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The Editors Cut

Episode 076 – EditCon 2022: Cutting for the Big Screen

TEC 076: EditCon 2022: Cutting for the Big Screen

Episode 076 - EditCon 2022: Cutting for the Big Screen

Today’s episode is part 4 of our 4-part series covering EditCon 2022 Brave New World.

Like it or not, the landscape of cinema is changing quickly. With more films at our fingertips than ever before, it’s becoming harder and harder to draw audiences to the theatres. But people still flock to the tentpole films that we all know and love.

Join us behind the scenes as we chat with the editors of: SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, ETERNALS and GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE as they take a deep dive into their workflows, share their tips on managing large teams and visual effects, and get into the nitty gritty of cutting for the big screen.

This episode is sponsored by IATSE 891.

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The Editor’s Cut – Episode 076 – “EditCon 2022: Cutting for the Big Screen”

Sarah Taylor:

This episode was generously sponsored by IATSE Local 891.

Nathan Orloff:

Scripts are like a car manual for a movie. Great if they captivate you. That’s wonderful. That means they’re very successful. But you’re not looking into a human’s eyes. You’re not learning something about them silently.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

And for me, it’s a different language. A script is one language, but you have to take all of this and translate it into a movie. It’s where a monologue can become a look.

Nathan Orloff:

Totally. And that monologue might have informed the actor to do the performance that you needed in order to get rid of the monologue.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Exactly. So it’s not the script that’s bad, it’s just you have to translate it into a movie.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, I like that.

Nathan Orloff:

This might be why I’m a little bitter that there’s so little behind the scenes on editing. It’s a hard thing to tell people, “No, the script wasn’t bad. The assembly cut wasn’t… It’s not like these are problems. It’s that this is the process.”

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 our four-part series covering EditCon 2022: Brave New World. Today’s panel is cutting for the big screen. Like it or not, the landscape of cinema is changing quickly. With more films at our fingertips than ever before, it’s becoming harder and harder to draw audiences to the theaters, but people still flock to the tent-pole films that we all know and love. Join us behind the scenes as we chat with the editors of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife as they take a deep dive into their workflows, share their tips on managing large teams and visual effects, and get into the nitty-gritty of cutting for the big screen.

Speaker 4:

And action! Action. This is the Editor’s Cut. A CCE podcast. Exploring, exploring, exploring the art of picture editing.

Sarah Taylor:

Today we’re talking to the editors from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I want to give a big welcome to all of the editors here today. We’ll start with the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE; Harry Yoon, ACE; and Nat Sanders, ACE. Welcome. Also a big shout-out and welcome to Dylan Tichenor, ACE, from Eternals. And Nathan Orloff from Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Welcome to Editcon.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Hello. Thank you.

Sarah Taylor:

My first question is, how did you become involved with the film and at what stage did you join? Dylan, take it away.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

All right. I came on well before shooting. I was called by Marvel and said, “Hey, we want to talk to you about this movie, and would you talk to our director, Chloé Zhao?” I had a great talk with Chloé and she gave me a great pitch for the idea and I was super excited to do it.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

I came on a little bit after. Well, a lot after Elísabet and Nat came on. They started with the movie and Elísabet’s schedule, because they had had to push due to COVID, it came up against another film that she was going to be starting, which was very fortunate for me because it gave me the opportunity to come on as she was leaving. I was so happy that there was a little bit of overlap so I could get a chance to work with both ER and Nat.

But it was just after their director’s cut and they had done a pretty significant restructuring, and so it was actually good for the show, I think, to also have some fresh eyes to say, “After this restructuring what’s making sense, what’s not making sense, how can we enhance it?” And so I was able to help take them to the finish line, but also to provide those fresh eyes, which was really, really fun.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I came on, I got a call from Victoria who asked me to come and meet with Destin Daniel, the director, and we clicked. I also met with Nat and I just knew it would be a great team to work with. So yeah, that’s how I came on, and Nat, take it away.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

This was my fourth time working with Destin, the director. When we were finishing the edit on our previous film, this came up. He was working with me until 7:00, 8:00 PM on our edit, and then he was staying until midnight, 1:00 AM, 2:00 AM working on his pitch for Shang-Chi. He did his pitch for it and didn’t hear anything for a couple of weeks. He thought it hadn’t worked out and we kept editing. And then he got the call and it happened. I was very thankful that he asked me to come be a part of it. He was telling me all these crazy things that they were working up for the script. That was probably in April 2019. And then I probably didn’t actually read the script until about a week before shooting started.

Sarah Taylor:

But you were there at the beginning when the thoughts were just bubbling. That’s great.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. That’s awesome. And Nathan?

Nathan Orloff:

Ghostbusters was my third film with Jason. On Front Runner, I had no idea that he was actually secretly working on this script. I did a independent film and then I got a call from Jason saying, “Hey, can you come to the Sony lot?” I was like, “Sure.” I went. They said which building it was, but I didn’t realize it was the Ghostbusters building on the Sony lot. I was like, “That’s weird.” And then he sat me down and he’s like, “Hey, I want you to read something.” I sat down and read something and within the second page I’m like, “Oh boy, this is insane. What are you talking about?” And that was his official ask. It was very exciting. I came on six months before production started, ended up doing a lot of storyboard work. It was really cool to be in that early to figure out these sequences with Jason and the storyboard artist.

Sarah Taylor:

I love that it almost was a little mini-proposal, take you to this special location and show you. That’s great.

Nathan Orloff:

It was because my mentor, Stefan Grube, who is a phenomenal editor I adore, he was the one who introduced me to Jason and worked with me on Tully and Front Runner. He was on the speakerphone when I walked in and sat down. Because it was a giant practical joke for the two of them.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s great. I love it. I think we should be hired like that everywhere we go. Since all of these films were part of beloved franchises, how did you prepare working on the film? For the Marvel films, did you rewatch the films? What was your process of preparing?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Yeah, I was a Marvel fan, so I had seen all the movies. I did rewatch them all, to be fair. And I watched them in MCU chronology order, which I thought would be a good thing to do, especially for the film I was doing, Eternals, we have some stuff from the earliest bits of the MCU history. Technically, our movie nestles in around after the middle Spider-Man Far From Home. I think we come after that technically, but then stuff that happens before Captain America. I watched that. I did read the Jack Kirby Eternals comics, read a bunch of those. It’s funny to see the difference between the tones. The Kirby comics, they’re ’70s, but with a lot of fifties holdover vibe in it. It’s like Eternal cocktail hour in those comics sometimes. I was a big fan of Marvel from before and more and more as they went.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s a big chunk of time that you got to spend.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

It is. It was a good two weeks. It was good.

Sarah Taylor:

Wow.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah. Thank God we had Disney Plus at the time, because it just made the homework so much easier. It’s so funny, Dylan. I did exactly the same thing because I had seen them all, but then rewatching them in chronological order was really fun actually.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

It is fun.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah. Because it was hard to know with all the little crossover appearances, not having read the script or anything, what was going to happen. Trying to be prepared to see where the character tracks were. When Shang-Chi is placed in the timeline, that felt important. Also just trying to get a sense of what are the rhythms? How are they solving certain kinds of problems, particularly ones dealing with exposition, for example? That was really fun to revisit.

Also reading the original comic books for Shang-Chi was not ultimately that helpful. It was so funny because I remember reading them before my interview with Destin and thinking, how is this going to work? Because it just felt so updated in some ways because of the Fumanchu character and things like that from the original. I think it was my being politely incredulous in a way that opened the door to say, no, no, no, no. There’s this whole reimagining that Destin has done and one that is ultimately trying to update the story so it actually lives well within a time in which there is more of a sensitivity and also a respect for Asian, Asian American culture that’s happening. It was wonderful from the interview on just get a sense of what Destin’s vision was and how excited Marvel was to embrace that vision.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. That’s wonderful. Now, since you came on after director’s cut, did you watch previous edits that they had worked on? Or did you just watch the director’s cut?

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Ultimately, yes. From, I think, the first editor’s cut that ER and Nat had done, as well as the latest director’s cut that they were leaving Australia with and coming to LA with. That gave me insight into what is some of the material that they started with and how they restructured it. And gave me an insight into the incredible work that the two of them had done with Destin already. I had the most nerve-wracking session of writing notes and suggestions ever, because here’s filmmakers that I respected so much, and also knowing that ultimately the Marvel trio was going to read these things. I was just like, okay, how do I write it in a way where I don’t get fired on the first day, either from a respect standpoint or from a stupid idea standpoint? But thankfully, it landed okay and I didn’t get fired. That was my first task, which was very nerve wracking.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh my goodness. I can’t imagine. Elísabet, how did you prepare?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I have four children with 20 years apart so I’ve seen every single Marvel movie. But no, I think it was very obvious from the beginning. I mean, it is an origin story. It’s the right from Marvel. They want you to experiment and do different things. They don’t want you to copy the next movie, which I think is great. They’re not copying movies. They want to evolve and try different things and they’re very good to do it.

But no, my prep was mainly meeting Nat. We sat down and talked. What people sometimes don’t understand, editing is 80% talking, just talking about the ideas. How can we do this? And then you take a day and get it all together. But it’s a lot of talking. That’s what I feel I enacted really. I think we worked really well in Australia, which was a weird period for us because we weren’t supposed to be so long. We spent a year in Australia, that was never the plan. It allowed us to dive into the movie in a different way than if COVID wouldn’t have happened. It gave us space, which we actually used very well. I think it’s benefited the movie.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. For sure. Yeah, that’s the silver lining of all of this is that we got time away from some stuff. More time’s always better. Well, maybe not always, but it’s often better.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Sometimes.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

But we didn’t get away. We were lucky. We were very well taken care of and we felt very safe in Sydney. We worked every day.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

To what Harry and ER said, the comics really didn’t apply too much here. They were very outdated and full of stereotypes that the movie did not want to deal in. It is an origin story and a bit of a standalone film for them so a lot of the previous material didn’t really apply, which was great and gave us a lot of freedom. For me, I did have to dive into the Marvel world in a way that I hadn’t previously. I went in for a pretty early talk with Jonathan, our producer, Chris Russell Marvel. I don’t think Victoria was in that one. I remember getting asked about the Marvel movies. I had seen Black Panther, so I could talk about that one. I think we’ve done that pretty heavily. And then afterwards, okay, I’ve got to go watch all these.

Sarah Taylor:

You had to do your homework. Oh, this is a little pressure. Nathan, how about you?

Nathan Orloff:

Yeah, no, I watched all the three other Ghostbusters movies and took notes on structure and timing, but mainly watched the first one, I think, twice. Jason intentionally wanted this to be a love letter to the first movie and to figure out what was the magic of that and what worked and why? It was interesting because, just like ER said, that COVID was this weird… In a silver lining, like you said, having more time was a huge, huge, huge benefit in terms of us sitting back, looking at the movie, thinking about it and really experimenting, trying some things. And sitting back with fresh eyes because we had a full month off when we went into lockdown. Didn’t have any media at home, had nothing, and then go back in. It felt like you were watching a movie, like you’re saying to reference, it’s all of a sudden you have this little bit of separation. Now you can look at it in a completely different way.

Sarah Taylor:

It’s almost like when you’re in a cut and you take it and watch it on your TV or whatever, but you couldn’t even go in and do anything because you had no media. It’s just a whole other level. Right?

Nathan Orloff:

Yep.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. That’s awesome.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

It forced objectivity.

Sarah Taylor:

Yes. Yeah.

Nathan Orloff:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

What was it like being on location while cutting?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Yeah. Went to London for the shoot. I love London. I was happy to be there. We were shooting and based in Pinewood. Great for me. I had just a great team, cut this with Craig Wood. We had a fabulous team. We were ensconced in the Carrie Fisher building, which is a nice building. You get old parts of Pinewood, new parts of Pinewood. And then for me, a great 40 minute commute every day that I rode a bike and a motorcycle. I don’t know. I had a great time.

Sarah Taylor:

Going to another country and being on set, is it a way where you can just… Everything else disappears and you can just be in that world of working on that film?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

That is what happens. It’s like a traveling troupe of players, of actors, of performers. And then some of us behind the scenes. In this case it’s 500 people. It’s a great time. It’s like being with the circus.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s awesome. Well, Harry, I know that you were in LA so you missed the Australia trip.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

I did.

Sarah Taylor:

You didn’t get trapped.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah. Yeah. ER and Nat have some good stories to tell about Australia. Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Well, let’s dive in. Tell us about being on location.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Can I tell them, Nat?

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Sure.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Oh my God, yes.

Sarah Taylor:

Tell us. Tell us.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

You had a child.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Oh yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

It was not in the charts when we arrived in Australia, but he took one with him, and his wife.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Yeah, my wife and I, we think, oh, this would be such a great four month life experience to go to Sydney. And we got there, not trying to get pregnant yet, and then we ended up coming home with a two month old baby.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh my goodness. That’s amazing.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

And what did you name her?

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Georgie. Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Georgie.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s amazing.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Thank you. Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Georgie has a special place in our hearts.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

We did have a very unique bond from all of us going through all this together. We had shot about a third of the film before COVID happened so we had enough to where… We did a little bit of lobbying ourselves because we wanted to say all of production was being sent back to where LA or wherever their homes were. But we felt like we had enough to keep working. It would be a waste to not use this time to be able to really refine what we had and see if that would lead to other things. Our third act was probably the least developed aspect of the script so they were using that time to also really go forward with the previs for that. ER and I also were very involved in trying to cut that down as much as we could and helping work with them.

It just kept extending. But it was in small chunks where it was a little stressful where we got extended by I think maybe six weeks at first, but there was still more to do. And just another month and another month. We kept getting some messages where there’s only one plane leaving and it’s in three days and there’s four seats left on it and you’ve got to be packed and ready to potentially get on that plane. That happened a couple times and that was stressful.

Sarah Taylor:

And the added stress of having a baby on the way, I can’t even imagine. Oh my goodness.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

That got more complicated as we went along because yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Can’t travel. Yeah.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Yeah.We didn’t know until about the 33rd week of pregnancy of whether we were going to give birth in the US or Australia.

Sarah Taylor:

Well, what a great story for little Georgie. That’s awesome.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

I love it. Nathan, you were up in Alberta. Tell us about your experience.

Nathan Orloff:

Yeah. I wasn’t there the whole time. The way that we initially split everything up, Dana, my co editor and I, and this is based on my previous experience on other films, was that I was tackling more of the effects, horror and any action sequences. And Dana was doing some more of the comedy and drama stuff that she had also traditionally worked with on Jason’s previous films, like Chino and Up in the Air. When it came to shooting all the stage stuff… Because the way they scheduled it is when the winter came and started snowing they went inside to the stages in Calgary. That’s when I flew up and I basically set up shop because they built two farmhouses, one on location and one on sound stage and they were identical. I set up shop in one of the rooms upstairs in the farmhouse. I just would go up to it. I’ll be like, grab my coffee, say hello to people, walk upstairs and it was a really great experience. I loved being in Calgary.

Sarah Taylor:

Do you have any good stories of being on set?

Nathan Orloff:

One time they did turn off all the lights. Well, I got distracted and didn’t know that everyone was going home and all of a sudden I’m in this house and it’s pitch black. I’m like, well, I got to figure out how to get out of here. As an editor, I’m always incredibly grateful and a little bit probably awestruck in terms of the camaraderie of production when they’re all a little grumpy and whatever and I’m like, “This is great. We can be a team.” And they’re like, “Okay. Whatever, guy. Go on your computer.” I really, really enjoy it. It’s one of my favorite things. Assembling on location and being on the mix stage are my two favorite times in post.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah. There is something special about being on set. I’ve only gotten to do it once in my career . yeah, I was like that. I was like, oh my gosh, there’s sandwiches. Go to the craft services. It was the best thing ever.

Nathan Orloff:

And there’s a little bit of less pressure to me because I just got back from location a month ago on my new film. To me when you’re assembling you’re like, this is my first step. Let’s just make sure we have everything. Make sure I’m not throwing up any red flags. There’s not the pressure of is it perfect yet? It’s just my initial take and I have to include every single line. It’s not as to me as high pressure as everyone on set that they’re having to do their absolute best because this is their one shot to do it. It’s the complete opposite on our end.

Sarah Taylor:

So who was in your editorial team, like assistants and of course editors? How did you divide up the work?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Yeah, I cut this with Craig Wood. He has done a few Marvel movies. We divided it pretty half and halfie where we got the same amount of action and dialogue. We wanted to do it that way. We both feel comfortable with it. We sorted it out ahead of time. I’m interested in this. Oh, I’m interested in that. And then divided it up as we’re shooting in such a way that we stuck to our original plan, but made sure that no one was without footage and no one had too much footage. That worked quite well. And then he and I would just bounce ideas back and forth about the other person’s sequence or whatever. But that’s how we did that. We each had our first, so two firsts, three seconds and two VFX editors and two PAs, that was basically our production crew. And then in post a crew a little bit more.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I brought my very loyal, amazing first, Matt. I’m trying to remember his last name.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Apsure.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Apsure. Thank you. Sorry, Matt. I’d rather not make a movie without him. He’s amazing. And then we had a very big Australian crew, an amazing visual effect editor. The visual effects were a huge apartment and we had to work very closely with the visual effects. Because I’ve done big visual effects movies before, but one of the things with Marvel is you better keep it right on your timeline because you can turn around and suddenly they’ve just made the shot. You’re like, oh.

Sarah Taylor:

Whoopsy.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

You have to be very much on it, that timing, and not something you’re going to think about later. Just do it.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Do it right on your timeline. That was the biggest lesson, because they were fast. We were talking animated creatures and all kinds of stuff.

Sarah Taylor:

Wow. Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Even though it was a previous or a stunt fish that came in, but you just had to make it right.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Yeah. I would say for me, the biggest lesson was in delegating sound work to our assistance team. For me, I haven’t worked on something of this scale where the sound work was just on this massive of a scope. I love working with sound and had always done it myself in the past in temping, but it became clear very early that that was just not going to be a remote possibility on this. We found ER’s assistant, Matt, did a ton. Luca, my assistant in Australia, did a ton. They did an amazing job. I have to say that their work carried through the entire process. The mix was fast on this. I would say a lot of what Matt and Luca did really was the template for what ended up in the final film sound wise.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

When the team left Australia, we left behind a couple of their amazing Australian assistants. And then we added two firsts. My first, Irene Chun, and then Leslie Webb took over as Nat’s assistant. And then we added two seconds, another VFX editor. At a certain point when our crew was largest, it was probably 11 people. And then that on top of that, there’s this whole army of VFX coordinators. It’s so funny because they are such the continuity between Marvel projects. They have all the best swag, they have great jackets and shirts and stuff like that. They’re on all the Zoom meetings. One of the things that we had to get used to, or I had to get used to, because I hadn’t worked on visual effects movies as an editor, at this scale was how long those reviews were.But it was so funny watching the VFX coordinators that they were so unruffled no matter how crazy the changes we were suggesting were that it was almost like, okay, well if they’re not freaking out then we don’t have to freak out necessarily because they’ve been here five or six times before.

But yeah, the crews are huge. What’s nice is that Marvel takes care of… Especially on their larger teams, they take such good care of their people that you have that continuity. You can sometimes get the inside track to say, how does this compare? Or how does this moment in our post process compare to what you guys have gone through before? If you’re new to that family, then I think you can get some good level setting and some good advice as far as how much should we worry about this at this point and things like that. That was fun.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

And we worked really closely with the visual effects, which was a grateful thing. All the design of the visual effects, Chris Townsend, was the mastermind behind visual effects. There was a really close-knitted cooperation, getting the visual effects right and the edit and the story and the characters. A lot of meetings. This is one of the things that has changed during the pandemic, because you used to have maybe one a week where you would meet with visual effects and stuff. Now it’s every day because everyone can just hop on whatever software you’re using. Was it Evercast we used?

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Clearview, I think, right?

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Clearview, yeah. Yeah. It’s becoming a lot of meetings.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

But rather than doing those VFX reviews in the theater next to our edit suites the way I guess it normally would’ve been done, we were doing them all over Clearview. To Harry’s point, towards the end of the process when it was Harry and I, we were already staying until 11:00 PM every night, at least as it was. During those VFX reviews, which were happening every day towards the end at least three hours, you just had to work on your own things. If they were in Harry’s scenes that he was working on, I had to be just putting the VFX review off to the side and just loosely keeping an eye on it, but working on your own things. So I can’t even imagine if we’d gone to the theater every day and you didn’t have that luxury of being able to work on the side. You’d be there until 1:00 AM every single… yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

So another silver lining. Nathan, I know that you worked with Dana Gloverman, ACE.

Nathan Orloff:

Yes.

Sarah Taylor:

Tell us how it worked.

Nathan Orloff:

It’s similar to what Dylan mentioned. Once we got to shooting, neither of us were ever without something to cut, so there’s plenty of drama scenes that I worked on. We would talk about everything. We became very, very close very, very fast. I think of her as a sister now. We would show each other everything, talk about everything. There’s not one cut in this movie that we haven’t talked about together. I learned so much from her, especially on some of these things that you pick up over because she says a lot more experience than I am, especially on specific rhythms, on comedy beats and dramatic beats and dialogue. It’s two, three frames, and one frame here. Just all that stuff. Really just kept my eyes open and the ears open. I learned a lot from her. It was a really good process. I have to say, compared to what Harry described about Marvel in terms of they’re not phased about changes. I’m like, that sounds great. Can I get a number for some of those? It’s not always like that.

There was one time very late in the process on the monster which is the thing that is closest to the boards of any of our sequences, but it was very late in the process and I was just wracking my brain. What’s bothering me about the ending? Because we had that time away on COVID and we had the time to come back. I was like, well, we need a wide shot. We need a wide shot right at the end, really establish the stakes, establish the geography. Right before the climax we need to see the ghosts and the trap and the car and then Phoebe with the gun. We need to see it all in one thing. I was like, that’s expensive. I first talked to Dana. I was like, “What do you think?” And she’s like, “Oh, you’re right.” And then we talked to Jason. Jason’s like, “All right. Let me talk to the VFX team.” It a whole big thing and it’s in the movie. It worked out well.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s awesome. You’re like, oh, that’s expensive. I love it. Well, we talked a lot about visual effects already, and I want to ask, specifically, what did your dailies look like? Were you getting just the green screen stuff or were you getting some previs already put in that your assistants put in for you? What were you actually working with when you first started assembling the film?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Yeah, we had previs to start. I came early to cut previs and help with that, trying to concentrate on the bigger sequences where we needed to narrow it down and get the scope of it sorted out. I had been through the previs. When we start getting dailies, I think Chloe Chow, the director writer on this one, probably shot a little more locationing naturalistically than a typical Marvel movie. That said, every shot has effects in it so it’s just about how much green really is on the set because stuff’s going in the shot whether there’s green or not. I think we probably had less green screen from dailies because she just didn’t want to have that. It all gets wrote out anyway essentially. It’s becoming less and less of a thing.

We had viz early on and then stunt-viz when they started working on the sequences. Some of the more choreographed fights were stunted out. I would just slot stuff in as I would get it. So start with viz and then put the stunt-viz in. And then when we had a test shoot or the beginnings of second unit or whatever, start slotting plates in and you just build on the latest material you have. We have a lot of characters in this movie, so there were frankly a lot of people talking and doing stuff in the frame. We also had a lot of creatures, so there are lots of empty frames, or guys in gray suits. You just work with whatever you have and beat it out and start building.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

We did have a lot of previs. We also had how many visual? 1,750 I think visual effect shots.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Yeah, I can’t remember now, but it’s way up in there, like 1,000.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

We had a lot of previs. We do have also imagination, so I think it worked out. But yeah, it can be weird, especially if you have to show it to someone else. I’ve been on movies where you had to test them before there are any visual effects done, but they didn’t want to have blue screens or green screens in anything we screened so it all had to be filled out.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

I think it was even the director’s, wasn’t it? The director’s cut for [inaudible 00:33:21]-

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Yeah, we had to fill it all out.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

No blue, so we had to do a whole pass. Either we would get the first early visual effects on shots, or our team would have to even gray things out just to remove all the blue. The first half of our film is very grounded in the real world and it’s not so much with blue screens and things. And then the back half, especially towards the end, it got more and more and that was the end of the shoot. We kind had built up to that. It just required a lot of communication with the VFX team of what’s happening here? We would work together on figuring out how to nail down the timing of it.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

One of the interesting things that I noticed was that you’re almost never out of dailies on this type of film, just because I think there’s so much experimentation that goes on through the post process. I think that’s one of the hallmarks that I noticed in the Marvel process, especially the trio that I mentioned, who’s Kevin Fiege, Louis D’Esposito and Victoria Alonso, they are never afraid to try things. They’re never afraid to improve or enhance a particular character arc or the understanding of a key point of exposition. We were constantly returning to previs for certain sequences to simplify things, to clarify things. You’re recutting previs again into normal dailies.

One of the benefits of shooting a lot of the action against blue, for example, is that you might be able to steal a move to shorten things, to connect things. You’re experimenting going back to those things and maybe reusing them for a different purpose. There’s always this constant inflow of trying new stuff and going back to raw material. It was fascinating to keep up with that churn, the slowly receding waves of previs and blue screen and things like that. That made it really fun.

Sarah Taylor:

I watched the Disney Plus behind the scenes of Shang-Chi. Even watching some of that, I was like, I didn’t realize how much green screen and blue screen was there. It made this question more interesting because there’s so much more that you’re like, oh yeah, I guess that’s what they do. I guess that’s how it works.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

It’s a real testament to the quality of the visual effects. As ER said, Chris and his team, what they were able to put together to make it feel so grounded and so real. Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Also I agree. Also, as Nat pointed out, the whole first part is really grounded. Backgrounds don’t really change the story necessarily. The first part was easier that way. And then you go into dragons and weird creatures and magical animals and you have nothing.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Our early action scenes, to her point, say the scaffolding scene that ER cut, all the action is there and it ends so it’s really just the backgrounds that are getting filled in. Yeah, like she said, that’s not really affecting your pacing or anything else.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

But then again, you still have to know certain things because it can absolutely affect the edit. Dialogue, more and more dialogue. Talk to the visual effect team. Talk to your director. Talk to everyone.

Sarah Taylor:

Like you said earlier, it’s all about talking.

Nathan Orloff:

Our dailies, it was pretty complicated sometimes in terms of here’s just an empty plate and there’s nothing there. Initially, I just took the ghost from the storyboard and I just took it in Photoshop and cut out the ghost. I was cutting with a Mario ghost where it was those… You do key framing in avid, here is a fly on this and you have to take it.

Sarah Taylor:

Spooky

Nathan Orloff:

… very seriously. And it was very funny. This actually transitions a little bit to a question I missed previously, is that very early on our brilliant VFX editor was able to use 3D models provided by VFX to at least get… He had a turntable so he could get the right angles. It was all of a sudden now in color, which was new. We had one VFX editor, eventually we had a VFX assistant. Dana and I shared a first, we had a second and then an apprentice. Everyone was just completely top-notch and wanted to make everything the best they could and stayed with us the entire process, and through COVID, too. We were a family. We really were.

Sarah Taylor:

You all touched on this a bit about having a blank plate and how long do I leave it on for? How do you determine pacing when you have these big visual elements that are missing? You have all these fight scenes and these beautiful scenery. How do you make sure that you develop your character still?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Some sequences start from nothing. It’s never been boarded. Maybe it’s a new idea. This happens certainly at Marvel quite a bit where you go, well, what if there’s a beat where this happens? Or what if we add to the head of this scene and these things happen? You do cards, medium shot, she comes out of the door, and then close up monster jumps, things like that so that you beat it out to show people this is the basic idea. Then previs can go in and do shots for you. And then that’s the next level of that.

I think it depends on what you’re starting with. If you have stunt people, stunt players in gray suits, you have those movements and choreography to work with. If you don’t, you’re often doing the acting yourself. As Elísabet noted earlier, when you have 3D from scratch creatures that it’s not a human mocap or a performance capture or anything like that, it’s from scratch a creature, you’re acting it out in your head when you’re designing the shot, you’re going, okay, rawr. And let’s cut. You do all of that.And then you build the sound effects in to support your idea of the pacing. And certainly the music can help you. But usually you’re tailoring the music to what you want the sequence to do, but that also helps the flow through. It’s sculpting. You use huge chunky lumps of clay in the beginning, like rah, rah, rah. And then it gets more and more refined. You’re just constantly upgrading the quality and detail and granularity of the performance and the idea. I think that. And then what was the second part of the question?

Sarah Taylor:

Well, developing your character still when you have all these giant elements that are breathtaking that we all want to see but-

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Honestly, it’s a big balance in all these movies. A big challenge in Eternals was how much information do we need to keep people in the boat wanting this story, but no more and no less? And the fine tuning of that, turning that dial was a big part of the process because Chloe is an intellectual filmmaker and the script had a lot of talking in it, to be fair, the balance of that. Craig and I were always going back and forth to each other, “Do we need this line? What about that? Do you still have this beat in your scene because maybe I don’t need that same thing in my scene.” Because it was just a real focus of the storytelling.

I think that’s always a thing in movies, whether you have 2000 VFX shots or four. The balance of how much information you need to give the audience so they are emotionally tracking with you is one of the biggest jobs that we do. I think it just becomes a little bit more pointed with a VFX thing because you know there’s 25 minutes of act three that’s given over to boom, boom, bang, bang. When you do it right there’s story in the action and there’s momentum in the dialogue. You need that cross and scenes have to do multiple things. That is often down to the writing. When we would rewrite and rework things, you go, can’t we do both these things in this sequence rather than do one and then the other and the next sequence? It’s just this ongoing focus on efficient and captivating storytelling.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. Well, that was really good.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I think that was very well said.

Sarah Taylor:

Yes.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Let’s face it, you just described editing. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, if it’s a Marvel movie or something else, it’s all about story and characters. With a big movie, with a big budget, you might have a lot of visual effects, but your focus should still be story and characters.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

And it’s like music where you can put music on too early or too much of it, and that solves problems, like wallpaper. Papers over, bad transitions or unmotivated actions and stuff. You just go, no, no, the music will take care of that. Effects can do that, too, where you just distract people and go, well, this is fine. But whether they know it intellectually in their forebrain or not, they feel it in their stomach. Wait, I don’t understand the actions of this character, therefore I’m not behind them. And then you’ve lost.

Sarah Taylor:

So important. 

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Right.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah, I think that tension that Dylan talked about where you need to know enough to not be distracted by the logic of what you don’t know and you need to know enough to invest in these characters. That’s one of the hallmarks that I found of the process that we went through was that there’s so much testing that Marvel does with its audiences that they test the film much more often than other larger features that I’ve worked on. So much of what they’re listening for with their audiences is, when are you invested in these characters? What is it that’s distracting you? Because you don’t know either a piece of exposition or how the world works? Because there’s so much world creation going on. You’re often entering a world for the first time and saying, okay, what does this tribe do? What powers do they have? How does that impact the story? And how much of that do you need to know to not throw up your hands and just tune out for a while because you don’t understand what’s happening?

If you set us an action sequence in New York, you know the gravitational properties. The hotdog vendor doesn’t necessarily can’t shoot laser beams out of his eyes or something. You don’t have to explain those things in order for somebody to be invested in the stakes. Whereas I think in this film you’re constantly living in the tension of just enough. How much do they need to know in order to invest in what’s going on? And how do we keep economizing on that and experimenting with that so that they’re engaged but not overly explained so that they’re bored?

Nat Sanders, ACE:

And to what Dylan and Harry have pointed out, in our case, we had this long prologue at the beginning of the film that on page was great and it really worked and it was basically the parents’ backstory. Everything that happened with the parents and young Shang-Chi all was in this first 20 pages of the script. And then we land on adult Shang-Chi in San Francisco and then we’re off from there and everything was linear. ER from the very beginning during all those talks she talked about would come in my office in the middle of the day and be like, “We got to do something about this effing prologue. It’s not going to work.”

Harry Yoon, ACE:

[inaudible 00:45:24]. This effing prologue.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

We were talking about it. We obviously tried to make it work linearly the way it was up. If it had been 10 or 12 minutes and maybe 15 minutes at the absolute most, then maybe there was a way to make it work. It was never going to get down to that length. You were finding out things that you just didn’t really as an audience member want to find out yet. ER really led the charge on it and it led to discussions between me and her and then eventually with Destin about how do we tell this story in the most satisfying way?

When we first showed our assembly cut to Destin, I think it was still mostly linear. Maybe with the prologue maybe you had messed around some, but it was for the most part still plain linear. And there were great elements all throughout the watch, but there was something not unsatisfying about the watch and something wasn’t right. Pretty much the next day the three of us got together and said, “What about if we restructure and just use this prologue as flashbacks throughout the film and you find out those things when you emotionally want to find out about them?” We would create a lot more mystery than we had had when it was all playing in linear fashion. There was no doubt about it. As soon as the idea got broached, all three of us were on board. We just started-

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

And we did our first pass on the wall, because what’s so good when you have to do such a huge reconstructions, what’s good is just print out your sim cards. And then we were just moving them around on the wall. What if this is there? Then we’re talking again, talking our way through it. What if this happens here? I feel that’s a really good tool to have, sim cards and a good wall.

Nathan Orloff:

I agree with everything you guys have said. It’s fascinating. It’s hard to convey on a page is that if you trust your characters, if you trust the performance, you don’t need this line. You don’t need that beat even though it was written. If you lean in, if you make the audience lean in, if you make them care, that’s more important than anything else. You can explain stuff later on, you can explain the backstory. Maybe in the weird way it was good that it was written linearly as a prologue so you could chop it up and do whatever you want with it in post. But if it was written that way, you’d be trapped into certain versions.

It’s fascinating to me, because to me scripts are like a car manual for a movie. Great if they captivate you, that’s wonderful. That means they’re very successful, but you’re not looking into a human’s eyes, you’re not learning something about them silently. Ghostbusters went through more reconstructions in the third act figuring out what people need to know when and that was fascinating. But yeah, in terms of when to lean on characters and how to cut around empty plates, music is very, very useful. I ended up memorizing the Ghostbusters soundtrack and the music stems from the original because it’s different than the soundtrack in terms of, all right, what kind of beat here? What kind of rise do I want? I would make a silent beat where reverb a sound out and then do a slow old martino rise. I’m like, all right. That’s how I’m finding my taste with these empty slots. But as Dylan said, all these cuts need to work without music. You can lean on music, you can lean on sound too much, but I find it very useful, especially with empty plates, how to time them out.

My issue initially, especially since this is my first time in the editor’s chair on this level of visual effects film, was I left everything very long initially because a lot of this stuff was title cards and you needed time to read them. This to me would be the benefit to having actual previs of actual 3D models doing a turn, doing a thing, was that you’d be able to time the movements, but in order to understand everything at all my plates were all initially long and everything just got faster. But that’s a normal movie anyway. The mother character, Callie, in our movie, we ended up losing a lot of exposition, a lot of exposition, especially with the relationship with her father because we ended up, if you care, you don’t need to know. More ambiguity. Ambiguity in that regard was better. There was a great saying that both Dana and I learned on this movie and it was, it’s better to have your audience confused for 10 minutes than bored for 10 seconds.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Oh my, yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Can I add to this? Because I love this, Nathan. I absolutely love the whole discussion about script versus film. For me it’s a different language. A script is one language. Well, you have a costume designer translating it into costumes and et cetera, et cetera, but you have to take all of this and translate it into a movie and it’s not the same language. It’s where a monologue can become a look. I find it so fascinating. It’s a different language. The script isn’t bad. Even if you have to reconstruct the whole movie, it’s not because the script is bad, it’s because it’s a different language. It just takes different letters to make it work.

Nathan Orloff:

Totally. And that monologue might have informed the actor to do the performance that you needed so in order to get rid of the monologue,

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Exactly. It’s not the script that’s bad, it’s just you have to translate it into a movie.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Nathan Orloff:

This might be why I’m a little bitter that there’s so little behind the scenes on editing. It’s a hard thing to tell people, “No, the script wasn’t bad. The assembly cut wasn’t… It’s not like these are problems. It’s that this is the process.”

Sarah Taylor:

I wanted to quickly touch on sound because you’ve all talked about it in different moments. Are there any specific sound effects that travel the Marvel universe that you used in your edits? And then same with Ghostbusters, did you get to get sounds that were from the original movies that you threw in? I’m just curious how that comes within the edit suite before it gets sent off to the magic sound world.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

If you’re working on an Avengers movie, yeah, there’s going to be sound effects that were established and sounds of things, Thor stuff and all of that. For Eternals, all new characters, all new people, related, but really no crossover characters in there. We did use as temp a lot of stuff. Ego ship, I used backgrounds for that. Thor’s hammer and swords and Valkyrie’s this and that. Yeah, used a bunch from the Marvel toolbox. Craig brought his stuff, I brought my stuff. We just used whatever we had to hand to build the idea out. And then as we went forward, we got a specific toolbox from Skywalker. Addison was our sound supervisor. As we started to talk about sound and we did a bunch of meetings where he would present some stuff, then we would give him notes with Chloe and just talk about the sound design of the movie in general, the creatures, the powers. Mainly how to differentiate those because we had so many of each and trying to keep things helping with the storytelling through sound.

I think we used what we had until we could replace it with our movie specific stuff as Addison got farther and farther along. Craig and I both love sound a lot and we did a lot of work and built it pretty full tracks as we were building the sequences. A lot of that informed the discussion and became the template for what ended up being. But it’s a very iterative process where you go back and forth and go, do we use Thena’s new sword sound for this? Or is this more like the version C? That kind of thing where it’s just so granular.

Sarah Taylor:

Amazing.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

We had no sound library because we didn’t know, right? We didn’t know how his rings would sound or all those magical animals. We didn’t have a roadmap. Katie Woods helped us. She did some pre-designing while we were still in Australia.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

That library did start to grow as we continued to work with the team at Skywalker. We had the benefit that they’d worked on a lot of shows before. A huge benefit that there was continuity in terms of our mixers that had continued to work before. Both the sound design team. Since they have those libraries available, they could start winnowing those sounds into our cut. I just have a funny story where early on, spoiler alert, when there were some Dr. Strange sounds entering into our cut, for some reason we didn’t have the sound of the portal opening and staying open for a very long time so we literally had to rip it from a Dr. Strange movie. Anytime we did a trim, we would roll the trim and then you’d start hearing Dr. Strange dialogue underneath our cut. I’d be like, who’s talking during this time?

Sarah Taylor:

I love it.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

So there’s a little bit of challenges in terms of temping from existing Marvel movies. But yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s great.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Another interesting aspect of it too is when we would do our previews, often when you go do a preview you’ll stop at a certain point before the preview and you go into a temp mix for a couple days with the sound mixers. Marvel is just so much about story and about the edit that I think, maybe I’m guessing, but I don’t think they want to give up that time to continue working the cut. We were always using our Avid mixes during those previews, which just put an extra, not pressure, but I guess responsibility to make sure that you were representing all of your creatures well. Everything had to be on point because we were screening these for audiences and they had to play real.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

And that mixes with Marvel.

Nathan Orloff:

That’s great to know because I’m a huge fan of not doing temp mixes and just doing it on the Avid. We did that on Star Trek Into Darkness when Avid first introduced 5.1 audio. And then we were like, what if we just didn’t do a temp mix? It was grand experiment, but I’m glad that’s… We did 10 mixes on Ghostbusters and they were very intense and stressful.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

I mean, it’s great for the mixers to be able to go through it.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I want temp mixes.

Sarah Taylor:

You want them?

Nathan Orloff:

I’d rather save the days for later. Take the same amount of money, just put it for final.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Well, I don’t think that’s a money problem with Marvel.

Nathan Orloff:

That’s true. That’s true.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Or anyone. I just feel, especially dialogue, is so important and dialogue is sometimes recorded under very difficult circumstances, whereas pre-sound mix really can save your ass for clarity so people understand what’s being said. That’s why I feel very strongly about getting a temp mix. Also, because I am not a sound person. I do appreciate sound and it’s extremely important to my edit, but I’m not going to do it. I could just as well go and do a heart surgery or something. It’s not my talent.

Sarah Taylor:

I love it.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I edit movies. I don’t do sound. I feel it’s important that people have their expertise. The same way I wouldn’t do graphics. I’m not doing it. Hire a person, a graphic designer.

Sarah Taylor:

For sure.

Nathan Orloff:

That’s how Dana worked as well. I don’t know. Sound and music for me is a place I’ll go to if I’m stuck on an edit and I need to refresh. I like doing sound. And then like I mentioned for the storyboards, we’re very lucky, especially Jason has such a specific vision for this movie to be a lot like the original [inaudible 00:57:34] movies. Having the stems from the original was a huge, huge help. And having what he described as almost steampunk. Yes, someone just created this device, but they made it with duct tape and glue. It barely works. It’s not like a Star Trek shiny thing. It’s supposed to rattle when it turns on. There’s a specific vibe that was very useful to get. Having all the stems, especially for the boards sold you on the world and the tone.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Totally.

Nathan Orloff:

And that stayed on. The most difficult sound, like the story of the Dr. Strange, the trap sounds specifically, when the trap opens, there was no archive of what their original one was. So Will Files, one of the sound supervisors, he had to take the stem and subtract Slimer from the frequency spectrum in order to… It was like sound archeology-

Sarah Taylor:

That’s amazing.

Nathan Orloff:

… in order to get that trap sound.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

That’s just the Slimer notch. It’s in the [inaudible 00:58:37].

