From Network Executive to Doc Editor

How long were you a producer before you took the class?

I've been in film since 1995. As an independent producer, I worked on some interesting social issue and pop culture documentaries, like Family Undertaking for P.O.V. and Private Dicks for HBO. And then I wound up at Sundance Channel as a network executive. The first thing I did at Sundance was a series about transgender college students [“TransGeneration”].  There are a number of projects in that life that I'm quite proud of.

So what on earth made you want to take an editing course?

[Laughs] Well, as you move up the chain as a network executive it becomes more and more corporate and once I got really burnt out I just realized I wanted to be closer to the work. I had edited some of my own things here and there and have always loved the storytelling aspect of editing and how much creative power an editor has. That's always been lingering in my mind as I was on this very different producer track.

What made you come to The Edit Center specifically?

I knew about TEC through a lot of people I worked with in the industry. It has a reputation for turning out people who really edit professionally, once they get through the program. The teachers there are working professionals and I wanted to go through a program where I could come out and start working. I looked at a couple of different programs, but this program really focused on the art of editing and I loved that aspect of it. Plus the fact that you actually get a real credit for the films you work on in class.

So how did the class live up to your expectations?

This class was the best thing I've done for my career and creative spirit in the past ten years! It was amazing. It was such a joy to go there every day and work, I could have sat in the dark room for ten hours easily.  

I know you're still in the middle of this transition [from producer to editor], but how are you feeling about it?

I'm feeling good! [Earlier this year] I was able to cut a trailer for a doc that helped it get a lot of funding. So then the director was able to hire me for ten weeks to put together an assembly and so I got to edit a straight-up feature doc and it was just an incredible process! It was a very creative process with the director, an amazing experience.

What I've also done is leveraged my production skills, but forced myself into post-production as close as possible to the edit. If I can't be cutting then I'm next to the editor and I'm on a system and I'm working with that person. The job I'm doing right now is the perfect example, I'm an episode producer on a show called Original Sin about sex and pop culture across history, and I've sort of come in as a different type of worker to this production company that knew me as an executive. Basically I've climbed way down the ladder. [Laughs]

People rarely say “I'm climbing down the ladder” and that's a good thing. But in terms of happiness and your goal of getting closer to the work, do you feel like it's living up to what you wanted in terms of being more fulfilling?

It's way more fulfilling. I mean look, it's been hard. It's been this like funky editor/producer balance but all of it has been much closer to the work than I have been in years.

How did you go about getting new contacts in the editing world?

I got new contacts through TEC.  And I also went to editors that I had good relationships with as a producer and I put myself out there as a freebie editor or assistant editor and I went to those people that I knew as a producer because I knew that they could trust me at least to a certain point.

Any advice for the up and comers?

Just do it. I hemmed and hawed about this for five years! It's money well spent and it's so worth it if you're going to be in this business at all because it makes you a better storyteller in whatever you end up doing. It's incredibly valuable even if you don't go directly into editing.