Sandy Pereira:

But it’s probably the sound of the water, puts you in a meditative state.

Gesa Jäger:

Maybe, I don’t know. It’s the shower and the early hours of sleeping or going to sleep, lying down, not wanting to think, but coming back to something and then having that idea. Happened to me two nights ago, I wrote something down that I needed.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. Hansjörg, you must sleep peacefully. You don’t think about work, you just tune it out, shut it off.

Gesa Jäger:

Hansjorg doesn’t sleep that much.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

It’s right. It’s not related now, but in the beginning when I first started editing, I dreamt in loops. So I am very happy that this was only in the beginning because otherwise you would get a little, I don’t know.

Gesa Jäger:

How short were the loops, like three seconds or three minutes?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

No, no, no, three seconds.

Sandy Pereira:

That’s very stressful. So good on you.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Restructuring the show, sometimes two options were not, which one would be the best. And I think trial and error, or with thinking about what could be best. Sometimes you don’t find the solution which is best for all parts of it, because it’s like a puzzle. And if you take something out here, maybe something is missing, but the part you take out is better at another place. So I think you also have to have the ability to decide in the end which options are the best. And there are always, I think, more than one option and it’s especially difficult if you don’t have an option which is totally the best or everyone agrees that it’s the best. This is another topic in the editing, of course. There are lots of opinions and you have to deal with moderating, not specifically on this show, but in general.

Sandy Pereira:

And in this case, you don’t just have your producer and your director, you also have your broadcaster. So they will have an opinion as well. And sometimes you have to figure out not just make everyone happy, but how to make sure that if they have a valid point, that it gets really addressed in the cut. And that can be difficult. So I have another question. So this is from Alex Shade. 

Audience Question:

Hi everyone. And thank you for hosting this panel. My question is about the choosing of the assistant editors and on top of the language, what other requirements or skills were you looking for? Did they have anything to do with delivering to Netflix and their delivery requirements? So choosing your assistants, were these, I guess people you’d worked before, or how did you come to put your crew together, I guess?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

In my case, I haven’t worked with Sandra before, and it was very short notice to find someone. And Sandra worked for a Netflix project before, and that was something I was looking for because I wanted to rely on someone for all the requirements, because I didn’t really want to get into that. Sandra was a very good choice.

Gesa Jäger:

Yeah. I’ve worked with Daniela before on an Amazon Prime series or show. There she was the third assistant and she came later on the project when the workload was getting too big. And she kind of saved our asses a little. And she was really good like making sound design and also has a personality that kind of soothes me in a way. So when I get stressed and I talk to Daniela I always feel better afterwards. So I knew she would be the perfect person for this.

Sandy Pereira:

Very important in the cutting room, to have that calm voice to kind of bring you down. I really would love to talk about the use of ritual in the series and how that was intercut and balanced out through the whole show. But episode three, it’s throughout, but for some reason, episode three just always stands out to me as having all these sort of rituals and counter rituals. It’s not final, but she’s starting to shed a lot of these repressions and a lot of these inhibitions that she’s been taught her whole life. And she has these moments where she feels like nothing bad is happening. I’m doing all these bad things, but nothing bad is happening. 

And this scene, it’s so beautiful especially because it is juxtaposed so starkly with that opening scene and with Yanky. Was that always scripted to be that way? Did this come organically? How did you make that all work? And also that scene in itself with music and everything, if you could talk a little bit about your work there, that would be great.

Gesa Jäger:

So these two scenes are in the place that were written that way. The episode was supposed to start with the ritual and end with the love scene. This is the first time Estee gets touched, like really touched by someone. We tried to reflect that, of course, in the way we edit that scene. I remember that Maria very early on had the idea to weave the club and the sex scene together. And I remember that at first she was not in the editing and I tried that and I worked into the wrong direction. I started the love scene in the club. I kind of let that glide into each other, not having them come home, but people dancing and they start touching. 

And with that, taking away the whole essence of the scene. This moment when she doesn’t know what to do and kind of jumps in his face and then realizes, okay, this is not the way this is supposed to be. And then him showing her in a very subtle way how to get close to someone. And when they were shooting the club scene, there was this real party crowd and Catnapp, she made the music life, the artist, Catnapp. And in one take, there was another version of the same song that Yansis playing the violin to. And it was this very slow version of that song.

And everyone started moving in some kind of wave, there were all these bodies. And the camera captured some of those moments very beautifully. And that was Maria’s idea in the beginning to get Estee and Catnapp together. She’s this version of her in maybe 10 or 15 years. She’s someone Estee could look up two. And then we started to combine these two scenes and put more and more of those women’s bodies into it. And then we had the luxury to get this track of Catnapp. She sent the stems to us. The howling of the wolf separately, it had the beat separately. It had all of those instruments.

Sandy Pereira:

Amazing to have that in the cutting room.

Gesa Jäger:

Yeah. We could decide at what point is the Wolf supposed to howl, at what point does the beat come in. And so we kind of layered that together with the touches and that works so well. I love the scene so much.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah, it’s so sensual. I think because it is this buildup too. And I think there’s a lot about this series where there are these build ups. So they pay off later, but they’re so worth the wait. And this is one of them, especially the way the episode is framed. You couldn’t have two different sex scenes in one episode of television. It’s amazingly done that way. And this brings me to another question which is the music in this series. Music is so central. Obviously, this is Estee;s escape route, is through her music or her trying to come into this music community. But yet it’s very spare the music that you’ve used in the series. It’s a very quiet series. There aren’t any huge musical moments. That moment in the club is probably the biggest musical moment. Was this a discussion beforehand? Was this a discussion in editorial? Was the composer brought in early, late? How did the music conversation come into play? 