Nathan Orloff:

Yeah, exactly.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

There is a funny Marvel music story from Shang-Chi. Someone pulled a number on me and Nat because we were both first timers. We were doing the third act and we needed to temp it with music. It was more or less all postvis. Someone said, “Oh, they want you to take from the other Marvel movies.” I remember we went through the whole music library and temp them to pieces. And then they hated it. We can’t concentrate on this, getting music from another movie.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Kevin saw it and said, “All I can think of is Spider-Man.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

So we had to clear it all out and get something else in, but it was funny.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh my goodness.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Oh, lots of stories.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Someone wanted us to sweat.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, I’ll get you to sweat. My next question is, how did you all approach representation in your edit? Because in Shang-Chi we have an almost entirely Asian cast. Ghostbusters, we have a neurodivergent main character. In Eternals were introduced to one of the first South Asian superheroes and a deaf superhero. What were your thoughts and approaches to making sure this was tackled in the best way possible?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

It’s certainly something that Marvel has been concentrating on more and more. I really applaud and appreciate their efforts and the earnestness and genuineness with which they have approached inclusivity and representation in their movies because it has typically been a English speaking white guy kind of thing. I think they’ve done fantastic work. Eternals from the get-go, from its conception, was meant to be representative of other less-represented peoples. Chloe cast a, not American, but Asian English person as the lead. We have a gay black character and we have a deaf character, all of that.

I got to say, Craig and I both and Chloe came at this from the point of view of, we’re very proud and are behind all the representation, but that is not the point of the movie. We never wanted to bang that drum or put a spotlight on it. These are just the characters. Marvel went to great lengths to check things with people to show Lauren Ridloff, our deaf performer, the cuts and the ideas. Does this work? Is it okay if we change this one word to make it seem better? Because we don’t want anyone to feel like they’ve been duped or anything like that. Brian Tyre Henry, who plays Phastos, he had an onscreen gay kiss that was a big deal.

Craig cut that sequence, the Phastos house. I said, “I think the kiss in the dailies is fantastic, just as long as we don’t highlight it and push in on it and do music on it as if, look at this, guys.” And he said, “Oh no, we’re not going to do that.” I think we all had the same opinion. This is who the characters are. We support them and we are proud of it, but it’s not what the story’s about. So it gets its place. I think we’re proud of how we did it. In fact, when we would do the early screenings and we would ask, “What do you like about the movie?” And the audience would go. “Love the representation.” We’d all just look at each other and go, great, whatever. Yeah, we love it, too. What about the story? What about the characters? So yeah, I’m proud of how we did that. I’m proud of Marvel in general. I’m pleased to have been part of it. It’ll be great when humanity has passed this bump.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah, I think that was really well put, Dylan. I’m very proud that Marvel makes this a priority. I think it’s in having all the filmmakers involved care about the details and to know what questions to ask so that those details feel correct. Because it’s all about nuances. I think people who are watching for this kind of thing know when it’s surface versus authentic or feels grounded. Everything from what kind of TV program is Katie’s family watching in the background as they’re eating breakfast? How do you pronounce in their dialect the rice porridge that they’re eating in the morning?

Or just being concerned about, there’s been this whole history of a lack of Asian males as desirable characters, as romantic leads in the history of Hollywood. How do we take that into consideration when thinking, should Shang-Chi have a love interest? What is his relationship with Katie like? How do we maintain what their chemistry is like, but still acknowledge that he is potentially a desirable person? There was all of this talk, to ER’s point, a lot of this discussion and it informed the small choices that we made. But those small changes, those small details, I think are the things that audiences really loved and appreciated. When they saw Shang-Chi taking off his shoes before he went into the apartment, there were these little explosions of meaningful details that allowed people to feel seen, that allowed people to say, “Oh, this feels very real. It doesn’t feel like just a surface nod to something. It feels like somebody that I know.”

Nat Sanders, ACE:

I have to say, with that scene the Harry’s alluding to with Katie’s family, that was one from the very beginning that there was always a discussion, is this scene going to stay or not? Because we’d had a scene with their friends at the bar, and then we have another expositional scene with Katie’s family. We come back at the end of the film to the friends at the bar, but we don’t see Katie’s family again. There was always a discussion, is this going to stay? I have to say, Harry really advocated for it. We did a couple previews with it in and we still were on the fence. I think for the third preview, we were going to try it. I think we were leaning towards trying it without it. I think Harry, to his point, I said, “If we take it out, it’s probably not coming back in because it doesn’t move the plot forward. We’re not going to probably in that way we won’t miss it.”

I think at those first couple previews we’d requested that they try to recruit a certain percentage at least of Asian American audience members and I think it hadn’t quite happened. This third one, we were going to have a little bit more of an Asian American audience so we tried it one more time and it was just exactly what Harry said in the talk back afterwards. We just kept hearing, “I felt seen in that scene in Katie’s family,” and pointing out all the details. It was just so obvious how Harry had been to advocate for it. Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I think it’s to a big credit, both to Marvel but also Destin, who was extremely keen on bringing forth a contemporary feel of the Asian community and not just the magical one.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

On a more smaller scale, too. Both ER and myself and then Harry when we were back in LA, we always made it a priority that bare minimum have one Mandarin speaker on our edit team. We would always have, I guess, it ended up being a second in each case. It was Lisa in Australia and Ujang back in LA. Especially towards the end with Ujang, she was incredibly informative about the details of phrasing, especially we were rewriting a lot of voiceover that was in Mandarin and she was a really integral part of a lot of creative decisions.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Just real quickly. There was a joke towards the end that played so well with English speaking audiences. The thing that Tony Lang’s character was saying was so funny when it was in subtitle, but one of the things that Ujang and Novar, our other onset Mandarin speaker, said was that, “It’s funny, but it’s totally absurd. It’s too childish a thing for him to say, and therefore it doesn’t fit his character.” But those were the determiners for Destin. He would make the decision, even though it might play for the vast majority of people who don’t speak Chinese, for the people that speak Mandarin it will feel fake. It will feel untrue, and therefore we’re going to take it out even though it’s a huge laugh. I think it’s that adherence to making sure we get those kinds of nuances right that I think really came through and it’s because Destin had that dedication to it.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah That’s wonderful.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

At the same time, I agree with what you are saying, especially regarding strong Asian lead male, but let’s not forget we had extremely strong Asian women support. I think they’re all so amazing.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I just think it’s just as much of a showcase of Asian females as the male because there are some really strong women in there.

Sarah Taylor:

Mm-hmm.

Nathan Orloff:

I don’t have a ton to add to what you guys said. All incredible. I completely agree. To echo also with what Dylan said is that, once you get into the edit and it’s there, our approach was a little bit just neutral. Just everything else, just like a VFX shot, you have to earn it. You can’t just wallow and highlight it. You just have to just let it breathe and have to let the character exist authentically. There’s cultural biases that I want to make sure I’m self aware of, that I’m not bulldozing a beat because of my prejudices unknowingly or something like that. But that’s mainly the only thing that I changed about my approach, just making sure every character has what they care about and their stakes and what they want clear. It’s just as important in making these people pop off the screen as real people so that people can identify with them and make them not caricatures of cinema past.

The only interesting example is that, in the storyboard sequence there’s the cut to of Callie and Grooberson in the Chinese restaurant. In the storyboard and the script, a Chinese restaurant. So what did I do? The first thing I did when I did the storyboard, I downloaded Chinese restaurant music and I cut it in. Great. It’s a gag. Wonderful. Blah, blah, blah. You get into the edit and there’s a whole scene before that of Callie on a date with Paul Rudd’s character. I kept trying to put Chinese music in and it’s just like, this is weird, so off. This just feels like-

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

How vaguely racist.

Nathan Orloff:

Exactly. We were like, what are we doing?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

How did I get there?

Nathan Orloff:

[inaudible 01:09:48]. It was just make sure we check that we’re not doing something that’s super stereotypical and not realistic because this is a restaurant that’s in the middle of Oklahoma they’d listen to.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Some modern country.

Sarah Taylor:

There’s a lot of comedy in these films. I just want to know, what’s one joke or one bit that kept you through, that was something that you took away from the film? I have a few of my own, but I want to know yours.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Oh, goodness. Well, I can say we tried hard to keep all the comedy in Eternals, because it’s actually for a Marvel movie pretty heavy drama. Chloe’s bent is, she’s dramatic. She likes funny, but she’s more dramatic. Craig and I are both into funny, so we tried a lot. It’s got to be something with Kumail because he does the lion share of the comedy lifting and he’s really great in the movie. I don’t know. The spit takes of the beer that Gilgamesh ferments in his mouth from corn always got to laugh.

Sarah Taylor:

That was good.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

That’s probably one.

Sarah Taylor:

I love it. Harry, do you have a favorite?

Harry Yoon, ACE:

I think Unfailingly was the story that Ben Kingsley tells before entering the bamboo forest about Planet of the Apes and how the apes are the thing… Convinced him that acting was important. I have a funny story to tell. One of our test screenings during the talk back, there was a huge Marvel fan that was like, “That was the best joke ever told in the Marvel universe.” You’re able to relate that to our writers and [inaudible 01:11:30].

Sarah Taylor:

Oh my gosh.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

It really landed.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Aquafina, every single scene. She’s my girl.

Sarah Taylor:

Hotel California, that was my favorite.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

So good.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

This is an example of a perfect joke for me, which was, if I remember correctly, once Aquafina finds out the truth about Shang, she goes, “Wait, so you’ve been hiding and you changed your name to Sean?” I think that’s a trailer moment, too. The reason it’s so good is because it’s exactly what the audience is thinking. It’s going, wait, I hardly hear a difference. And then our character says exactly that, and you go, okay, perfect.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Yeah. When I cut that scene I just laughed so much every single time he said that to me.

Sarah Taylor:

It was such a good scene.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

It was so hilarious.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

That one was fun. That was mostly improvised, probably the most improvised in the movie.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Yeah.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

It just happens. I came up working with directors like Len Shelton and the Duplass Brothers who would shoot mostly improvised movies really based on an outline, so that was my background. That scene was really fun to backpack in for that.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. I love it.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

But I mean, let’s face it, she says magina in the Marvel movie.

Sarah Taylor:

Winning.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Milestone.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Winning.

Nathan Orloff:

I really love when Podcast… After the serious discovery of what Egon has been doing out there and says he sacrificed everything, et cetera, et cetera, and there’s his long beat and then podcast just goes, “Bummer.” That was my favorite. It kills me every time.

Sarah Taylor:

What was something that you learned from this film you’re going to take with you to other films?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

This is my first time working at Marvel and I really fell in love with the way the trio works, Kevin, Lou, Victoria. The review process, I really just got into that. Elísabet said it before, there’s a lot of talking. I love talking and exchanging ideas. When you do it with Marvel, there are three really smart people who love movies. I’ve made a million, not a million, a lot of movies where the execs are not as involved at all, A. Also, when they are, they don’t have much really substantive to contribute. I don’t know if this is a lesson, but it’s a feeling that I’m taking forward from working with them that I just appreciate. Kevin is all about plusing. How can we make this better? No stone is left unturned. You keep working to the last minute. It’s tiring, but it makes the best movie. Great ideas can come from anywhere, which is something that I know and that I’ve practiced forever, but it was just a really great experience. I take that forward. I guess what I’m saying is, I’ll try to push to integrate that style into other places I work.

Sarah Taylor:

Amazing. I love it.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah, I totally concur with what Dylan’s saying. That’s really something that really stood out, was having the attitude that always be 5% better, like a character arc or identification or clarity or something like that. Not giving up just because of whatever stage in the process that you’re at. Marvel really had that attitude. It was wonderful to see all of those resources being put to bear for story. Story, story, story. And making it make slightly better. On a more technical note, I loved digging into ER’s action edits and seeing the importance of micro speed changes. So really seeing how even a 12% speed up could really make the difference.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Don’t need that frame. Don’t need that frame.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah. And just these tiny little frame differences and stuff like that. Just worrying everything. Because I guess that’s part of the it can be 5% better. In that case, a kick can be 12% better if you speed it up by 12%. So yeah, those micro speed changes were something that I’ll definitely be playing with.

Sarah Taylor:

Those are the little tricks we want to hear about.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

Yeah. I think we learned a lot. I also learned one thing that I feel is very important, especially when you start working with people you don’t know very well. The importance of going it together. You can’t just go off in one direction. You all have to go together the same direction. There was something beautiful about that and very rewarding I find to have gone that with this group of people. It was actually quite amazing because everything else was happening. I mean, we were being in a country we didn’t know. So yeah, you got a family way from the people that were stuck there with you.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, no kidding.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

But I’m not talking about that. I’m also just talking about the process of making the movie. Bill Pope shot it, amazing cinema photographer. The thing is, we can’t edit what we don’t get, except if it’s previs and you can have them changed, but you know what I mean. You are governed by what they shoot and what they give you. I just think it was an amazing team.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

I probably learned more on this movie than I had in the previous five movies before. To what Dylan said, you always learn something on every project, but this one for me personally, was just at different levels. I’d never done fight scenes before, hadn’t worked with VFX on this scale and all those things. Actually I really early on leaned on ER and really just tried to soak in everything I could. To what Harry said, yeah, I would go in and look, especially really early in the process, would go and look at her fight scenes, look at her timelines and be like, okay, she sped this up in this moment. And then how did she do the ramp? And then I would just go and analyze all that.

It reminded me of when I was coming up as an assistant editor 15 years ago. When I would stay late at night and work on scenes on myself, I would look at what the editors had done and break down the timelines and analyze how they cut music, analyze how they did this, how they did that, and learn to cut that way. I hadn’t done that in a while, but on this I was doing some things that I had never done before. I really leaned on ER’s experience with all that, asked her questions, was soaking all that in. it was hugely helpful.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

He doesn’t know, I don’t know anything. Every project, you’re just amicably going in because that’s the beauty of it. Every project is different. It has different challenges and different…

Nat Sanders, ACE:

Yeah, so much that we learned. By the end, I guess you become a Marvel… Especially in this case, it was 18 months for me from start to end. You know the lay of the land by the end, but early on you are getting thrown into the deep end.

Nathan Orloff:

Always feels a little unfair because you’re the best editor to cut the project when you’re done with it. On this one, the scale of things, something the third act, was something that… Like I said, it scaled up a lesson and it’s sometimes hard to learn is that just because you put a puzzle together doesn’t mean it’s the right picture. I got it from Calgary, the third act, I think it was 20 minutes long, and I was just exhausted and I’m just so happy that it existed, that it worked, that it tracked, that you followed it. And Dana, to her credit, she’s like, “Eventually this will be like 12 minutes, 15 minutes.” And I was like, “What? No way.” I just couldn’t conceive of it. What I’ve been trying, especially recently since I got back from location a month ago, was that I’ve been like, all right, the editor that was on location that cut the assembly did a great job. Great.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Whoever that was.

Nathan Orloff:

Different person.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Nathan Orloff:

This much is totally fine and let’s just rip it apart. Let’s figure it out. Let’s find a better picture to make with these puzzle pieces and figure out what we don’t need. And to really let go, which is an easy thing to say, but it’s really more about opening your heart and letting go of your ego and really just trying to focus on telling the best story possible. I’m also glad I had Dana as a partner on this. We were really in it together. I learned also a lot of little tricks from here, like I mentioned earlier. You can cut to a shot when someone’s opening their eye halfway if you need that extra frame. You won’t notice that they were blinking. Stuff like that.

Sarah Taylor:

Love it.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

It makes them seem like they’re really paying attention.

Nathan Orloff:

Exactly.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

I mean, it’s one of the great things about having multiple editors is that level of objectivity that your editing partner can give to you, to your sequences, back and forth. You can be brutal and have a screening and come out of it, as you were saying, and they go, “Yeah, that’s still four minutes too long.” And your stomach clenches up. What? But you feel the same way about their work. And it’s because you’re in the trenches dealing with all the minutiae and someone standing 20 feet behind you is going, “I’m done with that shot. Actually, I don’t need that beat because I already guessed that was going to happen.” You’ve been just trying to solve the problem so your perspective is totally different. It’s really helpful. Likewise, that’s what directors can be for, but I think having multiple editors, it can be a great collaboration. I had a great time with Craig.

Nathan Orloff:

And Ivan on Arm Project was a huge help on pushing for pace. Jason was in the same boat. He is never done a movie of this scale, but by the end he was totally singing what Ivan was going for and on just really… Just because it’s fast doesn’t make it… Just sing with the script. It’s not like you screwed up. It’s not like something’s bad, you need to speed through it. It just makes it more exciting. It just makes it more engaging if it’s appropriate.

Sarah Taylor:

What’s coming up next? Is there any shows or films that you want to share with us that you’re proud of or excited about?

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

I’m doing a movie with Scott Cooper now starring Christian Bale.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

We’re filming.

Sarah Taylor:

Excellent.

Harry Yoon, ACE:

I’m doing a dark comedy series for Netflix called Beef starring Stephen Young and Allie Wong, which is going to be a lot of fun.

Sarah Taylor:

That’ll be fun.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I’m locking edit on Bullet Train for Sony.

Nat Sanders, ACE:

I’ve come on to help on a project. It’s a comedy that Taika Waititi shot before the pandemic, and then he’s in with Thor as well called Next Goal Wins. It’s going to be coming out later this year. I have to say, working on the comedy in Shang-Chi reminded me how much I love working with comedy and I hadn’t had a chance to do it in a while so I was seeking that out a little bit for what I…

Nathan Orloff:

I’m cutting John Wick 4 right now.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh.

Nathan Orloff:

I was on location before, so we got back and I’ll be on this until about August. It’s a very exciting project. I am looking forward to hopefully doing a comedy next because the last time I did Plan B was a comedy, and I don’t think I’ve ever been professionally just laughing all day long in my Avid. It’s a very pleasurable experience to cut comedy.

Sarah Taylor:

I’m cutting a comedy right now. Yeah, my cheeks always hurt at the end of my edit, which is great.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

I just want to let you know, Bullet Train is comedy. Just wanted to let you know.

Sarah Taylor:

Okay. Good.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

My movie has no comedy whatsoever. Cat Cooper, not super comedic cat.

Sarah Taylor:

Awesome. Well, thank you all for joining us today. This was a great conversation. I’m so glad to hear the inner workings of how these giant films get made. Thank you for spending the time with us today.

Dylan Tichenor, ACE:

Thank you, Sarah.

Nathan Orloff:

Thanks for having us. Yeah.

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, ACE:

So nice meeting you all.

Sarah Taylor:

Thanks so much for joining us today, and a big thanks goes out to our panelists. A special thanks goes to the 2022 EditCon planning committee, Alison Dowler and Kim McTaggart, CCE. 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 is proud to support Hire BIPOC. Hire BIPOC is the definitive and ubiquitous industry-wide roster of Canadian BIPOC creatives and crew working in screen-based industries. Check out hirebipoc.ca to hire your next group or create a profile and get hired.

Speaker 8:

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.



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Credits

A special thanks goes to

Kim McTaggart, CCE

Alison Dowler

Shyra Joauin

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

Sponsor Narration by

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The Editors Cut

Episode 045 : Mental Health with Rebecca Day

Episode 045 - Mental Health with Rebecca Day

Episode 45: Mental Health with Rebecca Day

It’s been one year since our worlds have changed and we thought it was a good time to check in on our mental health.

This episode is sponsored by IATSE 891

Sarah Taylor sits down with psychotherapist Rebecca Day to talk about our mental health as creatives in the midst of a pandemic. 

Rebecca Day is a qualified psychotherapist and freelance documentary producer. She founded her company, Film In Mind in 2018 to address mental health in the film industry and has spoken at festivals such as Berlinale, IDFA, Getting Real Documentary Conference, WIFT and Sheffield DocFest on the issue. She offers therapeutic support and supervision to filmmakers working in difficult situations and with vulnerable people, as well as consultancies and workshops on mental health in the film industry. 

Her previous feature, Becoming Animal, directed by Emma Davie & Peter Mettler was a Scottish/Swiss co-production and premiered at CPH Dox in 2018. She is currently working with the impact team on Evelyn, an intimate and poignant film about death by suicide, made by academy award-winning director Orlando Von Eisendel at Grain Media and is producing a documentary with first-time feature director, Duncan Cowles titled, Silent Men.

For more info about Rebecca go to Film In Mind.

Another great mental health resource in Canada is Calltime: Mental Health. The site has a learning centre where you can take online courses about mental health as well as many resources. Links to help with general mental health, depression, anxiety, sleep, alcohol and addiction, suicide, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ resources. There is loads of information!

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Sarah Taylor:

This episode is generously sponsored by IATSE 891.

Sarah Taylor:

Hello, and welcome to The Editor’s Cut. I’m your host, Sarah Taylor. We would like to point out

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.

Sarah Taylor:

It’s been quite the year, right? Feel like it’s a good time to check in with our mental health, so

today, I’m bringing you a conversation I had with psychotherapist Rebecca Day. Rebecca’s a

qualified psychotherapist and freelance documentary producer. She founded her company, Film

in Mind, in 2018 to address mental health in the film industry. She has spoken at festivals such as

Berlinale, IDF, Getting Real documentary conference, WIFT, and Sheffield Doc/Fest on the issue.

She offers therapeutic support and supervision to filmmakers working in difficult situations and

with vulnerable people, as well as consultancies and workshops on mental health in the film

industry. Her previous feature, Becoming Animal, directed by Emma Davie and Peter Mettler,

was a Scottish-Swiss co-production and premiered at CPH:DOX in 2018. She’s currently working

with the impact team on Evelyn, an intimate and poignant film about death by suicide made by

Academy-Award-winning director Orlando von Einsiedel at Green Media and is producing a

documentary with first-time director Duncan Cowles, titled Silent Men.

[show open]

Sarah Taylor:

Rebecca Day, thank you so much for joining us today. You’re based in London, is that correct?

Rebecca Day:

Well, actually in the Lake District in the north of England. It’s not in a city, which is lovely.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, awesome! So thank you for joining us from all the way over the pond. Today, we’re going to

talk about mental health. We’re in a really trying time in the world, and I think it’s a good time to

check in and see how we’re all doing and maybe talk about things that can make our lives as

creatives a little bit easier. I’m really interested to learn about your journey, because you have a

company called Film in Mind, and you’re a psychotherapist, but you’re also a filmmaker. So can

you tell us a little bit about where you’re from, how you got into the film industry, and then how

Film in Mind came to be?

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, of course. Well, firstly, thank you for having me. It’s a real pleasure to be here. Yeah, I’ve

been working as a documentary producer for about… I think it’s coming on to 15 years, actually,

now. I’m still producing a little bit, but I’m pretty much almost full-time now as a

psychotherapist. I worked pretty much all in independent documentary, so feature-length films

being made for cinema, very tricky, challenging funding routes; tricky, challenging stories; lots of

really moving, emotional subject matter. Also, a really varied stuff over the years, and moving

around that independent international film circuit and just really getting to know the industry on

that level.

Rebecca Day:

During my time doing it, I guess there were just parts of the producing work that resonated with

me more than other parts, so it would be more of the emotional connection work, the outreach

and audience engagement stuff that I started working on, really appealed to me, and I wanted to

find out how I could connect with that more in the work that I was doing and sort of moving

away from some of the budgeting kind of stuff. Which I guess I was good at, but it didn’t really

speak to me from a passion perspective, I suppose, and I started my psychotherapy training a

few years ago, I think. 2016, I think it was, and qualified a couple of years later.

Rebecca Day:

And it was during that transition period that I started to make these connections between the

therapy world and the world of documentary in particular. I’m starting to see this with the fiction

world now as well, but at the time, it was very much about documentary, and it was this

realization that people making documentaries are immersing themselves in very much the same

difficult content, if I can use that word, because obviously, we wouldn’t use that word as a

therapist, but I can (as a) filmmaker. Subject matter, stories, being immersed with people in that

way, but without the support structures and without the training, really, to emotionally hold

themselves safe while doing that work.

Rebecca Day:

I’d experienced through colleagues, my own experience as well, and friends of mine, seeing

people drop out of the industry from burnout and exhaustion, or relationships breaking down

because we didn’t have the time to communicate effectively with each other, and a lot… I guess

lots of emotional strain that wasn’t being talked about that I then really wanted to address once

I’d gone through my training and realized that I kept writing about this in all of my essays. Yeah,

so it kind of came out of that, and then I created Film in Mind. I set it up as a private practice,

really, just reaching out to the film community and saying, “I’m here for therapy,” and it’s kind of

snowballed from there. I work with clients as a therapist, hourly sessions, weekly or fortnightly,

all around the world, all on Zoom. There’s not many filmmakers in the Lake District. And then

speaking on.. speaking in events and festivals and doing a little bit of training.. as well. So..Yeah,

it’s really varied and really rewarding work.

Sarah Taylor:

Do you find that a lot of your clients are actually in the film industry? Like did you really, like

they’ve tapped into that, and they’ve found you.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I have a.. Yeah! I do work with clients who aren’t in the film industry as well,

but it’s a very small percentage of my work. The majority of my clients are… mostly directors, but

I do have a lot of other practitioners working in different departments coming for support as

well, and sometimes we focus completely on the work, and I’d say for the most part, you know,

it’s all the other stuff that life chucks at us that comes into the therapy as well.

Sarah Taylor:

Totally, yeah. I think it’s really interesting, and I’ve never really sat back to think about it, but as a

therapist, you’re trained on how to give yourself space and time to process and not to take on

other people’s stuff. That’s what I’m assuming. And as the documentary editor, I’m really digging

into these people’s stories, and they’re stories that are traumatic, and there’s all sorts of things

that we discover in the edit suite.

Sarah Taylor:

But yeah, we don’t have the tools to see that, “Oh, I’m feeling really stressed right now,” or, “I’m

feeling really anxious right now. Well, maybe it does have something to do with what I’m

working on, and it’s not just something’s wrong with me, but it’s how I’m consuming and

absorbing the information that I’m looking at all day long.” So I’m just commenting on how

fantastic it is that you saw that, and you decided, “I’m going to pursue this, and I’m going to help

people unpack all this information, and how do we protect ourselves?” And so I’m just curious, is

there something that you could suggest as a first way of maybe shifting our mindsets into how to

keep ourselves safe when we’re working on content that’s really challenging?

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, I think the first, most important thing is for us as a community to recognize that the work

we do is emotionally challenging. That’s the first part, because we seem to work in a culture

where we’re not allowed to admit it. It’s that sort of show-no-weakness kind of attitude, and it’s

not a weakness to say that when you’re sitting for hours editing really hard footage that that is

going to have a strain on you emotionally. That’s one of the first things we learn as therapists, is

don’t shy away from the work, but learn how to do it safely, because the work is always going to

be challenging, and if this is where you want to be, then there’s things that you can put in place

to make sure that you can show up for your clients. And I think for me, it just felt exactly the

same for filmmakers. It wasn’t saying, “Don’t do that work, because it’ll be too hard for you.” It’s

saying, “How can you do it in a way that keeps you strong and keeps you healthy and keeps you

really present in it?” And the first step of that is saying, “Oh, no, this is going to be difficult for

me, but that doesn’t make me weak.” It’s that recognition of it.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. Yeah, and I think once you have those realizations, it’s things like, okay, well, I know that

the first few weeks of doing a new doc, when I’m looking through all the footage and really

getting to know what’s happening, I might not overbook myself, or I might need to make sure I

put in place things that make me feel good after I’m done working, or that sort of thing. But we

can’t do that until we acknowledge that yes, this is going to be challenging, and that is okay. So

that’s really great.

Sarah Taylor:

As you know, as a filmmaker, obviously, we aren’t in a career that is stable or constant. There’s

always stuff that’s happening where we don’t know when the next gig’s going to be, or we don’t

know how long the project might be, or now we’re in the middle of a pandemic that has been

almost a year. And so how do we, as creatives, stay healthy and avoid burnout or avoid

depression when we’re kind of always trying to catch the next thing in some ways?

Rebecca Day:

It’s a really good question, Sarah, because I think if you had asked me that question

pre-pandemic, my answer probably would’ve been quite similar. I think the pandemic has added

a layer onto what we were already experiencing. Especially in the doc world, we were starting to

recognize that we were in a mental health crisis before the pandemic hit, and conversations

around burnout and depression were happening, but they were happening very quietly and

behind the scenes. I think what the pandemic has allowed us to do is, in some ways, made us

realize how resilient we are because we are used to working with uncertainty.

Rebecca Day:

Some ways, we’ve actually been quite well-equipped to cope with this, because we’ve been used

to that sort of shifting world around us and never really knowing on, but in other ways, I’ve really

noticed as well that the industry just galvanized and were like, “Right, what can we do? How can

we survive this? How can we get through it?” And there was sort of this huge lead as well for a

pause and just to use the time that we had to… You know..When work was being canceled, and

all of that was happening, just to say, “This is time for you to kind of heal from the ten years, or

however long you’ve been working in the industry, to heal from all of that potential burnout that

you’ve been suffering,” and for people to notice where they were at, to take stock.

Rebecca Day:

And I’m hearing that had happened to lots of people, but on the flip side, there was also that

real FEAR of, “I CAN`T… I don’t feel creative. I can’t muster the energy to work on these projects

that I’ve been putting off and now have time to do,” or whatever we have been placed with…

And I think what we weren’t really talking about or recognizing is that we were all experiencing

some kind of collective trauma. I think we probably understand that a bit better now, but we

were kind of living in this sort of weird state of fear, quite prolonged, lengthy period of fear. Well,

when your brain is in sort of protective mode, actually can’t be creative. That part of your brain

shuts down, because it’s in survival mode.

Rebecca Day:

So I talked a lot at the beginning of the pandemic about just being kind to yourself and not

pushing yourself too hard and waiting for the creativity to come back, because your body kind of

needed to come back down to Earth and feel safe again before you could start being creative.

And it’s very possible that some people are still in that place.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s really… makes me think. Totally, that makes sense, and we put a lot of

pressure on ourselves, because it’s like, “Well, what else am I supposed to do right now? I’m

home. I can’t go anywhere. I should be able to make this thing, and I should be able to make it

really great, but I can’t.” So to hear, “Yeah, well, your brain is on overdrive, and you’re working

through something that is something we’ve never dealt with before.” And..Yeah… And I know for

some people, they were then trying to do their work and have their kids at home and have their

spouse at home, and maybe they had no one at home, and they were alone. So we’ve really had

to work through… a lot of heavy things, I feel, during this time.

Sarah Taylor:

On the flip side, though, it kind of, for me anyway, showed how important the work we do is,

how people then turn to the TV or to films to kind of maintain some sort of comfort. And we got

to see all these shows and binge-watch the shows that we never got to watch before because we

were too busy and learned stories from people that we didn’t necessarily know about before,

because we had this time to just kind of be. So for me, it made me proud of the work that I do

put out in the world, because sometimes, in a moment of crisis, a world crisis, people took time

to reflect and be in those moments with those films and those shows. So there’s two sides to

everything, I guess.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. I kind of touched on, some people were isolated and alone, and as editors, we typically do

work alone most of the time. So now, there’s people that are working alone and not able to see

people, so do you have any advice or tips about how to deal with that isolation and that

loneliness that’s happening normally, maybe, in our work, but also extra now because of the

pandemic?

Rebecca Day:

I guess it really depends on your living situation, doesn’t it, because some people might be

working alone in their job, but as soon as they finish, they’re then dialing into a noisy family and

all of that brings. So you might find that what you’re not getting is any head space to yourself.

And then there could be people with different experiences, who are living alone and are really

craving that human contact and I guess it’s about trying to make the most of the things that you

are allowed to do, whether it’s going for a walk with a friend… I can´t imagine for editors, it must

just feel exhausting, the thought of getting on Zoom and talking to a friend.

Sarah Taylor:

Yes.

Rebecca Day:

Having been on screen all day, and… Yeah, I definitely have Zoom fatigue, it became a thing quite

quickly, because I do all of my work on Zoom now. I find that going for a walk and having a phone

call instead was a really nice way to connect with people. I don’t know what it’s been like where

you are, Sarah, but we’ve always been allowed to exercise with one other person as well. I like

exercising on my own, because it gives me head space, but I’ve also used it as an excuse to meet

up with a friend and have a walk or a run, just to have some contact with someone. I guess it’s

about finding those ways that you can connect that also take you off the screen, which is really

hard.

Rebecca Day:

In the long term, when we’re not finding ourselves in a pandemic, loneliness and isolation is

something that filmmakers, not just editors, but directors and especially documentary makers,

obviously, because we work in really small teams, talk about a lot. Maybe the times they only

really connect with other people is when they go to a film festival, and one of the things that has

been really useful for me as a therapist, and I wish I’d had this when I was producing full time, is I

do peer-to-peer… We call it peer-to-peer supervision, but it’s really a catch-up with two or three

other therapists once a month, and we schedule it in monthly. We put two hours aside for it, and

we make sure that everyone has a chance to talk. So it’s useful to structure it so that if

somebody has an issue that they want to bring, something… so it’s not just a free-flowing

conversation, that there’s space for people to bring the thing that’s on their minds. That can be a

really useful sort of constructive but supportive place just to share and feel safe in doing that.

Sarah Taylor:

Especially as a freelance editor, for myself, I don’t work with other editors unless they are

working in their edit suite in their house or wherever they are, and that is the thing that I hear a

lot of people say that they miss about not working in a studio, and I think a lot of people who

had worked in studios pre-pandemic miss that you can go down the hall, and you can sit in the

edit suite, and you can say, “Hey, I just need a break from my screen,” or, “Hey, can you come

look at this edit?” So to actually give yourself the permission to schedule in time to be like, “Hey,

let’s watch my cut,” that’s brilliant. That’s such a great idea. I hope that people take that and do

it, because I think I’m going to have to implement that into my schedule.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, I think so. And obviously, nobody’s getting paid for that time, but I see it as a really crucial

part of my work, you know.. To set that time aside. And if it’s once a month, it doesn’t feel like a

huge commitment out of your working schedule, but it feels really nourishing and important.

Sort of keep me steady.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. And I think we often get those kind of… I know when I go to, say… because before, with

the CCE, we would have pub nights, and we would get to talk shop, and we’d meet and have

different talks and stuff, and I would always get energized after that, because I got to sit with an

editor and talk about editing for three hours, and it was just the best thing ever. So yeah, to

implement that into your schedule and make that part of being an editor, yeah, that’s a brilliant

idea. Thank you for that one.

Rebecca Day:

You’re welcome.

Sarah Taylor:

Something else I think is really interesting and something I worked through as a freelancer is

setting boundaries of when I’m working and when I’m not working, and I think it’s really hard

right now, too, because a lot of people are working from home, to kind of blur the work time

with life time, and like, “Well, I’m here all day anyway. I’ll just work for 12 hours.” Do you have

any suggestions or ways of you know, setting boundaries for yourself, to say, “This is what’s good

for me,” and then being able to relay that to the directors or the producers you’re working with?

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. I mean, it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? But just set your working hours.

Sarah Taylor:Yes

Rebecca Day:

I would just really strictly set your working hours right at the very beginning when you establish

that relationship. You know that if things overrun or you’re working on something really that you

don’t want to step away from, and you want to continue for another hour, you as the editor then

have the choice about whether or not you want to extend for an hour or you know offer a couple

of hours over your weekend, if that’s what’s needed. You get to choose that. But if you set really

strict working hours, there are the ones you commit to, and then you have the choice and

flexibility of whether or not to play with those hours as and when it’s needed, but only when it

feels critical.

Rebecca Day:

You know, I’m really strict about my weekends. It helps that I have a child, so I kind of need to be,

you know but I do occasionally work at the weekends when I have to. But it is that moment

critical moment of, “What’s the benefit of doing this at the weekend if I can’t fit this into the

week?” So it has to be.. I have to kind of talk it through, mull it through, in my head and make

sure that my family’s okay with it and just have those really strict boundaries. Once you get into

the habit of it, it starts to feel very easy. It’s just breaking the habit of being available all the time.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah. I think with technology being in our hands to answer the email or the thing, it is

really easy to just always be on. I found for myself I didn’t set those boundaries until I had a kid,

too, and then I was like, “Well, I can’t. I physically can’t be in my edit suite, because I have to take

care of my child.” So…

Rebecca Day:

I was just going to say about notifications, Sarah, one thing you could do is just turn your

notifications off, but maybe a more helpful thing, because I know people find that difficult, is I

turn off the description of the notification, so when it comes to my phone, I can see I have an

email, but I can’t see who it’s from or what’s in it, and I find that so helpful. Because then I’m

like, “Okay, there’s an email. I’ll choose to look at it when I.. I have time. But if you can see the

content, it’s really hard to step away from it then.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah. Especially when you’re really excited about a project, and you’re like… there’s that

other side of it where you really want to actually do the work, but you need to allow yourself to

have time to reset and settle, I think.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Sometimes that’s even hard, when you’re really passionate about what you’re working on. You

might want to work all the time. Something you said earlier is not giving yourself mental space

for yourself, and I think sometimes we miss that. If you are a caregiver to children or you have

other responsibilities, you still have to incorporate time for just you. Because I know for myself,

sometimes, I’m like, “Oh, well, I worked for eight hours today. I was by myself. That’s me time.”

But it’s not me time, because I’m working, and I’m doing other things. I’m not doing just what I

need to do to be a full human. Do you have any thoughts on what we could do to allow ourselves

to have those times?

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, again, I guess it’s listening to your instincts, isn’t it? I understand what you’re saying,

especially when you talk about really enjoying your work, because I love my work. I’m so happy

to do the job that I do and to sit down at my desk and connect with people in this way, but that

doesn’t mean that I want to do it all of the time, and I still try to set those boundaries between

work, life, and that time that I need for myself. If I can feel myself getting irritable or too tired or

a bit detached from my work, that’s often a sign for me. It’s just either wanting the day to end or

not really being 100% present. That’s when I notice that, “Okay, I need to take an hour to myself

with nobody else and go for a walk or go for a run,” or whatever it might be. Or just cook with

nobody else around. Or you know… The weather’s getting warmer, gardening tends to be my

thing as well.

Sarah Taylor:

I just got into gardening last year, and I was like, “Why have I missed this all these years? It’s so

relaxing.” I loved it.

Rebecca Day:

Me too. Yeah, it was last year for me as well. Through the lockdown.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, the lockdown brought out all sorts of things that we could invest in or look into.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

We talked a little bit about this earlier, about working on traumatic content. Do you have a

suggestion on if we know… “Okay, I’m going to start this project, and I know it’s going to be really

heavy.” Is there a way of looking at it or prepping ourselves to feel like we have more control of

our emotional state while we’re working on something that’s very dramatic?

Rebecca Day:

I think it’s really wise to say to yourself that yeah, you could be traumatized from working on

this. And again, the same as I said before, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but there’s

things that you can put in place to make sure that you’re resilient through it. The first question to

ask is, “Am I likely to be traumatized because this is really challenging, or am I likely to be

traumatized, or am I doing this project, because I relate to the trauma?” Because if there is

something I’ve known from a lot of people are drawn to work because it’s something they see

themselves in or a subject they’re familiar with. If that’s the case, and it’s a processed for you, I

wouldn’t say, “Don’t do it,” but I would say, “Make sure that you’ve processed it emotionally first,

or at least while you’re working on the project.” And the best way to do that is with a therapist.

They’re hard questions to ask. They’re big questions to ask yourself, but you don’t want to

potentially be re-traumatized or traumatized in the middle of that work. I don’t know if the

editing world talks about vicarious trauma very often.

Sarah Taylor:

I don’t think I’ve ever heard that phrase, so tell us. Tell us more.

Rebecca Day:

It’s not something we talk about usually in the film industry, but it’s second time trauma.

Therapists obviously understand this quite well, the idea that you can be traumatized from

sitting with someone else’s trauma, from supporting someone, or helping someone else cope

with their own trauma. Which I realize editors aren’t communicating directly with the people

who might be revealing their trauma in the footage, but you’re witnessing it over and over and

over again quite repetitively as well. So vicarious trauma is a very real risk, and there’s certain

ways that you can notice that might be happening.

Rebecca Day:

The first and most simple thing is a mood check. If you’ve finished a day of editing, and you’ve

stepped away from the computer, are you coming away with rage, or sadness, or anger that feels

out of proportion to how you normally might feel? And it could be that you’re holding onto

something. The other feeling you could have is feelings of guilt. Say, if you’re working on

something like a climate change documentary, or something like that, or something that’s sort of

speaking to the politics of our time, and you’re sitting there with all that guilt, what’s happening

in the world, and again, it’s out of proportion to how you might normally feel about something.

You’re holding all of that, and you’re not able to switch off from your work. That’s another

indication of vicarious trauma. The other thing to be wary of that you can notice is detachment.

So, if you feel yourself having no emotions to it, detaching from it, again, that’s the brain’s way of

saying, “This is too much.” You don’t want to be surrounded by it.

Sarah Taylor:

So if you notice those things, any of those four, I think you said, what should you do?

Rebecca Day:

I think you should ask yourself if you’re getting enough breaks. Are you working seven days a

week? Because if you are, that’s probably not wise. Are you stepping away from your computer,

even if it’s just for five minutes every hour, to just make sure that you have a break from the

screen and just to clear your head? Are you eating enough? Are you sleeping enough? And then

lastly, do you need extra support? So, wherever that’s speaking to a therapist, or again, that idea

peer-to-peer supervision would be really helpful in that sense. I’m also working with filmmakers

in a supervisory way as well, so where it’s not the personal that they’re bringing to the therapy,

but it’s completely work-related. So looking at projects and the effects that they’re having on

you. Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

So if you’re working on a film that you know is going to be something heavy, you could have

somebody like you on hand and be like, “Okay, I’m starting to feel detached, or I’m starting to

feel whatever it might be. I think I need to talk to this.”

Rebecca Day:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. It’s a step towards normalizing it, isn’t it?

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah, and knowing that, “Oh, I can listen to myself, and I can step away,” because again, in

this industry, and I feel like a lot of it’s shifting because of us being in a moment of reflection

with COVID, that we are like, “Get it done, go, go, go. Get it as much as we can cut out. You

know?” And we are not looked at necessarily as humans with emotions. You work your 12-hour

day, you work seven days a week, because we have a deadline, and there’s notes to do, or

whatever. And this is why I want to talk about this stuff, so that we can normalize it, like you say,

to normalize that we do, are going to feel things, and that that’s normal and that we can get the

supports we need, if we continue to talk about it.

