Tue, 27 October 2015
"Below the Line" originated as an accounting term to separate fixed costs from variable costs in a films' budget, but it has since become more of a social status symbol than an accounting term. In this episode I speak with editor Mike J. Nichols about his recent blog post "Is the Term Below the Line Hitting Below the Belt?" We cover everything from how the term came to be to what it means for editors today (spoiler alert: it's not good!)
Mike J. Nichols is an award winning filmmaker, editor and influential speaker on post production techniques and the art of editing. He has worked on hundreds of hours of network and cable television and has collaborated with great talents such as Billy Joel and Dweezil Zappa. He is also the infamous "Phantom Editor" widely known for his recut of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.
Our show sponsor:
- Mike’s first encounter with the phrase “below the line”
- What is “below the line”?
- How the term went from an accounting term to a status term
- On getting emotionally involved in a project you have a limited say in
- On how the “below the line” status is felt differently in each subset of editing
- The feeling of your contributions being undervalued
- What do we do about this status term?
- Most people don't even know what editors do!
- Technology as a driving factor in our dwindling status as filmmakers
- The editor as the final writer -- especially in reality and documentary
- Where we can start with eliminating this “status” -- we need to stand up for ourselves and our health
- Search for the cause not just the symptoms
- We need to have a better perception of ourselves
- Fitness in Post is not just good for your physical and mental health but is creating a community
- Send your stories! I will read your email! email@example.com
About the Guest:
Mike J. Nichols - “A rare combination of artistry and technology - A young Walter Murch” - actor/director Larry Holden.
As a teenager living in Ohio, Mike’s super-8 films garnered the attention of Frank Zappa’s son, Dweezil, who commissioned him for projects including work on a CBS network television series called, “Normal Life”. With the Zappa’s encouragement, Mike pursued film studies at Columbia College of Chicago winning two back to back short film first place awards which had never happened in the school’s student history.
In Los Angles, Mike edited the award winning indie film, My Father’s House (directed by Larry Holden) which featured Cameron Diaz and Josh Charles. Martin Scorsese praised, “My Father’s House”, as one of his favorite independent films of that year.
Alternately during this time, Mike’s anonymous editing work became famous in the Star Wars community with a video called, “Star Wars: The Phantom Edit”.
“Star Wars: The Phantom Edit” became a phenomenon featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and television news programs around the world. Chicago Tribune film critic, Michael Wilmington, wrote a 2 page review of Mike’s work summed up in the articles final thesis statement, “…done by someone with a gift for editing”.
Chris Nolan’s film editor, Dody Dorn, was featured in a segment on NPR’s Studio 360 about the impact of Mike’s editing. J.J. Abrams gleamed about Mike’s edit to Entertainment Weekly and director Kevin Smith went on record in an interview calling it “Smart editing ”.
HBO penned the largest syndication deal in history for their hit series, “Sex and the City” but editing out 9 minutes of show content proved to be a difficult endeavor. After two trial run episodes, Mike’s editing and attention to story integrity became the missing piece they were seeking and HBO wrote a exclusive contract making him PREditor for the original syndicated versions of “Sex and the City” .
Musician Billy Joel and Exclusive Media/Spitfire Pictures were looking for a more narrative approach to their feature length documentary and Nichols was signed to be the Editor of “The Last Play At Shea” - written by Academy Award winning writer, Mark Monroe.
“Last Play At Shea” featured three different stories editorially woven into one complete narrative and it premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. “The Last Play at Shea’s” world premiere was the largest documentary opening in film history taking place at New York’s Citi Field Stadium for an audience upwards of 60,000 before playing in theaters around the country.
In addition to hundreds of hours of broadcast film and television, Mike has also worked on the Emmy Award winning, “Vito: The Vito Russo Story”, AFI Audience Choice Award winner, “SpineTingler” and the editor on The Zappa Movie, a current film in production directed by Alex Winter.
Mike is known throughout the industry as “The Edit Doctor”. He is an influential speaker regarding post production techniques and the “art of editing”. He has invented a new post production processes and currently has two patents for advanced post production techniques.