Gesa Jäger:

Sorry, Hansjorg, but do you feel also that it’s such a quiet because I don’t feel it’s very quiet. It’s interesting. 

Sandy Pereira:

I feel it’s so quiet.

Gesa Jäger:

I feel like we have quite a lot of music. 

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

I was about to say, we have a lot music that is part of the scene, like it’s played on screen in the scene or source music. So score somehow builds around those.

Sandy Pereira:

Maybe that’s what I’m thinking of, is that there is not a lot of score.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

So if you have that big arch, like the wedding song she sings at the audition in the end, this somehow book ends the film. You have the classical tune by Schubert that is connected to the grandmother also reappearing in the audition at the end. You have all the orchestral work, the music academy, the club music, and that is something you wouldn’t use score, or maybe a score that takes over. But the tracks by Catnapp are so powerful by themselves that that was not really necessary, and no thought of using music there. The composer, Antonio Gambale, came in at the very beginning, even before shooting. They had a pitch with several composers and he got the job.

And we worked with those pictures, four or five tracks. We decided from the very beginning that we wouldn’t use any temp tracks from different soundtracks. Which always for me is ambivalent because somehow, you stick to the first sketches and using them somehow states effect at one point. Sometimes make that experience that when a composer comes in at the very beginning, you don’t have, like what I sometimes do with temp tracks, I take one or two days and just try completely different things. In this case, we stick to what we got from him, and it fitted perfectly. Like the scene in the [inaudible 00:54:22] we saw earlier,  this is one of his first sketches, based on one.

Sandy Pereira:

On one of his first sketches.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

And it works perfectly. It’s very emotional, it’s very powerful. And we decided to use it as a light motif throughout the film. And then of course there are dozens of other parts he composed when he had the editing, of course. But also the main theme is based on one of his first sketches, the title theme, during the opening titles. This was somehow the process. He was involved, he would get the cut, he would adjust the composition. He would try new things and stuff like that, and it was somehow back and forth during the process.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. That’s great. Because sometimes you’re on a show or a feature and the composer doesn’t get hired until late. So you are trying to build tone and mood with other music and it can be really difficult. 

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

And again, gigantic temp tracks.

Sandy Pereira:

Yes. And then they all got thrown out. It can get complicated and people get attached. And so it’s great to have somebody from the beginning and to set this tone and this motif as you have described.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

But it was never, I think, never during the process, a discussion to have more music because you mentioned it. I think it was important for Maria and for Anna that the film doesn’t have an overload of music and keeps also silent moments and pure moments that don’t need emphasis with music because they’re so emotional in itself.

Sandy Pereira:

They play on their own, they really don’t need anything. And then when you have things, like in the wedding you have the men’s chorus singing, they really stand out because it’s not replaced by this overarching sort of composition. Rather, it’s just feels more natural and organic. I guess that’s what I meant by, it just never feels like the music is imposed on the series. We’re into episode four. I was thinking we could talk about Yanky when he cuts his hair, the peyot, when he cuts his peyot. And I think we’ve talked a lot about how some of the most emotional scenes are the result of this buildup, and they just have this payoff.

And this is one because I just love Yanky. And I know Yanky is one of these characters, you just want to shake him. And especially his relationship with his mother and how it imposed on their marriage. There’s so much about Yanky you just want to shake, but he is never drawn as a villain, never portrayed that way. And I know you, like you said, you took great care to make sure that there was never any villainization or anything with this community. It’s more about choices and more about freedom. And Yanky is someone who’s very late to the game. He’s just so slow in catching on.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

[Inaudible 00:57:47]Unfortunately he was too late.

Sandy Pereira:

Too late.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

The two of them coming together.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. And I think it’s what makes the scene so tragic. 

Gesa Jäger:

I need to cry every time.

Sandy Pereira:

Every time. You’ve seen it way more times obviously. I didn’t actually watch it this time because it would’ve made me cry. It’s just so emotional. He finally acknowledges her for her and he just, like you said, Hansjorg, he’s just too late. And in a way, this is his lake scene. Not the shedding, he doesn’t want to shed his culture, his community, but he’s growing. And in a way, this is sort of his lake moment. This is taking off the wig in a way. And do you want to walk us through this and how we got it to this point?

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Interesting because the scene in itself is very simple. It’s shot very simply with shot and reverse shot. And I think the emotional impact is really what builds up to that moment. And the scene reflects the whole show we’ve seen, and the tragic of the two of them. It’s the payoff of brilliant script writing, brilliant directing and especially brilliant acting, I think. And Shira, while she’s so amazing, but also Amit is really, really great. You want them to come together because they could come together under different, or they could have come together under different circumstances. 

And that is, I think yeah, the impact of the scene. Brings her that necklace with the musical notes, which was so sweet because it’s where it all started in episode one with their first conversation about music. She tells him that she likes music and he says yeah, different is good. But then different was not so good. This is all comes together in that scene. Of course it’s about editing. Also quite a simple scene, you have to carefully weigh the moments and the frames, of course, but you wouldn’t be able to work that out if the whole buildup would not work as brilliantly as that.