Rebecca Day:

Absolutely. I think the need for normalizing it is so, so important. In terms of long working hours,

you know as a therapist, I have a set number of clients that I would see in a day, and however in

need somebody is, I won’t squeeze in another appointment, because I have to have the energy

to be there for them. It’s more dangerous for me to show up for a client and be exhausted and

without the energy to actually engage with them than it is to squeeze them in. You know? And

so those sorts of boundaries are so important, and I think it really applies here in filmmaking as

well, in terms of energy levels that you have for your edit. So if you’re working 12 hours a day,

seven days a week, I would suggest that you’re probably working at half your capacity during

some of that time.

Sarah Taylor:

For sure!

Rebecca Day:

To reduce that, you might be working at 75% of your capacity rather than 50%.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, that’s something that I noticed. I started to really tune into myself and be like, “Okay, well,

this is when I’m the most creative, so let’s do this type of work when I’m most creative.” The

theory of working smarter instead of working harder, and I think we, by, again, talking about it

and sharing how you work as an editor can allow other people to take that time to reflect and be

like, “Oh, well, when am I the most creative? Maybe I do work best at one in the morning

because I’m a night owl,” or whatever. And just to be like, “That’s how I work, and that’s how I do

my best work, and I don’t have to be working for 12 hours a day, because I’m going to be sitting

there for six just zoning out at the screen and not actually doing anything.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, I think we as creatives and as editors have to take that time to just reflect and be like,

“Well, what’s best that I can bring to the job to do the best job I can do?” And definitely, for me,

no more than eight hours in the edit suite, because I’m not productive anymore.

Rebecca Day:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. Another thing that we as freelancers, because a lot of editors are freelancers, we usually

get work through word of mouth, and going to events and networking, and meeting new

producers or directors, and now we can’t do that, and a lot of people have been kind of forced to

try to network online. So I don’t know if you have any ideas or thoughts on how to be more

comfortable, even just selling yourself and being like, “I do this work. I’m really good,” but also

doing it online.

Rebecca Day:

It’s really hard, isn’t it? Because I’m not naturally comfortable online either. And thankfully,

because there’s not many of us doing this work as therapy for film, there’s not a huge amount of

competition for me at the moment, so I don’t have to do an awful lot of marketing, which is a

real relief, because I’d be terrible at it. So I really sympathize with that. I really miss film festivals.

I love going to those places and just those spontaneous meetings that you have with people that

lead to really fulfilling working relationships.

Rebecca Day:

It is something that will start again. I know it will, I just don’t know when, and I know everyone

else feels the same, so I guess all we can do at the moment is just show up for the online stuff if

it feels useful, and to know that if you’re going to show up and can’t find the opportunity to

speak, then maybe it’s not the most useful thing for you. But also, I guess there’s something

about being proud of the work that you’ve done and shouting about it if you can, if that’s what

you want to do. I know a lot of people feel quite awkward about that, don’t they? About going

online, going on Instagram or Facebook or whatever the platform is that you use and saying, “I

worked on this amazing documentary,” and really owning the role that you had in that, whatever

film it was that you made. Maybe that’s where we need to be a little bit louder and a little bit

more confident. I don’t have a brilliant answer for that one, I’m afraid.

Sarah Taylor:

Well, even that’s helpful. I’ve found over the time… We..I was introduced to you through a panel

at a random virtual coffee with filmmakers, and I was like, “Well, I’ll just go.” And my plan when I

went to that event was to just do some work and listen, and then it was actually really engaging,

and I was just into it. So sometimes, you can actually find those moments via this weird Zoom

world, that we can.. Somebody might say something that sparks something, and we can.. it’s

almost like we have the permission even more so now to just be like, “Hey, can I connect with

you? Because..you know? Can I have your email? Can we exchange later?” And we can connect

with people from around the world in our house, which is nice, but we have to still put ourselves

in that situation in order to make those connections.

Which, I guess in reality, even we’d still have to go to the event to go and network in person,

which can be really challenging, too, and a little nerve-racking, especially… often as editors, like

we said earlier, we work by ourselves, and we might work with a huge team of people, but we’ve

never met them. So we go to these events, and you’re like, “I worked on this film. Hey, I worked

with your footage,” or, “I saw your name in the credits. I put your name in the credits, but I’ve

never met you.” And to have that courage to go up and say, “Hi, this is who I am,”. It also, I think

that even extends to posting about what you work on and being like, “Hey, this is what I did.”

Again, giving yourself permission to just be proud of what you do and how you contribute to

stuff.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. And knowing how you feel comfortable communicating and socializing as well, because I

notice that since I’ve been working in the film industry as a therapist, I feel a lot more confident

in myself than I did as a producer. I always felt that I wasn’t loud enough as a producer. I’m

naturally quite a quiet person, and for some reason, that’s more acceptable in the role. I feel like

it’s more acceptable now than when I was a producer, and so I’ve just become more at ease, I

think, with my voice and how I can use it in a way that I was as a producer. So I guess it’s

knowing yourself in that way as well, and saying, “How far am I willing to go out of my comfort

zone?”

Sarah Taylor:

Something else that I’ve encountered over the years is a lot of… I guess this kind of relates to

cheerleading for yourself, but the negative self-talk we often have as creatives, where it’s like,

“Oh, this isn’t going to be good. I don’t know what I’m doing.” Every project’s different, and

there’s always challenges, and how to maybe deal with what you might be telling yourself when

you’re in the midst of doing something, and the creativity it’s not there? Especially this year,

where you were mentioning earlier how our brains weren’t being creative because we were in

trauma. So how can we practice speaking to ourselves better?

Rebecca Day:

I really like that question. I think kindness goes a long way, and the kindness that you offer

yourself, as well as the kindness that you need and are hopefully receiving from other people.

Getting to know your critical voice is a really crucial thing. Everyone has one, but some people’s

critical voice is a lot louder than others, I think. I attended a training course recently, and we did

a little bit of work on the inner critic. There were 120 people in the course, and everyone was

communicating over the chat box on Zoom, and when they moved on to the inner critic part,

they asked us, you know, we did a sort of self-reflection exercise on our critical voice, and you

were asked to identify it. Get to know it. Could you describe it?

And it was amazing the amount people that were like, “Yes, it’s me when I was ten,” or, “Oh, it’s

my mother,” or, “It’s my…” And… Really how intimately people knew it when they were

prompted in the right way, of going, “Where is that criticism coming from, and how can I

challenge it kindly?” So not shut it down. It’s there for a reason. Imagine a world where you

didn’t have a critic. We’d all be enormous egos. It’s there for a reason, but if it’s dominating,

what does it need? How can you sort of talk to it in a compassionate way to try and reduce that

criticism down so it’s not destabilizing for you, or paralyzing? Again, useful with a therapist.

Sarah Taylor:

Yes. Yeah. You’ll learn those things. Well, that does bring to me the question of what kind of tips

do you have for self-care for creatives and for keeping ourselves healthy and well in our mind

during normal being in this industry and also amidst a pandemic?

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, I think I’ve said to you before that there’s… We’ve talked about a lot of this already, I think,

in the podcast.

Sarah Taylor:

I think so, yeah.

Rebecca Day:

About self-care and setting boundaries, stepping away from the screen, finding the thing that

relaxes you. Don’t listen to your friend or Instagram or your parents who think you should be

doing the thing that works for them. I mean, it’s nice to get tips and advice, and you can take

that and try things, but it might not be the thing for you. So the important thing is when you

discover something that relaxes you, do that thing, because for everybody, it’s different. Like you

and I were talking about gardening. We only discovered that last year, and I find it so soothing,

and I can’t even really describe why. Sometimes, I can go for a run, and it can make me feel really

anxious, and other times, it can make me feel great, and it’s just knowing what I need in that

moment as well. So there’s not just one thing that works, it’s, “What do I need right now, in this

moment?”

That’s always a really good question, “Is the thing that I’m about to do what my body is asking

for, or does it need to be something else?” Because sometimes we’re too exhausted to exercise,

but that’s often the go-to kind of thing, and maybe you just need to curl up and read a book or

cook yourself some nice, healthy food. It’s different for everybody, but just allowing yourself that

question, “What do I need right now in this moment to feel more stable?” or calmer, or whatever

it is that you’re going through, is that first step, I think. The self-care is every day. Something

every day to take care of yourself is really important.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s key, hearing you say “every day,” because I feel like often, we… go to the… “Oh, I guess I

should pause,” when you’re already at that state of almost at the end, almost about to burn out,

or almost about to break down, or whatever. You’re like, “Whoa, I should go to the gym, or I

should whatever…” But just like you say, with that peer-to-peer support, like, maybe schedule

yourself in. Like, “Okay, I’m gonna give myself… It doesn’t matter what time of the day, but I need

to give myself an hour to just do whatever feels right for today,” to give yourself that space.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Can people from Canada or around the world reach out to you if they find what you’ve said in

this episode helpful and maybe want to work with you on the therapy side of things?

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. Yeah, they absolutely can. You could… I’m a little bit active on Instagram, I guess. You can

contact me that way, but my email is on my website, filminmind.co.uk. I couldn’t get .com,

annoyingly. So yeah, I can be contacted that way. I’m hoping to have some other therapists that I

can work with soon, because I’m getting very busy. But yeah, if you know of any

editors-turned-therapists out there, then let me know. Maybe we should have somebody

specifically with it.

Sarah Taylor:

That would be amazing! Hey, any listeners out there who are editors-turned-therapists, we have

a new colleague.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s a natural progression, it seems. I think I’ve used this phrase quite

a lot, but I do find that this industry naturally attracts people who are very compassionate and

caring, so I’m not surprised often that a lot of people who’ve worked in the creative roles end up

moving into therapy.

Sarah Taylor:

Well, there’s a thing that a lot of editors say, is that the edit suite is a therapy room, because we

deal with the emotions and feelings of the directors we work with, and so in a way, yeah. We’ve

already listening to everybody’s problems. We obviously don’t have the training, which is why it’s

important to talk about this stuff.

Rebecca Day:

That’s an interesting thing to bring up, Sarah, and I don’t know if you were about to close there,

but just the idea of caring for others as well, because it’s not just the subject matter that you’re

sitting with. It is the fact that you’re often sitting in the room as the person that the director can

talk to about what they’re going through, and that is exhausting. You are sitting in the therapist’s

chair then, but without anywhere to take it, and you can’t be that person for the director as well

as working through all of that footage. I mean, of course a relationship needs to be established,

but when we’re talking about boundaries, that needs to be really clear as well in that

relationship, because it has to be healthy and working. So if it’s exhausting you, then maybe

there needs to be a conversation about where else you can both get some extra support from.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. I think it’s interesting, because in the doc world, often the filmmaker can be part of the

documentary, right? They’re the ones that… they’re searching for whatever answers there are.

And so I’ve definitely experienced seeing directors work through their own stuff as… It is a form

of therapy for them to tell the story that they’ve been meaning to tell or wanting to tell, and they

go through a transformation. And you, as their editor, you’re joining them. You’re seeing it

happen. You’re seeing it unfold.

And I know for myself, it’s hard not to take some of that on, because I think in some ways, too,

some of the personalities of people who are in the role of editor, we do feel emotion deeply, and

which is, I think, why we’re drawn to this type of work. So, yeah..What we’ve talked about, I

think, is really helpful that you know. Acknowledge that that’s happening. Ask the questions, or

ask for help. Or, yeah, set the boundary, like, “I can’t talk about this right now. I’m not in the right

space to talk about this right now,” or whatever it might need to be. But to know that you have

control to do that and that it’s safe for you.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. Something about it being… “Oh, this feels like a bigger conversation outside of what we

need to achieve today, so how can this happen for you?” Because you’re working with the

director at their most vulnerable, I think, in the edit room. Their whole film is sitting there before

them. The both of you are responsible for putting it together, and they’re bringing all of their

emotion and sometimes years and years of filming that material into the room.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. These are the things that we maybe don’t realize, don’t think about, don’t talk about, but

have a huge impact on what we deal with and go through every day.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

I don’t know. Maybe for some people, because we haven’t been able to have in-person edit

sessions with our directors and whatever this year as often, maybe… I’m curious if people have

noticed a difference in how they feel, because maybe they’re not having to have that role of

therapist to the person anymore, and that kind of thing.

Rebecca Day:

Wonder if you’ve experienced increased anxiety from your directors for being…

Sarah Taylor:

Farther?! In some ways, people have had to adjust, and then it’s also a moment where people

are like, “Oh, it does work. It’s okay. We can still do this. It’s okay.” And I feel like for me, I like to

work alone on stuff, and then I’ve had people who… “No, I want to sit with you for the eight

hours,” and I’m like, “But I don’t like that…” And now, it’s like, “Oh, no, she can still do the job,”

or, “We can still get it done,” and schedule two hours to do the thing. But every editor’s

different, and every director/producer’s different.

Sarah Taylor:

But I know for myself during this whole thing of the pandemic and also being a freelancer for…

I’ve been working on my own for almost 12 years, and so I know how I work, and I know how I

operate now, and having this time to really just be like, “No, this is how I need to do things, and

this is good, and I’m glad that I know…” It’s kind of given me more confidence, in a way, to be

like, This is how I can get things done at the best that I can get them, and now I have had the

time to figure it out, and that’s good. And, so just letting ourselves have the time and to not have

to take every project on and be constantly working, to give the time to actually look inside.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. And then ask for what you need as well..

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah.

Rebecca Day:

State the terms for how you are at your most productive and your most creative and your best.

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

I think that’s the biggest thing I learned recently, was to say, “I work the best by doing this, and

to provide you the best edit, this is how I can do it for you. And if that works for you, then we can

work together. If that doesn’t work for you, then maybe I’m not the editor for you.” But to allow

yourself to… And sometimes, you can’t do that. Sometimes you need to take a job because you

need the money, but to know what your ideal is and to be able to voice that.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. But normally, you find that the more confident you are about that, people have a lot of

faith in that. They really do.

Sarah Taylor:

Totally. Well, this has been really enlightening, and you’ve given me some things to think about. I

just want to thank you for taking the time.

Rebecca Day:

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

Sarah Taylor:

It’s been fantastic. Thank you so much, and I will make sure that I link your website into the show

notes, and hopefully, you don’t get too much more busy, but yes. Thank you for supporting our

community.

Rebecca Day:

Yeah. No, if anyone needs to reach out for some advice. That’s always welcome. It’s always good

to hear from people, and the aim is for this type of support to become really normal and

standard practice within our industry, so the more we’re talking about it, the more we’re

reaching out, and the more support I can provide for people, the better, really. This is just the

beginning of it. So..Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much.

Rebecca Day:

Thanks for having me. It was really nice to talk.

Sarah Taylor:

Thanks so much for joining us today, and a big thank you goes to Rebecca for sharing such

wonderful information. If you would like to learn more about Rebecca, head to her website at

www.filminmind.co.uk. Another great resource here in Canada is called Calltime: Mental Health.

The site has a learning center where you can take online courses about mental health as well as

many resources. Links to help with general mental health, depression, anxiety, sleep, alcohol and

addiction, suicide, and BiPOC and LGBTQ+ resources. There’s loads of information. Just head to

calltimementalhealth.com. Special thanks goes to Jane MacRae. The main title sound design was

created by Jane Tattersall, additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music provided by

Chad Blain. 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.

[Outtro]

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.

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Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Jana Spinola

Hosted, Produced and Edited 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

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

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Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 043: In Conversation with Jeremy Harty, CCE & Cory Bowles on the film Black Cop

he Editors Cut - Episode 043

Episode 43: In Conversation with Jeremy Harty, CCE & Cory Bowles on the film Black Cop

This episode is the online master series that took place on July 21st, 2020.

This episode was generously Sponsored by Filet Production Services & Annex Pro/Avid

The Editors Cut - Episode 043 - Black Cop group photo

The CCE partnered with BiPOC TV and film to bring you In Conversation with Jeremy Harty, CCE and Cory Bowles about the movie Black Cop. On its release in 2017, Black Cop garnered critical acclaim as an unapologetic challenge of race and police. With a range of visuals from body cam to camera phones – dash cam to traditional camera work, Black Cop made use of multiple techniques to bring a fast paced hyper connected narrative to life. Edited by Jeremy Harty, CCE and was the directorial debut for Cory Bowles. 

This event was moderated by Shonna Foster.

Listen Here

Sarah Taylor:

This episode was generously sponsored by Filet Production Services and Annex Pro Avid. 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.

Sarah Taylor:

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 online master series that took place on July 21st, 2020. CCE partnered with BIPOC TV and Film to bring you in conversation with Jeremy Harty CCE and Cory Bowles about the movie Black Cop. On its release in 2017, Black Cop garnered critical acclaim as an unapologetic challenge of race and police. With a range of visuals from body cam to camera phones, cam dash, to traditional camera work, Black Cop made use of multiple techniques to bring a fast-paced hyper-connected narrative to life.

Sarah Taylor:

Black Cop was edited by Jeremy Harty CCE. It was the directorial debut for Cory Bowles. This panel was moderated by Shonna Foster.

[show open]

Shonna Foster:

Thank you, everybody, for joining us today. Of course thank you, Cory and Jeremy and the CCE for hosting this. I’m very excited. It’s my first time moderating something. See how it goes.

Jeremy Harty:
My first time attending one, so.

Shonna Foster:

Excellent. We’re in the same boat, Jeremy. I guess I’m going to assume maybe that everybody’s watched the movie, but for those who haven’t, my little spiel about Black Cop is it’s a film which explores racial profiling and police violence through its main character Black Cop played beautifully by Ronnie Rowe, who goes through an entire work shift interacting with people and choosing to treat white civilians that he encounters the way that black people are often treated by the police.

Shonna Foster:

The film incorporates archival footage, as well as dash cam, body cam, and cell phone footage to tell the story almost entirely from the POV of Black Cop. What I most appreciate about this film is how

unapologetic it is and how it’s strategic and unconventional in the way that it handles insular moments of Black Cop. Just a black man, in general, moving to the world, whether he’s in uniform or not.

Shonna Foster:

I love that Black Cop truly takes up the space in this film, and that it’s us, like we’re invited to live in his head and in his car and in his space and experience his life through his own vantage point as we go on this journey with him. I guess we can start there, a kind of two-part question. So a lot of the film is internal dialogue and monologue. Those are several moments where he’s speaking directly to camera and I guess I would like to know what challenges did this present in the editing process?

Shonna Foster:

In discussing that, did you craft the story around the running monologue when you were in the cutting room and how did that all go down?

Jeremy Harty:

Really, this is Cory’s vision, so I went with his lead. There were times where we were doing little bits and messing around on certain sections, because he had a copy of all the footage and I had a copy of all the footage. We came to certain things that maybe my perspective being a white male, being out of the process I could ask him things, because I haven’t lived the life of a black person in these troubling times and stuff. I had to like fall back on him.

Jeremy Harty:

I’d like to think, maybe, that sometimes I could bring a different perspective to certain things too. It was a good collaboration though, I think. I’m not really great at answering questions, because I don’t get out much. I stay here behind my desk and I’ve got a wall of monitors here and a desk that rises, so when people come in the room they can’t see me and this is new for me.

Cory Bowles:
That’s true about the wall. There’s a wall just behind you.

Jeremy Harty: Yeah.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. It was a really good collaborative process. I find it when I’ll explain certain things to Jeremy and I have a hard time articulating exactly what it is that I want. So, a lot of times we’ll play around and he might say, “Well, why don’t you show me kind of what you want with an edit?” Then, he’ll take it and sort of tighten it, flip it, turn it, give me some things, and then I find a lot of the discovery of the piece, obviously, for anyone that’s interested in making films, a lot of the movie is built, that’s your third part, basically, your edit is making sometimes a whole new movie.

Cory Bowles:

So, with this one it’s always surprising and we really push each other to get something new. It always changes as well, because we had such good performances by Ronnie, we were like, “How do we

enhance his performance and pull it out even more?” It can get frustrating, because you have all these great options when you have-

Jeremy Harty:

A lot of great options. This is the first dramatic piece that I’ve done that’s been this long, and seeing Ronnie on camera and seeing all the dailies and stuff, it was really nice to have the options that we had. Even when he’s not speaking his face is just speaking volumes. He’s just got that presence of him. It’s really strong, really strong. Amazing casting, so lucky to get him. But Cory has that ability of… He’s worked with enough different people in all the aspects of his life that he can bring them in when he has a project and this was the big first one. Hopefully, not the last.

Shonna Foster:

Not at all. Off that note, Jeremy, so Cory, he described your relationship as one where you both push each other as much as you can in the process. He shared with me that you are a cinephile who will often use references from classic movies to inform your process, and that you also do research on films that a director likes. What were some of the references you may have used for this film and from those references, what are the elements that would have influenced cutting this film?

Jeremy Harty:

Really, Cory’s the lead for that. I like to watch a lot of different films, and basically, because I’m cutting comedy all the time, I find that watching more and more comedy, so it doesn’t really relate to this, but when Cory says, “Okay. There’s this film, there’s this scene that I’d like to talk about. They did this and that film.”

Jeremy Harty:

I would go with him and whatever library of stuff he was talking about, I tried to watch them all again just to get a refresher of what’s going on. There’s so many things you can cherry pick little bits from other films that are out there and stuff. I really just look to him for that kind of stuff.

Jeremy Harty:

Then, I like to noodle things in the suite and mess around. I’m trying not to curse here. I tend to curse like a sailor. But I’m pulling it back as best possible. There’s certain things… One memory I have is I was listening to different songs on iTunes one day while I was cutting and looking through dailies and stuff, and a song was recommended in my iTunes list, and I really gravitated towards it.

Jeremy Harty:

Then, I played it to Cory and he was like… You should tell the story, man, because you got the connection there.

Shonna Foster: Yeah.

Cory Bowles:
Which one is it? You had a lot of songs lined-

Jeremy Harty:
Well, it’s the Zeal & Ardor stuff.

Cory Bowles:
Oh, yeah. Well, I loved Zeal & Ardor too. It was like-

Jeremy Harty:

But I’ve never known about them that like from you and I just heard them by chance in my iTunes stream.

Cory Bowles:

Right. Yeah. They ended up basically almost soundtracking the whole movie. I just reached out to them and asked if I could use a song, and then Aaron took over, our producer, and was like, “Let’s get a jam.” All of a sudden we had… His whole album was ours for free almost. I think we made them take money from us. They were giving it to us for free.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. I guess was that [inaudible 00:08:00]. I mean there’s so many music stories, I didn’t even know that one. I just remember when you were throwing me like beans and cornbread, some other tunes like-

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. Well, how did I get that in my head? I don’t know. It’s been a while like the Zeal & Ardor stuff is really what struck me, and then we’ve had… There were other sections that we tried some of their other songs and they stuck into. Then, you had some other songs that you were working on because you write and you do your own stuff too.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. It’s funny because I remember going after Charles Bradley song for the very first part. It was how long for the… I remember not being able to let go of that song. I remember calling up, at that time, we were so excited, because we were just calling up people out of the blue and being like, “Can we use your songs?” Explain in the thing.

Cory Bowles:

People are like, “Yeah. Sure, man.” Publishing is going to be cool with it. If anyone makes a movie, and it’s really hard to secure music. We didn’t have the time or the money to actually like… We had a music supervised. We didn’t really have the time or money to go through these insane label contracts. We were just like, “Look, can you like… We will give you kit back, whatever you need, but can we use the song?” I remember that how long song at the beginning, I was so married to it-

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. You had it in the cut for a while, man. You were like not letting go. You’re like, “Oh, we’re going to get it. We’re going to get it.”

Cory Bowles:

Then, they-

Jeremy Harty:
Let’s have an alternate.

Cory Bowles:

… they stayed shape. They’re like, “Yeah. We want 35k for the song.” I was like, “Well, that’s more than my lead actor is going to make and that’s like one third-“

Jeremy Harty:
That’s more than the post budget.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. He’s like, “[inaudible 00:09:30] part of my movie?” I was like, “Take a hike, man. Give it to us for free if you’re going to be like that much. I’ll give you some…” They were like, no. Then, I was… Zeal & Ardor to the rescue. It actually ended up being a stronger song with black spiritual death metal. It was really nice. It’s always fun when we lay music in to tracks. We always experiment quite a bit.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. Like in the workout scene, just like changing the cuts a few frames here to land on certain beats and stuff like that. Sometimes I’m not 100% sure whether or not my system is perfectly in sync. I’m looking to Cory saying, “Does that seem like bang on to the beat for you and, or on the offbeat?”

Jeremy Harty:

I’m not musically inclined, but Cory was like, “Dude, you got that on the offbeat.” I’m like, “I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about, man. I just cut it because it kind of worked for me. That’s it.” But that was a fun scene. Yeah. I also have a copy of the film here if you want me to pull up anything too, Cory. We can show people or two.

Cory Bowles:
Oh, yeah. Oh, you know what? If you want to show the workout scene, that’s great.

Jeremy Harty:
Yeah. We can show anything, man.

Shonna Foster:
We could show the whole movie.

Cory Bowles:

This was right after he gets profiled. So, this is like the sort of triggering incident in the movie where a Black Cop gets profiled, if anyone hasn’t seen it. Then, after he stands for… We have a two-minute scene where he’s just standing and he’s recollecting, and it’s everything coming to a head, and then the next scene we show him venting out his energy and we put it on…

Cory Bowles:

Actually, the first song we got for Zeal & Ardor, which is the Devil is Fine. Which we even named our company after the song. Yeah. This was a fun one to cut and play music to. It was a really strong scene.

Jeremy Harty:
I have it kind of queued up here.

Speaker 12:
[crosstalk 00:11:14] (singing)

Speaker 13:
My dad used to say that a change in attitude is due to blacks-

Shonna Foster:
Can we talk a little bit about the scene before the one going, the one where he gets profiled?

Jeremy Harty: Yeah.

Shonna Foster:

Can you talk a little bit about cutting that process? What’s very interesting about this scene is you don’t really see the cops who… We never see the cops who stop him in full, and can you talk a little bit about that choice and what it was like cutting that? Because there’s focus on elements of them, but we never get to experience who those men are, we’re really focused on just Black Cop himself, and so how did you choose, Cory, the things you were going to focus on in that scene?

Cory Bowles: Okay.

Shonna Foster:
Like hands and radios and these sorts of things.

Cory Bowles:

Sure. That whole scene is an example of the collaboration of the whole team. I had a certain way that I knew what I wanted going into that scene, and the main thing I wanted was to focus on his confusion, the frustration, the fear, and what it’s like in that moment and how where someone is like, “Oh, you’re just being pulled over by the police.”

Cory Bowles:

It’s like, no, what’s really happening to you at that moment and what’s that, so many things. So my original way I wanted to shoot it was just basically never seeing the cops. I always just wanted to keep it on him. I wanted to do the thing where I pushed in close. The cinematographer, Jeff Wheaton, who had come with this scene. We need to do really extreme close-ups. We need really hard stuff.

Cory Bowles:

He’s like, “I want to slow down the frames. I want to like really pop in.” Then, we were able to sort of… Once I knew what he was trying to interpret, I was like, “Okay. We went with him and we just played that night.” It was a lot of times where I’d be like never put this person in focus. We’d be like pop into the mouth, get the car.

Cory Bowles:

Then, I think we ran the scene quite a long time. It was really challenging. When it came time to cut, that’s where it was like, “Okay. We’re going to from a nice free scene into something really claustrophobic and something panicky.” We played with that, actually, in different cities. Yeah. We spent a long time-

Jeremy Harty:
There was a lot on that one. Yeah.

Cory Bowles:

It might have been the first scene, the first actual thing we really spent time on cutting in the movie, I think, when I went to Calgary.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. That was one of those scenes that kept on getting reworked, because there was certain elements that we’re just missing the focus here or you want to make the tension a little bit more, so you want to use this shot and insert something else. Man, I just remember the last shot of him just putting the earbuds on. That was a conversation you and I had a lot of times about keeping that one shot for the whole way.

Jeremy Harty:

I was like, “No, man. It’s killing me. It’s strong. But it’s like so much time where nothing really changed.” That’s a different decision that really pays off when you’re in the theater. The uncomfortable silence and awkwardness of that long shot, but I had digitally pushed in on parts of it, try to change it up, try to jump cut parts just so that one shot, the top of that whole scene is like mostly Cory coming back with a note here.

Jeremy Harty:

Then, we try something else or trim a few frames here and there. There’s a lot of messing with frames just to get it where it is now I guess.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. I learned a lot. I learned so much just on that scene alone. I still have the old cut of it and comparing to what I built and was like, “Here, I want something like this.” I’m looking at it now I’m like, “Oh, my god. I should never make a movie again.”

Jeremy Harty:
No. It’s a team effort, man. It’s a team effort.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. For anyone watching the long scene, if you haven’t seen what Jeremy’s talking about, it’s after the profiling scene which is tension, tension, tension. We just have a shot where we linger on him and it’s the aftermath of the scene, and we hang there close to… Almost two and a half minutes. We just use a build of music and Ronnie’s acting, he made a choice.

Cory Bowles:

I said, “Take your time with what you want to do in this.” He took his time. He played it real. He didn’t do what I was expecting to do, which I thought he was going to freak out or something or do some sort of… He went so far away from that, that it was actually perfect, and that scene that we did, there was a lot of big debate on it.

Cory Bowles:

It was one of those things where it was so real and raw, I didn’t want to change it, but I was really scared. I remember being worried about that shot, because I was like, “How are people going to watch this for two minutes?” But then the reactions came in and Chicago, there were some men crying during that scene because they had that experience as well. That’s when I was like, “Okay. We made the right choice.” It was a risk, like Jeremy said that paid off.

Jeremy Harty:

That’s an example of what I was saying earlier where I don’t have those experiences, so I have to fall back on Cory for that to really understand how impactful that will be to the black community or people that have been racially profiled, because I’m a white male. I’ve been blessed in that regard. I just haven’t had to deal with that, but that long awkwardness and his brain just processing what just happened.

Jeremy Harty:

Then, he just kind of like switches and jogs off, but then, obviously, it’s still affecting him because that’s the rest of the whole film, right?

Shonna Foster:
Jeremy, do you go on set?

Jeremy Harty:
Did I go on set? Yeah.

Shonna Foster:
Do you go on every day?

Jeremy Harty:

Ah, no. Not every day. I think I was still working on this other show at one point. I can’t remember, but they were shooting in my neighborhood because Halifax is relatively small. I think I walked down from my house, one or two days on set and just checking it out, make sure they’re going to get it all. Like I have any power there, but I did it. Show the team that we’re in it together, because most people don’t see the editor, right?

Shonna Foster:

Cory, do you guys work in that you’ll take the pass, and then Cory will give notes or are you in the room together in the end? Can you talk a little bit about your process, how you work together?

Jeremy Harty:
It’s kind of all of it, right?

Cory Bowles:
Yeah. I think there’s a question here that is on that vein as well.

Jeremy Harty:

Yes. Cory was in the edit suite sitting like two feet from me. That’s not going to happen now with COVID. We were working, and then at some points he was working wherever he was traveling around the world doing his thing. I was locked here in my little room and sending files back and forth. I’d tweak a scene or whatever, send it off to him see what he thought. Got his notes, take another crack at it and stuff, and then he’d come in and we…

Jeremy Harty:
Did we sit and watch the whole thing a few times here in Halifax?

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. By the building when I watched cuts, so I remember pacing and Jeremy’s all being like, “It’s going to be fine and-“

Jeremy Harty:
Cory is like that in general though. He’s got energy that I just don’t have, so.

Cory Bowles:

Well, I’ll tell you with Jeremy, as a director, I will say I’m really, really fortunate because most directors want to be involved in the edit, for sure. I want to be right in there, but you have to give trust to your editor as well. He presents you something, he always has to explain to me like… I always have to explain to other people when I’m mentoring at CFC or something. It’s like, “Never worry about your first cut.” Because he’s like, “This is just an assembly pen. This is to show you what you have and we’re going to work through from there.”

Cory Bowles:

A lot of times what I find Jeremy does, which is a natural thing that I don’t really get from another editor is that he’ll say, “Why don’t you have a crack at cutting the scene?” It’s not judgmental on how I’ll cut it, because I cut it terribly. I don’t know how to use the software so good and I’ll send it back and he’ll be like, “Okay. Let’s now let’s tweak it. Let’s work it.” Me takes that and adds in something, and then we really start to cook. A lot of times by him allowing me that freedom to sort of explain what I’m looking for, really helps, because a lot of times as directors, we can’t articulate like an editor.

Cory Bowles:

We can think about the edit, but to actually specifically articulate something to someone, and then someone to present it back to you, you can get locked in just sitting down and going, “Well, I’ll settle for it because I don’t know.” But Jeremy’s always like, “What do you want?” Let’s look at what you want and let’s see what you can play with. I really appreciate [crosstalk 00:20:28]

Jeremy Harty:

Thanks, man. But it’s really hard… I can relate. It’s hard to convey a thought sometimes, just articulating it with words. I really enjoy the process of just noodling stuff, throwing it around, and if Cory has the same access to the same footage as I do, and he can put it in an order that I haven’t thought of, why would I get upset, right?

Jeremy Harty:

It’s his project. It’s his vision. I’m there to help with other stages that maybe he has some difficulty with, and at the end of the day, it is a team effort. If he comes away after cutting something feeling self-conscious about it and I go, “No. No, man. That worked.”

Jeremy Harty:

But I have the same problem too. There’s scenes I cut and I was like, “I don’t know about this, man.” He goes, “No. It’s great.” Or that, “No. That’s it. That’s it.” Then, we work from there.

Jeremy Harty:

Another thing that we did was he shot a lot of little stuff in the black box, the mic drop is what I’m thinking of Cory. You had the footage of the mic being picked up, him using the mic, dropping the mic. I think at one stage, it wasn’t fully finished. It just didn’t feel like it was its own thing. Then, I was like, “What if he dropped the mic?” Correct me if I’m wrong because I’m going by memory and it’s a little ways ago. I’ve had kids since then and all sorts of stuff, brain just gets mushy at some point.

Cory Bowles:
Yeah. You were talking about when you move the mic scene around.

Jeremy Harty:
Yeah. Because we tried to like bookend that into the film its own way.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. Well, I mean you did that a lot. You did a lot of little things that really sort of popped. I mean some of the other things too was I’m really about having a lot of space in the scene. I want to have space and I want to have time and I want to have beats, but we also have to keep the scene moving. I found that I would…

Cory Bowles:

This is where things I don’t know as the directors are so good at going, “Okay. We could keep your space, but we can tighten up this.” We like to work on an intensity graph through a scene that kind of has ups and downs and a lot of slopes in it and I find that I can cut a sort of dynamic scene, but the meat’s not there and that’s where when we get together and we start digging things and Jeremy will

suggest something, move something around and we solved a lot of problems in the edit room, because the other thing about shooting a movie like this, and Andrew to your question about spending time.

Cory Bowles:

I spend a lot of time as much as I can with Jeremy, and it’s so exciting when you go away from a room and you see us, you get something back. That’s like one of the… Regardless if it’s good, it’s just exciting to get something back, because you live with it and it’s daunting. It’s really hard, but I find… I was going to say one thing that happens when we play, we solve a lot of problems in the set that we… There’s a lot of things that aren’t necessarily going to work in the movie and you have to build it from scratch in the edit.

Cory Bowles:

That’s what I think we do. We’ve always done well together was create things when we just had no scene at all, like nothing was going to work and we made it work.

Jeremy Harty:

There are still examples of things where, because it was only shot within what? 12 days. There was one shot I was like I really wish we had, but we just didn’t have the opportunity of when a white cop gets his uniform taken, you remember that, Cory? I was like-

Cory Bowles: I sure do.

Jeremy Harty:

I just want to see him in the garbage naked or in his underwear, whatever, but I just wanted to see that visual. We just… One, you’re asking a lot for the actor to do that, and the time frame to do that and would it have been the best use of our time to get that one shot or to go out and shoot an insert or whatever? But, yeah, you can get bogged down by those kind of wish lists, but then you start thinking of other things to help solve that problem. That’s one of the reasons why I like editing, because you really do get to shaped the whole film. I also color correct. We’re tweaking stuff and trying to make things punch and fix issues.

Cory Bowles:

What did we have for the first kind of the movie was like, an hour? Like 66 minutes or something like that, right?

Jeremy Harty:
Yeah. One shortcut and it was like, “What else is going to go in this film, Cory? I don’t know…” But you-

Cory Bowles:
I was like, “My career is over.”

Jeremy Harty:

No. But that was a problem solving… You had to solve that problem, so you were forced into it. You already had the idea of having the radio through stuff, but then some of the narration, some of the black box stuff, doing a little montage helps pepper that in throughout and it helps too.

Jeremy Harty:

Then, those cards with the white text, you had two or three different versions, different quotes, at one point it’s like, “No. We can’t go with that quote. We’re going with this quote.” I’m like, “All right. Does that work now or does that make it better? I’m lost. I don’t know anymore.” Spending so much time in the edit suite too, at some point, I could see Cory’s point about being away from the edit, coming back and seeing something that’s like fresh eyes.

Jeremy Harty:

I think that’s important too. We did have a little break here and there where we were busy with other things, and then came back to finishing Black Cop or working on another scene or-

Shonna Foster:

I know the film started as a short. Cory, did you make it with the intent to make it into a feature? Did you know making the short that you were going to make a feature film?

Cory Bowles:

Yes and no. Originally, I conceived it as a feature back in 2014 maybe, and then I did the short in 2015. I kind of just thought that was it. It was a very… But the thing I was like, “I need to do now.” I think I went and shot it at a weekend that we were doing [inaudible 00:26:01] boys went home, shot it, and then grabbed the GoPro.

Cory Bowles:

I think it was the following year, coming through the following year when I figured… I was actually told by a few people that, and a friend of mine, Nelson, Nelson McDonald who said, “Yo, I think they should be actually expanded. So if you know what you think you want to say.” Because I talked about it. I talked about the character and why he did what he did in the short film.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. It kind of came back around to the feature, but I didn’t expect it. It was kind of an unexpected thing to happen. Suddenly, I was paired up with Aaron and we were going to write a movie… I was going to write this film, we were going to go after it, and suddenly, we were doing it. I had another project that I was trying to do too, actually, and then this one just swept everything else away.

Shonna Foster:
Yes. Is your project’s still going to get made?

Jeremy Harty:
I’m hoping these projects get made. Maybe I can hang out with him again. I don’t know.

Shonna Foster:

I’m going to pull a question from the Q&A. Did you have test screenings with friends and family and crew before picture lock?

Jeremy Harty:
I think there were quite a few people watching it, weren’t there?

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. We are like a tight-knit group. I’m really afraid of that. This is going to sound really funny, but I only showed it to, personally, myself. I only showed it to a few people. I tend to not believe what my team says, and that’s not that I don’t trust them. It’s like Aaron, the producer is like, “It’s looking good.” I’m like, “You’re lying.” I don’t like-

Jeremy Harty: He does say that.

Cory Bowles:

I shout to my partner or you show it to a couple of close friends. I think I showed it to my friend, Mark Claremo. I sent it to Clark Johnson as well, but that’s generally about it. Mostly because I’m really afraid of it. So, even like I’m so afraid to do it. I don’t want to know. I don’t care if they show it, but I’m like I don’t-

Jeremy Harty:

I’m a little different with my assistant editors or people I’m working with in the building. I’ll show them scenes, but I won’t show them the whole thing, mostly because we’re not there yet, and when we were close to picture lock, I don’t know if I showed them the whole film then, because there’s still things that were going to be worked out or the color timing would be done.

Jeremy Harty:

I felt strongly that if we had too much input from people who weren’t in the whole part of the process, it might get watered down or there might be weird notes that come out of nowhere. Dealing with broadcasters, and then broadcaster goes, “Yeah. Do you have any takes where they say these lines?” You’re like, “What do you mean these lines? Like now? We’ve already locked the picture. Like you want to rework a whole scene? No. We don’t.” That’s what we got to work with so… That’s the fear that I have by bringing in a bunch of people and saying, “Okay.”

Jeremy Harty:

They’ll watch the cut, and then they’ll be like, “Yeah. What if you had this shot? What if you had that shot?” This a small budget, 12-day shoot, and this is what we got. We’re making it work and it worked with this one I think.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. I’m of two minds of that. I think in some cases you need to have test screenings and you need to do those things, but in some cases when you’re doing a project that’s like, it’s you’re doing a different thing, you’re doing something that’s like… In one case, it was like, “We really couldn’t care. We had to actually be like…” It just has to be really good, it has to flow well and it has to be honest.

Cory Bowles:

We tried to stay away from anything that was like, “Well, this doesn’t work because the rule is…” Sometimes, if you get into too much of that type of viewing, that people don’t understand rules. We were doing something that, at the time, we were like, “We don’t want this to be conventional in any way. We just want you to be affected by it when you see it.”

Cory Bowles:
It’s a challenge, but I do believe in testing. Just that was a tough one for me. I’d give-

Jeremy Harty: [crosstalk 00:29:45]

Cory Bowles:
It was so hard to even hit the send button when I showed someone the link.

Shonna Foster:

It does seem like a challenge though because the film is unconventional, because you both seem to work that way. Navigating notes from producers, how do you go about that when you’re getting… Did you get a lot of notes back from producers as you were going and-

Jeremy Harty:

We got notes. I get notes from a co-worker, and then I found myself saying, “Well, you’re not really seeing it from Cory’s perspective, right? It was the confrontation, the Skittle scene or however you want to refer to it with the big fence that shot. There were a lot of people in my shop they were like, “That shot so long.”

Jeremy Harty:

I was like, “Oh…” That’s why I did other versions, because I was so listening to them, and at some point I just had to step back and go like, “You got to trust Cory and Ronnie. That they did that shot, they want that length, and everyone else their perspective is valid, but we have to push something.

Jeremy Harty:

To me, that’s one of those shots that’s really pushing that urge of an editor to cut. There’s some people that just cut every three seconds. It doesn’t matter. It’s like cutting cut, cut, cut, angle, angle, angle, angle, angle. And to fight those urges of just cutting the shot, it’s hard. It’s a hard thing to do. Trusting the process and getting people’s notes is important.

Jeremy Harty:

I want to know why I have to defend it sometimes, but then with this project, I’m kind of just along for the ride with Cory.

