I never really intended to have a career in post production. Whenever I imagined myself making movies, I saw myself in the director’s chair calling all the shots and bringing my own vision to life. The films that swayed me in the direction of film production in the first place were those of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those films influenced me to learn as much about making movies as I could, so as soon as I was eligible, I signed up for an off campus film class during my junior year of high school.
It wasn’t necessarily a shock when I saw what could be accomplished in the editing phase of a project, but the learning curve certainly felt steep. Any time before my high school class – when I was just making fun movies with my friends – we didn’t have editing software. We shot the entire movie in the script’s order of events. If we made a mistake, we’d rewind our tape and film it all over again. In a way you could say we were doing our own crude edit on the fly.
The first time I shot something out of order, I felt like I had discovered a secret that only certain people stumbled upon. I really enjoyed saying things like “Oh I’ll edit that part in later…” or “I can probably cut around that…”
I further studied film at Western Michigan University and upon graduation I went to work at News Channel 3 as their part time weekend editor. Again, it wasn’t that I specifically sought editing out, it was a job that was open and I was in need of one of those things.
I had interned at NC3 for my final semester at WMU and I learned a ton more about broadcast news than I ever thought I would. One of the biggest and most important lessons I took away from working closely with the photographers and reporters: never miss your time slot. If you’re scheduled to be reporting in front of the courthouse at five o’clock sharp, you’d better be there.
The same goes for the unsung heroes of the NC3 editing suites. The producer better not be waiting for one of the headlines because you just want to put one final polish to that “Winter Weather” video. It’s completely different from any other type of editing I had done in the past. It’s editing with a five o’clock deadline. End of story. There can be no finesse to a sequence unless you have extra time. Amongst us broadcast editors, it was considered finessing if you could add a last minute drop shadow effect to a video in order to make that mugshot really pop off the screen.
It was also important to edit to the speed at which the anchor would read the story. I would read the script and edit to that speed. Anyone walking by my edit suite at any given time of day was bound to hear me doing my best news anchor impression as I made sure the video lined up as best it could with the script. And when the show went on and each cut lined up with every line of the story, it was like hitting a home run.
One of the photographers I worked with labelled it assembly line editing and he was absolutely right. Not to toot my own horn, but I got pretty good at it too. I think the best I’ve ever done is a minute and a half story in about five minutes. There were countless times I was anxiously watching the news broadcast while simultaneously watching the loading bar as I sent a last minute video. Was the video good? Maybe. It helped tell the story just enough to get the anchor from A to B and, most importantly, it didn’t miss its time slot.
Now, assembly line editing is all fine and good, but I wanted to get a bit more creative than that. At the urging of a co-worker and close friend, I decided the time was ripe to go back to school and learn about film production. Which is how I found myself living in Canada for the year of 2014, living my personal dream of attending film school – Vancouver Film School to be precise.
I learned a ton about film production – specifically the areas of cinematography and, of course, the inescapable post production. I made a lot of friends and will always remember my time at VFS – I’m reminded of it monthly as I work to pay off the sizable loan I acquired during my stay in Canada.
Which brings me to Overneath Creative. I had dropped off my resume a few months after I arrived back home, took a tour of the studio, went on my way, and had completely forgotten all about it by the time I got an email asking me to interview six months later. The job was, of course, an editing job. What a relief! Editing has always come through for me. I owe editing a great deal.
Editing at Overneath is incredibly fun – and I’m not just saying that because my boss is going to read this. Assembly line editing has its place in news, but the creative editing I’m allowed to do at Overneath is a breath of fresh air. Sure, I can edit a newscast pretty fast, but it’s hardly a challenge.
There’s a certain precision with editing that I enjoy. If an edit occurs too soon or too late, even by a few frames, it can sometimes lack the impact it would have if it landed in the right spot. That’s because there’s a rhythm that comes with any given video. If I don’t know exactly where an edit takes place I actually count along with the beats of each clip, or line of dialogue, or whatever it may be. I find that if I just sit, watch, and smack the pause button when I feel an edit should take place, it’s a pretty safe bet that’s where the edit should go.
With a single edit, it’s possible to make someone laugh or cry. Really good editing isn’t even noticed a lot of the time. It’s one of the reasons editing appeals to me. There are so many hundreds of thousands of ways a video can be cut together, which means there’s not just one single correct answer to an editing problem. It feels really good to crack that code or to work my way out of a dead end.
At Overneath, each new edit is a different kind of puzzle. During my short time here I’ve cut together two wedding videos, a handful of videos for local businesses, and even got to work a little bit with drone footage. I’m just now sinking my teeth into a feature length documentary, which is incredibly intimidating. I’ve never taken on a project quite so large, so organizing the clips, taking notes, and piecing the cut together will be an incredible learning experience in and of itself.
Editing takes on many forms. Like any good vocation, it is equal parts challenging and rewarding. I often sit down at my desk and think how fortunate I am to be allowed to make my living telling stories through a visual medium. (After so long working manual labor jobs, I feel fortunate to have a place to sit down at all.) The wide variety of videos that I’m asked to edit ensure my workdays never get stale.
Post production is a wide world full of countless opportunities that I am just now dipping my toe into. I’m still very early on in my career so it’s difficult to guess where I might end up. I know someday it would be fantastic to edit for a TV show or feature film. I would love to get back on a film set as well; I enjoy the atmosphere of professionalism and efficiency that is needed to put on a show in a timely manner.
For now, I’m incredibly happy and grateful to be editing for Overneath. Every week I look forward to seeing what editing has in store for me next. With a job like this there’s never a dull moment.