It’s one of my favorite scenes. And interestingly, we didn’t change so much from my original assembly in this scene because it just worked very well. Of course, we carefully shifted frames, but the overall build up, I think, was pretty much what it is now in the very beginning.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. It really is one of those scenes that without all the pieces that came together before it working, would not have paid off as well as it does. It would always be, I think, an emotional scene, but maybe not as powerful as emotional. I’ve watched it a couple of times now and it just really punches you in the gut. It just really does because it’s just so beautifully done. And again, I think one of the things that I find, all the themes that sort of you visit and the way that the show has been structured around a lot of rituals and a lot of these sacred spaces in this series, when he cuts off his peyot, it really is just this callback to everything that matters. It’s not a simple thing that he’s doing, it’s not an easy thing that he’s doing. He’s doing it in a way that is showing that he’s willing to change, but there’s just so much history and context in what he’s doing.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

You’re right. Cutting off the peyot is somehow getting rid of the wig, of course.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. And one being in episode one and one being at the end of the show, it just frames the whole thing with again, choices, another overarching theme through the whole thing. I have a couple more questions for both of you. One is, how do you feel as editors, as part of telling the story, when you work on something that’s based on a true story with such a weighted historical context, do you feel extra cautious when you are cutting out dialogue, cutting out certain moments like you were saying in the wedding ritual, not cutting out anything that’s going to make it less authentic? Do you feel that there’s almost a greater responsibility when telling a story like this on your shoulders?

Gesa Jäger:

I feel like it’s a much bigger responsibility if you edit the documentary. But still of course it had a lot to do with respect for the rituals and for not cutting out something that might be respectless in a way. It’s just her past that they used for the series and the whole [inaudible 01:03:23] It’s not her personal story so all of this was a lot easier to work on and to cut out.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Deborah was somehow, while she was not directly involved in the process, but she was part of the process. And I think Anna showed her the cut before we locked it. So it was very important to Anna that Deborah was happy with it, and she was. So that is her very personal story. I think the responsibility, more with Anna, with the adaptation and Maria of course, with the directing, but I think the creative group was so much on the same page that there was no danger of being disrespectful to the story. And the other thing I think with the show is respect for the community. This is, of course, something which is sensible, that again was very important for everyone involved. So it was not specifically in the editing or for us as editors to prevent the show being disrespectful, because there was no danger because the show runner and the director were very sensitive.

Sandy Pereira:

Right. So it was always something that was kept in mind by the whole creative team. So my last question is, what did you learn on this series and how did working on this show contribute to your evolution as editors? And what would you take from this experience onto your next experience? What is the thing, or maybe there’s more that is helping you now on your next show?

Gesa Jäger:

I have to be careful not to be fangirling again, but of course for me, it was great to see Hansjorg work and to see the way he thinks and what I talked about earlier, the way he connects things to each other. So I think I learned a lot also from taking over his assemblies or his rough cuts for my own edit, to see why and at which point did you choose what take, for example. And then also Maria, she’s really wise concerning editing. And she always says she learns about everything from Hansjorg, so maybe that’s like fangirling again. 

But no, Maria’s also an actress, not only a director. So she knows a lot about acting and about how to edit someone or something in a way that it gets really, really better. And from her, I learned a lot about pacing, about breathing, about when to put a beat and where and why. And I learned a lot what to think about before even starting to edit the scene. I think before this series, I was just looking at the material, starting to work and figuring it out while I was working. And from both of them, Hansjorg and Maria, I think I learned to first use my head and then my gut.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

For me, it was a great experience working with Gesa as well, in a team and parallel that there have not been so many projects for me to work in parallel with someone else. And that is a delicate and sensible situation, I think. Every editor knows that I think, because the tiny little things you can’t really explain, it matches or it doesn’t match. And with Gesa, it was really great. We have a similar approach to things I think, and never ever had the feeling I would do that completely different, and what is she doing there? I was very, very happy that it turned out to be such a great team with Gesa. And I hope we will work on further projects again. 

And the other thing for me was, for me it was the first experience working for Netflix and was the first full experience to work in a series format. Because I mostly edited feature films for cinema, but like 90 minutes or 100 minutes storytelling. Well, both the stretch of the story and working in an environment for Netflix where you really have a tight schedule, you have to deliver and cannot push very much and handle all sorts of other things probably not so much connected to the actual editing, was a great experience I didn’t have before. 

So personally for me, working with Maria again, a great experience and brought us even closer artistically and also as friends. And we are currently continuing our work on Maria’s next film. Having a continuity with the people you work with is very nice because you get to know each other better and you can start on the next film, you can start a step ahead from the last one. So yeah, that was very great. And of course, I was very close to her when she got the Emmy because we were working together.

Sandy Pereira:

That’s exciting.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

And that was a great moment too, of course.

Sandy Pereira:

Yeah. And well deserved. And to grow together like that show to show and keep going, it’s such a great reward for all this hard work. Thank you so much Gesa and Hansjorg for joining us. This was an incredible discussion. I’m so happy that you were able to make it and to take time out of your evening to join us. And thank you to everyone who came and asked questions, and to Pauline and Ali and the CCE team for putting this together. Good evening, goodnight. Thank you everyone. 