Cory Bowles:
Oh, stop. That’s funny. Because I trust so much of what he does… But I’ll tell you on top of that-

Jeremy Harty:
We got so much history too. That’s probably why. We’ve known each other since ’99, ’98, ’99.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah, and we had on top of that, we have one producer with Aaron. Aaron was always in the room, but Aaron as producer was totally like, he totally trusted us too. He’s just like, “Yeah. I think this…” Any time he did give a note, it was… It’s like one of those things where you… He’s like that player, you bring him to take the shot right at the buzzer who knows that they’re going to hit the shot at the buzzer.

Cory Bowles:

He’s one of those note givers. He drops the note when the note really needs to be given. It’s usually one that’s just like… For example, in that scene that we did in the fence, his note… I was ready to, because we had to send it off to Tiff, because we’ve been in at that time, but we had to give them the actual version.

Cory Bowles:

I wasn’t happy with the music we’d scored. We’ve done the improv score with the band. I just threw a piece in and Aaron had said, “I don’t think you’re happy.” I was like, “It doesn’t matter if I’m happy, we have to get it.” He goes, “Well, you’re not happy and this isn’t what you said you want to do.”

Cory Bowles:

I was like, “What am I supposed to do?” Then, he goes, “You’ll figure it out.” He left. [inaudible 00:32:30] I’m so mad. I was just like I wanted to go hit him. I was so angry I was like, “I can’t do this. We’re never going to do it in time.” Then, I ended up taking two pieces of different versions of the same song, flipping them, making stuff go backwards. I put up a mic and started doing my own vocal things in it.

Cory Bowles:

Then, I came back and he comes and listens. I show him the scene. He just goes like this. He’s like, “Yeah.”

Jeremy Harty:

Why didn’t it occur to me why you did the reaction? No one wants to see me watching you do the reaction.

Cory Bowles:
Oh, sorry. Anyway-

Jeremy Harty:
That’s bad editing right there.

Cory Bowles:

[crosstalk 00:33:02] you just did a head nod, but those notes, he would give us both. He was really trusting. It’s really important.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. He’s in the building where I am and I’ve been cutting and stuff. He could drop in any time. See what I’m working on, and see what it is. I could go to him and say, “Okay. I’ve retackled this. What do you think?” We’re not really hung up on a power struggle or anything, which is good. I think there’s too many people that get bogged down by that, and that’s the really great thing that Aaron brought to the project.

Jeremy Harty:
Ego could just put you in such a bad place. I don’t want to have a big ego, but I do sometimes.

Shonna Foster:

I’m going to pull another question from the Q&A. How did you time the scene where the student is in the distance and Black Cop shoots him with his finger as a gun? Very good question.

Jeremy Harty:
I was not on set that day so I don’t know how it was done, but I suspect I do know how it was done.

Shonna Foster: Share your secrets.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. That’s my dance background, timing, rhythm, and two really good actors with experience on stage and experience in blocking and timing where I could say, “Hey, you’re going to take… You’re going to run till you get to there.” Ronnie’s going to watch him go. He’s going to take a deep breath and shoot.

Cory Bowles:

That was sort of a thing that they were pretty linked up and you can, they felt it. We just ran it. They nailed it, and yeah. There was no sound effects or anything like that. It was one of those things where you… It’s so hard to say to an actor like when you get around this area, you have to feel like when you get hit.

Cory Bowles:

Then, the person shooting the person in the back, but they were on the same wavelength. That’s very much how dancers work, right? Dancers work with instincts and trying to feel each other’s time as you spread out. They just nailed that. Lots of rhythm. I like to work with-

Jeremy Harty:
I thought you had someone out on the side just waving them down to fall like an AD?

Cory Bowles: No.

Jeremy Harty:
You didn’t yell behind camera, fall?

Cory Bowles: No.

Jeremy Harty: No?

Cory Bowles: No.

Jeremy Harty: No?

Cory Bowles: No.

Jeremy Harty:
All right. That was what I was guessing.

Cory Bowles:

To be authentic you got… I mean sometimes if we were in TV, we would have to and AD would come over and be like, “Nope. You’re doing it this way. I have someone here. They’re going to get queued. Go back to the monitor. See you later.” Like by that. No. For this it was just the whole movie is as organic as possible, so.

Jeremy Harty:
What was the crew size? How many people were on the crew? I put you on the spot there.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. I want to say 20, maybe 22 max. Yeah. Because we had two camera assists, we had two electric, we have… We basically have two of everybody, except the hair and makeup, wardrobe, there’s three, and so I would say just around 20 max maybe.

Jeremy Harty:

What gets me is with all the different camera formats too, we had to worry about frame rates, aspect ratios, all that stuff, just the file formats themselves bringing them in to the system, I can only imagine how much pain in the butt it was on set having to chase cameras, getting them all set up with a smaller crew.

Shonna Foster:
What kind of camera did you shoot with?

Jeremy Harty: FS7, wasn’t it?

Cory Bowles: Yeah.

Jeremy Harty: Yeah. Sony FS7.

Cory Bowles:
Yeah. Then, GoPros. GoPro Hero. Was the Hero 5 or 4?

Jeremy Harty:
I think it was 4 at that time. Yeah.

Cory Bowles:
Hero 4 and my iPhone.

Jeremy Harty: iPhone.

Cory Bowles: Yeah.

Jeremy Harty:
Did you have like a Samsung in there too or some other phone?

Cory Bowles:

No. I don’t think I used the… I thought I’d just use my phone. I might use something else, but, yeah, I think just those three. Then, yeah, the GoPros were all the dash cams as well.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. We tried to muddy up some of them to look a little bit different even though they were shot on some of the same cameras.

Shonna Foster:
I have a question for Jeremy.

Jeremy Harty: Oh, no.

Shonna Foster:
Did you go to film school?

Jeremy Harty:

I went to a community college taking radio and television broadcasting for two years. I was originally going to be in radio production. I was going to do commercials on tape to tape. That was my plan. Then, I asked one of the guys working at the local radio station how much they made per year, how long he’d been there. At that time he was there for maybe 15 years and he was making 38,000 a year. I said, “Okay. Screw this shit. I’m out.”

Jeremy Harty:

Luckily because of my program, we did journalism. We did radio, and we also did television. I just gravitated halfway through my first year into the television side of things, which really pissed off the radio teacher, because he thought he had another radio convert early on in the process, because that’s how I came into the program.

Jeremy Harty:

I’m just one of those guys with a blessed mind for tech. I started learning all the tapes and the systems. We had a non-linear system. It was a light wave I believe. It was just after the EditDroid. It was on an Amiga. It was cumbersome. Painful as hell, but it was dead when I got to the school and we resurrected it when I was there.

Jeremy Harty:

Then, I never used it because it sucked. I just really enjoyed the creative side of editing, taking different footage. One of my major projects I got a bad mark on, but I loved it. I took a song by Stone Temple Pilots to Return of the Jedi. It’s the song Tumble in the Rough. I took that song that was cutting it to the walkers being crushed. Oh, so cheesy. I wish I had it soon.

Shonna Foster: Okay.

Cory Bowles:
This is pre YouTube, so that’s the stuff now that will get like [crosstalk 00:38:31]-

Jeremy Harty:

Oh, god. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I’d probably have 100 million easy, easy views on that, right? Probably had some take down notices. Probably would have put it up somewhere else, still got another 100 million. Would have been DMCA, got in trouble for that I’m sure, but that’s when I really thought, “Okay. Audio editing was great in a sense, but video editing is so much more, because you have audio, you have picture, just twice as good.” That’s how I got into working in the biz.

Shonna Foster:

In biz, and what advice would you have for any upcoming editors and now everything’s digital and software and things can be very expensive, and so what are some tools that you use?

Jeremy Harty:

Oh, now is amazing. Now’s an amazing time, because you can get the DaVinci Resolve for free. You can edit, you can color correct, you can do some special effects and some audio editing in there too. If you were starting out and you’re in high school or junior high or something like that, if you got like an AV

Club or something extracurricular that you can do like that, you should watch as many movies and TV shows as you can get your hands on.

Jeremy Harty:

You got to watch some of the really bad stuff to realize what not to do sometimes, but try to watch the really classic stuff, so that you can really appreciate and get into that mindset, but with YouTube and all the other platforms of people offering tutorials on everything out there. I would kill, kill to be starting my career at this point being much younger because there’s just so much more to learn.

Jeremy Harty:

Film school is good for certain people. I don’t know if I could gone through film school and be where I am now. I think I’m one of those people that has to do it, has to have my hands on, and suffering through it, and working long hours, and getting punched in the arm when the director wants me to make an edit. That’s not Cory. That was another director I worked with early on in my career.

Jeremy Harty:

Every time he wanted me to cut was [inaudible 00:40:26] right in the arm. You have to go through that stuff. I think that will shape you into it, but don’t be afraid to work long hours and research and watch as much as you can.

Shonna Foster:
A question from Andrea. What is your preferred editing platform?

Jeremy Harty:

I use Final Cut Pro. I’ve used it since it was beta. Before that, I used the Media 100. Oh, my god. That was painful. We only had two tracks of video and a graphics track and we used to cheat the graphics track to be a third layer of video by exporting all our footage, and then re-importing it and putting it in this graphics, but then when I made the move to Final Cut, it was the beta version and I’ve been on Final Cut or Final Cut X ever since.

Jeremy Harty:

Now, I’ve dabbled in Avid and Touched Premiere. When we finish our shows, we generally use DaVinci Resolve to do the final color and send it back to Final Cut for our export and our mastering.

Cory Bowles:
Andrea, he is a Final Cut snob.

Jeremy Harty: I am.

Cory Bowles:

I mean it in the sense that when the Final Cut came out and it was like a glorified iMovie. He was raving about it and I was like, “Yo, man. This is kind of like what’s up?”

Jeremy Harty: Whack.

Cory Bowles:

[crosstalk 00:41:34] taking the old Final Cut style and this is awesome. He was just like not having it. He’s like basically Final Cut could have been just like… It just could have been like one [inaudible 00:41:45] it would be okay. He’d be like Final Cut, he’d find the… He would find the positive in it.

Jeremy Harty:
I’m a Mac snob what it really comes down to, so, just straight up Mac snob.

Cory Bowles:
He taught me how to use the new Final Cut very well.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. I suffered greatly when they switched from Final Cut 7 into Final Cut X. I was doing a short film and I was trying to do all these multi-layer stuff and it was crashing, and then I was just… But I found that having a project to do in it, I learned it, and if I was forced to use another software, I’d just be like, “Oh, I want to go back to Final Cut,” because it’s what I know.

Jeremy Harty:

What it comes down to is go with the tool that you feel strongest in, but be aware of the other tools, because they all have their advantages and disadvantages. One of the things I really like about the Final Cut is being able to create roles where you assign different things, and when I go to output, I can output five or six different versions of the same timeline with just a few keystrokes.

Jeremy Harty:

It’ll do export of different files like if I had a German language and a French language on the same thing, I could do two exports. So a German one and the French one, but only have to have one timeline if you prepared your project properly and stuff. That’s why I stick with Final Cut. Sorry.

Shonna Foster:

Another question. What is your decision-making process in approaching pacing in your edit? I guess that’s for both of you actually.

Jeremy Harty:

Well, for me, I generally slap together everything dialogue based in the order of per script or whatever, and re-watch it, and then see if there’s duplicate thoughts being said or expressed, and then looking at how to pepper in the coverage over top of that. So, if I want to go to someone’s reaction and stuff. That’s how I tend to build it. Worrying about the actual script first, and then worrying about coverage and all the other angles or the timing of things, but as of late, in the last year or so, I’ve been working on Trailer Park Boys animated series.

Jeremy Harty:

It’s totally different. You do your audio cut and you send it off, and then they do the storyboards and all that stuff. It’s like four or five months later, it comes back to you and you’re like, “Oh, that’s how they drew that. Okay. Well, let’s maybe cut these lines out now that I thought I needed.” Tossed. So, different experience, but interesting. Cory, yourself?

Cory Bowles:

Oh, for me, rhythm is really important. I like to try to find a natural emotional rhythm and everything and if I can’t find it in the scene, I don’t want the scene, but if I really want the scene, I have to find the rhythm. I believe in a lot of space and a lot of time, but I don’t want anything to be sluggish.

Cory Bowles:

I guess it’s always hard to find the right balance and you kind of know… Actually, we played a lot with the pacing and there’s a scene where Black Cop is stopped by a rookie cop in the movie. We played a whole… I think we have like six different versions of that scene or just-

Jeremy Harty: Yeah. There’s a lot.

Cory Bowles:

… [crosstalk 00:44:52] what we were cutting, what we’re dragging out? What are the most tense? One of them was like snappy and one of them was like boring. One of them was like exciting and hype. Then, we were like, “Okay. Well, how do we find the right balance of each one?”

Cory Bowles:

Again, we really try to find peaks and valleys as much as possible in a scene. If something ramps up, you find the ramp up and if something is supposed to have the, just hold you there. We make sure we build it with a hole or we might pull out when you don’t want to get pulled out. It’s kind of things like that.

Cory Bowles:

On Jeremy’s other point about, it’s different in television. I get to sit on the edit, I do a lot of the edit, the Director’s Cut for Diggstown. I show I work on, Diggstown. I’m really adamant about sort of not doing a cut that the network is necessarily going to like. I always try to find and I cut it as tight as possible. I shouldn’t say this because… I cut it as tight as possible so they can’t make very many changes.

Jeremy Harty:
You just told a trade secret, man.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. Usually, you give a long cut and give it, so the producers can have their cut. I’ll cut it really tight. Then, they’ll have some things they can change, but usually the essence is there. Then, it usually shifts some… There goes my dog. I got to just pause.

Jeremy Harty:

To further Cory’s point there, there’s a thing when you’re working with a broadcaster where certain broadcasters after you’ve worked with them for a while they might trust you, but other ones you know they’re going to just need to make a note, even if it’s not a note that should be made. They just have to be part of the process.

Jeremy Harty:

You kind of have one obvious bad scene or edit or line and you kind of just leave it there for the first pass where they see it, and then that’s going to be the thing that they focus on. You go, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Great note. We’ll take that out.” You cut it out. Then, they look like a hero.

Cory Bowles:

[inaudible 00:46:51] networks in there, but sometimes [inaudible 00:46:54] and sometimes in some cases it’s like I would try to keep a little bit there, but I also want to make sure that they hire me to direct the show and they hire me to put my touch on it. I want to make sure they get what is my touch, and if they go, “Okay. Well, this isn’t what we want.”

Cory Bowles:

Then, I’m like, “Well, then, I’ll learn what you want, but this is… I want to make sure you get the most that I can give you in an edit. I always will push, push, push as well for that.” It usually turns out well. Everyone is happy at the end. There’s some things that may work or may not, but I think that’s important to experiment there as well.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. In regards to what I was saying with the note process that I’m used to. I’m used to working on a series that has been going for so long, has the same director, and Cory’s coming from it from he’s the hired gun. You’re hiring him for his perspective. You should get his perspective. You should get what he thinks and feels is best.

Jeremy Harty:

I’ve worked with other directors on other series where that’s what they do. They do their thing, and of course, the producers and everyone else overrules them at some point and things get changed, but at least you know where that person’s come from and their vision is there, and generally you hire them because you want their vision.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. In a show like Trailer Park, I direct Trailer Park and Jeremy edits that. I’m not actually involved in the edit. I’ll shoot for the edit to give him options, but really it’s about… In that case, I’m trying to get as much dynamic and as much good material in the scene, so then they can play with everything they want.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. There’s not complaints in that regard because Cory’s been in the family or the show for so long. He knows the characters and knows the crew and everything. It just works. It’s so easy. He just walks in, bangs it all out. We’re done. Right, Cory, no pain?

Cory Bowles:

Yeah, but you’ve also given me some lectures about things that I may or may not have gotten or things that-

Jeremy Harty:

I choose not to remember those moments, but, yeah. I’m sure they’d happened. In that regard, that series, I cut in a trailer near the set. It used to be the point where I’d come out to set and everyone would go, “Oh, shit. Jeremy’s here.” Because I guess I’m just that big a dick when I come out on set or something’s gone wrong and I caught it in the suite and I’m coming out to say, “It’d be really nice if you shot a color chart or you gave us a few more seconds when you say cut, like this really sucks to be in this room over there.”

Cory Bowles:
Jeremy is known to come out to set, stand there, and then leave. If he does that, you know something

that like… Everyone’s like, “What did we do? We did something.” Jeremy Harty:

There’s always a department going, “Something went wrong. Was it our department? I don’t know.” Sounds messed up-

Cory Bowles:
[crosstalk 00:50:04] everyone sees it.

Jeremy Harty:
Did we have a continuity issue? I don’t know. He didn’t talk to me so I think we’re good. Okay.

Shonna Foster:
Jeremy, do you have an agent? How do you get gigs?

Jeremy Harty:

I do not have an agent. I get all my gigs word of mouth. Luckily, I keep busy just because of that, but I haven’t been out there doing… I don’t sell myself. I don’t peddle my wares. I’ve just been blessed to be able to be working Trailer Park stuff and working on Cory’s stuff and working with people who were with Trailer Park and moved on to other projects at some point and said, “Hey, yeah, let’s bring Jeremy along.”

Jeremy Harty:

But Nova Scotia is hard to get some gigs sometimes. It’s really painful for other editors out here and teams. Especially now with COVID, it’s tough for everyone.

Shonna Foster:

For both of you, is there a genre that you haven’t worked in that you want to? I know Jeremy you’ve done animation shorts.

Jeremy Harty:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s going to make you sound like the biggest wimp ever. I don’t watch horror movies. I don’t think I could ever cut a horror movie. I don’t know. For me, I would like to do more dramatic stuff. I really enjoy the dramatic stuff. I find it sometimes a little bit more restrictive though than comedy. Comedy just have such… There’s so much more we can mess with.

Jeremy Harty:

That’s why Black Cop really worked for me is because even though it was so dramatic, there was a lot of freedom. There’s a lot that could be reshaped and juggled around. It wasn’t so fixated on shot by shot by shot as per his list or the script. It was a little bit more free-form.

Cory Bowles:
I would trust Jeremy with any genre of film. I would trust him with horror. I would trust him with-

Jeremy Harty: No. Horror.

Cory Bowles:
I would trust him do a Hallmark movie. I actually think [crosstalk 00:51:55]-

Jeremy Harty:
Oh, Hallmark movie [crosstalk 00:51:57]

Cory Bowles:

I actually think Jeremy is an absolute gifted editor. I think that he is one of the very few editors, and I’ve worked with really good editors and I love my relationship with everyone, but I think there’s something that Jeremy taps into that I find very rare and I find really special that I think that he has an extremely open mind.

Cory Bowles:

He’s not afraid to go away from his comfort zones and just try something. That’s one thing that I’ve always noticed is that he never approaches it by rule. He approaches it, but this is what’s in front of us, this is what we can work with, and let’s start from there.

Cory Bowles:

I find that that’s great when you have your toolbox and you have your methods and you have your go-to’s. I don’t like to work that way myself. It’s like we have our toolbox, we just go for it. I feel that is one of Jeremy’s strengths is that once he understands what the pacing is or gets an eye for something, then he pulls out stuff that I hoped for, but also wouldn’t have been able to think of. I think he’d be good at anything really.

Jeremy Harty: Thanks, bud.

Cory Bowles:

That’s why he’s on my team.

Jeremy Harty:
Cory loves me so much he named his dog Jeremy.

Cory Bowles:
Well, her name is Peanut.

Jeremy Harty: Oh, damn.

Cory Bowles:
She’s named after Peanut [inaudible 00:53:15], Shannon.

Jeremy Harty: I don’t know.

Cory Bowles:
Actually, a choreographer I love so very much.

Jeremy Harty:
Okay. Maybe your next dog, right?

Cory Bowles:
Maybe, yeah, my fish. Maybe.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. I have to say over my career I’ve been very blessed to work with people that are very creative types and are kind of on the fringe, not that mainstream. I think that’s helped me mold myself into something where I am now, but I definitely can’t do horror. I don’t think I can do horror. I could maybe do a slasher, but not like the jump scares.

Jeremy Harty:

I don’t know. I’d be probably curled up in a ball in the edit suite crying after seeing some of the footage. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just all in my head because I haven’t been forced to do that.

Cory Bowles:
[crosstalk 00:54:01] to trigger something then, hey, don’t ever do horror.

Jeremy Harty:

But, yeah. But comedy and drama and even maybe action, stuff like that. I think I could do a half decent job. Just haven’t had that many opportunities. I don’t know if Cory and I have done anything really action driven. Maybe the lightsaber battle between Leahy and Ricky.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. No. I mean besides those little things like, no. I mean because most of my stuff is satire drama and it has a bit of comedy, but we’ve… No. Not really, but I also, again, like it would just be… I would just expect it of you, because we will be doing it. It’s like, if I’m doing an action movie, you’re right, you’re cutting it.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. If I’m there I’m doing it. If I say I’m going to be on the project, I’ll give it 110% and I’ll watch a movie I’ve never heard of before or-

Cory Bowles:

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people will sort of like you look at a Trailer Park is a sort of mock or a dog or things like that. Like a mock dog or that… That show even is full of action. We explode cars. There’s guns. There’s [crosstalk 00:55:09]-

Jeremy Harty:
Oh, yeah. That’s true.

Cory Bowles:
The only difference is as if a live camera crew was there so, yeah.

Jeremy Harty: Yeah.

Cory Bowles:
Action is timing and energy and pacing. I think that’s something Jeremy is really, really good at, so.

Jeremy Harty:

But that said, I don’t tend to watch my old work, even though like it’s been so many years ago that we worked on Trailer Park and stuff like that. I have re-watched some things and I don’t want to get bogged down into this like, “Oh, I wish I did that.” Now, that I know this, because at the time, that is where I was as a creative type. That’s where my skill set was. That’s where the gear and equipment and technology was.

Jeremy Harty:

I have to live with what that is. It can help mold me to the next stage. Maybe there’s a moment where I go and say, “Oh, yeah. That scene I cut years ago, that really worked.” Maybe that kind of thing we could discuss or do again. I don’t know what else to say.

Shonna Foster:
Well, Andrea’s asking how about documentary? Good question.

Jeremy Harty: Oh, yeah.

Shonna Foster:
Cory, what about you, would you do docs?

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. I mean I think that’s more about what type of things you’d edit. But I personally I’m going to… The way Jeremy is with horror movies, I feel like I’m not sure as much… I’ve wanted to do a couple talks. I’ve been tapping them and I’m afraid I would just ruin everything. I think I would do it, editing wise, if this was an editing question, I think Jeremy would do it well, because he understands story.

Cory Bowles:

I mean which is essentially what doc is. It’s story and engagement and understanding that. I think that’s a whole other art form that as personally as a director or filmmaker, writer even, that’s just a whole different unique beast that I just didn’t… In awe of all the time. Personally, I don’t think I’d be good at it. Maybe I would, I doubt it.

Jeremy Harty:

In my early career I did do some doc stuff. I worked on a series that was for Vision Television maybe, where a bunch of people were on a ship, a tall ship sailing across the world, and that was really one of the first doc style things that was truly doc because they were just documenting what happened on the ship, but I’ve never done like a biopic dock or anything like that.

Jeremy Harty:

Basically, just building the story from whatever is available is what Trailer Park kind of was from the beginning too. It wouldn’t be far stretch for me to jump into doing a doc series or something.

Cory Bowles:

I’d tell you, I would want to do something like McMillions or The Last Dance. Any type of drama doc series, those things are next level. That would be like-

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah, but getting all that footage and access to that archives and stuff, that’s what makes your edit, man. You could be, you really have to have the production team behind you and access to all that to really make those rock.

Cory Bowles:
Yeah. Well, I think there’s-

Jeremy Harty: You could do it.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. There’s something to be said too about depending on… I guess I was called recently or last year to do a doc to be part of a doc series of hip-hop. I had a lot of really… That I actually saw. I had a real vision of how I wanted it to be or what I thought I could do with it. That would have been fun. Something like

that I think would have been fun because I would have been able to play with the elements of hip-hop and how that worked.

Cory Bowles:

I think one of the most recent things, our friend, Jason, who really sort of took the dark side of the ring and he has such a childlike mind that he made this incredibly dark series, but had the sort of the mystique and the wonder of what it was like to be a kid watching wrestling. That’s like doc, filmmaking has that sort of blend that’s like a win for me, which [crosstalk 00:59:11]-

Jeremy Harty:

He just knows that content too, right? When you know the subject matter and you’ve lived and breathed it for so long, I think that kind of storytelling just comes so naturally, right? I could see you doing hip-hop from your days back in the hip-hop community.

Cory Bowles:
Yeah. We’ll move on.

Jeremy Harty:
All right. Any other questions? I guess not. I must have covered everything in the world.

Shonna Foster:
We’ve covered everything. Everything. We did it in an hour and 20 minutes.

Jeremy Harty: Record-breaking, right?

Cory Bowles:
Are we that long, really?

Jeremy Harty: Yeah. I think so.

Shonna Foster:
This is great. Let’s see if anyone else has any questions. Feel free to pop them into the Q&A chat.

Cory Bowles:

I’m going to say something because I think that Jeremy is such a good resource and I’ll say one thing I really appreciate about him that he does, that he did with Black Cop. I think I told you this Shannon is that he would send me scenes to look at and see what I thought, and they were scenes that he would give to… If you asked if he had worked with assistants, as I guess he has assistants and people he works with at Digiboyz, his company.

Cory Bowles:

He would give them a crack, cutting a version of my scene, a scene in my movie. I would get a version from each of those people and they would have their own crack. He was teaching them as well. They were learning how… I’ve said notes back and do cut, that used elements of each one or we do things like that. I found that was a really… I really strongly believe the mentorship, obviously.

Cory Bowles:

I think that that’s imperative of people in our position that we use that position that we have to be able to share. I feel like we’re in such a constrained time to make this movie that we did in 12 days and we had under a year to get it ready for TIFF. It was just a few months. The fact that he’s going to give that time and that space for them to get those cuts, hear those notes, do all that.

Cory Bowles:

It’s really and I’m all for it too, because I learn as well, because I’m seeing other perspectives as well as ones that we have ourselves. I feel that that’s really important and a really great quality in Jeremy. I think he’s really strong-

Jeremy Harty:

I definitely picked that up by my early days editing and stuff, giving opportunities like first Trailer Park film, the Black and White was cut in a week. We just had 13-hour day straight, but I was given that project because no one else at the company felt comfortable and didn’t really want to jump into it and commit that much time in such a short time to it. I was keen, but mentorship is definitely important.

Jeremy Harty:

I try to take interns from the community college and the other schools locally for a few weeks to get them into our environment and feel comfortable and put them through some paces. I’m not going to shove them in the room and make them paint a wall. I actually give them footage and say go to town. Like here sink a whole bunch of stuff, start cutting the scene, noodle it, and try to go from there, because I don’t have all the answers to every cut.

Jeremy Harty:

Like Cory said, it’s nice to see different people’s perspectives too, because you might get something that you just couldn’t see because there’s just so much footage and you couldn’t process it or wrap your head around. It’s nice to… I want to give them more opportunities and stuff. Right now we don’t really have many opportunities, for me, so, maybe I’ll give them some old projects and tell them to recut Black Cop, the Assistant Editor’s Cut.

Shonna Foster: Let’s do it.

Jeremy Harty:

I don’t know what that would be, man. I mean pretty gnarly I think. They wouldn’t have the elements that Cory put into it or maybe they get married to the cut.

Cory Bowles:

That’s a cool idea. We did a lot of shorts together too. I mean I think that would be really a fun project to be like, “Here’s our footage of our other short. Here’s the 10 tracks and the music we had and here’s the music we use. These are the music tracks like cut it. That’d be kind of fun. I mean, of course, it’s a lot of work though, but-

Jeremy Harty:

I remember decades ago when GarageBand first came out. That put up a whole song and all the elements for the song and let people remaster the song in GarageBand. That’s been done before, but it would be definitely interesting to see the content produced by it. Maybe we’ll do that with Righteous or something or your next film.

Cory Bowles: Yeah.

Shonna Foster:
Speaking of which, we have a question. What’s next? What’s next for both of you?

Jeremy Harty:

Oh, well, my answer’s going to be shorter than Cory’s. I’ll go first, Cory. Right now I don’t know what’s next. I was on a project. It’s on hold for a little bit now. There’s some other things because I’m affiliated with the Trailer Park boys and their web components and stuff that they do, I supervise some of that, putter around on some of their stuff, but there’s nothing really set in stone. So, summer’s almost over and I don’t know what the next gig is.

Cory Bowles:
I’m going to be his agent and try to get him to work.

Jeremy Harty:
Thank you. I need it for now. For sure. But what’s your answer, Cory?

Cory Bowles:

Well, I’m, of course, we were all on hold because of COVID up here in Ontario and Diggstown was delayed for a while. So, now that’s not going in until actually a year from now. Actually, a little earlier, thank you. Yeah. I’m about to do a show called Nurses. I’m about to direct an episode of that. Then, I’ll move on to a new show called Lady Dicks, which is knock on wood if [inaudible 01:04:46] I’ll be going back to Nova Scotia to do something through the winter, otherwise, I just finished another feature that I’ve been working on for a bit and we’re trying to get Aaron and I in the same team.

Cory Bowles:

We’re trying to get the team together to do that. We’ll see how things work as time goes. Now, I actually had another project that was very contained, which now seems to be a good idea with two people. Now, it’s like we’ll see. I was also working on an animation, developing an animation called… Well, it’s called Spacism now, which is like a play on racism, but it was called Maze in Space, but now it’s Spacism.

Jeremy Harty:
That is a project I’ve heard about, how many years now, bud? You got to get it off the ground.

Shonna Foster:
Did you change the title [crosstalk 01:05:32]-

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. It’s maybe 2000… I don’t know, ’10. But I’ve had it for a long time. Yeah. It’s basically, it’s a social commentary in space. It’s a satire, but it’s a cartoon that takes place there. Yeah. Been noodling with that.

Jeremy Harty:
Yes. You chose to change the name, which Shonna asked about.

Shonna Foster: Yeah.

Cory Bowles:
I like Spacism. I think Spacism is a cool name, but-

Jeremy Harty:
Oh, no. I think it’s a good name. It definitely works better I think than the other one for stability.

Cory Bowles:
Probably, yeah. Probably.

Shonna Foster:
We have another question from Andrea. Technically the long distance showing of scenes to Cory for-

Jeremy Harty:
Oh, how did we do the technical side for showing?

Shonna Foster: Yeah.

Jeremy Harty:

This was before Frame.io. Cory could correct me if I’m wrong, but I think at the time I was using Sony Media Share, Sony CI at one point it was branded, where you just dump it out, password protected, and then they could access it or we were using Dropbox. It was one of those two, but now all the shows that I’m working on… Sorry. Was working on, we were using Frame.io.

Jeremy Harty:

We would push out our cuts, the producers and the other writers or whoever else was involved in the process would leave all their notes there and we reimport them into Final Cut, right onto the timeline, and it makes note taking and giving way easier for me, because nothing sucks more than getting four different emails from different people and trying to figure out, one, what they’re talking about because there’s no time code stamp, two, just in general what they’re talking about like they say, “Yeah. Ricky says this line.”

Jeremy Harty:

Okay. Where? You’re searching for it and you got four other people saying, “No. I like that.” You’re like, “Uh.” So who overrules who? But I think we were doing Dropbox, submitting the whole scene, and then you just… Did you call me and we talked about it on the phone most of the time?

Cory Bowles:

Sometimes we’d have a chat and we would chat on Messenger too, by Message or Messenger or whatever it’s called now. I’ll tell you, Andrea, that Jeremy and I have been working remotely for years and when I see years, I mean like a decade. We were figuring out how to do iChat. I used to teach you-

Jeremy Harty: Oh, yeah.

Cory Bowles:
Yeah, man, because [crosstalk 01:07:47]-

Jeremy Harty:
Oh, my god. Yeah.

Cory Bowles:

We were cutting my movie Heart of Rhyme while I was… I’ve finished class. I’d go home. We’d be on iChat and we’d be working remotely like figuring out… You bring up how we share screen and we’d be just doing it that way. I didn’t know that wasn’t a way that you worked so suddenly it’s like when I got to other places like in the Canadian Film Center, it was like I would go home and I’d be like, “Well, there’s no reason why I can’t do this remotely?” Which we would set up, set up with my, the person I was working with there to do the same thing, which wasn’t happening at the time.

Cory Bowles:

It’s been a thing for us to be able to do that and just be able to chat or talk on the phone and see how things work. We were pretty on that ball for 10 years.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. I totally forgot, which is funny, because there’s other things too that one thing, to my own horn. I developed doing dailies that were a podcast, but they’re password protected. You just use iTunes. You had one little link that I’d emailed to each user, and they would access that link and subscribe to the iTunes podcast and all the dailies would just get pushed out right to their phone or their iPad or whatever they were using at the time.

Jeremy Harty:

They could watch the dailies, and at one point, Technicolor, called me up, and they’re like, “How are you doing this? How are you building it into a website?” I’m like, “I don’t know if I want to tell you without getting money.” They’re like, “Ah, don’t worry about…”

Cory Bowles: We’ll figure it out.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah, and they did. They figured it out. They did it differently, but for a time. But, yeah, the iChat video thing was… Yeah. It was just screen sharing and pushing that out to Cory through iChat, so he would see full screen, whatever we were cutting. We’d talk about it. I could scrub through a little bit. It worked really well. Then, at some point it kind of just chunked. It just got chunky and it wasn’t working as well.

Jeremy Harty:

Then, they changed the software a little bit and it was gone. Now, we have Zoom and other systems that took over. That’s how big a nerd I am.

Cory Bowles:
I was thinking back, and again, trying to get a cut to finish a stronger cut [inaudible 01:09:55] we wanted

a better cut. It’s like we would be working on… Yeah, straight through the- Jeremy Harty:

Well, there was a time where I was on set of another series as the data management tech and I was cutting… Was it righteous? Yeah. It was righteous I think at the time. Another short of Cory’s that it was on hold for a long time. Why was it on hold? What was… We were waiting for one shot.

Cory Bowles:

I didn’t get the most important shot in the movie. We were so excited about we did, we forgot to get a single shot of a handshake, which is the actual crucial point of the movie. We shot it in another town 100 kilometers away. We’re never going to get that store again that we shot inside and we were driving home and we were like, “I think we forgot the shot.” They did zillion cuts, and finally, I just shot my brother’s hand. We finally did it. Yeah.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. Cory is like, “Yeah. We’ll get it done. We’ll get it done.” I was on set doing data management stuff, processing footage all day and I brought the footage from that out on set and just started cutting. At one point, I had directors and producers come in and they’re like, “What are you working on?”

Jeremy Harty:

I’m like, “Ah, another short film. Sorry.” I kind of forced Cory’s hand and said, “We’ve got to get this done, man. Seriously, this film has to be done.” It turned out great.

Shonna Foster:

Are these shorts available?

Cory Bowles: Sorry?

Jeremy Harty:
Yeah. Are your shorts available?

Cory Bowles:
some I think are, but most, no. I think-

Jeremy Harty:
If you were smart, you would release them somewhere maybe on YouTube.

Cory Bowles:

Well, there’s a couple, there’s a few of them online, but I am… You know what? I probably should just put a bunch up online like this week and I have a Vimeo, just my name is at Vimeo. I should… Yeah. I’ll just put them up online. They’re done… I mean Righteous was released back in 2014. It’s not like that’s… All those movies are… Some, I think CBC has the rights to one and they still show it once in a while, but I think I’m allowed to drop it out now.

Cory Bowles:
Yeah. You know what? That’s a good idea. I’m dropping out all my shorts this week and there you go.

Jeremy Harty:
You should. You really should, because-

Cory Bowles:
I should say our shorts because we all worked on them, so.

Jeremy Harty:
I didn’t work on all your shorts.

Cory Bowles: Well-

Jeremy Harty:
But I worked on the best ones.

Cory Bowles: Oh.

Jeremy Harty:

Oh, no. There’s some really nice shorts that Cory has never shown me, so I’d be interested to see some of those.

Cory Bowles:
This is true. I was really-

Jeremy Harty:

I don’t know if I ever saw the Heart of Rhyme short. Not the Heart of Rhyme. Sorry. Black Cop short. I don’t know if you ever showed it to me.

Cory Bowles:
Oh, because I was worried you’d judge me, because I edited that.

Jeremy Harty:
Yeah. I think so. I think that’s why you never let me see it.

Cory Bowles: Yeah.

Jeremy Harty:

Which may have been a blessing, it may have been a curse. I don’t know. Maybe I would have been on page one with you like right away, maybe it would have taken a little while for me to fight-

Cory Bowles:
Yeah. I don’t know.

Jeremy Harty:
… through in edit. It’s funny.

Shonna Foster:
Derek is asking where to see Black Cop. I know it’s available on CBC Films.

Cory Bowles:

Yeah. It’s on CBC here. If you’re in Canada, yeah. At CBC Gem right now showing it. It’s also on iTunes I think. It’s like 99 cent rental or something now. It’s on Google Play. It’s on Hulu if you have that. It should still be on Amazon Prime. It’s an Amazon movie so I think it’s there.

Cory Bowles:

It’s not [inaudible 01:13:15] any bell anymore, but I think it’s actually on YouTube Movies now for free right now, I think. It’s a special thing I guess because they’re doing all that. Let’s bring these type of movies back for free for a bit. Yeah. It’s on Apple too. Yeah. I said iTunes, Apple TV, whatever it’s called now. I don’t know. It’s always different.

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. Awesome. Thanks, Cory, because Cory didn’t come here I probably wouldn’t have done this, just because I’m so shy of cameras and being in the public eye.

Shonna Foster:
Jeremy, you keep saying you’re shy, but I have yet to witness the shyness.

Jeremy Harty:

This is something my wife’s told me for years. She’s like, “You hate going to social gatherings, but when you’re there, you’re fine.” I’m like, “Yeah. Maybe, but I dread going to it. I dread the concept.” But when I’m in it, I just push through.

Cory Bowles:
Well, Snuffleupagus no more. He’s out. There you go.

Jeremy Harty:
That’s a weird reference, man.

Cory Bowles:
You’re like the invisible letter.

Jeremy Harty:
Yeah, but do people even know who Snuffleupagus is anymore?

Shonna Foster: Yes.

Jeremy Harty:
Our age group, sure.

Cory Bowles:
Everyone knows Snuffleupagus.

Jeremy Harty: Our age.

Cory Bowles:

But I had the editor I was working with at the Canadian Film Center wanted to meet you and you were just nowhere. Because you get to choose your mentors, right? He was like, “Go and talk to Jeremy. I want this guy.” I don’t know what happened, but he just like disappeared.

Jeremy Harty:
He came here to Halifax?

Cory Bowles:

No. No. He wanted to talk to you because he chose you to be his mentor, but you were like MIA somewhere.

Jeremy Harty: When was that?

Cory Bowles:
I don’t know. It was 2013.

Jeremy Harty:
I must have been deep into Trailer Park or something.

Cory Bowles:
You know what? I think you were in the middle of, it was the movie.

Jeremy Harty: Oh.

Cory Bowles: It was in-

Jeremy Harty:

Yeah. Getting into the middle of the film is different than cutting the TV series. Yeah. That’s probably, but I can still meet that person. I still live. I’m alive.

Shonna Foster: He exists.

Cory Bowles: [crosstalk 01:15:05]

Shonna Foster: [inaudible 01:15:05]

Jeremy Harty:
He moved on. He’s on the bigger, better editors out there and hobnob [crosstalk 01:15:13]-

Cory Bowles: [crosstalk 01:15:13]

Jeremy Harty:
I missed out. I missed out.

Cory Bowles: Oh, stop it.

Jeremy Harty: It happens.

Shonna Foster:
Hey. Well, I guess we’ll wrap it up. This was great.

Jeremy Harty:
Thank you very much for-

Shonna Foster: You’re welcome.

Jeremy Harty:
… being the host.

Shonna Foster:
This is my first time doing this.

Jeremy Harty: The moderator.

Shonna Foster: This was fun.

Jeremy Harty:

I think you did lovely, but, again, this is my first time too, so I don’t know. I have no reference, but I’m sure it was great.

Shonna Foster:
Same time next week, Jeremy.

Cory Bowles: It’s awesome.

Jeremy Harty:

Hell no. No. Look at how I’m blushing. That’s how out of my comfort zone I am, but this was way less painful than I thought it would [crosstalk 01:15:47]-

Shonna Foster:
Would you do it live if it was, I don’t know, in a theater or stage?

Jeremy Harty: I’ve talked once.

Cory Bowles:
He did a live chat with me here during TIFF.

Jeremy Harty: Yeah. I did.

Cory Bowles:
For Penshoppe College. It was great. He was awesome too. I think you should [crosstalk 01:16:03]-

Jeremy Harty: I think-

Cory Bowles:
… more. I think it’s important. I think that he has a lot of good and valuable things to say.

Jeremy Harty:

Thanks, bud. Well, you have a lot to say too. You got to make your next film or TV series or short, whatever. Make what makes you happy.

Cory Bowles:
Whatever we’re doing, we’ll be back soon. We’ll be back soon.

Shonna Foster:
Thank you very much for offering me this opportunity, Cory, as well. I appreciate it.

Jeremy Harty:
It was nice to meet you.

Shonna Foster:

It was nice to meet you, Jeremy, and everybody thank you for tuning in. Have a good rest of your evening and-

Jeremy Harty: Bye, everyone.

Shonna Foster: … bye, everyone.

Sarah Taylor:

Thank you so much for joining us today and a big thank you goes to Jeremy, Cory, and Shonna. Special thanks goes to Jane MacRae. This episode was edited by Malcolm Taylor. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall, additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music provided by Chad Blain. 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​ c​ ceditors.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.

[Outtro]
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.

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Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Karin Elyakim

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Edited by

Malcolm Taylor

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

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The Editors Cut

Episode 042: In Conversation with Mary Stephen, CCE

The Editors Cut - Episode 042

Episode 42: In Conversation with Mary Stephen, CCE

This episode is the online master series that took place on May 24th, 2020 - In Conversation with Mary Stephen, CCE.