Mon, 19 October 2015
In this episode I do a deep dive with my assistant Natalie Boschan into every vital step of our editorial workflow at Empire from day one until delivery of a locked episode. We discuss in detail the systems we've developed to become a more efficient and productive team over the years. Although we use Avid at Empire, the organizational systems and templates we've created can be applied to any NLE workflow in scripted, reality, documentary, or otherwise.
Our show sponsor:
Topics of Conversation:
- How we set up our projects before every new episode
- How to spend more of your time being creative
- The foundation of being efficient - media management and organization!
- Why folder structure in your NLE is important
- How to eliminate errors like working on the wrong sequence, version etc.
- Why you should build an elements project
- Ritualizing behaviors and time management
- Google Drive and why it’s so easy to use in a post workflow, especially if you want to go paperless
- How Trello can REVOLUTIONIZE your workflow for scripted and documentary
- Eliminating human error with checklists in Trello
- How making templates can eliminate “brain drain” and “time sucks”
- Mistakes happen--make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice!
- Build the checklist that works for you
- Organizing email with Trello
- How being organized and efficient will help you get more jobs!
Sun, 11 October 2015
Wes Plate is one of the co-founders of Automatic Duck, the beloved software that helps post production professionals easily transport their work from one application to another. In the past Wes has worked on software development for Adobe and now works as a freelance editor, one of his recent projects being the opening title sequence for the NBC show 'About a Boy.'
Wes’ story does not end with his resume, however. In this episode we discuss how Wes went from a high school athlete to being hospitalized for alcohol abuse in his late 30's, to then running his first Ultra Marathon (50K) with many half-marathons in between. His amazing journey will inspire you to find the strength to achieve your own health and wellness goals, regardless of the obstacles in your way.
Our show sponsor:
Topics of Conversation:
- Wes’ early career as an offline editor at an advertising agency
- Why Wes started Automatic Duck and how they became the “Switzerland” of the app world
- How going between different apps has changed in the last 15 years (...it hasn’t)
- Wes discusses how some of the bad habits he developed early in his career helped lead him down a path to alcoholism
- The turning point in Wes’ life: Christmas of 2007
- Why he decided it was time to go to rehab
- How a combination of tracking his weight and quitting alcohol motivated him to lose 40 lbs right after rehab
- We discuss how breaking your goal into much smaller pieces (GO FAR framework) can help you succeed
- How his Fitness in Post Challenge Group experience helped him gain a sense of confidence
- We discuss overcoming mental barriers and how positive change can happen if you believe in yourself and your abilities
- We discuss Wes’ “why” and the goal of becoming a responsible father and better role model
Sun, 4 October 2015
Jeff Greenberg is a master trainer that travels worldwide teaching editors how to become NLE ninjas and he drops knowledge bombs like nobody's business. He is an author, educator, consultant, and Zen film geek. If you are not familiar with Jeff's work, you need to get familiar with him if you hope to become a top level post-production professional.
In today's episode we discuss how to train yourself to get into the creative zone when you need to as opposed to waiting for that moment to happen organically. We discuss the role of sleep, how to minimize outside distractions, how to organize your thoughts, and plenty of other ways to train yourself to focus when you need it the most.
I have also provided a bonus document that outlines five simple ways you can minimize distractions to maximize focus while on the job.
Our show sponsor:
Topics of Conversation:
- How Jeff and I met at Adobe Premiere Pro World Conference in 2014 and how meeting him has inspired me to continue building Fitness In Post
- Jeff's background working in post-production and how he's gained 50 pounds over the years because of living a more sedentary lifestyle
- The most common challenges for new editors and assistants and how they can be overcome
- My experience working as my own assistant editor without a mentor and the importance of having a mentor
- How the number one way to achieve your goals is to establish your "why"
- In this industry it is a badge of honor to see who can get the most done with the least amount of sleep and why this is an idiotic way to live your life
- How sleep deprivation destroyed my memory and ability to complete simple tasks
- You are not a "night person" even though you may think so
- The basic supplements that neither Jeff nor I ever skip in the morning
- How to overcome inertia and build momentum with your health
- Using Evernote to manage information. Keep everything out of our brain so you make more space for creative thought.
- Using the GTD method to conserve brain energy and organize your life
- Using the Pomodoro technique to maximize creative energy throughout the day and get yourself in the zone on demand
- The black holes of e-mail and social media and how to manage e-mail newsletters