Gesa Jäger:

Thank you for having us.

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Thanks for having us.

Sandy Pereira:

This was lovely. Thank you so much. 

Gesa Jäger:

Thank you. 

Weißbrich Hansjörg:

Thank you.

Sarah Taylor:

Thank you so much for joining us today and a big thank you goes to Gesa, Hansjorg and Sandy. A special thanks goes to Jane MacRae and Alison Dowler. This episode was edited by Jason Konoza. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music created by Chad Blaine and Soundstripe. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Bao. The CCE has been supporting Indspire: an organization that provides funding and scholarships for indigenous post-secondary students. We have a permanent portal on our website at cceditors.ca, or you can donate directly to indspire.ca, I-N-D-S-P-I-R-E. The CCE is taking steps to build a more equitable ecosystem within our industry, and we encourage our members to participate in any way they can. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple podcast and tell your friends to tune in. Till next time, I’m your host, Sarah Taylor.

[Outro]

The CCE is a nonprofit organization with the goal of bettering the art and science of picture editing. If you wish to become a CCE member, please visit our website www.cceditors.ca. Join our great community of Canadian editors for more related information.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Podcasts

What do you want to hear on The Editors Cut?

Please send along any topics you would like us to cover or editors you would love to hear from:

Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Alison Dowler

Sandy Pereira

Liam Brownrigg Bartra

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Edited by

Jason Konoza

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blaine

Soundstripe

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

Jaxx a creative house, Annex Pro and AVID

Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 054: The Business of Freelance with Lawyer Gregory Pang

The Editors Cut - Episode 054 - The Business of Freelance with Lawyer Gregory Pang

Episode 54: The Business of Freelance with Lawyer Gregory Pang

In today’s episode Sarah Taylor chats with Gregory Pang.

Gregory Pang

Gregory is a lawyer, registered trademark agent and notary public who has been practising since 2009 in the areas of business and intellectual property law. In 2013 he started his company RedFrame Law. Before his law career, Gregory worked in film and television for 5 years in various roles, and now counts film and television production companies among his clientele. He also co-hosts the podcast Legal Cut Pro.

Gregory and Sarah talk about all things contracts/deal memos, stock licensing protocol and what to do if we don’t get paid!

 

This episode was generously sponsored by IASTE 891

iatse

Listen Here

The Editor’s Cut – Episode 054 – The Business of Freelance with Lawyer Gregory Pang

Greg Pang: One thing that perhaps freelancers can get tripped up on is that the scope of the

work is not very well defined, and what do I have to deliver and when? And can

the person contracting me, can they just keep piling on work that, well, this is

not part of the deal, but it’s super vague,right? And for both parties, there

should be clarity on what is the scope of the work, what are deliverables, and

when am I getting paid? And what triggers that payment, and how am I getting

paid, and so on, so forth.

Sarah Taylor: Hello and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor.

We would like to point out that the lands on which we have created this podcast

and that many of you may be listening to us from are part of ancestral territory.

It is important for all of us to deeply acknowledge that we are on ancestral

territory that has long served as a place where indigenous peoples have lived,

met, and interacted. We honor, respect, and recognize these nations that have

never relinquished their rights or sovereign authority over the lands and waters

on which we stand today. We encourage you to reflect on the history of the land,

the rich culture, the many contributions, and the concerns that impact

indigenous individuals and communities. Land acknowledgements are the start

to a deeper action.

Today, I bring to you Greg Pang. Greg is a lawyer, registered trademark agent, a

notary public who has been practicing since 2009 in areas of business and

intellectual property law. In 2013, he started his company, RedFrame Law.

Before his law career, Greg worked in film and television for five years in various

roles, and now counts film and television production companies among his

clientele. He also co-hosts the podcast Legal Cut Pro. Greg and I talk all things

contracts, deal memos, stock licensing protocol, and what to do when you don’t

get paid. Enjoy.

Speaker 3: And action. This is The Editor’s Cut.

Speaker 4: A CCE podcast.

Speaker 3: Exploring the art of-

Speaker 4: Picture editing.

Sarah Taylor: Welcome Greg Pang to The Editor’s Cut. Thank you for joining us today.

Greg Pang: Glad to be here, Sarah.

Sarah Taylor: So, first, I want to know a little bit about you, so you can tell us a little about

yourself. I know that you are a co-host of a podcast, Legal Cut Pro. But, yeah, tell

us how… why you decided being a lawyer was your outcome in life, and, yeah,

why entertainment?

Greg Pang: I worked in entertainment and I worked in film and TV before going to law

school.

Sarah Taylor: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Greg Pang: Yeah. Yeah. I [00:02:30] started out… as a locations PA actually.

Sarah Taylor: Oh, cool.

Greg Pang: So I started out as a locations PA, so I started as a locations PA and then got a

CFTPA internship at a small production house here in Edmonton, and I started to

just work around the province after that, and did a stint as a work study at the

Banff Center.

Sarah Taylor: Oh, nice.

Greg Pang: Eventually then moved, Ah…chased a girl to Montreal. And it worked out

because we’re married now.

Sarah Taylor: Oh, good. Excellent.

Greg Pang: I worked at a marketing distribution company. I worked for them in Montreal for

a while as well. And then shortly after that, I decided I’m not making enough

money, and I’m not quite happy with what I’m doing, so that’s when the … went

on a whim to apply to law school. And then the rest is history, as they say.