This episode was generously Sponsored by Jaxx: A Creative House & Annex Pro/Avid

TEC_42_Mary Stephen, CCE_WEB

Born in Hong Kong and based in Paris, Mary Stephen has been working in narrative film and documentary for more than 30 years as an editor. Her work has been screened internationally at Venice, Cannes, and Tribeca film festivals.  Known for her decades-long collaboration with French filmmaker Eric Rohmer, she has worked in Europe and Asia on numerous award-winning feature documentaries and fiction including Tiffany Hsiung’s The Apology, Lixin Fan’s Last Train Home, Li Yang’s Blind Mountain, Ann Hui’s Our Time Will Come and the upcoming Love After Love.

 

This event was moderated by Xi Feng.

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Sarah Taylor:

This episode was generously sponsored by Jaxx, a creative house and Annex Pro AVID. Hello and welcome to The Editor’s Cut, I’m your host Sarah Taylor. We’d like to point out that the lands 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.

This episode is the online master series that took place on May 24th, 2020 in conversation with Mary Stephen, CCE. Born in Hong Kong and based in Paris, Mary Stephen has been working in narrative film and documentary for more than 30 years as an editor. Her work has been screened internationally at Venice, Cannes, and the Tribeca Film Festivals. Known for her decades long collaboration with French filmmaker, Eric Rohmer. She has worked in Europe and Asia on numerous award-winning feature, documentaries and fiction, including Tiffany Hsiung’s The Apology, Lixin Fan’s The Last Train, Li Yang’s Blind Mountain, Ann Hui’s Our Time Will Come, and the upcoming Love After Love. This conversation was moderated by Xi Feng.

[show open]

Xi Feng:

My name is Xi Feng. I’m a film editor based in Montreal and it’s a great pleasure for me to introduce Mary and moderate this conversation with her. I met Mary in 2009 precisely, and also in the month of May. So 11 years ago, I met Mary when I was freshly out of university. I joined this post-production team of ​Last Train Home​ as assistant editor and Mary joining in May to cut the film. And I was not at all familiar with like the craft of editing. I was just starting, but she opened the whole door of magic to me in front of my eyes. And I can see because of like the amount of footage in documentary film, it’s massive. And I organized all the footage and I couldn’t imagine how we can craft a story out of that.

But like seeing Mary crafting some of the scenes amazingly and with such a cinematic touch, it just made me realize how great this craft and how important this process is. Later on, we had a longer personal relationship crossing from Canada, Asia, and in Paris, especially Paris. I met you a few times in Paris and you just always keep inspiring me in many levels. The most fascinating things is like that I always was inspired by you as an Asian Canadian who suddenly become in this like… of stepping in the middle of the French New Wave. Can you tell us a little bit about the story?

Mary Stephen:

It’s the story that’s already quite often told, but I think that we can tell it again in the context of the… because this is the Asian heritage month. I believe that it’s Asian heritage month in Canada and Asia Pacific heritage month in the States. In that context, it was a complete accident that I ended up… I mean, never would I have dreamt that I would end up in the middle of something so unlikely that is the

French New Wave. So I started in Hong Kong and already I was completely fascinated with the French New Wave because when I was 14, 15, we were going to scenic clubs and we saw all the films. We saw the Jules and Jim, L’année dernière à Marienbad, we saw Hiroshima mon amour, and of course 400 Blows, and of course Breathless, and all that.

And so it was completely an eye-opener. And after that, there was only one thing in my head, it was to go to Paris, to go to France. But it wasn’t that easy because my family immigrated to Canada and we were in Montreal, I finished university there. I actually went from mathematics to fine arts, to communication arts and specializing in cinema at that time with Charles Gagnon and Father Fisher and all the amazing Jesuit Fathers. And then I decided to go for a year in Paris for an exchange program with the University of Wisconsin. I’ve never been to Wisconsin, but it was one year in Paris. And by that time, I left and sold everything that I had in Canada. And somehow knew that probably it would be a one-way ticket, but without knowing how or why. And by the time that I got there within the first month I was sitting in the class of Eric Rohmer, he does a class for his students and everybody can sit in.

And it was the only class at that time which was really talking about filmmaking, is all I wanted to do was to make films. And he would take whatever that he was making that year, and he would have a theme whether it’s about decor or cinematography or whatever. And he would talk about that in practice, and this year it was about budget. And I mean, there’s nothing more…

It may be also a funny story because we were getting favors from, of course, all interview filmmakers from editing rooms and whatever that would let us have the room for cheap and so on. And we ended up in an editing room where these old actors, at that time we thought old, actors were actually dubbing porno films.

And so we were in this middle of this little, little, tiny place. And we were in the editing rooms editing our indie film and the next door is all this sound going on. So he (Eric Rohmer) came to see the process of editing. And then we… I mean, by that time I had gone to his office to ask for a budget and so on, all this is everywhere on the internet, the story. And he invited me for tea every afternoon in his office. The point of this story is, in this context, that at that time I never thought of it as something unusual. I mean, if I looked around at that time, there were no Asians in that milieu of cinema …

Xi Feng:
Yeah, there were very few Asians in French New Wave movies.

Mary Stephen:

… except a few. Truffaut had this Japanese girl in one of his films whom I met later, actually. And of course there were a lot of Vietnamese working in the makeup department or costumes department, but nothing like today that it’s so integrated.

Xi Feng:
By then the representation was also not a theme, right? Like cultural or racial representation.

Mary Stephen:

So at a certain time… and so it was completely by accident that I was dropped into the middle of this pot, I could go there every afternoon to have tea with Eric Rohmer and he was rehearsing, and I could go and see and so on. And what is more is that I really wanted to stay in Paris. To stay and work and live in Paris, but to do so I needed some money. And he asked me if I would agree or stoop to be his editor’s

assistant, and his editor being Cecile Decugis who edited Breathless. I mean, how can you refuse? And so that’s how it happens. And it’s turned out that this line that I’ve said many times, he said at the time, “Are you sure? Because Cecile is very nasty to her assistants. And she always makes them cry.​”

Xi Feng:
But stricter teacher teaches the best students.

Mary Stephen:

But she never. She never made me cry. She consoled me when I cried for something else, but we remained very good friends until the year she passed away, a couple of years ago. So I think that it has to do with luck, chance, and it has to do with grabbing that chance. And it has a lot to do with not thinking of yourself as victim, as a second zone (citizen), “I can’t do that because I’m not good enough. I’m Asian and I can’t go into mainstream, whatever”. That’s how it happens.

Xi Feng:

It’s fascinating that you talk about that Eric teacher of course of budgets, because I remember watching one of his interview, he was exactly mentioning that. He said like, “Instead of making one big budget, Hollywood films, we could make 10 good cinema with the same amount of money. And it’s a bigger contribution to the art of cinema in the history of cinema.” And he also had a very special approach of work. Can you also tell us a little bit?

Mary Stephen:

Yeah. The budget was very important to him in the sense that, I remember he borrowed a VHS from me of a Marguerite Duras​’​s film; well, he admired the way that she made films, Duras, but more than anything else, he admired the way that she made films with nothing, with a very small budget. And that was how he operated. He didn’t want to rely on… (showing photos) here he is making a Super 8 movie, and here is my offspring. This is in his office and this was when we were still editing in film, of course. He has his crew and cast basically already in place, like a theater troupe kind of thing. And he didn’t want to rely on big financiers or big television companies to make those films.

Xi Feng:

I think it will be very interesting to explore this method after this COVID time, to have a reduced crew and to still maintain the production.

Mary Stephen:

The advantage of that too, is that they lived together. They lived in one big house. So, basically it’s overlooking the beach, this is “SUMMER’S TALE”. And overlooking the beach, so they were able to… because it was in Brittany, the weather was very changing. And so every time that the sun comes out or the light is good, he says, “Okay, let’s go.” And then they just go. I mean, can you imagine today doing something like that, that is really a lesson to be learned because nowadays for a short film you have like on the credits, there are about 30, 40 people.

Xi Feng:

I guess like people who are influenced by Rohmer. Like Hong San Soo for example, they do films in this manner. They do smaller budgets films, and yet very prolific productions.

Mary Stephen:

Yeah this is his 100th year of birth. So there is in his hometown of Tulle, there are all kinds of festivities that they are actually… One of the thing is that they’re inviting… they don’t have a lot of budget but they are trying to have a category called the cineastes who are influenced by Rohmer. So there’s a lot of cineastes in Japan, in China, in Korea, in the States.

Xi Feng:

Well, after Rohmer passed away, and even before that, you started to edit films with young filmmakers from China, Turkey, and Canada, and France. And many filmmakers refer to you as the godmother of the independent films in these countries. And can you talk to us a little bit about the transition? And I imagine the role, it’s such a big shift.

Mary Stephen:

From Rohmer, I mean, later on in this talk, we’re going to get a little bit more into certain things about technique and stuff, but it is also related to what we’re talking about now, in terms of that when I was working with Rohmer, it was more like it is a way from the cinema, from the industry in any case. Because he would quite often come into the editing room and open the newspaper and say, “Let’s see what’s happening in the cinema world today.” Like he considered himself away from it. I remember that several friends were saying to me, “you’ll have to think about the post Rohmer period​”.

Because he was getting on, he was not going to be eternal. And he was making films until he was 89. At a certain time, I had an offer from China. There was already an offer in Chinese language of a documentary film that I was going to edit in France with a French co-producer.

And that is basically because of the language. And at that time I had never really edited a documentary before. I must talk about this because at that time, and still may be a little bit now, that documentary and fiction films, the two worlds are very separate. Even though that today the filmmakers, directors…even though the boundaries are being a fluid a little bit more-

Xi Feng: Blurred, yes.

Mary Stephen:

Yeah, blurred. And at that time, the documentary world seemed to be much more serious. I just had the feeling that it was la chasse gard​é​e. It’s like a world that we were too frivolous to enter. And so by chance of because I was Chinese, they offered me to cut this film with a Chinese documentary filmmaker that I will not name, but it wasn’t a happy experience. And especially since it was my first documentary film. But sometime later, Isabelle Glachant who does a lot of Chinese, French liaison and co-productions, she told me that Li Yang was looking for someone to cut Blind Mountain. And I had liked his Blind Shaft before. But at that very same moment… In fact, everything happened at the same time that year. I was actually talking with a very dear friend of mine, Harry Sutherland, who was producing documentaries at the time in Vancouver. And he told me that he was visiting some Armenian filmmaker

friends and sitting there was a Turkish film director, Huseyin Karabey, who was a human rights documentary director, but who was pitching his first fiction.

So he said that if Huseyin could get into Rotterdam to pitch his film, then Harry would go with him to help him. And indeed he got selected. And so Harry and the co-producer Sophie (Lorant) called me from Rotterdam and said, “There’s a film you have to edit.” And at that time I was just getting out of the Rohmer phase, he was slowing down his activities, and I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. I was supposed to be advising this film. And at the same time, I had already committed to going to China. When I saw the material, I thought, okay, you can’t have just someone to come in once every month and say, “Okay, you do this and do that.” You need someone hands-on to do this because the script needed to be changed. So they agreed with the English co-producer Lucinda (Englehart) as well.

And so I was going off to Istanbul for three weeks in a row, and come back for a week to edit another Chinese film. And that was a very eye-opening experience. And so it comes back to something that I really want to talk about in terms of a career change and that kind of thing, is that I think that every time it is a flow. Opportunities come and I think that I like to take things that are a little bit outside of my comfort zone. I am someone who’s like basically quite… I’m not an adventurer. It has to be within a certain limit.

[crosstalk 00:18:55] But certainly going to edit in a language that I don’t understand and going to a region that I don’t understand at all, it was quite fascinating, and really challenging, and very exciting. So that really opened the door to a whole wave of young Turkish, indie filmmakers. That somehow it was also a new experience to be the only one in there who had the most experience. I mean, it’s a complete change that I felt like I had the least experience or not that much experience in a very old, traditional French cinema.

Xi Feng:

In different countries they also have different cinema culture and the different industry or working method, I imagine. And the role of the editor will play… are different in those industries. How would you navigate this relationship between those countries?

Mary Stephen:

It’s true that the role of the editor is very different. It was very different in Asia and certainly like in Turkey and so on. And certainly in China it has changed a great deal because when I started there, it was why I said the first experience was not a good one, is that they are used to working with editors who are technicians, who are like punching (buttons)-

Xi Feng:
[crosstalk 00:20:26] Yeah.

Mary Stephen:

And so, in fact it’s the director who makes all the other choices and then you just punch. Which is not the way that we work in Europe, or I suppose North America. It had to be a sort of change of mindset. It was not so much a change of technique, but you really have to convince them that you can be the

collaborator of a director and that you’re not taking their film away from them. You’re not becoming the parent of the film. I’m always saying that it’s like being a midwife. I’m just here to deliver your baby. The baby is going to look like you, and then once I give you the baby, I will fade away, which is sometimes heartbreaking. But that is the case.

Xi Feng:

I guess also because you worked with a lot of young filmmakers and sometimes first-time filmmakers that happens a lot that they might have this kind of insecurity of handing the film material into a very advanced experienced editor.

Mary Stephen:

Things are changing. I mean, slowly, slowly, things are changing. For the last 15 years, I can see that things are changing in terms of that there’s a lot more trust, there’s a lot more understanding of what the role of an editor is, and what an editor can bring to a project, whether it is a fiction or documentary. And especially in documentary, like in more developing countries, there is more understanding that you need an experienced editor to at least final shape your film kind of thing.

Xi Feng:

Yeah. We often say that editors are the unsung hero of the film and our work always goes unnoticeable when it’s good.

Mary Stephen:
It’s changing, it’s changing.

On the other hand, we don’t need to be so much in the spotlight because I mean, basically it’s a work that is very internal and if we are out in the spotlight all the time, we would get distracted. It’s like the way that I work is that I have to isolate myself in an editing room and I can’t even have somebody beside me.

So in fact, it is very frustrating for trainees or assistants who are trying to learn something in the editing room. And unfortunately I can never accept because just the presence and the vibrations of somebody else in the room, zaps my thoughts.

Xi Feng:

And recently you work a lot in Hong Kong, was Hong Kong indie films. And even with Ann Hui your current film, latest film Our Time Will Come. Can you tell us a little bit about this new journey towards Hong Kong cinema and back to the roots?

Mary Stephen:

The Hong Kong cinema… Actually, I read somewhere that, after an interview, somebody wrote that, “And then Ann Hui brought her back to her birthplace to work as an editor,” which is very interesting because in fact, I had been doing quite a few indie films in Hong Kong and China, but mostly in Hong Kong for a while before doing a bigger Ann Hui film. So it comes back to … I was making some notes about this. When I was talking about documentary and fiction editing, and that we as fiction… that

come from fiction, we didn’t feel, I didn’t feel legitimate as a serious documentary editor; from my view they (documentary editors) have so much more stuff, so much more substance. And that this is the same. I mean, in the sense that even though you have been working with smaller films and indie films, and so on, then legitimacy comes when you are working with more important, more well known, more experienced director, it’s like a stamp of approval, which is okay.

I really admire the way that both Ann Hui and Eric Rohmer do things because they are in a system, they are in an industry, but they are keeping a sort of mindset that is very independent. And when I’m editing with Ann, it’s that we’re editing where I sleep and what I like to do, I like to edit exactly where I sleep. So there’s nobody to disturb us. It’s not like in this editing studio where you have all kinds of people and pressure from producers and so on. She is very protective about that. She’s very good about that. That she works like an independent person exactly like Eric Rohmer would be working with me. And I admire them both because they are these survivors in this industry. First of all it’s called an industry, not in art form, not anything like a… It’s an industry.

So they are survivors in that format, and at the same time she is even more because she is a woman. And the more I know about, the more that I have navigated in the Hong Kong cinema, the Chinese cinema, that kind of thing, and Hong Kong commercial cinema thing, the more I think what amazing thing that she has done. How any woman is still standing after 50 years in this thing? I mean-

Xi Feng:

A very extremely tough position for a woman to stand in Asian culture I find. In a culture of male dominant world and culture.

Mary Stephen:

Yes, working with her was really… I mean, somehow it legitimized my working in Hong Kong cinema, but she would be the first to say that she didn’t start by working with me.

Ann is very supportive of the younger filmmakers.

Xi Feng:
And she’s one of the most unique cinema authors in Hong Kong cinema.

Mary Stephen: Yes, absolutely.

Xi Feng:

In China, in Hong Kong cinema industry, I feel like there was like a big portion of commercial films and they’re just like smaller voices for… smaller portion for the cinema d’auteur as we say, and she’s one of them and she insist, and you can see that stamina coming from her and her films.

Mary Stephen:

There’s something to say here about the fact that… you would notice if you see her filmography… that she works with all the top people in every category except me (laugh). I mean, I’m sort of the non-top person. And so basically she has the choice of doing that. But she also likes to work with whoever that

she wants to work with. The thing is that, why I say that it’s not false modesty, it is the reality of the industry. I’m not a, how do you say, like in the old days when you tried to get finance a film, you have to bring in a bankable star. So there are bankable technicians as well and I’m not one of them. She pulls her weight to say, like, “I want to work with Mary.” And why is it that? The thing is that, I think it is the same as working with any director, actually. Is that the more they have substance, the more they’re experienced, the more they are good, the more they want you to surprise them.

Not that they want you to surprise them…the more they know you will surprise them. You will bring them something that they haven’t thought of, otherwise what’s the use?

Xi Feng:
So they’re seeking for collaboration, but they’re not just-

Mary Stephen: Yeah, exactly.

Xi Feng:
… picking a technician.

Mary Stephen:

Yeah, exactly. So again, it comes back to the very first point, don’t think of yourself as a victim or a second best, or as not commercial enough or whatever, or a woman or Asian or whatever. Just that if you are there… like I am in the office of Eric Rohmer, I’m in the editing room with Ann Hui, I know that I’m there because I have something to give.

Xi Feng:

Do you think with all these choices you have certain guidelines to make the career choices or with who you work with and with the project you work on? How do you make those choices?

Mary Stephen:

Well, I think that I’m in a lucky place, I’m in a good place that I can choose. It was not always the case, of course, but when it was not the case I was protected by Eric Rohmer. But even so, I’ve made some choices that are purely to get money on the table. Basically, I choose projects not just because it’s an exciting project. And it’s certainly not because it’s going to be an award-winning project or that is going to be a very high-profile project, but I choose them for people. Really, it’s for the subject and for the person that I will be working with and the people that I will be working with. Because I think that quite early already I realized that I’m not an easy person. I mean, that in the sense that I don’t… I see quite a few friends colleagues who are much better than me in terms of getting along with people and I can’t (laugh). I’m not very good at saying things to… and if I feel that somebody doesn’t have any respect, I can’t work with that person.

Xi Feng:

‘cos it’s like an intimate relationship working with a director in a production. Mary Stephen:

And quite often I’ve said that you don’t choose an editor for… quite often that people may choose me for the wrong reasons. They may think that I have connections with certain people, with certain producers, or with certain festivals or so on, or that I speak Chinese. That is not the reason I would choose a project. And certainly not the reason that I would choose my career path. And in a way I do have a very strange career in the sense that it’s very indie, it is very respected. People wonder why I’m not on some big commercial projects or high-profile projects. But basically, I cannot work with big egos and I tend to shy away from that. And I think that I have much more satisfaction in nurturing new talent. And I like to work with first and second films. And for me, it’s much more satisfying to be working with younger people or people with whom I have a good chemistry than just choosing a project that I know will go on the Oscars list.

Xi Feng:

And I think it’s a common attitude with the French film industry that is this disregard of superficial elements in filmmaking.

Mary Stephen:
Some people might think of it this stupid.

Xi Feng: Why?

Mary Stephen:
Why did I not take this or that, or that? I suppose I’m not a… How do you say, a “careerist”.

Xi Feng:
Probably the satisfaction always comes from within like the sincerity or an authenticity we have with our-

Mary Stephen:
I think that you need that in order to give something. Oh, in any case, I do.

Xi Feng:

Yeah. Filmmaking is such an intimate way of working as well. In any creation we have to kind of pour ourselves out highly. So it could be exhausting if the energy is not right with the other party.

Mary Stephen:

I do regret some choices, (laugh) “but why didn’t I take this? Otherwise I would be up there now on the stage.” No, no, I’m just joking.

Xi Feng:
… (that’s probably why) you choose Paris…

Mary Stephen:
Yes, okay. It can be worse.

Xi Feng:

What I learned from working with you is that I realized editing is such tremendous craft that are also very subtle and mysterious. Because sometime in my early career, I was never able to ask the precise question about pacing, everything seems very large or very specific. So it goes into like one project, every project, and where every theme might be different. So it’s very hard to understand this magic. And as you said you often work alone?

Mary Stephen: Right.

Xi Feng:

It makes the process even more mysterious sometimes. So we want to know more about your concept of editing and what’s are the important points that you think about. Because sometimes with the same material, different editors obviously come out with different solutions, and different pacing. And within a few frames or a few adjustments, it could entirely change the scene.

Mary Stephen:

Yes. I see that … just trying to look sideways into the chats that there are many friends who are here and so many editors, wonderful to see from everywhere from England, from India, from everywhere. The magic, okay. It comes back to… it always like this is the third point about legitimacy. It’s interesting, because it goes back to the fact that I went to Communication Arts at Loyola in Concordia. At that time we were not a film school, we were a communication arts department. And so we had different things like photography whatever, whatever, radio, and that kind of stuff. And I chose film but it was not at all like a film school structure like today that you learn editing, you learn the three-act structure and you learn the whatever, 360, 180 rule whatever.

I never went through those. We had to make a few films and basically that’s it. And so when I was then propelled into this editor role by Eric Rohmer as an assistant editor, and then when Cecile retired, I became his editor. So I never went through that process of learning formally about editing.

Everything, well, happened because we were just putting his images together and stuff. So everything was learned intuitively. And that’s what I mean by magic, especially after the Eric Rohmer years, when I went into cutting films with indie filmmakers, some of them… especially with the first films, first and second films, you have this massive material that sometimes there’s a rough cut, but the magic is not there. And that I come in and I’m supposed to be this experienced editor and I’m supposed to make it happen.

In fact, I had always had a problem with legitimacy that I never went through that legitimate process of being the trained editor kind of thing. So the only way to deal with it is… sort of an emotional intuitive way of shutting myself with the material, looking at it, feeling it and really feeling where the magic might be. And I’m always saying that I think that there’s a Tinkerbell somewhere in the editing room and all of a sudden she would spread some of those magic dust and something would happen that I had never thought of. And sometimes today, when I look at films that I’ve edited, “How did I think of that?” Not sure that it would happen the second time. Magic really is a big point.

That is why you have to trust in your intuitions. And after that, when I started to… People asked me to start doing classes or do talks and so on, then I started to have to formulate my thoughts. And that’s when I started to think that, okay, maybe the way that I work is that I try to make a scene more surprising. I try to start it or somehow work it around so that the audience is not expecting me to cut it this way or to cut it here or so on. I mean, very recently I’ve seen, I don’t know whether he’s still here, a rough cut from a project that we are coaching right now, for Venice. We were going back and forth on this cut and then all of a sudden that I got another cut and I said to him, the director, who’s also an editor. “Wow.” I gave a little bit of advice or a little bit of suggestion and he can actually cut it on a cut point that I didn’t expect. And that’s really delightful. People like what I do also for the same thing. And I look for it to cut it a different way, to make it… the sin, I think, is when a scene is flat.

Xi Feng:
Very easy to cut a scene flat. I think-

Mary Stephen:

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with it. The rough cut by my assistant in Turkey, there’s nothing wrong with it whatsoever. It’s all the information is there, all the dramaturgy is there. But somehow I think that everybody can just keep working at a scene to find another way in, another way to make it more surprising.

Another thing that I like to do very much to install a kind of magic, to install more of a dramatic structure is prologues, in documentaries as well as fiction films. I think that when you get into a film, like me as a regular audience as well, when you have a strong opening of a film, you get hooked. And I think that the opening, it doesn’t have to be something that is completely connected with the film. It doesn’t have to be chronological. It can be something quite abstract, but as long as you get the… It’s like giving you a key to the film, but you don’t know which door it’s going to open.

Xi Feng:

I guess like with editing you can really change one character’s intention by changing the cuts, in different bits of emotion.

Mary Stephen:

The structure of the film, yes. Things like that can change… It doesn’t change the story, but it certainly changes the development of the character, which is important.

Xi Feng:
For studying intrigue, and pacing, and jump cuts.

Mary Stephen:

The thing about jump cuts is that it’s not something that is a learnable. It’s really a learning process. I mean, it’s really a process of experimenting with different… of doing it a lot, a lot, a lot and then you realize that it works or it doesn’t work and so on. I like to do jump cuts but only if it really does work. There have been many times that people have asked me how to learn to do jump cuts and there’s no way, I don’t think so. It comes to sort of we’re going to tie it in with a little bit of what I quite often say to young filmmakers or young film editors is that, “How do you train to be an editor?” Of course there are software to learn and so on, but software, nowadays you can learn “guide for dummies, how to do this, and that” or online, there’s not much to it.

Xi Feng:
You can cut a YouTube video or something.

Mary Stephen:

And I quite often say that when we come to emotional editing, when we’re trying to edit emotions, that editors we are like actors in the sense that we can only give what we know. I mean, of course you don’t have… to be able to express terror, you don’t have to experience terror yourself because there’s empathy as well. A human being has empathy and you can work on that. But I think that it is important to live a life, it’s important to experience emotions.

And so you have this reserve of emotions that you know how it feels to do this or that. And that here you might draw out more of this emotion. Everything is linked with life. I think that you cannot be just a blank page.

You have to experience pain and so on, to be able to perfect or to improve your craft. Quite often I say that also in terms of technicality, to listen to a lot of music. And I think that that helps a lot with jump cuts because it’s really rhythmic and musical. To read a lot of poetry because poetry is really the condensation of… basically, poetry is editing. You’re trying to express a lot in terms of description of a scene or communicating emotions by just a few words. I’m thinking of Chinese poetry, of course. So, that is editing really. That is storytelling in terms of editing, the ellipses and so on, it’s all in poetry.

And the third thing is going to train your visuals, your eye. Look at paintings, look at buildings, the space, how a body moves in space. Just stare outside your window and look at how a body moves through space. Somehow it will help with your editing. I think that those things are very important.

Xi Feng:

And you also work a lot with music and sound-

Mary Stephen:

I don’t even dare to play the “CHINA ME” clip because we don’t hear anything. I like to work with a very minimalist music. I think it’s quite often that I work with sound designers who are working with sounds as if it’s music, and that in documentaries I work with narration as well. I know that a lot of documentary… that there’s a lot of debate in documentaries about whether we put narration, voiceover and so on. But I think there’s a way to do it so that these words of narration, you just treat them like elements in a piece of music and you put them in places where it has to be in counterpoint with the music. The little bit of moving here, a little bit of moving there and so on.

So everything becomes a minimalist kind of a work. It’s like lacework, it’s really a lot of very detailed work. And I think that is something that perhaps today we’re not used to. I mean, it comes to the notion of a fast world. Are we talking about a fast world where being fast is synonymous of being good when you are thinking about, you know, I’m working hours on this… I moved a little bit here so that this word comes between the two beats and that kind of thing. And people would say who the hell is going to notice that? And I guarantee you that they may not know what hit them, but they notice that. They feel that, they don’t notice it but they feel it. Sometimes I read about being fast. I remember some jokes… my Turkish director who brought his rough-cut, a young editor, to Paris to see me do the next cut, who’s a very nice guy. This young guy said to his director, “Mary would never be able to work here (in Turkey) because she’s so slow.​”

Xi Feng:

A good editing do take time and now we in the industry we have a culture of like doing everything pretty super fast.

Mary Stephen:

Yes. Yes. I think that we are trained to live super fast as well. So editing is a slow process. There’s no way that you can do it fast. Especially when we think of documentary editing, it just takes years, right? I mean, I think a lot of my friends here can tell you.

And quite often it is necessary to put it aside, let it rest, and then come back to it. And the point is now, since we are living in a fast world, we’re living in a fast financial world and that the money has to be fast in everything, documentary editing, there’s never enough time. I mean, I’m always giving extra time because like I would say, okay, you have this budget, but obviously I think a lot of my documentary colleagues do the same thing, obviously before and after you have all this chunk of free time that you’re giving to the film.

What is the solution? And it comes back really now to full circle to the Eric Rohmer system. He had his own company. He made a smaller company who would be self-sufficient, who would be able to finance their own films because he has his whole crew, the closest circle, the closest friends are those who are, “We can pick up a camera and go.”

He has this circle of actors who has their friends as well. And we are willing to do that. And we can shoot minimalist films that don’t need big crews, and we don’t need to a lot of actors. So it comes back to this whole system of independence. And this is not impossible. I mean, now we are entering maybe post- pandemic or whatever.

Our world has to come back to this. And I know that there are some participants there who has an animation studio who are actually capable of making films on their own. If they don’t get the whole financial package because they have their whole structure, the structure is in place. And that’s the whole thing. I think that we have to get back to the system where the human structure is in place, because everything’s up here.

Xi Feng:

Maybe there’s too much emphasis on technology, and speed, and productivity these days, because good cinema really takes time and soul to make.

Mary Stephen:

Perhaps the last point that I wanted to make before the question is that a lot of younger filmmakers, they are quite often asking me, “Can this film go to this and that festival?” Quite often my thought is, why don’t you make a good film first. Concentrate on making a good film before the marketing bit. And that there’s this, when we were chatting the other day, we were saying that the whole system between European cinema, Asian cinema, and North American cinema, is that like North American audiences will not tolerate or will not accept a certain pace of our way in Europe to do art-house cinema, or Asian cinema.

But there’s a thing about training your audience. I always talk about certain friends that I have from Canada or elsewhere, who never in the old days, who never went to an exhibition, had nothing to do with arts and so on. And by and by, through the years they start going, they start reading. They’re going to cinema all the time, seeing art-house films that they would never have gone to see 20 years ago. So you can train audiences. I mean, we were trained. So-

Xi Feng:

Sometime I feel like in North America, and especially there is an assumption that the audience don’t know, so you have to explain a lot to them, but in European cinema normally, it’s like we assume that the audience are intelligent.

Mary Stephen:

We’ll open to the questions, I’ll just tell one funny anecdote is that when Hou Hsiao-Hsien, The Assassin came out, I was in China. I was in Hangzhou with my whole family and we are big, big Hou Hsiao-Hsien fans. So we went immediately en masse to the cinema, to the neighborhood cinema including “lao wai” (the foreigner) my daughter’s boyfriend, who’s a Western guy. We were like seven or eight people, and we wanted to go see The Assassin. And the girl at the ticket counter just looked at us and said, “No, no, you don’t. You don’t want to see this.” We said, “We do, we do, we do.” She said, “No, no, no, no, no. The Transformer is over there. It’s much better for you.” And I got really mad at her. I said, “No, no, don’t tell me what I want to see.”

And then of course we did go and see The Assassin with a whole cinema full of people who were talking on the phone saying (loudly), “I’m in the cinema now.”

Okay, shall I just read out one question?

Xi Feng:
Oh, there are-

Mary Stephen:

Oh yeah. I think that we already treated that a little bit. “Do you feel that European and Asian cinemas are similar in pace and flow?” Not necessarily. So, there’s a difference between a European cinema and Asian cinema, but both have the similarity or the advantage of being rooted in something more spiritual. I always say that not for nothing, that in France, your last year of high school, you have to pass philosophy before you can graduate from high school. That changes a man, and a woman. And in Asia there’s this whole culture on thought and Buddhist and Taoist thoughts and so on. I mean, it just changes the pace and the flow of everything.

Xi Feng:
You have a question, “How do I impress young directors or producers when they complain that you’re

slow?​”
Mary Stephen:

Well, most of the time I’m in a good place. They can’t complain, I’d say, “I quit.” Most of the time it’s a favor I’m doing them anyway. They know that if they come to me, is that they know that. And most of the times now I say ahead of time that I’m very slow. So don’t come to me if you want something fast. And I always say that it’s not a matter of trying to find the best editor for your film; it’s a marriage, it’s finding the best partner for your film. Like I said, I need to be by myself, but some editors love to do this ping pong with the directors. And that’s very enriching. With some (directors) I do this ping pong thing, but only when there is a big trust that has been installed.

Xi Feng:
“Do you have a working relationship with screenwriter?”

Mary Stephen:

Screenwriters? I don’t particularly, but in fact, in the sense that editing has a lot to do with screenwriting and quite often now that since I’m involved a lot with indie films in that… so I’m basically also involved in the production or trying to associate-produce some indie films because it’s the only way that they will come on my table, is if I find them partners who can maybe find financing and so on. And so to do that, then I found like from about 10 years ago, I started getting into the screenwriting stage because… that was (illustrated in) one of the clips that we didn’t show is “MAJORITY”… but I can put that in the bin (that I will distribute to participants). MAJORITY is that Turkish film that won the first film award, the Lion of the Future in Venice. When they came to me, actually they had a rough cut.They had the winter scenes of the boy who’s become a man, a young man. And they have 12 pages of summer scenes of the boy in his childhood. And it has to do with his father who’s a sort of fascist character and how he grew up to be just like his father.

I remember that at that time, actually it was Cameron Bailey who put me on this film because he saw the rough cut and he thought that it might be worth my while to look into it. And I became very good friends with the team and the director, actually. And they said, just before they were going to shoot the summer scenes, I looked at the winter scenes of the man, and I said, “You only need one strong scene

for the beginning as a prologue, to install the dynamics of this family, of the young boy terrified of his father, of his wife who is very submissive, of the Kurdish maid who’s like the underdog in this whole situation.”

So we installed that scene. And of course the producers were very happy because they were off two weeks of, they didn’t have to shoot for two weeks and it saved a lot of money. And so that’s the kind of thing that it has to… it’s all mixed up with screenwriting. So I do a lot of script consultancy as well.

Xi Feng:

Yeah. Sometimes the editing, I feel like the script has certain problem that goes beyond shooting and then it’s for us to solve those problems, it would be better to get earlier into the process.

Mary Stephen:

Right. Yeah. Also that’s the point, is that we can’t do miracles. If it’s not shot properly, I mean, if there’s not something there, there’s no way that we can… And one of the things that I don’t agree with and that it’s really a phenomenon of today’s filmmaking of digital filmmaking is everywhere I hear BOPA (in Chinese)…

Xi Feng:
Pickup shooting.

Mary Stephen:
… makeup shooting, right?

Xi Feng:
Pickup shooting.

Mary Stephen:

Pickup shooting. We don’t BOPA. I mean, certainly in “film” filmmaking, you don’t have the time and money to go and pick up all these things.

And now with the digital, everybody is going to do the pickup shooting so they don’t think ahead of time.

Xi Feng:
Good question relating to this point and from [inaudible 00:59:41], “How do you deal with the

phenomenon now like of overshooting too many rushes do you still watch it all?​” Mary Stephen:

No. Hi [inaudible 00:59:51]. Let’s say in documentaries, no. In fiction, yes. In fiction, in fact, I watch all the rushes in every little detail, every little expression, because there are ways to combine the different things.

In documentaries, I don’t, for the simple reason that I ask the director first to give me a selection of his/her characters and situations, and by that selection, I also get to know what he or she is censoring from me.

And I always ask them to provide me with a whole set of rushes so that by what they’re not showing me, I mean, around what they are showing me, I can figure out what they are not showing me. But no, I mean, I know that sometimes documentaries have a thousand hours. No, I don’t watch them all because the directors, usually they have even eliminated certain characters that are useless.

Xi Feng:
“Would it be, for instance, if you were working with the director, like David Fincher who shot 99 shots

for every take?​” Mary Stephen:

Obviously I’m not working with David Fincher. I do not have the time and patience to work with David Fincher. No, I mean, it’s okay. If people don’t want to work with me it’s okay. I mean, like I said, it’s just a marriage. You can find another partner.

Xi Feng:
So you will not work with someone who overshoots like in that kind of matter.

Mary Stephen:

No, no. There are certain situations where you overshoot because of certain problems. But I need to see that the filmmaker is thinking. He’s not overshooting because he doesn’t know what to do. Sometimes the overshoot is that because, especially in documentaries, there’s something valuable, something interesting that’s happening, but he or she doesn’t know that it doesn’t come into this film. And quite often I would say like with Du Haibin, it happens a lot. But let’s put it in another film, this is another film. And that we can make another film completely on this other theme.

Xi Feng:

We have a question from Xiao Xiao, “How much sound editing do you do in your editing process? Which part of the sound work do you do? And to which extent you would say, okay, I’ll leave it to the sound editor?​”

Mary Stephen:

I do a lot of sound work. In fact, I mean, I’d lay all the suggestions, sometimes a director like Eric Rohmer would go out and record every little single little bird that he hears to put here and there. But I do a lot of suggestions. And because I can’t see… like especially in North America, it’s also separated. You have the

sound editor, you have the dialogue editor, you have a music editor. I don’t see how you can edit a film, (how) you can have the vision of a film, without having a global vision of everything. Especially in sound, I use a lot of sound editing for my work and that’s quite a lot of times it propels the action, it creates an emotion, it sets the pace.

And quite oftentimes, when I say that, if you have two cuts, two scenes, two shots that don’t cut together, put a sound on the cut. I have a stock of favorite sounds. And I talk about it a lot-

Xi Feng:
I actually learned that trick from you.

Mary Stephen:

Yeah, a motorcycle in the night, especially far away. A Crow, crows are very useful, a dog… And you put it on the cut. And I guarantee you that that cut will pass.

Xi Feng:
Yeah, now it’s more demanding too for editors to do sound work.

Mary Stephen:
You have to do that. How do you know the length of the shot if you don’t do the sound work? Yeah.

Yes I do have a dream project, but it’s not an editing project. It’s the writing project or directing project. Yeah. But I don’t want to direct a feature film anymore. I mean, we didn’t talk about my filmmaking part, it’s just that having edited so many feature films for the last years, especially the last little while with the indie filmmakers, it’s just so much pain, but I would like to continue making short films. Yes.

Sherman is asking whether Eric Rohmer only used natural light for his films. No, not to only because in his last films, he was shooting in studio. So there was a lot of “real”, real lights, but quite often he did go for a naturalistic feel. Yeah, for sure.

“How do you use natural sound as an editing motivation?” Yes, definitely. A lot of sounds as natural sounds, but enhanced natural sounds. We don’t have the time to show “CHINA ME”, but we will try to see what we can do in terms of clips that are private. In terms of explaining these things that I have a very good sound designer here, an indie sound designer Pierre Carrasco. And I like his work because he would, he would… this shot of electric wires on a highway and then I hear this sound. And in fact, he’s making these electrical sounds so that when the car is driving by, you hear zzzzzz, like this kind of sound because it’s a very emotional scene and there’s a poetry going on and so on.

And then when the car is on the highway, there’s this hum of sounds and it just brings a completely different emotional soundscape.

Xi Feng:

I think we have time for a last question. “Why do you make movies? Who do you want your audience to be?”

Mary Stephen:

Who do I want my audience to be? Anyone who wants to watch. I think that should be the thought of every young filmmaker. Like what we said before, don’t go and make a film that you think will, that you need to get into Cannes or something like that. Make a film for one person. But if you can touch one person, is enough, and then you will touch 10,000.

Xi Feng:

Or do you think you should make… When we cut the film, should we think a lot about the audience or not really?

Mary Stephen:

It depends because you know, you may have an order. It might be a television documentary. Even television documentaries that I tried to push the boundary, you need to think about what the order was. Whether it’s an indie film, whether it’s for a cinema, whether it’s for Arte or whatever. Yeah you have to think about the framework, the context, and then you push the boundary. It’s like what I said about you have a scene, you can cut a scene that is classic, that is normal, that is okay. Everything is fine. And then you push the boundary.

Xi Feng:
Thank you very much. I think our time is here. Such a pleasure to talk to you as always.

Mary Stephen: See you all.

Xi Feng: See you all.

Sarah Taylor:

Thank you so much for joining us today. And a thank you goes to Mary and Xi. Special thanks goes to Jane MacRae. This episode was edited by Jason Pinosa.

The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall, additional ADR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music provided by Chad Blain. 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.

[Outtro]

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.

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Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Nagham Osman

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 Blain

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

Jaxx: A Creative House & Annex Pro/Avid

Categories
L'art du montage

Episode 005: Interview with Benjamin Duffield

Episode 005 Interview with Benjamin Duffield

Episode 5: Interview with Benjamin Duffield

In this new episode, Justin Lachance, CCE interviews Benjamin Duffield.

They will review Benjamin’s latest projects: the hit TV series C’EST COMME ÇA QUE JE T’AIME, the documentary RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD, as well as an extensive documentary project where he plays 2 roles, director and editor, and on which he worked for almost 10 years, MEGALODEMOCRAT : L’ART PUBLIC DE RAFAEL LOZANO-HEMMER.

Presented in French.

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

Credits

Podcast Host

Myriam Poirier

Moderator

Justin Lachance, CCE

Editing

Pauline Decroix

Sound recording studio

MELS Studios - Sound Department

Opening Sound Design

Jane Tattersall, adapted in french by Pauline Decroix

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

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Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 041 – Edit Chats with Ken Filewych, CCE

The Editor's Cut - Episode 041 - Edit Chats with Ken Filewych, CCE

Episode 41: Edit Chats with Ken Filewych, CCE

This episode is the online master series that took place on May 13th, 2020, Edit Chat's with Ken Filewych. CCE.

TEC_EP041_MS_Edmonton_Ken_Filewych_CCE-WEB

Ken’s diverse career has included editing Joni Mitchell’s ballet The Fiddle and the Drum, Tricia Helfer’s Walk All Over Me and the legendary band the smalls reunion tour documentary Forever Is A Long Time. He has also cut over 100 episodes of Heartland – the longest running one hour drama in Canadian history on which he is currently serving as Supervising Picture Editor.

Besides editing, Ken has directed dramatic television, commercials and live sports events.