Sarah Taylor: And when you went into law school knowing that you had the background in

film and television, when you first went, you were like, “I’m going to do

entertainment law because I know the industry?”

Greg Pang: That’s a really good question because that was the thought process, but then it

that quickly evaporated knowing that, at least in maybe at Simon Fraser

University… but at most law schools in Canada at least, there’s no specialized

stream per se in law school to say “I want to do entertainment law.” Everyone

does the same courses in first year, right? So your contracts, your torts, and

criminal and whatever ones there are, and then you have a bunch of other

courses you have to do. And then you can pick and choose other courses that

are not mandatory, like intellectual property law.

So.. I always kept it in mind in thinking that, one day, I’d like to work again in the

film industry. And it just so happened that I… still made some good friends

during my time working in the industry, and they, in those years, had graduated

from being a peon, like I was, and are producers, and eventually I started

working for them and came full circle, came back to Alberta. And here I am now.

And I’m building the practice in that area, and I’d say it’s probably my favorite

practice area at this point.

Sarah Taylor: Oh, that’s fantastic. And I actually have never met Greg, but I have seen his

name in the end credits I’ve created because Greg has been a lawyer on many of

the shows that I’ve worked on here in Edmonton. And so it’s nice to put a face to

the name that I have seen on my end credits.

Greg Pang: Likewise.

Sarah Taylor: And the contracts that I’ve signed in the past. And I’m going to guess that maybe

Eric Rebalkin was somebody that you worked with as a locations person, and

then you became a lawyer.

Greg Pang: Yes.

Sarah Taylor: That’s fantastic. Yeah.

Greg Pang: Absolutely, yeah. He was the LM on those first shows that I worked as a PA.

Sarah Taylor: That’s so fun. Oh.

You started a podcast with another lawyer, who’s actually also an actress, and

who’s somebody that I, again, have worked on shows with but I’ve never met.

And so you want to tell us a little bit about Legal Cut Pro?

Greg Pang: The Legal Cut Pro is a podcast about entertainment law. You can find it on most

major podcast catchers. And we talk about legal issues that are relevant to

independent film producers mainly. One of the series that we put a lot of work

in and we actually kind of have a followup on is about music licensing, because

there’s so many issues that come in music licensing. Just to give a bit of a flavor

for it. Is that we’re doing a little bit of a deep dive into some of those terms that

might look a little bit alien in a stock work license agreement, like the Pond5s,

the Gettys, [00:06:00] and stuff like that, right?

Sarah Taylor: Things we use all the time.

Greg Pang: Yeah, exactly. And through working on projects together, Michelle and I, because

she’s a producer as well, we’ve run into a lot of these issues, and have had to do

corrections, and ask other questions, or issues have come up because this

wasn’t right or that wasn’t right. And so we had already reviewed a bunch of

different stock licenses and thought, hey, we might as well do a podcast episode

about this because there’s just so much to talk about here.

And a lot of times, people don’t even read these license agreements.

Sarah Taylor: Guilty.

Greg Pang: Not knowing that there are actually differences between some of them, right?

And sometimes, is kinda of you get what you pay for. Some of the cheaper ones,

like, oh, okay, this is why it’s so much cheaper is because of this, right?

Another example is, okay, so what is marked as editorial use only? And that has

tripped up people before as well. It’s like, oh, no, no, no. You can’t use that

because your project is a narrative project and it’s not something appropriate for

using an “editorial use only” marked stock work.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah. Oh, okay. Well, we’ll have to listen to that episode, everybody. Go

download Legal Cut.

Greg Pang: Yes, and we hope to get that out soon.

Sarah Taylor: Okay, well, I want to get into some questions that I think pertain to freelance

editors. But I’m sure most creatives in the industry would benefit from learning

this information. We, as editors, do we need to talk to entertainment lawyers,

and can you explain maybe what the difference is between an entertainment

lawyer or somebody that deals with entertainment law versus just a corporate

lawyer?

Greg Pang: And that’s a really good question because lawyers, and it’s hard to sometimes

say that I even have the same job as someone who specializes in, say, criminal

law, right? We’re both lawyers, but I have no idea what … I have a friend in

Calgary who is in criminal defense and then another friend who is a crown

prosecutor, and I have no idea what they do. Other than taking my one criminal

law course and evidence back [00:08:00] in law school, I have no idea what they

do, and I would not have a single clue.

Like, you see on TV a lot that you have a lawyer who’s drafting a patent, and

then next day, they are walking into court defending someone for murder, right?

So that’s completely ridiculous because I would have no freaking clue, on how to

deal with something like that in court, you know? So I’d be facing down a claim

from my insurance pretty quickly if I tried to do that, right? Because I’d probably

mess up pretty badly.

SARAH: Yeah!

GREG So there are big differences between … Especially with entertainment law, and

entertainment law is not so much an area of law but rather it’s an industry in

which you apply several different areas of law. And corporate is one of those.

Strictly corporate lawyer and have not done anything in entertainment could still

work for, perhaps, together incorporating a company, a single purpose

production company, and helping with certain transactions in a corporation, but

they may not know the specifics, the peculiarities, of the entertainment

industry.

And even the term “entertainment industry” is extremely broad, right? So let’s

narrow it down even further. In our world, it’s the film and television industry,

right? So it is..You have to really know the peculiarities of the industry to practice

competently in this area. And as I mentioned, there’s several different

types,areas of law that apply in the entertainment field. One of them is

corporate. Commercial, contracts, labor, employment, intellectual property. So

it’s a mixture of a number of different areas of law, and you apply that in

servicing the client.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah. Of course that would encompass all sorts of different areas.

Well, speaking about contracts, we should be, I’m assuming, signing deal memos

or getting contracts when we start projects. Can we go over what are the basic

elements, what we should look for? Like there’s a start date, an end date. The

scope of the work we’re doing. The amount, the type. The payment, whether it’s

flat, daily, hourly, I don’t know. And then maybe what kind of options we can add

to a deal memo when we receive it. I know that’s a lot of questions all in one,

but tell us all about deal memos.

Greg Pang: Well, I think you mostly got it right there, Sarah. Like.. Let’s set something aside

first. There’s the standard deal memos that, as an editor yourself, and maybe

most relevant to your audience is the DGC, I think, schedule [eight, the standard

form. So all your basics to form a contract under the DGCIP8 is in that, right?

And you may have seen it as well, and I may have actually prepared them for you

to sign, is a rider to that containing many more actual particulars, right? Because

it’s fairly skimpy. It just gives the basics basics and say that this is contracted

under the DGCIP8, but then it’s missing anything [00:11:00] concerning rights

and any other additional details of the actual deal between yourself as an editor,

contractor, and the producer or production company.

So like some of those, I’d say beyond those basics, those very basis, one thing

that perhaps freelancers can get tripped up on is that the scope of the work is

not very well defined, and what do I have to deliver and when. And can the

person contracting me, can they just keep on piling on work that, well, this is not

part of the deal, but it’s super vague, right? I think, and for both parties, there

should be clarity on what is the scope of the work, what are deliverables, and

when am I getting paid. And what triggers that payment, and how am I getting

paid, and so on, so forth.

So those things should be not written in, quote on quote, legal language, but

they should be written in standard English so that all parties agree, or it’s clearly

agreed upon, and we know exactly what our obligations are and what triggers

what, when without having to go to a lawyer and be paying $300, $500 an hour

to interpret something that is drafted very legalese-y.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen deal memos come through my office where it’s just like,

“Here’s your flat rate. This is what you’re going to get for the doc.” But then

there is nothing else, so it’s like as an editor, can I go back and be like, “Hey, let’s

put in some ahh..delivery dates or some sort of payment schedule,” and to go

back to them and do that back and forth. Is that something that is

recommended?

Greg Pang: Yeah. Oh, I forgot to say I can’t give legal advice per se during this interview, but I

can give information and tips, of course, and which I’ve been doing. So I’d say

the general answer is yes. Like in any contract negotiation, if the terms are too

vague … Like in that example you mentioned, then absolutely, you’re entitled to

go back and say, “Hey, I don’t think this is good enough. I think we need a little

bit more detail on what I’m actually doing for you and what are my deliverables

and when do I deliver them so that you’re not pissed off if I’m delivering this

part, this cut of the project at this date, which I think is reasonable,” right?

So absolutely, yeah, you’re entitled to do that. And these kind of things can be

either you’re presented that deal memo, and it doesn’t have any particulars, but

you can always request that, “Hey, let’s hammer out the particulars in detail in a

schedule perhaps, and let’s attach it to here, and then we’ll agree that this is the

schedule to the contract.” It’s a good idea to consider when you look at a

contract and say, “Hey, there’s just not enough detail here for me to know when

I’m performing the contract, and also on the other side so that… the

expectations are clear between us so that there’s less chance of friction

between us with this project.”

Sarah Taylor: Yeah. And I think often we have those conversations, but they’re not in that

format of this is the, quote on quote, legal document. And so you might have

that verbal conversation on the phone, but if it’s not written down, if something

does go wrong, it is probably always safer to have that in a document that we

can be like, “Actually, this is what we decided.”

Greg Pang: Exactly. It’s all about clarity, right? And I think this goes to your question earlier,

do you have to engage a lawyer to help? I think in some certain times, [00:14:30]

especially if there’s a lot of money involved, and if there’s a lawyer on the other

side, it’s generally a good idea. I know it’s like, okay, how much am I going to

have to pay this lawyer, $500 to review … Let’s say if it’s a tiny project, $1000

contract? Well, that doesn’t seem like it’s worth it, but it’s like, okay, no, actually

this project is $20,000, and so..and it’s massive, it’s going to take up hundreds of

hours of my time. And the contract that they’re presenting me is very vague, or

it’s just very dense. I don’t quite understand. Or I need some clarification, make

sure my interests are protected. Maybe it’s a good idea to go consult a lawyer

about that.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah, and I think that’s something I know for myself… I haven’t done that, but

I’ve signed some really giant projects, and because I think often we’re like, well,

we’re just our own person. We’re freelancing. Where’s the money coming from?

But in the long run, we could really maybe get more out of it, maybe there’s

something that we’re not thinking about, like charging for our kit or something,

right?Things that maybe a lawyer could be like, “Hey, have you thought about

this or thought about that?” If somebody is… So if a freelancer is looking for a

person that can review smaller deal memos or contracts, and smaller as in

smaller because we’re not going to be getting million dollar contracts or

something like that, what should they look for in finding somebody to do that?