Sarah Taylor and Ken talk about workflow and process with an emphasis on speed and why Ken thinks being fast is part of being a great editor.

This episode was sponsored by Annex Pro/Avid

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The Editor’s Cut – Episode 041 – Interview with Ken Filewych, CCE

 

Sarah Taylor:

This episode was generously sponsored by Annex Pro and Avid.

            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.

 

The CCE is pleased to present Edit Con 2021, the Fourth Annual Conference on the art of picture editing. This year it will be a two day online conference on Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21, 2021. Edit Con 2021 is presented under the theme of Shifting World, Shifting Industry. Tickets are on sale now at cceeditcon.neme.tv, that is C-C-E-E-D-I-T-C-O-N-dot-N-E-M-E-dot-T-V. Hope to see you there.

 

Today’s episode is the Online Master Series that took place on May 13, 2020. Edit chats with Ken Filewych, CCE. Ken’s diverse career has included editing Joni Mitchell’s ballet, The Fiddle in the Drum, Trisha Helfer’s, Walk All Over Me and the legendary band, The Smalls’ reunion tour documentary, Forever is a Long Time. He has also cut over 100 episodes of Heartland, the longest running one-hour drama in Canadian history on which he’s currently serving as Supervising Picture Editor. Besides editing, Ken has directed dramatic television, commercials, and live sports events.

 

Today, we talk about workflow and process with an emphasis on speed and why Ken thinks fast is part of being a great editor.

 

[show open]

Sarah Taylor:

Welcome, Ken.

Ken Filewych:

Hello, all.

Sarah Taylor:

I want to know how you first discovered editing and your journey to being the editor you are today.

Ken Filewych:

Well, first of all, thank you for asking me. It’s very nice to be asked and hello to everyone joining us. When I was in high school, my dad had some Super Eight home movies he wanted to get transferred to VHS and there was a place in town at Edmonton that if you did it yourself, it was a little cheaper, so he said, “You want to go do this?” And so I said, “Yeah, that sounds like fun.” So, I went and I found it pretty easy and the guys that worked there, the owner said, “Hey, you’re pretty good at this. Do you want to come do this and work at this facility?”

            And so, I took a summer job transferring basically home movies to VHS and it was really interesting, because I thought, “Man, it’s so cool to see just how everyone, all these similar experiences are being told and it was really, really cool.” But the place that I worked at was super shady. And I just remembered there was one Friday, they said we got to move all our gear out of here and put it in the back of this pickup truck and take this gear off this pickup truck and put it back where that was. And of course, that night, the whole place burned down, but when they reopened, they had a lot of really nice gear. And so, I realized that I’d probably been complicit in the crime and then quit.

Sarah Taylor:

Good one.

Ken Filewych:

And went to work for their competitors and their competitors had a VHS Linear Suite, and so people could rent that out and one of the things I did there was a lot of offline work on commercials. So, as I was doing my transferring of home movies, I would, I started kind of dipping my toe in that world of VHS to VHS editing. And so at that time, I actually worked that summer job through high school into university and I was in university in Economics and not doing well or enjoying it. And I thought, “Well, they were starting a film program at U of A the next year, so I transferred and I did that.

            And then after that I went to NAIT and took the radio and television program and yeah, as I was in NAIT, I started cutting news in ITV and to me, that’s when it all started to click. I just loved cutting. I love the speed of it all, but overall, I liked the pressure of it all. And originally when I went to NAIT, I wanted to be a switcher, like on sports events, a director and a switcher for live sports, but I quickly realized that those jobs, people have to die in order for you to get those jobs and-

Sarah Taylor:

Pretty much.

Ken Filewych:

It just wasn’t practical. Anyway, so that’s yeah, that’s how I’ve sort of started and I just always liked TV and film and I thought, “Well,” I didn’t realize it and really, it’s weird, I didn’t realize that you could make living doing it. It never occurred to me until I started sort of, “Oh and actually there are people that do this.” So, that’s how I got started in.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s awesome. And you started in Edmonton, which is great.

Ken Filewych:

Yes.

Sarah Taylor:

How did you then end up getting Heartland? And did you anticipate it being such a long running show going on to your 14th Season, right?

Ken Filewych:

No, I mean, I was asked to come in to interview and I had been recommended by someone and they said they’d like me to be one of their editors and they’d shot the pilot and they had edited the pilot. And they said, “Now, that we’re greenlit, we’re going to shoot some extra scenes, we want you basically to add that to the pilot and then after that, you can start cutting new shows.” And they gave me the tape, VHS, again, VHS. I’m an old man, just for those that their computers aren’t working well. I’ve been doing this a long time. And I took that tape, and I went home, and I put it in my home theater downstairs and it was… terrible. It was so bad.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, no.

Ken Filewych:

And I hit fast forward, and I hit fast forward again, and I watched it basically in four times fast forward. And I went upstairs and went to my wife, and she’s a costume designer, and I said, “If they think this is good, I can’t work on this. It’s terrible.” And she’s like, “Maybe, just, is there anything you could do with it?” And she said, “And if it’s so bad, it won’t last, right?” And so, “Yeah, that’s true.” So, 14 years later…but…

            So, I went back in and I said, “Look, like, I’ll do it, but you have to give me all the original footage,” which at that time was on DV cam, “And let me re-dig [re-digitize] it and let me open up the program and I’ll add the new scenes, but I want to be able to recut the scenes and re-explore the options and just smooth everything out.” Because again, I don’t want to disparage those that had cut it before, but it was a time and money thing. So whatever, however that turned into that, where the pilot was. And so, they said “Sure,” which I don’t know, looking back, it’s like, “I don’t know why they gave me the job really.” And then I did have another career lesson during that same meeting.

            I was waiting to talk to the showrunner, and I’m wandering the hall, and just waiting, and I hear two people in a room say, “Hey, I hear you might be coming to help us out here.” And I said, “Yeah, yeah, I might. Yeah, it looks like I’m going to be editing.” “Oh, good, good.” And they said, “Did you see the pilot?” And I said, “Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s terrible.” It’s like, “Who even talks like that.” And I’m going on…

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, no.

Ken Filewych:

And of course, they were the writers of the pilot.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, dear.

Ken Filewych:

And it’s like, so how I got that job—and then the other thing about that was Dean Bennett, who was the director of the pilot, who is a very good friend of mine now—they had asked him to come and sort of review the new cut, the scenes added. And he was really resistant to come in. I couldn’t figure out why. He didn’t want to come, didn’t want to come. And so finally he comes in to look, and I hit play, and we start watching it, and he stopped me right away. He says, “Did you recut this?” I said, “Yeah, I told him the whole story.” And he basically had a tear in his eyes and said, “I never got the chance to do my cut.” And so, he was so thrilled that we got to work on this and put it in shape.

            And so, anyway, telling that story, it’s certainly not the lesson in how to get a job or keep a job, but yeah, the fact that they hired me, I guess, so I don’t know.

Sarah Taylor:

Well, maybe there’s something to be said about like being creative and not being afraid to tell it like it is, so that you can make it better, like you didn’t go in and say, “This sucks. I don’t want to work for you.” You’re like, “I can make it better.”

Ken Filewych:

Yeah, we just kind of… I wanted to have that discussion, but some good lessons of who to talk to and know who you’re talking to when you’re actually walking down strange hallways, which I thought a good lesson for Ken to learn.

Sarah Taylor:

When to bite your tongue.

Ken Filewych:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s funny. So as I mentioned earlier, you’ve done documentaries, like lots of things, feature films, scripted television. What do you prefer to edit and what do you like best about each of those?

 

Ken Filewych:

I love documentaries. I think it’s just such an editor’s world, right? Like, the questions that come up when you’re doing them, is it balanced, even should it be balanced? Who’s telling the story? And I was thinking about the Michael Jordan doc that’s out right now. It’s a great example. I don’t think you can call that a balanced documentary since he’s an EP and he has final cut on the show, but maybe that doesn’t matter.

            But for The Smalls, I just, I liked the idea that for any documentary, like, it’s about finding that nugget that we all know. And there’s always that moment when the original idea that you started the doc with—something happens and it shifts gears. And it even matters when you’re cutting it or you’re cutting it as they’re shooting, like I was with The Smalls. Or are you cutting it after everything’s been shot, and it’s all in the can? So, for The Smalls, I have a story about that and there’s really two types of people in the world. Those who have never heard of The Smalls, and those that have and they’re like super fans and they think it’s the best band they’ve ever heard. There’s no middle ground, right?

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Ken Filewych:

And when I was in university, they were huge at the U of A. It was right around the time of SNFU and…

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. Good old days.

Ken Filewych:

… they never really took off in the east, they never really took off in the west, and so, they were known as this hardworking prairie band that didn’t seem to crack the next level. So, as you mentioned, the documentary is called, Forever is a Long Time. And their last tour was called, Goodbye Forever. And so, I loved that fact. Right there, I was like, “Well, that’s going to be…” so and I’m thinking… so I talked to Trevor Smith, the director of the project, and he says, “This is going to be great. There’s going to be a lot of drama, them getting back together.”

            I knew that when they were breaking up all those years ago, Corb Lund was leaving to go start his country career, and the incredible guitar player stopped playing guitar. He doesn’t play guitar anymore. And the lead singer is framing houses somewhere and they can’t find him. And then the real reason the band broke up was because the drummer, you know, substance abuse—the drummer shot a guy. There’s going to be drama, like mad, right? So, you start cutting it and they’re still shooting, and it just becomes this love fest. The shows are sold out. The band members are all getting along. They’re rediscovering what they had and what they love, and now they’re understanding it through different… and it’s all great for me, but it sucks for the doc, because I was hoping the drummer was going to shoot a guy again.

 

Sarah Taylor:

[Laughing] Oh.

 

Ken Filewych:

So the focus—there’s the perfect example of the documentary. It just, it absolutely changed focus and we made it instead of it about being, “Why didn’t they ever crack and become bigger?” It really was about: they were bigger than anyone ever knew, even themselves. And it was just this beautiful success story. And so, to me, that’s why docs are so fun. It’s writing the story, and we all know that. Everyone, anyone on this call knows that, but that’s why I do love them.

            And I did also like doing commercials and music videos, because there’s always that shorter timeframe and the beginning, middle and end part of it. But in the end, I just like storytelling and it doesn’t matter to me. You learn that storytelling is storytelling, no matter the length of the product, essentially.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I was really excited to see The Smalls doc. Good for you for getting to cut it. That’s awesome.

Ken Filewych:

I mean, of course, it was. No one would ever cut a documentary. No one cuts documentaries to make money or to be sane or any of that, right? I think I paid my nanny more money while I was cutting it at that time, because I probably paid to work on that project.

Sarah Taylor:

Sometimes that’s what it ends up being for sure.

Ken Filewych:

Yeah, but I loved it. I mean, I loved it so much.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, that’s great. As we mentioned, before you start directing episodes of Heartland, what was it like for you to switch gears and take you off your editor hat and put on your director hat and were there challenges there? Was it easy? Like how did that go for you?

Ken Filewych:

I was pretty fortunate to even get the chance and I’d thank Jamie Paul Rock for that and I had directed other things over the years, but I’ve never done scripted drama, and I thought, “Oh, this will be really good.”

            And I think one thing that, on Heartland in particular, is people underestimate how hard that show is to shoot. People, they see it as this quaint little family show, but anyone that’s filmed in Alberta, I think they’ve realized there’s a lot of… it’s a small market. There’s a lot of challenges just with the weather alone and even with the scenics and the sky. I’ve seen so many directors come and just get eaten alive by the filming out here. It’s just so different. Now, not all, everything’s different, but there is a there’s an aspect to that.

            So for me, I was lucky that I had sort of seen many directors with their successes and failures, kind of through the footage and I was really aware of where the stumbling blocks might be. And I had the support of the cast and the crew and so, I was lucky. I told Jamie, I figured I had one mulligan in me and then after that, they didn’t care and they would throw me under the bus. But the difference between the directing, and editing, is all those things that you say. I was so conscious of not being the director who sits down and says, “So, I’m an editor…” and all of that stuff that you all hate.

Sarah Taylor:

The worst line.

Ken Filewych:

Everything, all the lines that… and I was pretty good for the most part, but there were a couple times when I was really having trouble,  just even getting a point across. But I was also lucky that in the second and third year, for whatever reason, the editor, who did a great job, was only taking it to the director’s cut and so, I actually took over the cuts after that. So, it’s sort of like, “Okay, now I can actually put the hat back on,” and I’m working on things that I actually—but all those times that I used to talk to students and say, “Make sure you never edit your own things and all that stuff.” And it was like, “Okay, well, practice what you preach.” Kind of, right? I was really lucky, yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

With all the experience that you had as an editor, when you went into the actual directing part, did you find that was like a smooth transition for you that you… well, you knew the show because you’ve been working on the show for a while, was there anything there where you were a little nervous or you like stumbled or it just felt natural because you’ve seen it so much?

Ken Filewych:

It’s just, it’s natural. I mean, yeah, it’s all… I think I’ve always said that ADs and Editors make the best directors because what an editor lacks from maybe not being on the floor as much, an AD has all the floor experience, but then they don’t know the other side of it for the most. I think those two worlds I really find or why people… yeah, anyway, but no, it was great and of course, I was nervous, sure, but it went well, so I don’t know. Maybe I was just too dumb to realize what I was biting off.

Sarah Taylor:

No, probably not. Did you have a chance over the years like did you know all the crew and stuff? I think that’s a big thing. As an editor, I think we’re often just the mysterious person that puts the footage together, but doesn’t actually know the crew, but you were able to get a handle on that.

Ken Filewych:

Yeah, I really made a point of that. But having said that, there were a lot of– whether it was actors or other people and then, one of an early assistant actually moved from the office and became an assistant or in one of the early years and she was the super, like she knew everybody, so there were people I didn’t know and drivers and stuff. And so, it was awesome having her because people actually used to visit editing to come talk to her, which, yeah, that’s an unheard of occurrence in the dark rooms, like people were like, “Oh, this is where you guys are.” You’re not all moles.

Sarah Taylor:

[Laughing] “You have a personality.”

Ken Filewych:

Yeah, yeah, “Get away.”

Sarah Taylor:

“Don’t look at me.” Well, we could be all living our dream right now. People that are at home if that’s–

If that was who we are, yeah, right?

Ken Filewych:

That’s the joke. We’ve been self-isolating for years.

Sarah Taylor:

We’ve been practicing for it all of our life, yeah. So, those are my questions and I’m ready to open it up to our audience. Nicky says, “What is the greatest challenge you face on any given day as an editor?”

Ken Filewych:

I just like to challenge myself, so if there’s any repetitive, it’s a repetitive job, and so, I just like to always remain fresh and positive and one of my early lessons cutting news was that I met a bunch of editors and they were miserable human beings and if you come into that, sort of as, “Oh, they didn’t shoot it, and why didn’t they do this, and why and how come?” It doesn’t matter. It’s our job to make things look great without anyone ever noticing or caring about the problem. So, one of my early challenges was learning to remain positive and not get frustrated or blame other people. And to this day, what I try to do, one of my challenges is just to try something new and remain positive. And maybe discover a new way to cut a scene just to keep my mind fresh.

Sarah Taylor:

Jana says, “Was it easier to work a scene knowing how the final result needed to be from being the editor, working as a director?”

Ken Filewych:

I mean, in the end, and everyone’s joking about it, like every single person says, “Well, it’s your problem, isn’t it?” It’s like I guess if you don’t have it, you have no one to blame, but you, and so, I think that’s great, and I embraced that, and it was very funny. But I think all of us, anyone again on this call, we can close our eyes and stand there and, I stand there and I still see things as if I’m watching a monitor because that’s my frame of reference for 25 years. So, when I’m standing on location, all I have to do is just sort of concentrate, and I see everything through that “monitor” and it just happens to be in front of me, whereas–

Sarah Taylor:

That’s interesting.

Ken Filewych:

And I’ll still stand by, which doesn’t mean I’m always at the monitor. I like to stand beside the camera. But it’s funny in my mind’s eye, that’s what I’m seeing, like I’m sure other people are seeing these vast, beautiful vistas and all the rest, but I’m just in this thing that I can just like, “Oh, that’s what this is going to look like and this is how it’s going to cut,” so that’s just how my brain works.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s so cool. Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Well, the questions are coming in. This is exciting. Okay. Ann Kerr, I’m sorry if I pronounced your name wrong. “How would you recommend contacting editors or post production studios in order to do network and further get on to start in the industry?”

Ken Filewych:

Yeah, I mean, that’s the big thing. For me, it was school. I met people in the school that either I still work with today or that told me about someone that I worked with that I moved to Calgary that I worked with and eventually became friends with that, again, still work… like the networking thing, I was never very good at. I don’t like talking. I don’t like self-promotion. I don’t like any of that stuff, but I learned that that’s something you have to do and it’s really just… and it’s different now. I think, Sarah and I, you and I were talking about like I had to volunteer and cut things for award shows or things like that to kind of get my name out there. But now, there is this whole virtual environment where people can get on calls like this and meet people and that’s really the new way of getting your stuff out there.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, word of mouth feels like the biggest-

Ken Filewych:

It’s everything, because-

Sarah Taylor:

It’s how I get my work, too.

Ken Filewych:

It’s so hard to find people that can do the job and that are good people, and that you trust them, and so once those relationships are built, that’s why it’s so interesting.

Sarah Taylor:

Well, that’s why people end up on a series for 14 seasons, right? Like you build that reputation and that relationship, because that’s what it really is and you don’t want to leave your safety net sometimes?

Ken Filewych:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

So, Eric says, “You were going to talk about speed?”

Ken Filewych:

Well, why don’t I do that because this might actually answer some questions. So I told Sarah, I would like to submit my manifesto… I just want to put something on record as to why I think this is all-important and maybe it will answer questions. So, Sarah, when you asked me to do this and for me, I wasn’t sure what I could offer to the CCE because there are so many wonderful and successful editors in the association. And I have often spoken to students, but this is different, because everyone kind of here knows what they’re doing.

            But one of the things that I’ve often been told is that my assemblies are good and I’m fast. And I know that the first rule of editing club is anyone who tells you they’re fast is probably not fast. So, in my defense, that’s what other people say. And also, being fast doesn’t mean you’re any good. You have to be a good storyteller first, but for me being a great storyteller is also about being fast. And sort of here’s why.

            So if I go back to when I graduated film school, I did it as nonlinear was just coming into the world. I was working in linear suites and growing as an editor, both as nonlinear was coming in and as basically, the nonlinear tools were growing. For me, it was never lost on me that flatbed film editors were nonlinear and we had moved away from that for years, until EditDroid and Avid sort of came back. One of my big reasons for editing the way I do it is—I remember when working in a tape-based linear system, and you would often hear, in this $700-an-hour suite, “Well, I guess that’s good enough.”

            And the reason for that, of course, was as changes were made—we were making versions, and sub-masters, and copies, and we’re increasingly degrading the quality of the product, with every pass. In every edit, it seemed to me there was a point where someone would be like, “Well, the quality loss to make another change isn’t worth the change. So it’s good enough.” And I always felt guilty. I felt like that was my fault, because I’m in this room. And so for me, when that was no longer an excuse as the nonlinear stuff was really coming out, I really embraced that. And for me, the faster you could edit, the more you could explore with these new tools.

            And I’ve often talked to students and I’ve often likened it to hunt-and-peck typing. It doesn’t mean you can’t type War and Peace using two fingers, but it would take you a long time. That writing analogy, to me, was very much like the manual type writer versus, now, computer desktop word processing: linear versus nonlinear. And so, for me when that technology was coming out, it was good because I would never have to hear, “It’s good enough again.” Okay, so this is halfway through my manifesto, so bear with me two more minutes and then—

Sarah Taylor:

A minute.

Ken Filewych:

One of the other things I was thinking about when you had asked me to do this, Sarah, was I don’t get a chance to watch other editors work anymore. Earlier on in my career, I would take that chance and you’d watch—and workflows and actions are usually very similar, but sometimes it’d be like a little spark and it was like, “Whoa, that’s a good way of doing that.” And, “Oh, maybe I could incorporate that into the way I do things.” So, I guess for me, having said that, what I’ll show today is my current style of doing things. I don’t feel it’s right or wrong. I find I’m still always tweaking the way I work and adapting, but I just like making myself more efficient.

            And the other thing is, I’ve worked on pretty much every system and I always had found that teaches me new ways to work. For one thing, I’m actually cutting a feature right now in Premiere and I had never opened Premiere until two months ago. I had used After Effects a lot 25 years ago as my comp tool, but the director of the film, he knows Premiere and he wanted me to use it because after the movie is done, he wants to be able to pull sections and actually do a trailer and things like that. I decided to do it, but the dailies weren’t done correctly. I basically organized and adjusted and did all the syncing on a program that I didn’t know two months ago. And I have since apologized to my two current assistants forever being mean and about dailies are impatient. It was a good thing for me to do.

            So I guess, and the last thing I’ll say is that I didn’t realize early on, too, how much I’d have to know about computers. So, when I was getting out of school, I always just assumed that there’d be technicians and people to set up and maintain the gear. And over the years, like I’ve become a way bigger computer nerd than I ever wanted to be and I just think that being able to know what the guts of the tools are become really important as an editor because then you’re never stuck. You don’t have to wait on anybody. That led me into also doing my own VFX and stuff. So I do, do a lot of my own VFX. I do most of those on Resolve and Fusion. Fusion is how I do that.

            So, I guess for me, the quickness comes from–there’s two things. I told you, Sarah, I live by the “hit by a bus” theory. I was never this way early in my career. When a project was done, I often had many files called “new graphic,” or “new, new graphic,” or “new, new, new, new final graphic.”–

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. Guilty.

Ken Filewych:

But now, I live very clean. I have clean projects, clean timelines, clean bins, clean directories, and so that I think helps in the speed thing. And then, the other thing that I tend to do is part of my—when people say, talk about the assemblies, I personally want to make my assemblies essentially something that you could broadcast. I’m not saying I’m the only one that does this, but I take it as far as I can. It obviously means dialogue, music, sound effects mix, but it means if there’s any dialogue clarity issues, I go to the wires and find the thing. I have proper music cues, no bumps, do all those VFX temps and all that kind of stuff. Because I never want someone watching the cut for the first time—I never want to have say, “this part would be like that.” Because that’s so distracting, and someone can only view it for the first time once.

            And I want them—that first viewing to me is sacred. Because if they view it and it creates the emotion and informs the [story] problems, I think it’s only helping the process. So, I always say that, when I’m working with a director, I want to be working on the 5% or 10% of the cut that’s sort of the nuance, and the soul, and the emotion. And I don’t want to be re-cutting scenes that kind of weren’t right from the beginning. So, that is my… I actually shaved this morning. I looked like the Unabomber before this morning, so that was my Unabomber Manifesto and why I think speed is important…

Sarah Taylor:

Speed is important.

Ken Filewych:

Because in order to do all this, you need to be fast. In order to kind of get to that stage of meeting the assemblies and all the rest of it, so that’s all.

Sarah Taylor:

Okay, that’s good. Back to directing, Adrian says, “Arriving as a director to a show that has been shooting for a while, where everybody knows each other and there’s a mechanics there, were they receptive to you as a director, as the crews would be like on a standalone project, do you think?”

Ken Filewych:

Well, first off, editors are usually chameleons anyway. I think we’re bartender, counselor—we hear people’s marital problems, we hear all the stuff that goes on in here when people are traveling, and fighting—and sometimes editing is the last thing on people’s minds. So you’re actually counseling people and you’re receptive, and you have to be sensitive to people’s moods, and all these things.

 

Sarah Taylor:

Yup!

Ken Filewych:

And depending on who’s in the room, we change. If it’s just the director, we have the one-on-one. But then we’re also facilitators. If there’s a heavy-handed executive producer fighting with the director, we’re facilitating, we’re making progress. We’re making sure we make progress.

 

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Ken Filewych:

I think that’s inherent in us anyway. For me, my editing personality on the show was certainly slightly different than my directing personality. It’s just that clear. But I was very comfortable standing in the middle of the room and taking that on. And I jokingly said, with everyone too, that I’m going back to edit after this, so I can’t be too much of a jerk, because I’ve still got to work with these people for seven months. I was very fortunate people were very receptive, and only wanted to help me.  Yeah, I was very lucky.

Sarah Taylor:

James says, “Hi, Ken. Do you consider yourself a director trapped in an editor’s body?”

Ken Filewych:

No, and that’s a great question. I actually, I always, I feel like an editor. I love directing. I love doing other things, but always, editing is my blood, it is my soul. And I never felt that—but I do love directing as well. But I feel like I come at it from the mindset of an editor, and I’m proud to say that. I never was like, “I can’t wait to call myself a director because I hate being an editor.” Not at all. It’s like, “I love being an editor, and I also just like to direct.”

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. I’m not going to tell you the name of this question because you’re going to know, “Who is your favorite director you’ve ever worked with? And why is it Matt Watterworth?”

Ken Filewych:

[Laughing] Hey, Matt!

Sarah Taylor:

But his serious question is, “What do we, as the Alberta Film and Television community need to do to make ourselves a more active and competitive jurisdiction specifically for homegrown production?” This is a big question.

Ken Filewych:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

I don’t know.

Ken Filewych:

That’s a huge… I mean, look, we’re in a very difficult time across the country with what we’re dealing with, with shows being shut down. We are such a small little jurisdiction anyway. Yeah, that’s an “over-beers” question, I think, I don’t know. Yeah. I don’t have any quick answers there and-

Sarah Taylor:

That’s a whole Zoom call.

Ken Filewych:

That’s a whole other thing, but everyone fights the good fight in all different jurisdictions and that’s what we do.

Sarah Taylor:

Jason asks, the pandemic has resulted in many different challenges for the industry, what challenges do you see in the short term and long term for editors in Canada going forward? And even more specifically, in Alberta. Kind of similar…

Ken Filewych:

Well, I mean, I just don’t see us… our industry is not conducive to just being one of the first to open up, I think it’s the last to open up. I mean, the floor is all about being close to people and hair and makeup, and all the different departments walking all over each other and touching the same pieces of gear. And it’s going to change the way we serve food, it’s going to change catering, change craft service, never mind all the other stuff.

            So, I just think, there’s going to be such a slow return, I think, to what we’re doing that I think the biggest challenges is going to be waiting for enough stuff to be shot, so we can start cutting again. Unfortunately, I think that’s going to be the biggest thing. Luckily, we are a section of the production that is used to cutting essentially, either remotely or in our own worlds. So we as editors are perfectly sort of situated for that. But the front end of the industry is not. We need the content and that’s the challenge.

Sarah Taylor:

There’s been lots of really creative things happening with people coming up with creative ways to get the content. So yeah, it’s exciting and also terrifying. So, Keith says, “I use both Avid and Premiere. I prefer Premiere because I find it a bit more user friendly, but I was wondering why you think a lot of production studios are switching over to Avid?”

Ken Filewych:

I mean, Avid just because it’s legacy gear. I mean, that’s the biggest thing is that there are many editors that only know Avid still to this day. They’ve gone along for the ride the whole time and major experience editors that only know Avid, drive those decisions in the edit suite. Like I said, I’ve worked on everything and there’s so many things, I just wish I could still do a mishmash of different programs. And I’ll say like the interface on Avid, GUI, is terrible. It’s so old, even now with Ultimate, the new version. I love Avid, it looks terrible, it still does. And it bugs me every day and so, I make all my things dark and I try to make it, but yeah, like as a look, it’s not modern, but that’s okay, that’s what people are used to. But that’s why I like using Resolve and trying different things because I really enjoy just seeing how the tools are changing. Did I answer the question?

Sarah Taylor:

I think so.

Ken Filewych:

Yeah, that’s why. It’s just a lot of editors use Avid and have on big shows for all this time. And I think as younger people come in, they decide what they’re going to work with and then that little shift happens all the time in the industry, essentially, I think.

Sarah Taylor:

Totally. Fiona asks, “Do you have any advice to give a student or recent graduate aspiring to be an editor?”

Ken Filewych:

I think just with like any discipline and film, go out and do it. Find your way. The tools have never been better during the… two weeks ago, I ordered the Osmo 3 for my iPhone, so I could play around with a gimbal and 120 bucks later, it’s the most amazing thing ever. I’m doing all these time lapses out my Window and just, I still love doing stuff like that. So, shoot stuff, edit stuff, create things. Some of my favorite projects ever have been friends that we work on bigger shows together that we get some gear and shoot something on a weekend with no one telling us—and those are still some of my all-time favorite projects that I’ve ever done even at this stage, and I still do it, just to keep the creative part of my head in check.

Sarah Taylor:

It didn’t get easier after The Revenant was shot in Alberta, which lots of major Hollywood shows shoot in Alberta, but post, it doesn’t happen.

Ken Filewych:

Yeah. It’s always going to be, this is where we have a new government, we have cap issues, we have the model that we’ve been asking for, for 25 years to have a tax credit. So, I mean, anybody that’s from Alberta will know all the struggles that we’ve had. Until we get a tax credit, the industry here will never grow—and how we sort of have a tax credit, but not really. Let’s not even talk about it, and let’s hope that we all survive another day. People don’t [even] realize what’s been shot here half the time.

Sarah Taylor:

A lot of films are-

Ken Filewych:

So-

Sarah Taylor:

So many films, you’re right, right.

Ken Filewych:

Inception and Bourne. All the things that are coming in and out of here have been amazing. But anyway, let’s stay positive. It’s not a great situation, but let’s hope that we’re okay in a year.

Sarah Taylor:

On that note, let’s learn about editing.

Ken Filewych:

I’m going to talk a little bit again of just about my process, again, not right or wrong, but editing process and some of the things that I think helped me be fast and kind of quickly tell stories. So, I think one of the biggest things is… I can pretty much do almost everything with just my left hand without using the mouse. As I’m editing, I find that if I can do most of the commands with my left hand, I actually am using the mouse as a—I’m alternating sometimes. And even that physical act makes things go quicker. I do a lot of my work on the timeline. Once I’ve cut a scene, I work a ton on the timeline. I think that’s really important.

            Probably, one of the things I think is one of the most useful shortcuts is the mapping from source to the timeline. If my source is Video 1 and Audio 1 and 2, and I want to map it, what I do is I have all of my sources mapped on my keyboard so I can deselect. If I’m in my timeline, I deselect. I can choose Video 1, Audio 1, and 2, simple. But what if I want to remap to Video 2 and Audio 3, 4? Deselect Video 2, Audio 3, 4? Those are the things that you do a million times a day and—

Sarah Taylor:

Totally, yeah.

Ken Filewych:

And the shortcut of that, the rippled to insert or the delete… those are the things to me, that if you just get those maneuvers down, it’s just amazing. And I really feel the mapping—and I actually had trouble with the mapping in Premiere because it’s opposite to that. It actually looks at the source as to what it’s going to put down on the timeline. But even just on the timeline, say I want to select a clip. There’s in/out, there’s ripple/delete. Like just doing those things and that’s all left hand. It’s all stuff that just you can… I wrote down some of the shortcuts that I have mapped and again, I’m sure most everyone has these, but it’s… so the ability to change from source record to the program monitor is I think one of the most useful things, too.

            Using left hand and playing and then I drop down and now I’m playing on the timeline. So again, you’re not ever spending time at all. You need to click here, you need to click here. So those are just some of the things…. So for me, all those things like the insert, overwrite, copy/paste, insert/paste, the ability to add markers, edit markers, the extend edit, all just mapped on the keyboard. One of the other things I really love to do is for trim edits, I think live trimming is really important. So in this case, if I wanted to trim, I can deselect, choose Video 1 and go right into trim. Then using the live trim on the sequence itself, I think is incredibly useful.

            And the reason I also think that’s useful is that I find it’s a way of communicating if you have people in the room. It’s not just about hitting play and then watching the program. It’s about helping people follow what you’re actually doing. When you’re live trimming, I think, “Oh, they can kind of understand that.” We’ve all been there when we open up a bin and there’s something that shows up on the source monitor and everyone’s, “Oh, that reminds me, we got to talk about that.” And I said, “No, no. We were focused on something here.”

            Whatever you show on that program monitor, you’re communicating to those in the room. Even if someone’s talking and saying they’re having trouble getting out a thought about it, and you kind of realize what they’re talking about… what I’ll do is, I’ll often just take my playhead, and if I know this is the shot they’re talking about, I might just kind of… wander back and forth, and even do maybe a look at a shot before, a shot after, so on the program monitor that’s happening. It’s one of the ways to spark people because if you know what they’re trying to get out, and they can’t get it out, you’re helping them find that.

            This also goes to my theory of new directors versus experienced directors. I truly believe that you can tell at what stage of career a director is in by how close they’re standing to you, or the monitor, and in particular—

Sarah Taylor:

Or your keyboard.

Ken Filewych:

Or the keyboard. Okay, so John Fawcett, Bruce McDonald, Grant Harvey, they’re sitting back there. They have a script for another show open. They have their computer on. They’re responding to emails and they look up once in a while and they say, instead of saying when to cut, they say, “You know we need to build a beat there. That still isn’t synced. That doesn’t quite work for me.” I think, “is there another way to get into that? Is there? What about? What about? I don’t know? Is there just something else we can use?” And so, then that’s part of the conversation.

            New directors stand next to you, touch your screen, touch the monitor, and they can’t—you’re also working usually three frames—or three cuts ahead or behind. So, if you’re watching the monitor, we all know that what [it appears] you’re doing often isn’t what you’re actually doing. And so, there have been times when one day a director comes in and starts touching near my screen and then they come in the next day, and wouldn’t you know that my briefcase is there on a table, and I’ve barricaded myself in. It’s like, “Don’t stand—”

Sarah Taylor:

“I need my safety bubble.”

Ken Filewych:

Yeah. I think that’s the best thing about COVID is I’m going to be able to say, “Social distancing, please.”

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. “Get away from me.” No, I get it.

Ken Filewych:

So, it’s funny that… and I guess that goes to the other point of when we were talking about directing to editing. We should speak in terms of story, right? There’s a new director snapping their fingers and telling you where to cut. It has nothing to do with that cut usually. Usually that one cut is related to three other cuts and if you change that one, you’re going to need to reshape and re-time. It’s that awareness that I think as an editor you realize that’s what you’re doing. And again, to me, it also speaks to the speed thing. Where you’re just sort of going, “Okay, here’s what I have to do.” And if they’re in the room, you want to do it as quick and efficiently as possible, not to distract people.

            One thing that I use all the time, we all know how valuable real estate is on a desktop. What I like to do is in the timeline presets, what I mostly cut in when I’ve put a show together, if I’m in a stage where I’m actually looking, now I have music and all the rest, I have something called “dialogue and music.” And what does that mean? Well, it means that my one, two tracks—I’ll back up. Normally, the way I organize my timeline is Audio 1, 2, 3 and 4 are dialogue; 5, 6 are sound effects; and 7, 8, 9 and 10 are music. And, again, not a revelation, but I stick to that as much—I just stick to it.

            When I’m editing and I can see my dialogue when we’re mixing, it’s quite easy to [see], “Oh, look, there’s my key frames. There I can now duck the audio under.” Well, what if I’m on a “sound effect?” Well, I quickly have a sound effect, so it changes the size of my tracks. What if I have four tracks of dialogue and I want to do all four tracks of dialogue? So it’s, again, not everyone—I’m sure people do this, but I use this so much… because there’s nothing to me that’s less efficient than having to manually resize your tracks, right?

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Ken Filewych:

And so, I just set up, and it’s one of the first things I do. I always make sure I have music, all four. So if I’m ducking between two music on 7, 8, 9, 10, I quickly change that and now, you’re back to your normal way. I think that’s a really important one.

Sarah Taylor:

I’m primarily Premiere and I know there’s people on the call that are primarily Premiere, knowing and they’re like, “Oh, Avid, it takes 27 things, steps to do the one thing I can do in Premiere,” but if you know that you have all these different options of pre-organizing, like pre-setup. I think that’s the biggest thing is to know how to preset up your shortcuts and everything, so that you don’t have to do everything in 20 steps. It’s just yeah, clicking different things on and off.

Ken Filewych:

When I started that Premiere project, I basically opened up the keyboard and I started figuring out how to do things. I said, “Okay, so here’s how I do this.” What’s the equivalent in Premiere? And I created ways of doing it in Premiere. So, the other—what about selecting trim edits? Well, this, I’m now clicking, is very inefficient. Especially if you’re doing, “Okay, I’m going to click here…” What if you’re able to select your track, and I just select V1 and I’m on a keyboard shortcut one touch, and now I’m actually live trimming that without ever using my mouse. That’s invaluable. All those little things add up during the day.

            Another tool that I use a lot is Script Sync in Avid. Now, those of us that know Avid from years ago know that Script Sync was a really great idea, but it was never very practical because what you have to do was have an assistant go through your bins and your clips and manually add basically key frames on a text file in order to sync the video clip to where it is on the script. Every morning, I have my new scenes and I open up my script, I review every bin, I sync it to the script and now, I know, okay, now I kind of have that idea in my head of just how much I have to get done just to get the new footage cut. I find that one invaluable. I really love how it just starts my day and kind of, yeah, gets me in the mind of okay, these are, now I’ve looked at every scene, I know what the coverage is.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. Jana says this is why people work in Avid instead of Premiere.

Ken Filewych:

I’m agnostic. I’m editing agnostic. I love everything.

Sarah Taylor:

One other question someone has here is, “When you’re working on a project, do you often make separate sequences for your different scenes and then add them to the assembly or do you cut?”

Ken Filewych:

So, the way I set up my project is… on Heartland, we shoot two episodes per block like most. I have the sequences bin that contains right from my first draft all the way to my picture lock. I have a color code on each of the shows as well. My odd number shows, all the related bins are in red, and if I would open up 1306 sequences [even numbered], all the 1306 sequences are in blue, or the bins are in blue. I actually know which show I’m looking at just by looking at the bin color. And yes, I actually use sequences on my cuts. The way that I cut a scene is— I actually prioritize every little section of the scene as I’m cutting it.

Show dialogue:

Oh, look who it is Mr. Aspen Grove Beef.

Ken Filewych:

And I keep doing that.

Show dialogue:

Look, who it is, Mr. Aspen Grove Beef. Mr. Aspen Grove Beef.

Show dialogue:

I came to clear the air. I came to clear the air.

Ken Filewych:

As I’m assembling that on the sequence, I’m actually prioritizing and deciding, which one I liked more. So, the first line, okay, that’s great. If at the second take I liked it more, I put it before the other clip.

Sarah Taylor:

I get it.

Ken Filewych:

And then, after I’m done going through all my footage, I never have to go back to the source footage in a source monitor ever again… because I have this document essentially that I’ve gone through and I’ve prioritized what I think is—so if someone says, “Was there another take?” Yes. I’d go to the next one on my timeline and say, “Oh, yeah, this is the one I liked second most.” And once it’s in a timeline like this and you’ve sourced your material like this… I mean, I can cut the scene in three minutes. I can cut the whole thing in three minutes just by knocking out… and going through.

            And then the nice thing is, what if you are making a cut and you’re, “Oh, you know what? The continuity doesn’t match there.” And so, I just go to the next one and I use that one instead. And so, you have all these options just right in front of you and it is so efficient and quick to work like that and it also is a great tool when people say, “Well, what about something else?” You’re able to call it up and you can basically recall what you were thinking three weeks ago when you cut them.

Sarah Taylor:

So, what do you call this sequence when you’re organizing it?

Ken Filewych:

I actually call it “My Selects” and then I do a fine cut of it as a sequence on a separate timeline in the bin before I add it to my ongoing and ever building master timeline. The other thing, I actually do, well, I have my assistants do, is as timing is always an issue, I have a bin called “Script Timings.” And the Script Timings, I actually create a sequence, and all it is [is] titles. Based on the script timings from the last table read, I create a sequence of all of the scenes in the show with their proper timings and then I use this to—once I’ve cut a scene, I duplicate the sequence and I put my finished sequences into this and replace the title.

            The reason that’s so cool is that as you’re going, you’re actually timing your show with the new scenes I shot. The show timed out four and a half minutes heavy from the outset. So, now as I’m cutting and inevitably someone comes in and says, “Look, we got to drop a scene. How’s the show timing?” And you look, you say, “Yeah. Actually, we’re right on what we were for the script timing.” And because you know you don’t have to go and have someone time it out. So, I actually find that one incredibly helpful as well.

Sarah Taylor:

I would never have thought to do that. That’s great. Cool. Huh! I’ve taken that note for myself.

Ken Filewych:

There you go, so someone’s learning one thing. Yay!

Sarah Taylor:

One question about script sync. So, if you have multiple resets at a single take, it often chooses just the one line?

Ken Filewych:

Correct.

Sarah Taylor:

Or do you have a workaround for that?

Ken Filewych:

Well, there’s two things you can do, you can actually duplicate the clip and put it in twice. That’s also why I really—man, one slate per run is so much easier. But actually, that’s probably one of the rules I broke the most on the day when I was directing was, “Keep rolling, go again.” And I was just like, “Oh, Ken, you terrible human being.”

Sarah Taylor:

And then you’re like cursing yourself at the end.

Ken Filewych:

So, what you can do is, say this first take was run twice, you can actually set an in/out marker for the first take, select where it happens on the script, and when you drag it over, sync between first and last mark. What it’s doing is actually telling it to just sync using that first section of the clip. Then I just take the clip again, make new in/outs and drag it over a second time and tell it to sync to that. So, it’s not as elegant, but it certainly works.

Sarah Taylor:

Derek is wanting to know how you approach pacing in your edit.

Ken Filewych:

To me editing is music. It’s loud and soft, fast and slow, tension and release. That is what we’re creating. Those little moments of adding a beat before a cut… what does that mean? It means that, “Oh, someone took an extra thought.” If you jump on it, it means they didn’t have a chance to do a thought. Every one of those little techniques is about storytelling. That’s every single scene. And I would say my biggest learning as my career has gone on, is that when I first started cutting drama, I would cut a scene as a stand alone, with no thought to the greater picture. Now as I cut a scene, I’m actually thinking about the whole thing.