Greg Pang: I’d say… The main thing is, especially in this industry, is that they have the lawyer

has at least some experience in this industry in dealing with those kinds of

contracts. Yeah, I think that’s the main thing that, if I were in your place, that I

would look for. It’s like, do you have experience in this? Maybe not this exact

picture editor services contract, but you have experience in negotiating or

preparing or reviewing contracts for film and television for service providers in

this field. Because there are a lot of little peculiarities of the industry that

someone who perhaps works in construction, like construction law, might not be

familiar with on the entertainment side. Or is likely not familiar, unless they’ve

otherwise studied it or something like that.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah. Is it common? I know in Edmonton there’s two I can think of, lawyers that

everybody uses.

Greg Pang: I think I know three or four actually, yeah.

Sarah Taylor: So I’m sure in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, it’s probably more

common to find a lawyer that specializes in entertainment. But, yeah, in the

smaller jurisdictions, is it common to find somebody that can do that? Or, on top

of that, if, say, somebody in a smaller place doesn’t know anybody, can they

reach out to anybody in Canada to do that kind of work?

Greg Pang: I’ve heard… I don’t know I can say it as a blanket statement, but I’ve heard it is

harder to find an entertainment lawyer in Alberta who practices in Alberta, but

we’re there. I know at least two in Calgary, and three more here in Edmonton. So

we’re around. Actually, I think I might have the best SEO of all of them when

someone searches “entertainment lawyer Alberta,” so I actually pop up pretty

high.

Sarah Taylor: You win! So everybody can search Greg.

Greg Pang: Yeah. So we are around. First place you’re going to look is on the internet. Do

that Google search or whatever, right? And if nothing pops up, I’ve heard before

is that then they had to go to Toronto or Vancouver, which is fine. Which is

fine!Absolutely fine, right? It’s possible that you could be paying higher rates,

but it’s also possible that you can find a lawyer who will work for a much more

reasonable rate rather than one of those what’s called the big sister firms in

Toronto. So not that using them is bad at all, but just generally they’re more

expensive, right?

So I’d say the only downside to that, and it doesn’t really matter a whole lot in

our world of COVID right now because none of us are meeting personally

anyway, right? So… before, it’d be like, oh, yeah, you have a lawyer in the area,

and you can go in and sign documents and stuff like that. It’s like, well, most of

that is done virtually now. Not all of it, but most of it is done virtually now. And

it’s not that if you have an affidavit to execute or other document that needs

wet signatures, then you can always go another way. It does not have to be an

entertainment lawyer, right?

And just one more thing is that … And it doesn’t so much apply to freelancers,

but for producers, if you’re applying for the Alberta film and television tax

credits, or AMF funding, then having a local lawyer in Alberta, that can be

counted towards your Alberta labor, right?

Sarah Taylor: Right, yes.

Greg Pang: Yeah. So depending on the program, right?

Sarah Taylor: Which that can come into play, too, because there’s post production grants in

Alberta as well, so and there could be ones in other places in Canada. So if I, for

a certain project, had to hire a lawyer, I could potentially get some of that

money back. So, yeah, that’s a really good tip to put out there. Look at getting

money from the government.

Greg Pang: Exactly.

Sarah Taylor: So back to contracts. There are different types of employee versus self-employed

versus corporate. I’ve heard the phrase “loan out,” and I don’t really understand

all of it. If you were a freelancer, but then they hired you on as, say, an

employee, what can they expect from you legally, if they’ve brought you on as an

employee versus a self-employed person?

Greg Pang: I don’t think the expectations would be necessarily different, but sometimes

they might even ask you, “Hey, do you want to be an employee employed or do

you want to be an independent contractor?” And I’ve been asked that question

way, way long ago before. And there are some consequences if you choose

independent contractor whereas, the facts don’t lend itself to being an

independent contractor, and the CRE will deem you as employed. But, anyway,

we won’t get into that part.

But the actual expectations don’t have to be different, and there’s no line

between, oh, I’m an employee so I’m expected to do this and that. But there are

legal differences. An employee, you are under protections, you have the

protections as an employee under the employment standards code as they call it

here in Alberta, and in different provinces, they have similar types of legislation.

The difference there is that you are under the code, and that the employer, they

have a bunch of other obligations that kick in as an employer proper.

Withholdings and stuff like that. So it’s really a tax and legal difference, but in

terms of your… their expectations of you, how you do your job doesn’t need to

be different whether you choose one or the other.

Sarah Taylor: Okay.

Greg Pang: Usually, as you’ve probably experienced, like just from project to project where

you’re just switching from company to company, a lot of times it might not make

sense, especially if it’s pretty short term, to be an employee.

Sarah Taylor: Another thing, in a contract, can somebody ask you that you work exclusively for

them, or dictate how many hours you work, or where you work?

Greg Pang: Yeah. It’s possible, and that’s wording that you need to look out for. And

sometimes those kinds of contracts are presented just because they believe it’s

boilerplate language. But it might not apply, so you have to really watch that

kind of wording. Let’s say if you’re, for example, hired as a picture editor for this

great big feature film project where you have to dump hundreds of hours in a

very short amount of time to meet very demanding timelines, well, I think as the

producer, I would be justified in asking Sarah or through your loan out company

is that you work exclusively for me during this time. Because I’m going to

demand 100% of your time, and I don’t want you to be distracted by other

projects, right?

Sarah Taylor: Right.

But that is not always the case. Perhaps the majority of times you should be able

to be pursuing or working on something else on the side because it’s not going

to take up 14 hours a day every day for the next two months for you to work on

this project solely.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah, for sure. I just ran into this on the rider part of a deal memo, and I was like,

no, I can’t do that. I have other things that I’m doing, and this project won’t take

all the time. And so I said, “Hey, can we change this?” And they were fine. They

took it out. It was no big deal. But that was the first time where I almost felt like

have I been not reading things properly for awhile? It felt like the first time I’d

seen that in a rider scenario, but definitely something that was a reminder, we

really need to make sure that we read what is in these documents. And if

something doesn’t make sense, to ask the question.

Greg Pang: Yeah, exactly. And for most of the time when I would prepare contracts, and

usually on the producer side, for independent contractors, then the wording

would go something like that you can work non-exclusively, meaning that you

can take on other contracts, at the same time so long as none of that other stuff

… And this is not exact wording, of course … Doesn’t materially interfere with

your obligations under this contract. And I think that’s fair for most independent

contractor situations.

Sarah Taylor: This brings up the idea of if I’m engaged in a deal memo or a contract, that’s

Sarah Taylor the freelancer, what are the rules if I decided I wanted to

subcontract some of that work to somebody else?

Greg Pang: That depends on what your contract states, right? So, sometimes, let’s say, if I

am contracting Sarah Taylor or through your loan out company, saying that I’m

contracting with you, I’m hiring you, Sarah, or engaging you because I know your

work and I want you to work on this. I don’t want anyone else to work on this,

right? So you will personally deliver these services, and that would be the

general phrase if you’re contracting through your loan out company.

Sarah Taylor: Right.So it would be like…So in the contract, it should say the person. Now, if it

didn’t say the person, then you legally could do … Like, you wouldn’t get in

trouble, quote on quote.

Greg Pang: Well, yeah, you’d have to look at the rest of the contract. So, generally, in that

loan out situation, and if the listeners aren’t familiar, loan out, it’s just like if you

have a corporation that you’re running your services through, right? And I’m not

sure if you have one, Sarah, but let’s just say, for example, Sarah Taylor Services

Corporation or something like that. And that could be done for tax purposes or

whatever, right?

Sarah Taylor: That’s actually one of my questions coming up.

Greg Pang: Okay. Yeah, and a lot of times in those loan out deal memos or contracts, it will

say that the corporation shall loan out Sarah Taylor, in this example, to

personally render these services on behalf of the corporation. So words to that

effect. And if that’s the case, then if you subcontract, then it could be

theoretically a breach of the contract, right? But if it doesn’t specify, and this is

sometimes the case where, let’s say, in another scenario you have Taylor Editing

Enterprises Inc. or something like that, and you have three or four different staff,

and a couple of different picture editors, and other people working for your post

production services, well, in that kind of case, then they would be contracting

with the company, and I think that would be a different scenario because they

might not be saying that, yeah, Sarah Taylor has to do this all personally by

herself, but we’re contracting this company because the company has the

resources and staff to give us this full suite of post production services.

And so in that case, one of the questions I ask when I’m asked to prepare or

review these things is I say, “Okay, so producer, is there someone in particular at

this post production house that you want working on this?” And a lot of times, a

post production house might be like, “We need the flexibility to assign different

people to this because we can say that this person works on this aspect of

editing and this one works another aspect. We have to be free to swap people in

and out because we have a ton of projects going on the go, and we are

promising a standard of product at the end, but we have to have that flexibility

to be able to assign different staff to your project.”

Sarah Taylor: Yeah. So that totally makes sense, yeah.

Now, you touched on incorporation, and I’m a sole proprietor. So I know the

difference and I know the benefits of being incorporated for tax purposes and

stuff like that, but when should a freelance editor think about incorporating?

And is it necessary as a one person show?

Greg Pang: I don’t think it’s necessary but like as a general rule, but it could be a good idea.

One of the big considerations is what you already mentioned is for tax purposes,

right? If your income is above a certain amount, then your accountant will say,

“Even though incorporating has costs and maintaining incorporation, accounting

fees and legally maintaining it adds to your costs year to year, but the tax

efficiencies, the tax benefits … How I’m going to set this up and how you’re

going to pay yourself through dividends or whatever, maybe issue shares to your

spouse or whatever, then it could outweigh by far depending on your income

amount, income level, the cost of incorporating and maintaining a corporation.”

So that’s the mainfor this kind of scenario, I think that should be the main

consideration.

The other one is also … It could be liability, right? But a lot of that could be

mitigated through insurance. So if you have insurance, you’re insured anyway.

And I don’t think this kind of … At least just off the top of my head, it’s not one

of those high risk, personal services type of areas where you’d be like, “Oh, god,

I have to really protect my assets and incorporate to have that separation from

the limited liability setup that a corporation provides.” So that could be a

consideration anyway, and I’d have to evaluate it on a case by case basis with the

client and say, “Okay, so what are your concerns here,” right? It’s like, “Oh,

you’re editing this one project where the subject matter is super risky, and I am

super paranoid about this. Yes, I’m insured, and the contract provides for

indemnifica