            I’m thinking about what comes before and what comes after. And I’m thinking, would we ever want to reveal this so early, or do we want to make a point, and point this out that someone had this thought. I’m already thinking about that when I go back to my assemblies. And it’s not conscious, but I just realized now, when I go through them, “Oh, I must have had that thought because I cut it differently than I remembered cutting.” It was purely because of, maybe, a piece of information. That all happens in the pacing of the show. How do you set up drama? Well you introduce tension and you release it. Or you quicken a pace and then slow it down? It’s all that. That is the craft.

Sarah Taylor:

What’s your process like? Do you read the script? So, you have Episode Five of Season 13, did you read the full script first? Do you read the scripts that were shot? What is your process on that side? Or do you look at the footage and read the script as you’re going?

Ken Filewych:

I tend to. I’ll definitely read the last script before production starts. I actually find the table reads informative, even though a lot of it isn’t exactly how it’s going to be. But I can start to visualize it when I go to those table reads.

Sarah Taylor:

Do you always go?

Ken Filewych:

Yep, yeah, I always go. So I’ve done my script sync and now, I have all my new scenes ready for the day. I’ll open up my first new scene and I will read the continuity notes, really with an eye only to if there is a problem. So, something in red that says, “Hair not good,” whatever those things are.  Then I cut the scene basically not looking at circle takes or even preferences. I don’t look at that. I don’t really want to know who liked what, because it should be apparent. Actually, I find it’s not my job. And it just doesn’t work that way.

            I find if you say, “this is the best take.” Well, sure, 70% of it might be, but the other 30% might be amazing, [if] you build in your emotion by using multiple takes. Once I read the script, I just cut it just from the footage. Then if you were to go back and look at my selects and look at it to the lined script, I guarantee you that 95% of it is probably what was thought of on the day as the best, and that sort of thing. But I’m certainly not guided by, “Just use this take.” I never do that.

Sarah Taylor:

So, it’s a lot of your instinct?

Ken Filewych:

100%. The best compliment you can get is someone says, “Wow, I never would have thought of that.” They’re the ones who shot it and they say, “I never would have thought of that. I just love it.” That’s when you’re like, “There, that’s doing the job.”

Sarah Taylor:

So, Nigel is asking, “I’m assuming you’re working in hours, 60-hour workweek? Do you have any tips for work-life balance and how do you manage having a family and working such long hours?”

Ken Filewych:

Oh, my God. That’s another “over-beer” one, isn’t it? No, I mean, my wife’s a costume designer and my two girls are 13 and 11. We’ve employed two nannies often. It’s a terrible industry for work-life balance. I remember sitting upstairs in the office a couple of years ago, and Bill Jansen, the Transport Captain was looking at me. And I’m like, “Bill, what are you looking at?” And he said, “I’m just trying to think if I know anybody else other than you and Jen that are Key Creatives that are still married in Alberta?”

Sarah Taylor:

Good for you.

Ken Filewych:

And so, everyone started taking up the challenge. And everyone’s like, “What about?” “No, they’re divorced.” “Okay, what about?” “No, no. They…” And then no one could think of another couple. And so, no, it’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible. I have no advice other than it’s important to somehow find it. but I don’t know what it is. We have that discussion as a couple to this day because it’s terrible. Sorry.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s okay. That’s the reality.

Ken Filewych:

I wish-

Sarah Taylor:

I’m curious, does your wife work on some of the stuff, same stuff you work on?

Ken Filewych:

No. We’ve done a few movies together and we’ve actually tried to alternate. When we can we try to do things like that. But to be honest, that hasn’t always worked out. Luckily, in editing, I would say, I’m for the most part, more flexible. Well, I am. She works 20 hours a day, seven days a week and on set. I would say I’m the one that probably ends up being a little more flexible in that, but yeah, it’s tough.

Sarah Taylor:

So, James is asking, “So, two to three hours of dailies versus nine hours of dailies. Curious as to how you would change your approach of your daily routine. Some shows have insane amounts of footage that make it difficult to keep a locked down routine.”

Ken Filewych:

Right. You know what? The dailies, the amount of dailies, doesn’t change my routine other than I do find that if I don’t get an early start on the new scenes, I find it really difficult to start. For example, say we have a production meeting for the next block that I’m going to go to, and it’s from 9:00 to 11:00. I go to that. And if I then come to do my new scenes, I find it really difficult to get in that mindset and start the day. So, I really like attacking new things early in the morning, while I’m fresh, and I leave mixing and VFX, and all those other things I might do, till later in the day. That’s my only personal preference. It doesn’t really shift the amount of the footage. You just get through it and that’s the only—

Sarah Taylor:

Use Ken’s techniques and then you’ll go faster.

Ken Filewych:

That’s right.

Sarah Taylor:

Matt’s asking if you can go into more detail on how you file, your file naming, and folder structure.

Ken Filewych:

For me, a folder structure is—I have a “new bin scene” that the assistants put in. So even while I’m cutting in the morning, if I only have one bin of it, or one scene available, as I’m cutting that scene, the new bins of new scenes are actually being added as I cut, pretty standard. I have a “completed scenes” folder. In order to get my head around what I’ve done, and what I need to do, I just keep dragging and dropping in there. It feels like an accomplishment every time you put something else in there.

            I do have favorite bins that travel from block to block. In those favorite bins, I keep things like “resizing,” and “titles.” I keep a bunch of templates, so that as I’m cutting, I never have to open up “effects.” I just drag and drop 100% blow-up, and then open it up, and then do the change. I find those really helpful, too. If you have a bunch of pre-built effects that you can just drag and drop at any time.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. What’s your solution to the export reel, “final, final, final version 3.mov” file name problem?

Ken Filewych:

I just make sure at the root… say if I can’t find a sound effect, and I’m like, “You know what, Jerry? Can you find this for me? It’s probably something we’re going to have to download.” We have sound effects folders that we put raw materials in. It goes in there no matter if it’s new or old. Then when we import it, what he might say, “I opened up your Scene 32 and your sound effect is in Scene 32 because that’s where it goes, and it’s called Motorcycle Drives By.”

            So, we just never put a new bin, a new file. We don’t name it that way. It’s named what it’s always going to be named and it goes in the same spot every time. You can tell my old man, that’s the one thing that—

Sarah Taylor:

Like, “This is how we do it.”

Ken Filewych:

It’s like the only thing that I’m particular about. I’m a very easygoing editor, but that is one thing that it’s just what I asked that’s like, “You know what? It makes me happy.” And I want to be able to always just not have to search for them.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, for sure. Jana is asking, “Do you do the color correction for your edits or is it more for a reference to the show, like for your first cut?”

Ken Filewych:

I’ll color correct—and that’s a good question, because they’re dailies—but one thing on this, on Heartland in particular, we really take our dailies far, too, because we want it to be less work as we all have time constraints. We really wanted a good flow there, so yeah, I’ll just color correct and throw it in. But when I send it to Technicolor, when they conform, I just send them the log Cs basically with the effects, with no color on it. So, I end up having two versions on my system.

Sarah Taylor:

So, what made you decide to use Resolve and Fusion as opposed to After Effects?

Ken Filewych:

That’s a good question. I don’t know why I originally did that. I just really enjoyed the nodes. I was using Resolve earlier even before Fusion was part of it. I thought the motion tracking was really good. And I’m sure After Effects is too. And I’ve used After Effects even since then. I just for some reason ended up in Fusion, but no particular…. I just like the look of the program. To me, it just looks like a modern piece of gear.

Sarah Taylor:

And Jana says, “And that’s how you are on this show for 14 Seasons. True storyteller soldier.”

Ken Filewych:

Exactly, hey.

Sarah Taylor:

Jana is asking, “Do you edit on Resolve, too or do you just use Color and Fusion?”

Ken Filewych:

I’ve edited some short films on Resolve. Originally, when I was asked to do the movie I’m doing now, I actually wanted to do it in Resolve. The problem is, it doesn’t talk well to others with [in terms of] audio. So, it’s an amazing dailies creation tool. People, please email me if you have discover something that I haven’t. But for the most part, as far as I understand, most people will still sync on other programs, and throw it into Resolve to export their dailies. And the reason is, the minute you sync, it has a great sync tool, the minute you sync video to audio in Resolve, the audio metadata takes on the metadata of the video clip. And so, when you export your sort of “all maps,” and after the fact, the metadata from the audio files no longer exists.

            So, that’s been my experience. I don’t know if someone has figured out a way because I’d love to cut in Resolve, different things. When I’ve done short films, I’ve done it in Resolve to keep it compact and very efficient for someone that say, if they have Resolve, you have color correction, whoever, but then the audio is always a bit of an issue and figuring out a way to round trip that.

Sarah Taylor:

Eric says, “You’re very versatile. Very impressive.”

Ken Filewych:

I think that’s the Calgary, the Alberta guy in me, just be I’ve had to be, right? To kind of-

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah. Small market.

Ken Filewych:

Small market. You kind of going to do a lot of different things and-

Sarah Taylor:

Matt is asking, “I’m curious about how a new producer might best approach you about working together? What should you have prepared? What questions should you be prepared to answer? And where should the script ideally be before being approached if somebody was going to approach you?”

Ken Filewych:

Well, I always, I’m perfectly willing to talk to people about anything. I’ve always hired a ton of practicum students over the years. As far as projects go, yeah, anybody emails me and we just sit down and have a coffee and talk about stuff. And yeah, I love the early talks about how, what’s being shot, where it’s shot, how we’re shooting it? I kind of love that discovery of helping the technology kind of solve problems and yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Solve problems before they happen, because you know that they will?

Ken Filewych:

Before they happen, yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Taylor:

Any advice for working with actors as a director?

Ken Filewych:

Again, that’s the chameleon in us, editors. I never judge an actor from what I’ve heard, either. Because you hear about certain actors and then you go meet them and maybe you just jive with them. And they never glance sideways at you once. Then an actor that you heard is wonderful to work with is actually terrible to you or something like that. You have to read the room and you read those people and you decide when you have to be firm. Luckily, on Heartland when I’m directing, I know a lot of these guys as what I would call friends now, too. But they all need to be handled differently, right?

            Some people [are like], “Tell me where to stand. I don’t need to talk about my motivation, just tell me what you want to see.” And others will get you in the van on the way to lunch and talk your ear off for 45 minutes, talking about how to open the door properly, right? The biggest thing is actors are almost, to a person, insecure. It’s not surprising because they’re putting everything out there. I couldn’t do it. When those tantrums occur and mic packs are thrown, or whatever happens, it’s usually out of… it’s just like my kids. “Why are you acting that way? Because you’re scared about school tomorrow. Oh, I see. So, that’s why you called me the worst dad in the world. Got it.”

            Being a dad was the best training for directing. Getting that sixth sense about what’s actually bothering someone, and that’s like editing. When someone in the room is going, “God, that cut is the most terrible cut ever, and blah, blah, blah.” And it’s like, “Okay. Well, I don’t think they’re talking about the cut.” That’s a bad example. No one says that, but when someone’s struggling with something, and then you go, “Is it because of this thing over here?” And it’s like, “Oh, you’re right. That is what’s bothering me.” And then you’re, “Oh, okay.” So, you know what? You just have to be perceptive and figure out where that problem actually lies.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, totally. Do you have a favorite mouse for editing? You don’t like using your mouse very often.

Ken Filewych:

Right now I have a Kensington trackball. I’ll change it up once in a while just to kind of get the claw different. I do have Intuos, a Stylus, and a pad as well. I’ve never been able to edit with that, although I see people doing it. I do use that for some of my paintings, sometimes, just to change it up, and just to do something different.

Sarah Taylor:

Any other like organizational software or anything like that, that you use to make your life better?

Ken Filewych:

I like to use drive cataloguing software because I like to know what’s on my drives. Because I’ve had to offload certain things after this show. I have every shot piece of daily accessible to me, except the first season. I have every audio music. I have every music cue ever written for the show at my instant disposal.

Sarah Taylor:

Cool.

Ken Filewych:

I have every broadcast master. I have every sound effects, dialogue, and music stem ever written. It’s all accessible at the touch of a button for me. The few times I’ve had to offload things, I like to keep some drive management software, just simple text reading, so that we can actually do a search.

Sarah Taylor:

Is there often like in Heartland, is there lots of like flashbacks or is that a thing that you often have to do and find? Yeah.

Ken Filewych:

More for recaps, maybe a new storyline comes in again, reference some, so we are able to throw that in a recap or something like that.

Sarah Taylor:

Awesome.

Ken Filewych:

Well, thank you everyone for sticking it out and thank you, Sarah, for asking me to and I hope people found it useful or something.

Sarah Taylor:

You have given us lots of great insight, myself now, I feel like maybe I’ll dig into the Avid and give it another try. Just kidding. No, it’s been great. I think that I look forward to you teaching a live class one day in Edmonton, so I can go and learn even more, so I’m putting it out there. There’s always something to learn. It’s great. I love hearing from editors and picking brains and seeing how everybody’s brains work, so this has been a joy. So, thank you, Ken.

Ken Filewych:

Well, thank you guys very much, and thank you, Sarah for asking. And I hope everyone is staying safe and I hope the work just flows in when it starts up again and everyone’s working and happy and healthy.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, yeah. Awesome. Okay, well, take care everybody and we will all see you soon.

            Thank you so much for joining us today and a big thank you goes to Ken for taking the time to sit with us. Special thanks goes to Jane MacRae and Alison Dowler. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall. Additional ADR recording by Andrea Rush. Original Music provided by Chad Lang. This episode was mixed and mastered by Tony Babb.

            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.

 

[Outtro]

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.

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Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Malcolm Taylor

Hosted, Produced and Edited 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

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Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 040: Interview with Liza Cardinale, ACE

The Editors Cut - Episode 040 - Interview with Liza Cardinale, ACE

Episode 040: Interview with Liza Cardinale, ACE

Today's episode is an interview with Liza Cardinale, ACE.

Liza Cardinale, ACE is a television editor based in Los Angeles, CA. Her work spans many genres from comedy to fantasy and often features stories with complex female characters. Some of her credits include Outlander, Dead To Me which earned her an Eddie nomination, and the upcoming dramedy On The Verge. We chat about Liza’s editing journey from New York to LA and what life is like during the pandemic.

The Editors Cut - Episode 040 - Interview with Liza Cardinale, ACE

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The Editor’s Cut – Episode 040 – Interview with Liza Cardinale

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.

Sarah Taylor:

Before we begin today’s episode, I have a message from the Vancouver short Film Festival. The Vancouver Short Film festival is committed to celebrating the vibrant community of short film, video, and animation artists in British Columbia. Watching together while staying apart, this year, VSFF will take place January 22nd to 24th, 2021 in an online format. Visit vsff.com for more information.

Sarah Taylor:

Today, I bring to you an interview with Liza Cardinale, ACE. Liza is a television editor based in Los Angeles, California. Her work spans many genres, from comedy to fantasy, and often features stories with complex female characters. Some of her credits include Outlander, Dead to Me, which earned her an Eddie nomination, and the upcoming dramedy, On the Verge. We chat about Liza’s editing journey from New York to LA and what life is like during the pandemic. I hope you enjoy getting to know Liza as much as I did.

 

[show open]

Sarah Taylor:

Liza, thank you so much for joining me today on The Editor’s Cut. I’m really excited to sit down and pick your brain about all things editing.

Liza Cardinale:

Sure. My pleasure to be here.

Sarah Taylor:

Excellent. Where I like to start is, where are you from and what led you to the world of editing?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, I grew up in the Bay Area, which is around San Francisco in California. I think it all began because I was a latchkey kid, which in generation X, where the people who like I had a single mom who was working, so a lot of times I’d get home and I would just watch TV. That was part of my routine. So, I watched a lot of shows like Three’s Company and Laverne & Shirley, and I mean, tons of really fun eighties sitcoms.

Sarah Taylor:

Excellent.

Liza Cardinale:

If they weren’t appropriate for children, a lot of things were definitely going over my head, but I think I just got caught with the bug of entertainment really young because of that. Because that was like my friend, my companion, my TV, my joy, my entertainment, so much fun. Then my dad, he moved to LA to become a writer on Family Ties, because he was never a writer when I was a kid. He was an accountant and then he built houses.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s a big shift. That’s awesome.

Liza Cardinale:

Huge shift, yeah. The way he kept changing careers, I think showed me that wow, anything’s possible. When you’re a grownup, you don’t have to settle into one thing. You should always follow your passion. His really good friend from growing up was Gary David Goldberg, who had created Family Ties and really hit it big as a writer, but they were just little scrappy kids running around Brooklyn in the ’50s. But Gary really wanted his friends to join him in his success, so he taught them how to write from afar. I just remember my dad writing all these spec scripts of cheers and whatnot.

Liza Cardinale:

I would read them, and he would say, “Read this script and put a red check mark by anything that’s funny.”

Sarah Taylor:

That’s awesome.

Liza Cardinale:

To make sure that the humor was coming across. I’d say that, that was my early training, was in reading. Reading his scripts and seeing him evolve as a writer. He still writes to this day. You cannot get this guy to stop writing. He loves it. No one’s paying him for it, but he loves it. That’s something you can do forever. That was a happy thing. Then when I would visit him in LA, I could sometimes visit the set of Family Ties because they had a live audience, so that was super exciting to me, as like an awkward tween from suburban Marin County, where nothing exciting was really going on.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, that’s awesome.

Liza Cardinale:

Getting that peek behind the curtain made a big difference. Sadly, I never got to work with Gary, or even talk to him really, professionally, because by the time I had a strong career, he had already retired and sadly he’s passed away now. But interestingly, sidebar, he is one of the main reasons that Liz Feldman became a showrunner and a writer. She’s the showrunner of Dead to Me. She also grew up in Brooklyn, like my father did, like Gary, and she said that, when she was a kid, she was in her parent’s chiropractor office, and they got all the magazines for the clients to read in the waiting room.

Liza Cardinale:

She read People Magazine. They had a huge profile on Gary David Goldberg, the showrunner of Family Ties, and he was talking about his life story growing up in Brooklyn. Liz said that that was her light bulb moment, where she’s like, that’s what I want to do.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s amazing.

Liza Cardinale:

She didn’t know showrunners existed, but the fact that he came from Brooklyn and he ascended to those heights showed her that she could. So, it’s been cool. Sometimes Liz and I talk Brooklyn stuff.

Sarah Taylor:

What a wild connection that, that ended up being. How cool is that?

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. The last time my dad visited me, I took a picture of him, because I gave him like a Dead to Me hat or something with a baseball cap. She said, “Oh, it looks like your dad and my dad should be friends,” and then she sent me a picture of him, and they’re like the exact same type of cute Brooklyn dude. I don’t know how to explain them [crosstalk 00:06:01].

Sarah Taylor:

Dude from Brooklyn.

Liza Cardinale:

Adorable. Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, that’s fantastic. So, your dad was a big influence on you for even just storytelling, getting into that world, knowing that, that’s a possibility. How did you end up then … Did you just decide to go to film school? What was your next step knowing that you wanted to do that too?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, I didn’t know much about it, and my dad didn’t know much about behind the scenes people, so I just thought there are directors, there are writers, and there are actors. That’s about the extent of what I knew about filmmaking. I thought, I know I don’t want to be in front of a camera. I could be into writing, but I think I should direct. I think I want to be a director. That was initially what got me into really studying different directors’ work. I would rent all their movies and go down the rabbit hole of Hitchcock or John Waters. I got really obsessed with them, and David Lynch. I liked the weird stuff.

Liza Cardinale:

I still like weird stuff. I went to UC Berkeley and it didn’t really have a film department. I was doing like theater. I was just sort of dabbling at that point in various art forms, but I made some films instead of writing papers because I was lazy about writing papers sometimes. The teachers would accept that, even though there was no production department, so I just had to make my own movies and use my own camera. Then they had one VHS tape to tape kind of editing system, so I got in there. You could not tear me out of that room. I just wanted to stay for hours and hours, and the sun went down and the time flew by.

Sarah Taylor:

It sounds very familiar.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah, that’s a very common early editor story. You get in there, you’re like, I’ve never done this before, but I can’t stop. [crosstalk 00:07:45].

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. It’s been … What? 12 hours just passed? What? Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. It was so rewarding. That’s when I realized that this is my happy place. I don’t really want to be in charge of everything, and I definitely don’t want to get up at five in the morning every day and run to set. I think this is a much better fit.

Sarah Taylor:

Then what led you to your first job? How did you get your first job in the industry, or even learn the craft?

Liza Cardinale:

I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was doing random jobs. I went to New York thinking I wanted to move to New York, so I was pretty much homeless at that point. I was just like subletting an apartment. September 11th happened the day after I arrived in New York City, and that completely shut the city down. So, any like job hunting, house hunting, Mary Tyler Moore fantasies I was having of taking over Manhattan, that definitely was halted in its tracks. Instead, I just had the experience of being there for that.

Liza Cardinale:

One of my best friends in the city was an assistant editor. I knew I liked editing. I still hadn’t committed to that as a craft, but she let me come to work with her every day because I had nothing to do and nowhere to go, and the city was kind of shut down. She was working in Nyack on a Jonathan Demme movie called The Truth About Charlie. She was an old school film assistant that doesn’t really exist anymore where she was conforming the print. But the main editor, Carol Littleton was working on an Avid, and she had one assistant who was working on an Avid.

Liza Cardinale:

I’d sometimes sit behind that one. Her name’s Suzanne Spangler, she’s an editor now. She would just to look over her shoulder and be like, “So, here’s what I’m doing. Here’s how you get the dailies, you get the bin, you get the ALE file. I just like accidentally shadowed some really great, top tier professional editors. Then went to a trade school right after that. I went to a school that just taught editing in Portland, like an Avid certified whatever kind of place. Somebody I met there … I was still homeless at this point, by the way, because I moved from New York to Portland.

Liza Cardinale:

That school, they get a director to bring footage in to let the students play with it. The director was named Billy Logue, and he said, “Why don’t you move to LA after this is done and recut my movie. I want you to cut the whole thing. I can’t really pay you, but I’ll get you a job at the Playboy channel.” Which is where he worked.

Sarah Taylor:

Interesting. Yeah.

Liza Cardinale:

But I’d said, “Sure.” It’s very open at that point, and then what’s the next door that’s opening I’m going to walk through it? I moved into my dad’s garage, where I had a little twin size bed and got to work night shift assistant editor. My first job, I just learned from the people. I learned the Avid, but I had no idea about workflow and scripts and all the things, outputs that I had to do, but people are so friendly. They taught me everything I needed to know, the other assistant editors.

Sarah Taylor:

Then that led you to assistant editing, right?

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. I assistant edited for a very long time. It felt like an eternity.

Sarah Taylor:

Did it feel like an eternity because you felt like you’re trying to get to the next step and it just wasn’t happening, or how did it work for you to get from assistant to now then be like, okay, I don’t want to be labeled that anymore, I want to be the editor?

Liza Cardinale:

That was a very tough leap. I think it might be a bit easier for ladies now because people are so hungry to find lady editors. But I did notice in my time, which is not that many years ago, that all my male counterparts had been promoted long before I was. I don’t think it was because I had less skills. I just think people just tended to trust guys more. The way it’s changing, it’s great. For me, I met this editor named Jonathan Schwartz on the Big C.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s such a great show.

Liza Cardinale:

Oh yeah, it was a great show. I loved it so much so I always made sure I went back to it. I couldn’t make the last season, but I did three seasons of it. We would kind of share … It was a weird setup, so I think I had to assist a few different editors and they’d shuffle us around. I just really liked John. I had been working on The Walking Dead, but it was giving me so many nightmares.

Sarah Taylor:

Can’t even imagine.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah, it was pretty gross to work on that. It was with a good friend of mine. I was assisting someone from college actually, from UC Berkeley. Lovely guy, but I just called him and I said, I don’t think it’s a good fit for me. I’m dreaming about putting axes in zombies heads and blood spurting is just really not my style. I told John, “John, I like you. I like assisting you. Wherever you go next, you can have me if you want me.” He said, “Oh, okay. You’re not going back to The Walking Dead. Okay.” He took me to a show called The Neighbors for ABC, which was a sitcom.

Liza Cardinale:

He really wanted to cut features, so he didn’t want to stay there for very long. He did stay the whole first season, but then the second season, he decided to leave to do a feature that he recommended that they promote me instead of finding an outside editor.

Sarah Taylor:

That was great.

Liza Cardinale:

So, I was very lucky to have that assist. Then the showrunner, Dan Fogelman, knew me, trusted me. I had cut some stuff for him, so he went to bat for me. I think that the hard thing is that you need somebody in a position of great power to go to bat for you with the studio because they don’t want to risk it.

Sarah Taylor:

Was that your first sitcom? You watched the sitcoms as a young kid in the ’80s, and then now you’re cutting a sitcom. Were you like, “Wow, I’m here.”

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. It wasn’t the kind of sitcom that those were. There was no live audience or anything, but it had that sensibility. I think, because it was very wholesome and sweet and family based. As my dad would tell me, you always have to end with a quiet scene between two people. You have to get to this intimate, true heartwarming moment at the end, and I pretty much followed that formula. It did feel pretty good. It was definitely weird too, but it got canceled. But still, it was such a great first job because I knew everybody on the crew. I even knew the actors because they shot right there and I had so much support.

Liza Cardinale:

My first day, I had people coming into my room saying, “Liza, we’re so happy for you. You’re going to do great. Congratulations.” Because they knew it was such a big deal too. I felt like, oh, I’m so supported. I don’t have to prove myself. I still do, but I don’t have to do it in a unfriendly environment.

Sarah Taylor:

Exactly. That makes all the difference.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

You ended up being the one of main editors of Outlander, which is a huge series that has a huge following. People love it. I giggled when I heard that your first job was with Playboy and you’re working on Outlander, which some people say is soft core for women. I was like, that’s fun.

Liza Cardinale:

Definitely is. Yes, there’s enough soft core for men. It’s time to make some for women. I fully support that.

Sarah Taylor:

Yes, amen. I think that is great. Getting onto Outlander, did you read the books? Were you interested in that series before you got onto it? What was the story of Outlander, and when you started working on it, did you have a feeling that it was going to become this big?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, I knew it was a huge romance, novel community. I knew it was huge in that community as a book series, so I suspected. Just like Game of Thrones, that whenever you have multi-million human beings already in love with these characters and waiting for it, I figured it would be pretty big, especially once the casting was good, because that’s where I guess it could have sunk if people didn’t love their Jamie because they love their Jamie so much. That would have been like a personal affront. I love that it has such a big fan base because I like to read their comments on episodes that I’ve done and see on Facebook.

Liza Cardinale:

I just love to know that it’s connecting with people and to see which are the moments that they really connect to, what makes them cry, what disappoints them too, I’m curious about, which is usually any time it diverts from the book, which is like the Bible.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, no kidding.

Liza Cardinale:

Even before I had my interview for that show, I read the entire first book, which was hard to get through all of it really fast, but I didn’t really know about it before. I got the audio book, I would read it, I would get it in my car whenever I was driving through Los Angeles. It was really fresh in my mind when I talked to Merrill, who was an executive producer and she was in Scotland. She was like calling me from the set to interview me.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, so cool.

Liza Cardinale:

The crazy time zone difference. But I could just talk about the characters in the story and that was basically the interview. It was so easy to latch onto that, especially in that first book. It’s so exciting because it’s the falling in love and the time travel. Yeah, all the hot steaminess of it. I’m someone who’s been to a lot of conventions like Comic-Con or KublaCon, various kind of nerdy things. I just like that environment. Super fans are not new to me. That’s a very comfortable crowd. I remember when it premiered and I went to the … A lot of us went down to Comic-Con for the premiere, and they had it in a big movie theater. Bear McCreary, the composer debuted the Jamie and Claire theme music live on stage.

Sarah Taylor:

Amazing.

Liza Cardinale:

Then they played the first episode of cut outs and all these ladies in the audience just screaming, screaming throughout. It was really fun. It’s so fun as a TV editor to get to see things in the theater anyway, because usually you have such a distance from your audience.

Sarah Taylor:

That must’ve been really interesting, you’re getting feedback from your audience all the time. As you went forward to the second season, to the next seasons, were you taking some of that knowing how the audience was reacting to things? Were you thinking about that in the edit, or were you just still doing your thing going with your instinct?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, I would always read the book before the season started for me. That was mainly because I could see how important accuracy was to the fans. I had to just become a fan of the books myself in order to deliver that, so it’s very clear in the books what are big moments and what a character is supposed to be like. Sometimes that changes based on casting and stuff, but I could tell … I could just see what were the important moments that needed to land and needed to be really emotional and heartfelt, so then I made sure I gave them a lot of extra time in the edit. I spent a whole day, and this is not even actually something from the book.

Liza Cardinale:

This is a bad example, but I spent at least a full day on a one minute scene where Jamie goes into a blacksmith place, and Murtagh’s there, and he doesn’t know Murtagh’s there. They’re seeing each other for the first time in years, but I understand how important that relationship is and how huge that moment needed to be an epic reveal moment. I spend the time by trying it a hundred different ways until I find the best one.

Sarah Taylor:

It might not have been in the book, but you knew those characters and you knew how important those moments were for the audience, which I think probably made a huge impact for the people watching that [crosstalk 00:20:02].

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. A later episode in that season, I also got to cut the scene where Jamie sees Brianna for the first time, because she traveled back in time to find him. That also was a very tough scene, and I spent days and days on it trying a hundred different pieces of music and different close-ups, different timing, who, what. In the end, it got to a place where everybody would cry when they watched it.

Sarah Taylor:

Because you’re like, I win. I did it.

Liza Cardinale:

I did it.

Sarah Taylor:

When you’re in those moments where you’re going and you’re auditioning all these different takes or you’re playing with the different music, are you bringing, in your workflow, do you bring somebody else in to watch your edits with you or do you watch it on a different screen? How do you navigate that world when you’re trying to see if a scene is working?

Liza Cardinale:

I usually don’t bring anyone in. I think, because I’m the hardest to please person that I know. If I can please myself, I kind of assume that other people will like it, which may be a weird thing to say, but sometimes I’ll play it later, or I’ll let my assistant, of course, watch it when they need to do some sound work on it or something. That’s usually my first audience I’d say. I love when assistant tells me if the scene is working for them or not. I really respect their opinion. But yeah, I usually don’t like get a crowd in or anything. I sometimes sit back, I try to watch it without touching the keyboard, but I usually fail.

Sarah Taylor:

It’s really hard. I’ve tried that too. I’m like, maybe if I watch it on my TV where it’s not in my editing, but I still haven’t tried it.

Liza Cardinale:

Well, this is advice that Michael Ruscio, another ACE member, he told me that it was really important to take it home and to watch it on your TV, especially when you’re talking about a full episode, because that’s the only way you cannot touch it. It’s the only way you can get in the head of an actual audience member.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, for sure.

Liza Cardinale:

I still have not done that though. I don’t know why. I don’t have the patience to do it that way.

Sarah Taylor:

I know. I feel very much the same, but I think it’s great advice. We just need to take it.

Liza Cardinale:

It’s great advice. I’m just such an obsessive changer. I’m just such a noodler.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. That sounds very similar to my style. Were there any challenges that came with Outlander, you jumping between time? It sounds like it could be very complicated. Did you run across any challenges in the edit?

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. Well, I’d say the most challenging thing sometimes was the camera work, because it was a tough … We were in this weird gray zone where they wanted to be beautiful, but not very composed, like a typical period piece would be. They wanted it to feel real and grounded. That’s what was special and unique about the show. Sometimes when you have a handheld camera that’s moving around and shifting focus, and there’s a lot of times when it’s just ugly unusable stuff, because cameras, then sometimes they miss the moment that I really, really wanted.

Liza Cardinale:

That’s a challenge that I’d say is not my favorite challenge to deal with, but I just worked hard to preserve the beauty as best I could. Sometimes I’d have to stabilize shots that were a little too loosey goosey. The other challenge would be that the showrunner, at the time when I worked there, was Ron Moore, Ronald D. Moore. He likes to rewrite in the edit. Not all showrunners do that, for sure, but he is definitely the type. He’s not restricted by what he’s seeing on the screen. He’s like, Oh, let’s just change the entire theme and vibe of this theme.” Or like, let’s end it here, or take the whole middle out.

Liza Cardinale:

He’s very outside the box thinker, which is great. I find it really exciting to work for people like that, but sometimes it feels like, what? You want me to do what? That’s not at all what they shot, that’s not at all what was written, that’s not how it was played. But there’s actually a ton you can do in the edit when you have to. It was a great learning experience. For example, there’s a scene in season one, episode five, which was my very first episode that I cut, where she’s going on the road in Scotland. It’s a love letter to Scotland episode.

Liza Cardinale:

It shows the world beyond just her, and she’s starting to connect with these people almost against her better judgment. She’s just starting to like them and feel like part of the part of the crowd. They were supposed to be on the road for like months and months, but it felt like it was three days because I don’t know, it was just a failure of the script or whatever. It didn’t come through that there was time passing. Ron said, “I need to feel the passage of time. Let’s just make a montage somewhere in the middle there and we’ll add some video.” Then he said, “Okay, make a montage out of footage. Shop for other scenes.” I had to dig through now, luckily there were some things that I hadn’t used at other campsites or whatever, so I could pretend like it was … This is a whole new campsite.

Liza Cardinale:

This is a whole different … This is the same river, but I’m going to flop the shot and pretend that’s a different river. The view certainly helped, but I think people completely bought it that this was a legitimately planned time passage montage. It helps that everybody’s wearing the same clothing. From episode to episode, they’re just never changing their clothing because to be like time period realistic.

Sarah Taylor:

Exactly.

Liza Cardinale:

You can really steal stuff. You could steal stuff from anywhere. I could steal things sometimes I’d have to steal from other episodes to make a montage. Because this is not the only time I had to do that. I had to do that probably every season, make up a montage that wasn’t there.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. Yep, that sounds like a challenge, but great that there’s the opportunity that you have those extra elements that you can just harvest from, right?

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah, and that was nice about being there for so long, so I was there for the first four seasons, so I had a pretty good baseline knowledge of …

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. You can remember what came from before or whatever. That’s cool.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

Do you have a highlight from Outlander?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, my favorite episode was definitely the witch trial episode, which was season one, episode 11, and I loved it because it was when Claire confesses to Jamie she’s a time traveler. I knew that also from the book was a huge, huge, huge, huge deal. There was so much anticipation leading up to that moment. It felt … Yeah, I liked being able to cut that. Then I loved the friendship with Geillis, and the craziness of the witch trial and everyone’s shouting. It was just such a visceral episode that went so many places. From beginning to end, you really feel like you’ve been through something. It’s an experience. Yeah, I loved getting to be that.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s awesome. Are there types of scenes that you prefer to edit? Do you like editing elaborate scenes with lots of people? What is your ideal scene to cut that you’re like, “Yes, I can’t wait to cut the scene?”

Liza Cardinale:

Well, I don’t love cutting scenes with lots of people in them because they’re so hard. They’re so hard. I love any scene that has emotional undercurrents going on, like falling in love is my favorite kind of scene to cut, I guess, building up to kisses, or good friendship, or intimacy when something feels really real and connected. That’s my favorite. Then hopefully the performances are good.

Sarah Taylor:

I feel like you’ve got to do a lot of that in your work on Dead to Me, there’s a lot of those kinds of moments.

Liza Cardinale:

Yes.

Sarah Taylor:

You’ve worked a lot on a lot of Netflix series as of late, Dead to Me being one, and Insatiable, which I loved. I thought that was a great series. Then Teenage Bounty Hunters, which I sadly heard was not renewed.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah, that really surprised me.

Sarah Taylor:

With Dead to Me and Insatiable, it’s comedy, but it’s dark comedy. Is that something that you were wanting to get into?

Liza Cardinale:

Not consciously. I think it just sort of happened. I think I have enough of a slightly morbid sense of humor that it’s a good fit, and I understand it, and I get it. I’m grateful to be in that place, but yeah, I didn’t actively pursue it. If anything, I keep telling my agent, I want to do a romcom. I want to do a romcom. I think they’re making them again. Just get me on some, like you’ve got mailed [inaudible 00:28:55] in Seattle type movie. That still might happen. Those usually are not dark comedy, but they’re sweet. But yeah, I like to go between the two. I like to balance my light and my darkness.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s amazing. Let’s talk about Dead to Me. How did you end up getting that job? How did that work out for you?

Liza Cardinale:

That was a matter of me sending my resume to the right person at the exact right moment. I was wrapping up on Orange is the New Black. I was hired to just cut one episode because the editor had to start late, and I had no idea what I was doing next. I heard about Dickinson for Apple, and that this woman, Darlene Hunt, who was the creator of The Big C, I heard she was involved. So, I sent her my resume and said, “Hey, do you need anyone, Dickinson? She said, “No, we’re cutting in New York, but I’m sending your resume to a friend who’s looking for an editor.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh great.

Liza Cardinale:

That was Liz Feldman. Liz got it. Within an hour, she had her post producer call me and say, can you come in and interview? I mean, they were desperate. They had already started shooting, and they didn’t have their pilot editor.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh wow.

Liza Cardinale:

I think they had just started shooting that day. Liz is just … She’s very picky. She had interviewed a lot of people and she hadn’t felt that click, that magic that she was looking for. I basically packed up my office at Orange is the New Black and drove right over to the interview with her at Raleigh Studios. I hadn’t read the script because I really had just gotten the phone call about it. I didn’t even know about the show. She told me, “I like Christina Applegate”. I love her. Oh my God, she’s a goddess. Yes, yes, yes. I’m going to love the show. Yes. I had already been hired to cut another dark comedy about a widow called Widow.

Sarah Taylor:

Interesting.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. Then that was going to happen the year before and then it got killed, whatever. Happens to pilots. They never ended up shooting it. It was for YouTube Red. I think that that disappeared, whatever happened. I felt like I had unfinished business in widow comedies.

Sarah Taylor:

You needed that.

Liza Cardinale:

I needed to do a widow pilot. I even told her about that one. She said, “Yeah, I read that script. That was pretty good.” I said, “Yeah, it’s really sad that didn’t happen, but please can I do this one?” She sent me the script and on Saturday I read it. Then we talked again. I said, I loved it, whatever. We talked about the script. She said, “It’s between you and one other person.” I don’t know who that was. She was really agonizing over it. Then Monday I found out she had chosen me. Yay.

Sarah Taylor:

Yay.

Liza Cardinale:

Then I had to get to work. I had to wait for Netflix to approve me, which took a couple of days. I started on Tuesday or Wednesday, right after the interview and I was already so behind, whatever, because they started shooting on Friday. Then there was that panic that I think you know about, where they were concerned about a particular scene [crosstalk 00:31:58].

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, tell us about that scene.

Liza Cardinale:

Okay, so my first day there was very intense. They were shooting down the hall. They were shooting using part of my … The editing office as a location. So, there were like a million people thumping around the line producer, and Liz, and the director kept coming into my room and saying, “Have you cut the scene yet? Have you cut the scene yet? We might need to do a pickup. We might need to do a rewrite. I don’t know. We have to get this location, it’s really complicated. You just need to show us the scene right now.”

Sarah Taylor:

No pressure, no pressure.

Liza Cardinale:

I said, “Oh my God”, I just got here. I don’t even know what this show is. This is really stressing me out, to have to show something on my first day. This is definitely not standard operating procedure. I cut something together and showed them, and they were like doing this kind of woo pensive watching. They’re like, yes, we need to pick something or we need to shoot something differently. I said, “Well, Liz, what is it that you want from the scene? Because maybe I can tell you if it’s somewhere in the dailies, maybe I just need to change the cut.”

Liza Cardinale:

She said, “Well, I don’t think you’re keyed into Judy’s story enough and I think it needs to be a closeup. I think we need a closeup of her and we need to have more of an emotional moment with her telling the story of her miscarriages.” I said, “Yeah, that would really help. To be honest, I don’t believe her because she’s just been exposed as a liar, so I don’t even know if she’s telling the truth about these miscarriages.” Liz said, “Mm.” She wrote a lot of new dialogue and shot a new scene and it became abundantly clear she’s not lying. This is a super earnest, sad, raw moment for her. That’s what was missing in the original version of the scene.

Sarah Taylor:

Wasn’t this one of the first scenes that they actually shot too?

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. They shot all that whole grief circle. Everything at the grief circle, which was the beginning and the end, they shot that the first day.

Sarah Taylor:

Even for the actors to get into it, that’s such a big scene to do at the beginning?

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. That’s wild.

Sarah Taylor:

Those scenes where you’re like … It’s almost like a dinner table scene or a fight scene, or like your pen. You’re in the scene and there’s lots of different direction and it’s a circle, that must’ve been a huge challenge in itself just cutting a scene like that. How did you approach that? Especially under the gun of, I need to put something together now. How do you do that? What did you do?

Liza Cardinale:

Oh God, I think I was having an out of body experience. I can’t really remember. I liked the take where Jen … The thing about Christina Applegate, she doesn’t like to do a lot of takes, so you kind of have what you have. I liked the one where she came in really hot and was yelling and really angry. I just went with that vibe and then tried to find some funny reactions, but I don’t know. I don’t even know how to answer the question because it was such a frightening experience. I just tried to like block out everything that was going on around me and say, okay, what do I like? What do I like?

Liza Cardinale:

I don’t know the tone of the show. I don’t know what the showrunner wants. I’ll just try to do something I think is interesting and hope that, that translates.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. I feel like that’s a really common. It’s sometimes hard to articulate how the process is working in our heads, as editors. Like, we’re doing what feels right. We’re doing what our instincts tell us to do. You brought up not really knowing the tone of the show, and as a pilot editor, that’s what you’re helping shape. How do you approach that with the director, the showrunner, and getting the right tone? Especially in a dark comedy, because I feel like if it’s too much joke, then there’s not enough drama, how do you balance that?

Liza Cardinale:

That was super tough on the Dead to Me Pilot. We spent a lot of time, a lot, a lot of time. Finding the tone for one thing was finding the right temp music. That was so hard. I basically gave up because everything I tried, Liz would reject. Eventually, we hired a music editor to come work with us for a few days. He had a huge library of soundtracks and he found one thing that she liked, one thing. It was the soundtrack to a movie called Barry, about Obama. It wasn’t the Barry … At first, I started cutting with it thinking this is Barry, the TV.

Sarah Taylor:

The TV show.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. But no, it’s the movie called Barry. For some reason, she responded to that. It wasn’t too sappy. It wasn’t too comedic. It just had a little lift of energy to it that helped you feel like it wasn’t … because we were trying the leftovers. All she had told us was that she liked piano and she liked a bit of orchestration, which sounded like we were going down a path of way too heavy handed, dark sadness. Because especially if I ever put in a comedy film score, she would say, “That’s too jokey. That sounds too jokey. No, no, no, no.”

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah, it was very hard to get there. But once I found Barry, we just used that for everything. We used every track of that throughout the first season. I mean, now we have actual score from Adam Plouff, which is beautiful and he hit that tone nicely. Yeah, I think music is a big part of the tone. Then we had to shave out a lot. Basically this tone was found by cutting out scenes, and part of that … Or cutting scenes in half. Too much was being played, very earnestly, in dramatic, and so it didn’t feel like a comedy at all. I would say it’s still is not huge comedy forward, but you at least know that you have permission to laugh at stuff that it’s not taken too seriously.

Liza Cardinale:

There were scenes like the beach scene where they talk Jen and Judy and they’re really bonding there. There was at least two more minutes of that, for example. That was something we could trim down, keep it intimate, keep it sweet and important, but not linger too long on these heavy stories they’re telling each other. There’s another time when they go to a cliff and they do this primal scream together, and we just took it out. I don’t know. It just felt a little too Indie movie moment scene moment, or something.

Sarah Taylor:

I’ve seen that scene before.

Liza Cardinale:

Exactly. It was an iconic moment. We didn’t need to repeat. The grief circle in the beginning also went maybe five minutes longer than what you see today, which is still pretty long, but that’s the shortest I can make it happen. I tried to cut that scene down for, days, days and days.

Sarah Taylor:

How much time did you have to get the pilot to be ready for … Were you on a tight deadline to cut the pilot or did you have some space to actually try?

Liza Cardinale:

We had space because they didn’t do the pilot separately. They just started the series, so I had basically the entire run of the series to keep tweaking it, and we did keep tweaking it for a very long time. I can’t even remember what episode we were up to shooting when we finally said, it’s locked, but it took a while. Yeah, we just had to, whatever time she needed.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s great.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

With Outlander, was that a scenario where, because it was for a broadcaster, were you doing it where you had, like you had your 10 days of, or whatever it might’ve been to get to an editor’s cut, then you had a director’s cut, and then you had lock-in stuff to meet deadlines, air date deadlines?

Liza Cardinale:

No, no. I think the air dates were so typically so far away that they really did not influence our time. We had as much time as we needed.

Sarah Taylor:

With Netflix stuff, is that kind of how it’s going? Because you basically delivered the whole season at once.

Liza Cardinale:

I mean, Dead to Me season two was very intense delivering because they wanted to … They had a launch date in mind so we did have to get every episode done by whatever, April or something. It was a lot of weekend work and late nights to make that happen. That was not an ideal creative scenario. I’m not sure what season three is going to be like, but I’ll find out soon enough. They’re gonna start shooting in January is the plan right now.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s exciting. Cross our fingers.

Liza Cardinale:

Hopefully that works out. With other Netflix shows, we tend to stay on a schedule. Like Teenage Bounty Hunters, I think I would get … They’re pretty generous. I would have four days for an editor’s cut, which was very helpful, because I always say at least one day to just catch up on dailies that I was behind on. Then doing my music usually takes a couple of days, and then like recuts and polish. I use all four of those days pretty intensely. A lot of shows don’t even give you that. Then director’s cut, whatever that was, I guess they get four days, two, three or four. Then producers would get four or five days. We really kept that moving along pretty snappily.

Sarah Taylor:

Are you doing alternating kind of you’re maybe episode two and then episode four, and then kind of bouncing back and forth between other editors?

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. But we at least, on Teenage Bounty Hunters, it was nice because they shot one episode at a time. So many people are cross boarding now and that makes it a little trickier to figure out editing schedules.

Sarah Taylor:

Now, I know that you have been giving back to the editing community by doing lots of interviews like this one. You’re also an artist in residence at the Manhattan Edit Workshop. How did you get involved with that? And why did you feel like it was important to do that?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, that was just Janet Dalton was her name, she’s an instructor there. She reached out to me via Jenni McCormick, who’s the director of ACE who is oftentimes my-

Sarah Taylor:

Yay, Jenni. We love Jenni.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah, she’s 100% my fairy godmother in all ways of my career. That was just, yeah. Jenny sends me an email saying you should do this. I said, okay, I don’t know what this is, but sure. Jenni told me to do it. I’m doing it. Then I connected with Janet. Really, I just sat in with her students a couple of times and I’d watch some of their work and let them ask me questions. They were people trying to make a career shift into editing. I’m not sure if any of them were even fresh out of college, maybe one of them, but they knew nothing about the world professionally.

Liza Cardinale:

So, they needed to know I could help them a lot with understanding how it works, politically, how you job hunt and what kind of first jobs you might need to take, like mine. Just take whatever you can. You might have to do night shift, you have to take the jobs that no one else wants to do, that is how you begin. I think it just comes naturally to give back because I don’t know, I’m just that kind of friend. I see other editors as my friends. If I can help them, of course I want to, and I’m always so grateful to get advice and help too, I just think it’s a really great community that way, where we … Usually, we’re not huge ego people. Usually, we’re like happy behind the scenes, supportive type people. We work best when we’re helping each other get ahead. I don’t feel competition with my fellow editors.

Sarah Taylor:

You mentioned when you first started, you got to shadow two women, which back then was a big deal, that you had the editor and the assistant editor were two women. You mentioned, touched on like, you might’ve become an editor quicker if maybe you were a man. What are your thoughts on like, how do we make the post-world more equitable and how we bring more diversity into the edit suite and help shape what’s behind helping create the stories with people that are actually in the world and it’s not just homogenized as it has been for a long time?

Liza Cardinale:

It just seems like it’s 100% happening right now. I’m not sure all the mechanisms of that, but showrunners and studios are making a huge effort to increase their diversity. I know that because, for one thing, I get offered a lot more jobs because they’re very often looking for female editors, or I recently interviewed with studio executive at 20th Century Studios. It’s not Fox anymore, it’s just called 20th Century Studios. He had called my agent saying, I need to meet some non-white guys, so send me. I just need more. I need more diversity in my Rolodex. I just need people, so he sent me and a couple African-American editors over to meet with him. I think that’s what it takes. It takes outreach. It takes it being a priority from the people who have the hiring power to do it.

Liza Cardinale:

I’m not sure why, but I think there’s a lot of inclusion writers going on so they need to get to that 50% mark. I’m so grateful for that. I think it’s excellent. Now, a lot of people in socio-economic lower kind of poverty world, they don’t know about a lot of these jobs that we have. A lot of people don’t know what editing is, or how to be a PA, or any of these. It’s just not around their world a lot. That divide, I don’t know how to bridge exactly, except for something like a podcast is accessible to anyone. Hopefully, people will listen to that or try to get information to schools. Yeah, that I think is something that’s an important next step is just trying to get the word out there that these kinds of jobs exist and that you might have a talent for this kind of work and you just don’t even know it because you’ve never heard of it.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. I think in our industry, it’s very much like, oh, so-and-so says there’s this job, and so we’re kind of all sort of getting work from somebody we know. It is opening up that world to everybody. There’s programs I know in Canada where they are offering internships to BIPOC people and people that wouldn’t typically be invited to the table, which is what we need to do. I feel like, in some cases, I don’t know what it’s like, maybe in the States, maybe you can touch on this, but up in Canada, we often have the choice to who we get to choose as our assistant. There’s one editor that I … Cathy Gulkin, she’s a documentary editor here in Canada.

Sarah Taylor:

She is so brilliant. She said, “Whenever I hire, I always try to hire somebody that doesn’t look like me.” I think that’s like a huge thing that we can take forward if we have the ability to hire, to not keep filling our spots with people that look like everybody else, because then we’ll have more voices in the room. I’m wondering how it’s like in the States for you, or in Hollywood, if you have any say in that sort of stuff.

Liza Cardinale:

I do have say in who my assistant is. Now, I’m very attached to my current assistant.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s fair too, yeah.

Liza Cardinale:

I’m not going to quit her until she quits me, but she is also … She doesn’t look like me. She’s younger. She’s half Mexican immigrant, but I do think that I would certainly make a push to hire somebody who was having a hard time getting opportunities who I felt like they had the enthusiasm and the drive to learn. It’s a really hard thing to take a risk on somebody when you’re doing remote work, because then you can’t be in the room educating them. I think that’s what it takes is, if somebody doesn’t have the experience, which is very common for a lot of these people trying to break into the business that they’re not in it yet, they’re going to have experience that’s not necessarily relevant.

Liza Cardinale:

But if they have intelligence and drive and a generous person in the office, then they can learn anything the way I learned at the Playboy channel.

Sarah Taylor:

Everybody needs to work at the Play … I’m just kidding.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah, and then I learned in time, my next bigger job as an assistant was the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Full of visual effects, but I had to learn all about like Anna Max. Such great people there helped me out too. But you do have to be a quick study. It’s okay to know nothing, but you have to be able to pick things up pretty quickly, because nobody can stop their work and just teach you all day long.

Sarah Taylor:

But I think hearing somebody, like you say that, to say, you don’t have to know everything, and that as long as you’re willing to learn, you will figure it out. Where I feel like, maybe it’s typical, or it’s been said before, but often, I think women will be like, well, I don’t know all the things so I might not take that job. Or a man will typically be like, well, that’s fine. I don’t know the system. I’ll just do it. I’ll just do it.

Liza Cardinale:

[crosstalk 00:49:10]. Yeah.

Sarah Taylor:

To hear women who are successful, say, “I didn’t know everything, but I figured it out. I learned, and it was part of my job and it was amazing.” I think young people in the industry need to hear those kind of stories and know that you don’t have to know everything because you’re starting and every show is going to be different and it’s going to have its own thing that you’re going to learn and figure out, right?

Liza Cardinale:

Exactly. Yeah. You just have to be friendly. You just have to have a good attitude and be open, and do not be afraid to ask questions, because all of us will say this. We’d rather you ask the question than do it wrong and make it up. You know what I’m saying? You don’t know how to do something, there is no shame in that. Usually, it can be taught pretty quickly.

Sarah Taylor:

You mentioned remote working. As we all know, amidst of COVID, you had just wrapped up Dead to Me when you got the lockdown, but you did get back in the edit suite because you recently … Well, the show Social Distance, which just was released. Well, when we’re recording this, yesterday, I watched the first three episodes. Quite enjoyed it. How did you get onto that show? What was the process like working remotely, I’m assuming, on a show all about the pandemic?

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. I was three months into safer at home with just being trapped in a house with my husband and child. Her school had closed down. She’s, she’s five. So, I was still a bit in that shocked frame of mind of like, how vigilant do we have to be? How big is this threat? There’s just a little bit of stress going on all the time. When they contacted me from Tilted, the production company that does Jenji Kohan’s production company that did Orange is the New Black and Teenage Bounty Hunters. That’s why they called me because I had already worked for them.

Liza Cardinale:

When they contacted me, I was thrilled to get back to work, but also a little concerned about, how am I going to rewire my brain to focus on something else. Maybe it was good in a sense that it was commenting on the pandemic itself because that’s where all of our thoughts were anyway, but it was enough of an escape from my own internal anxiety about it, to just be able to work, to get into some normalcy of a routine. It felt really good. I don’t have a space to work at my home, so it’s a bit complicated for me. My place is just really small.

Liza Cardinale:

I had to rent a little room for my friend who has a photo studio. I just locked myself away. There were no windows, no furniture, no comfy couch, like you usually get in an editor’s room. But it worked out. It was great. They rented me the Avid. It was just like my little workstation. We decided to get on Slack. We just said that pretty quickly. That’s not something I’ve ever used on a job before, but I think it’s actually quite brilliant because then your own email doesn’t get clogged up with all this little chatter, and it was great.

Liza Cardinale:

We’d have different channels based on the episode number, and then we’d have general channel, so we could all connect about things we all needed to know, so incredibly helpful to have that. We felt a bit of connection was going on between the whole team all the time. I had my assistant far away. We had a VFX editor. We had a lot of media coming and going in and out. The visual effects were extremely complicated and a lot of things in my script there’d be no coverage for. The editors had to generate the content from scratch. I’d have Hannah, my assistant, doing like screen recordings of Google searches and screen grabs of all these different apps. It was tough. It was definitely not the easiest job.

Sarah Taylor:

Because I knew you cut the first episode, as I watched it, I was like, oh, this looks very complicated, but it worked great. Can you give just a brief synopsis of what Social Distance is about?

Liza Cardinale:

It’s an anthology series. So, every episode is its own unique story with its own cast. They don’t fit together in any way except the timeline, I suppose. It starts as quarantine pretty much is new. It starts in New York City with my episode where he is a recovering alcoholic who’s going to AA meetings. That’s the thing that pops up throughout the episode is AA meetings are on Zoom now. Are they as effective? Are they feeling connected? It’s hard to know. Then he goes down a rabbit hole of his own version of doom, scrolling, just looking at his ex-girlfriend’s Instagram page and seeing that she has a new boyfriend and all these things that drive him a little crazy.

Liza Cardinale:

It was a tough episode because most of it is just one guy alone, not a ton of dialogue, unless he’s talking to somebody on a video chat. Usually, he’s just the lonely dude scrolling the internet. I just have shots of his face that they recorded. All the actors had to record themselves with iPhones. I think they used iPhones for everything, but they somehow patched to a SD card. I don’t know how that worked, but so they recorded all their own stuff. Maybe a PA came to their house. I’m not sure. All the actors lived different places.

Liza Cardinale:

It wasn’t all shot in LA or anything. It was shot all over the country so that there was a lot of severe coordination going on behind the scenes that I was not privy to. For me, the process was fairly simple and that I just downloaded my dailies every morning and they were sunk up and they looked like normal dailies, so I didn’t have to figure out how to get things off an iPhone or anything.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. That’s good.

Liza Cardinale:

But yeah, it was unique figuring out the tone of that too, and how strict we had to be about, what were the rules of it? A lot of these things were worked out as we went that you had to always … All right, I didn’t say the most important thing about it, which is the entire thing is in screen genre. The movie, Searching, was done, which I watched for research. That entire movie takes place like you’re watching a laptop screen. You sometimes see the person if their camera is on, but otherwise, you’re not going to see them, and you’re just going to see the stuff they’re typing or the things they’re looking at on their desktop.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah, that was the genre that we were locked into. We used a lot of different apps. Every script had different apps written into it and you can show them as long as it represents accurately what the app does, then you don’t get into legal trouble with it.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh, I didn’t know that. That’s good to know.

Liza Cardinale:

I don’t even know if they had to pay, to say Instagram, as long as it looked like a real Instagram, but don’t quote me on that. I’m actually not sure, but I know that we had to be very careful about accuracy, like with Zoom and all that stuff. Many meetings about all those tiny details.

Sarah Taylor:

There’s so, so many details. Because even in the one, the first AA meeting, there is what? You probably know how many people were in the meeting.

Liza Cardinale:

I think there were maybe just 24 in the first one, something like that. It was a lot of those squares.

Sarah Taylor:

There was a lot of squares. It was great because I think a lot of people would probably feel as like, that is exactly, I didn’t go to an AA meeting, but I’ve had many different meetings, different conferences I’ve gone to where you see … That’s what we saw. We’ve been seeing for the last nine months. I think you did a really great job of merging all those different elements together. Yeah, him with his laptop on and you see him recording in photo booth. There were just so many elements where I was like, wow, there’s so many things. I can only imagine what your script was and like what you had.

Liza Cardinale:

I think I had 12 video layers, at least. If they tell me to change something, I’d be like, this could take me three hours and 20 minutes of render time, so I’ll just make a note of that.

Sarah Taylor:

Are you sure you want me to do that right now? Okay.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. You’re not going to sit here on my ever cast stream while I make changes.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. How did that go for you? Not getting to be with the director in the room. Was that something that was hard for you or was that an easy transition?

Liza Cardinale:

It was okay doing the video streaming. It’s just awkward and there were a lot of technical problems. I would just get booted out spontaneously or their picture would freeze. There’s just a lot of like, stop, stop, wait, refresh, change your bandwidth, turn your video off, mute your microphone. It over-complicates the situation. I think video chatting with five people is always a little awkward because you never know when it’s your turn to talk, and no one’s really looking at each other. It’s definitely not ideal, but it worked.

Liza Cardinale:

It helps that I knew everybody. I didn’t know the showrunner, Hillary, but I knew the rest of the people, the producers that were in the rooms. They were the same people I had just worked with in Teenage Bounty Hunters. That helped a lot, because like my current show, I’m doing a show called On The Verge with Julie Delpy, French actress. I’ve never been in a room with her at all. We had the job interview on Zoom. We’ve done some streaming sessions with her, like always full of huge technical glitches. She’s a super scatterbrained creative individual, so I never even know when she wants to talk to me. She’ll just say, “Let’s do a session, 10 minutes. I’m ready.”

Liza Cardinale:

I’ll be like, okay. I go to make sure everything’s plugged in right, and my microphone is muted. There’s always new challenges with remote work. It’s just not as organic as someone dropping into your room to have a moment of realness, like a human connection moment that’s not just business. No, every moment you’re interacting with someone, it is scheduled, it is limited timeframe. It is all business, no chit chat. Plus, there’ll be other people listening.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, which you kind of miss that intimacy of … Sometimes there’s an intimacy with director-editor moments, where you’re kind of playing therapist sometimes. You’re learning about whatever happened the night before, or whatever happened on set and probably don’t get to do some of that stuff.

Liza Cardinale:

Find those little moments of connection and relationship. They matter a lot in the editing room and on the screen, they matter just as much that I’m feeling connected to the people making the show, so that I understand what they’re looking for so I can deliberate. You know what I mean?

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah.

Liza Cardinale:

What their values are, who they are as a person, what’s their sensibility, what’s their sense of humor? It’s all information to channel into editing.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah. Have you figured out any tricks on how to find some of that stuff now that you’ve done your second show now in this world?

Liza Cardinale:

No, I’m basically just in survival mode, just get through it until life can be normal again. This is never going to be my favorite way to work. I’m in a slightly better environment now because the other editor of the show I’m doing, she had an extra little room in her backyard that I can rent from her. We have a bit of communion between us, which is great. Yeah, we can show each other stuff, and she can translate all the French stuff to me because I don’t fully understand it. She’s a native French speaker as well. That’s really great.

Sarah Taylor:

That’s perfect. Have you done other shows in other languages?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, there was a bit of Gallic in Outlander, but I highly doubt that any of those actors were really speaking it correctly. We didn’t quite worry about it too much. I think there was a Gallic consultant guy who’d be on set and he had really weird hair and he would sometimes watch cuts and try to get us to ADR things that they were really off. We would get them to pronounce, to repeat their performance, so they pronounce things right. But most of the audience is not really Gallic.

Sarah Taylor:

Probably not that many people.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. They’re just reading the subtitles. But the French people, this show is made for the French audience, so the French has to be correct.

Sarah Taylor:

How are you finding that work? I’m working on a French show right now as well, and I don’t speak French. But it’s a docuseries, but yeah. It definitely takes, for me, it’s like a whole other … my brain is working so much harder because I’m like … You’re trying to make sure the translation, but get the body language and get the right sense. Yeah, it’s definitely a little more challenging, that’s for sure.

Liza Cardinale:

I find it almost impossible to judge if somebody’s being funny, or even good acting, I find it a lot harder to judge, because I barely understand. I know a bit. I’ve studied French, but the way people actually speak is slang. They’re mumbling and throwing things around. It’s going right over my head. I’m just going to have to rely on Julie for that. She actually has her own Avid so she can watch tapes, and maybe she’s even going to cut some stuff. I’m not sure, but she has all the dailies, and so she can maybe make selects. I don’t know. It’s all very new in the process, but she will definitely tell me if there’s a better French read. She didn’t expect me to be fluent, so it’s okay.

Sarah Taylor:

You’ll pick up some stuff, I’m sure.

Liza Cardinale:

It’s kind of fun. Yeah, exactly.

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, it is fun.

Liza Cardinale:

I think I’m learning some. French people are so passionate and shouty when they [crosstalk 01:02:43]. It’s fun.

Sarah Taylor:

I have a couple more questions and one of them I think is very important. What are the things that you need to have in your edit suite that make you feel like a normal human being?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, I always have nice little dim lights. I have essential oils and a diffuser. I like to pretend that my workplace could be a spa.

Sarah Taylor:

Is there a specific smell that is like you use certain scenes? Do you have like a moon one?

Liza Cardinale:

Well, I only have lavender and eucalyptus, just because they’re both universally appealing. So, if somebody else is coming in …

Sarah Taylor:

Yeah, and they’re very calming.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. They’re calming, they’re soothing, they’re cleansing of the environment. I like for my room to be a place that people enjoy entering, and I’m talking more normal editing life, not COVID editing life. I try to keep it peaceful. I don’t have a lot of stuff in here. I keep lighting kind of dim and all over the room if I can. I have little spritz of sage spray. As you know, you can’t really like burn a sage stick if somebody comes in and acts all crazy and then leaves your room, and you want to just clear out juju. I use this little sage spray. That’s it. Usually, I have a picture of my daughter up.

Sarah Taylor:

Nice. Do you have a set routine of how you like to work? Do you take walking breaks? Do you eat lunch at your desk or do you make sure you eat lunch elsewhere? What is your sort of editing day routine?

Liza Cardinale:

The most exercise I get is switching from a sitting to a standing desk. I try to do that a few times a day. I don’t do a ton of walking, but I just got a Fitbit to try to encourage myself to get away from the desk. I think that I usually just get so engrossed in my work that I forget about my body and how to take care of it. But I think quarantine taught me that there are lots of great exercise videos on YouTube, and I should just take a break and do a half hour Pilates thing or yoga thing. And it’s not in my routine yet, sadly, but I have a yoga mat here. That’s another thing I always keep an edit room is a yoga mat and some foam rollers for trying to stretch out the shoulders that get a little too tense sometimes.

Sarah Taylor:

Yes. Do you have any tips for editors who are making maybe a career transition into, coming from documentary and to television or assisting into editing?

Liza Cardinale:

My tips would be to have a great attitude to everybody that you meet so that they want to hire you later. Because even if they don’t have a job for you right now, they might have a job for you in three months. That timing is a big part of it. But if you show consistency and genuine enthusiasm and a work ethic, that will go so far, even more than actual skills, I think, because we’ve all come across people who bring unpleasant vibe to the office and then everybody’s a bit uncomfortable. I think that a lot of we’ll make allowances for somebody who’s just … You’re just going to play well with others, you’re going to fit in here. My husband is actually making a career transition. It has nothing to do with editing, but he was a software engineer for 20 years and now he’s studying to become an architect.

Sarah Taylor:

Oh wow.

Liza Cardinale:

It’s totally different than what he’s been doing, but he is such a knack for it. It’s clearly what he should have been doing all along, but that’s okay. I don’t think it’s ever too late to make a switch, especially if you have a passion, but I do think you need to also have a knack for it or else it’s going to be pretty hard to do a career transition later in life. So, you want to feel like it has to feel kind of easy and right when you’re doing it. I don’t think editing is something that’s very easy to teach, especially when it comes to just the instincts of it. That way that you just have to keep changing things till it feels right.

Liza Cardinale:

I don’t know how to teach that to a person, but I think if you have that, you probably know it, just because people watch your work and they’ll connect to it and they’ll get it and they’ll feel something when you want them to feel something. Yeah, I’d say don’t attempt it if you’re finding it a huge challenge because it is a pretty tough gig even when you’re good at it. But I want to encourage people for sure, if you love it, if you’ve tried it and you love it and the hours fly by and the sun goes down, that’s what you’re looking for, that’s the sweet spot. Anyone who feels that way about editing should absolutely pursue it as a career because it pays well. There’s tons of jobs. There really are tons of jobs once you’re in the flow of it.

Sarah Taylor:

During COVID, we’ve definitely seen it, people want content. We’ve always wanted content, and we always want it … We need it. Now more than ever, yeah, it’s not going to stop. How we do it is changing, but we always need to tell stories.

Liza Cardinale:

Right. There are like what? Four more streaming services just started in the last year.

Sarah Taylor:

It’s wild.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. A lot more, a lot of opportunity there.

Sarah Taylor:

I feel like you’ve given us a lot of great information and lots of, I don’t know, exciting tips for the young editors out there or people wanting to be an editor. Yeah.

Liza Cardinale:

Yeah. I guess the only tip I would give is just to keep meeting people and keep asking questions. Not only do you learn from asking a question, but the person you’re asking will come to trust you based on your questions, because they’ll see, oh, this person has a really active interest and a curiosity, and they’re asking the right questions. They’re really getting to the heart of this and they care. I find that, as far as who I help get a leg up, it’s always the people who just wanted to come into my room and hang out. Maybe it’s a PA wanting to come in and just see what I do and ask me once in a while without intruding.

Liza Cardinale:

But when they see a moment, they could ask me, “Well, why did you make that choice?” Then it’s kind of fun to talk about that. Because usually, we’re just so in our internal brain. I think you’ll find a lot of editors love to talk about why they do the things that they do.

Sarah Taylor:

Well, thank you so much for joining me today. It was so great chatting with you.

Liza Cardinale:

Oh yeah, you too.

Sarah Taylor:

Good luck with your French series. I hope it all goes well. I look forward to seeing it in the future. Stay safe, stay well.

Liza Cardinale:

Thank you.

Sarah Taylor:

Thank you so much for joining us today, and a big, thanks goes to Liza. A special, thanks goes to Jane MacRae and Jenni McCormick. The main title sound design was created by Jane Tattersall, additional EDR recording by Andrea Rusch. Original music provided by Chad Blain. 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.

[Outtro]

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.

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Credits

A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Jenni McCormick

Hosted, Produced and Edited 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

Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

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Categories
The Editors Cut

Episode 039: Edit Chats with Kimberlee Mctaggart CCE and Thorben Bieger CCE

The Editors Cut - Episode 039: Kimberlee Mctaggart CCE and Thorben Bieger

Episode 039: Edit Chats with Kimberlee Mctaggart, CCE & Thorben Bieger, CCE

Today's episode is the online Master Series that took place on May 19th, 2020. Edit Chats with Kimberlee McTaggart, CCE and Thorben Bieger, CCE.

The Editors Cut - Episode 039: Kimberlee Mctaggart CCE and Thorben Bieger

Thorben is a CSA nominated editor who has edited several series and a number of features including The Child Remains, Heartbeat and All the Wrong Reasons.

Kimberlee is a Gemini award winning editor of TV series, docs, and feature films such as Blackbird and the upcoming Little Orphans. Kimberlee and Thorben have worked together on several series such as Call Me Fitz, Pure and Diggstown. They discuss their work, and what it’s like to carve out a successful editing career while working and living in Nova Scotia.

This event was moderated by Amanda Mitro.

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The Editor’s Cut – Episode 039 – Edit Chats with Kimberlee Mctaggart, CCE  &Thorben Bieger, CCE

Speaker 1:

This episode was sponsored by Filet Production Services and Annex Pro Avid.

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 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 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’s episode is the online master series that took place on May 19th, 2020. Edit chats with Kimberlee McTaggart, CCE and Thorben Bieger, CCE. Thorben is a CSA nominee editor who has worked on several series, and a number of feature films, including The Child Remains, Heartbeat and All the Wrong reasons. Kimberlee is Gemini award-winning editor of TV series, docs and feature films such as Blackbird and the upcoming Little Orphans. Kimberlee and Thorben have worked together on several series, such as Call Me Fitz, Pure and Diggstown. They discuss their work and what it’s like to carve out a successful editing career, while working and living in Nova Scotia. This event was moderated by Amanda Mitro.

[show open]

Amanda Mitro:

Welcome everybody to the masters series from Halifax, out in Nova Scotia here. I’m joined by Kimberlee McTaggart and Thorben Bieger. Thank you to the CCE for having us. And I guess should open up with introductions. Who wants to go first?

Kim McTaggart:

Thorben does.

Thorben Bieger:

Well, yes, this is exciting to be here. Anyway, my name is Thorben. I’m a picture editor. I live in Hubbard, Nova Scotia, and I have been working in the film and television business in one way or another for, I guess, almost 20 years now and editing for, I guess, the better part of 12 or 14 years. I’ve stopped counting anyway. I’m looking forward to having an interesting conversation about editing and related topics tonight.

 

Kim McTaggart:

I’m Kim McTaggart. I’ve been editing for over 30 years now. Pretty much all those years in Halifax. The other day I added up how much I worked on different shows in Newfoundland, about a year and a half. So we’ll throw that in there too. I was one of those kids who loved television and knew from, I think the time I was in grade seven, that this is what I was going to do, was make TV shows. I went to film school at York University back in the ’80s when it was all film, there was no digital. I’m aging myself there. It was just shortly before digital started to come in. It was all on Steenbeck’s and Moviola’s and benches, and the first two or three of my career was all on Steenbecks and benches, actually probably the first six years.

 

Kim McTaggart:

Then we moved into digital and yeah, do I miss it? No. Digital has been the best thing ever. Yeah, so I’ve been working on in Halifax the whole time, did a lot with the National Film Board in the beginning, so a lot of documentary, but then I moved into drama, a lot of comedy actually, and I still do the odd documentary, corporate videos for the liquor store. That’s the thing about the East Coast editing, you do it all. But mostly these days I do television series and mostly with Thorben.

 

Thorben Bieger:

Yeah, we’ve worked a lot together over the years. I guess I can add a little bit to my bio in parallel to what Kim was saying. I barely registered the existence of the film industry in Canada or film industry at all. Even though I liked watching movies when I was young, I went to university and studied sciences and worked in environmental sciences for six or seven years. Then somewhere along the way, it was a great gig, but there was something else out there for me. And once, eventually I guess my sister married a film producer and that gave me, opened my eyes to that being a possibility. My music recording was particularly of interest to me before that.

 

Thorben Bieger:

That was really my way into post production in recording and mixing music, a lot of similarities. With a couple of nepotistic breaks, I guess it was back in 1999, I took a leave of absence from my real job and came to Halifax to work as second unit boom operator on Lexx. That has happened to a lot of people on that show and that led to opportunities, battlefield promotions. And within a short time, I was doing recording sound on commonly called the second main unit. 

 

We would have five page scenes with all the stars on second unit just to [inaudible 00:04:58]. From there, I had some chances to work in post-production on the next season and I’m still on it 20 years later. So I guess I’m not going back.

 

Amanda Mitro:

Cool.

 

Kim McTaggart:

I’m just going to add a little to that story. In post, I don’t know if other people have experienced this, but whenever the producer has a cousin or brother or brother-in-law and they’re going to put him somewhere in a department, they stick them in posts, because they think they can do the least damage. And we heard the brother-in-law is coming, I’m like, “Oh shit,” and then it’s torment. I’m like, “Oh, okay. Sometimes it works out really well.

 

Thorben Bieger:

Work out well eventually.

 

Amanda Mitro:

Have either of you guys worked outside of Halifax or has it just been mainly the Maritimes for both of you?

 

Kim McTaggart:

For me, early in my career, I did a lot of what’s called dialogue editing back when it was still on film. And you basically, you checker boarded dialogue that people are probably … Well, these are all editors checker boarding on your digital screen. It was all done live with film audio. I would take all the production sound and checker board it all on big benches that were six feet wide, and reeling and all that sort of stuff. And nobody, Atlanta Canada did that. I would go to Newfoundland to do every film there was, and that brought me over there about three or four times.

 

Kim McTaggart:

Then I did it in my very first comedy series, television series I ever got national show was called Gullages, that it took place in Newfoundland with a local producer Bill McGillivray. That was my big break. That was two seasons of that over there. And also in my early days doing a lot of work with the National Film Board, one of my mentors was a sound editor from, who originally started in Montreal, Les Holman. He would take me to Montreal to work on a lot of stuff, [inaudible 00:06:43] things and that sort of thing. So yeah, in the early days when I was doing sound, I was traveling all over. But since then, it’s pretty much been confined to my basement.

 

Thorben Bieger:

Yeah. That’s much the same for me. I’ve worked in Newfoundland a tiny bit. I worked on The Gavin Crawford Show in Toronto, I don’t know, 2003 or four or something like that for a few months, but for the rest of it, I believe almost everything that I’ve done has been in Halifax. And as Kim just mentioned also, for the last years I don’t know, six, seven years or more, almost everything I’ve done has been from my home office, and from my basement.

 

Amanda Mitro:

Did you find it different working, I guess in Toronto versus how you typically work out here?

 

Thorben Bieger:

Well, there’s a reason, I guess why most of my work has been here. I like it here. There was a time when, of course, most people remember that post production was done in post facilities, still commonly is, but it was not really possible to do it anywhere else. There was a time when it was a fantasy to be able to have the equipment at home and very suddenly that became pretty straight forward. It’s always been, that’s always been the direction that I wanted to move in any way, rather than going to where the work is. It was exciting to work in Toronto for a while.

 

Thorben Bieger:

It was a break to work at the time I was working with Dean [inaudible 00:08:07], who was the editor, and he brought me along to work on the show and I lived in the edit suite. I’d gone in the Wellesley on the fifth floor of that building that some people might recognize in St. Nicholas.

 

Amanda Mitro:

So the both of you, I guess, have experienced the digital revolution in post-production, and maybe you guys can speak a bit to how things changed from working on like those big, massive machines to computers that you can fit in your pocket almost.

 

Thorben Bieger:

Well, I’ll let Kim take that one because I came in and I started working on Avid, so I’ve seen the hardware, but I’ve never, never had the chance to work with it.

 

Kim McTaggart:

Yeah. Part of the reason I ended up staying here, not doing anything to further field is when digital did come in, I invested in the equipment and I would rent out the equipment. It was an older system back then called Media 100, which actually had a far superior picture, finishing picture. So we would, was doing a lot of online, more so than off-lines. But I ended up, I think I had four systems at one point, so they were rented out to various series and that kept me hopping. And then I’d be off cutting on other shows, usually on an AVID, which I really wanted to own. But then eventually I did buy a used one and then upgraded it to the top of the line model.

 

Kim McTaggart:

I remember that cost me $110,000. It was like, the whole system was probably about $120,000, but the thing is you would rent it and get lots of money for it. So it all worked out in the end. In fact, it was great. Yeah, I went right from when everything was outboard, you needed all this other stuff to make it work. I couldn’t work at home. I needed my office, and all of that, but as computers became faster and faster, you didn’t need that outboard stuff. The computer did all the work and now it’s like, what we do with a laptop is just astounding. There of course is no real rental market anymore, because everybody can own their own.

 

Kim McTaggart:

I’ve seen it go the whole way. I don’t know what else to say about that, except I love where we’re at with it now. It’s just, it’s the best. And I mean we’re all going to be doing so much more of it now with this COVID-19. I mean  Thorben and I have been living the quarantine life for the last six or seven years, the way we work, so nothing will change for us. But I think we’re going to see more and more people working the way I do or the way we do here in Atlanta, Canada.

 

Amanda Mitro:

How do you think that’ll open up the possibilities for working with people further afield, like collaborations between countries and continents and just opening that whole thing up?

 

Thorben Bieger:

I think it will. Some producers that I’ve worked with are made it part of their style to, or just experience with working remotely and with putting together teams that are geographically distant, and others not so much. I guess it’s just what their experience is. I’ve worked on teams where there was an editor in Nova Scotia and one in Toronto and one in Los Angeles. This was just, they were quite familiar with that process and it was seamless. Other people don’t, other producers who hadn’t done that just might be more familiar with just centralizing things.

 

Thorben Bieger:

And apart from the fact that we’re going to be coming up with new guidelines and that kind of thing for social distancing and for hygienic productions, it’ll be easy to implement that in post.

 

Kim McTaggart:

Yeah. We’ve already implemented, I think and internationally, I think people work that way. Like everybody in Toronto all works a certain way. Everybody’s together in their place and all that. It’s going to be new and exciting them, and maybe it will open up their possibilities, but there’s still, as we were talking about tax credits and provincial borders, which will still make it difficult for us to get hired in Ontario and vice versa and all of that. But still it makes it more possible, so you never know. Should we show, clip and talk about editing?

 

Amanda Mitro:

Quick question before we go to video, Jeffrey Fish wants to know, do you think that software platforms like Premier Pro, pushing for a shared project platform will create more possibilities for non-centralized post team workflows, or is there still a great benefit to post teams being together?

 

Kim McTaggart:

Well, I mean, Avid already has, can already do sharing. Jeff, have you ever been in CBC? It’s all network sharing, all that sort of stuff. It’s all there. I think people will get a taste of it now, because they’re really utilizing it extensively. I think those systems were more for sharing within the one building, like is how it’s really been used. And now people are taking their systems homes, because they have to, and they’re sharing it that way. So, yeah. Is there a benefit to everybody being in the same building versus that? We’ll find out. For producers or for a lot of folks, it’ll be financial what works out best but creatively, what works out best?

 

Kim McTaggart:

I mean we’ve been doing this for six or seven years, but I think back to the last project we did where we were all under the same roof on Call Me Fitz, four of us, all crammed together doing our work. There really is something to that too.

 

Thorben Bieger:

You really miss it when you’re gone. I think it’s a real, there is a trade-off and collaborating by notes. Well, for one, it depends on the quality of the notes. Some people are very good at giving detailed notes, but even in those cases, there’s something that’s lost when you don’t have intense hours in the same room together, which sometimes we still do. It’s not uncommon for a director or producer to come to where I live in Hubbard and spend part of a day. That’s usually as far as it goes. We might sport together for some hours on two or three consecutive days.

 

Thorben Bieger:

I think the driving factor; it used to be that an edit suite costs what, a couple of thousand bucks or more a week to rent and the schedule drove this style of working long hours in the same space. I miss there are pros and cons to the way we work. It always was, so it’s fairly solitary work, but it’s become much more so now with edit suite and at home.

 

Kim McTaggart:

Then of course there’s a whole issue of assistant editors who used to always be around and would see your work. I know on Call Me Fitz, we’d always make our assistant editor watch the show, because she had fine impeccable taste and would give us feedback and notes, like first person who ran through. You could still get that, but you tend not to, just because they’re not there in the room with you and they’re off doing their thing. You just don’t have the same relationship and the same reciprocal learning that goes on there. I don’t want to say the editor always passing through the assistant editor. It’s really a reciprocal thing. That’s a big issue in editing is the passing on of knowledge.

 

Thorben Bieger:

But I do think there’s room for the software to catch up with that or to create, for it to offer some functionalities that make that more possible. We were talking Kim and I just recently in final cut, and an earlier version had this desktop theater or functionality that allowed you to, it created a video chat in which you could stream your output to another person, and that you were able to see that person’s face on their web cam. There was actually, you could see facial reactions of the person you’re working with. And as long as your internet connection was good, after a few minutes of working like that, you’d forget that you’re not in the same room, and that feature was completely dropped and no one has picked up on it in the last decade, really.

 

Thorben Bieger:

And it’s surprising to me that that’s not being really developed further, because it seems there are no constraints technically to making that collaboration.

 

Kim McTaggart:

Yeah. Built in into all the Annalise will be that function to share.

 

Amanda Mitro:

Okay. Cool. All right. Did we want to do a clip?

 

Thorben Bieger:

I guess the first one that I would maybe present is called the Corridor. I think this one is interesting to me, it’s during the best years I think that I can remember as an editor in Nova Scotia. One of the great advantages of working here for me has been the variety of things that you could work on. In the really good times there’d be a series to work on in the summer and a telephone, and like a little bit to tell its own feature to work on, which often happened in the off season and maybe some short films or little things and things, really get how all kinds of different work and a nice variety.

 

Thorben Bieger:

The Corridor was a feature that I, it was around 2010 or ’11 I think, a science fiction feature shot in Nova Scotia. Had a cast of, an ensemble cast of five guys. It’s cabin in the woods, science fiction kind of movie. They discover a bizarre phenomenon that starts affecting their minds. I thought it was interesting to take a look at it because for one thing, it was a fairly small budget, and another thing that I found interesting over time, it’s been in some of the low budget features, people have tried to discover ways to get more, to go further with the small budget that they have. Sometimes that involves different shooting styles, doing a lot of oner’s or not shooting regresses. You get a certain style of films from that.

 

Thorben Bieger:

This one was interesting to me, because with the kind of ensemble cast that they had, it wasn’t really possible to do that. They didn’t really scrimp on coverage and lots of different angles, the sizes, because with five people in the room, you had to move around, but I’ll let you be the judge of that after you’re going to look at the clip.

 

Amanda Mitro:

Also, clip number one.

 

Speaker 10:

I think it’s talking to me. That’s signing. It’s given me a sign.

 

Speaker 11:

It’s insane.

 

Speaker 10:

Connect, connect, connect.

 

Speaker 12:

Wait. No, did this fuck up the rest of my tapes?

 

Speaker 13:

Oh yeah, because that is real important right now.

 

Speaker 14:

What’s that supposed to mean?

 

Speaker 13:

Well, it means who gives a shit.

 

Speaker 12:

You want to smack in the mouth?

 

Speaker 14:

Something bigger is happening here.

 

Speaker 13:

No, no, you’re right. You’re right. Maybe the time has come for us to set aside all these childish things, bobcat.

 

Speaker 12:

Says the guy who can’t come at all.

 

Speaker 13:

What did you just say?

 

Speaker 12:

You don’t know what to do with that. Why for yours, do you, hugsy? Do you need me to knock her up for you? Your wheel spins so fast, but the rest of you is just shooting blanks.

 

Speaker 10:

Oh, shit.

 

Speaker 14:

Thanks a lot fucker.

 

Speaker 10:

I swear to God, I didn’t say anything.