Digital Production Buzz
May 7, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Josh Apter, Founder & President, Manhattan Edit Workshop
Bruce Nazarian, CEO, Digital Media Consulting Group, Inc.
Garret Savage, Editor & President, Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship
Voiceover: Rolling. Action!
Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital film making…
Voiceover: …one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals…
Voiceover: …uniting industry experts…
Voiceover: …film makers…
Voiceover: Post production.
Voiceover: …and content creators around the planet.
Voiceover: From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for creative content producers covering media production, post production, marketing and distribution around the world. We’ve got a great group of guests today and we’re going to be starting with Josh Apter. He’s a regular guest on The Buzz; he’s also the owner of the Manhattan Edit Workshops. He joins us this week to talk about the state of the film industry in New York City.
Larry Jordan: Then Bruce Nazarian, the CEO of the Digital Media Consulting Group has been consulting for Warner Bros. for the last year and has some very interesting revelations about how DVDs are now being distributed and, no, they’re not dead yet.
Larry Jordan: And Garret Savage is a freelance editor in New York and will be moderating a panel for the upcoming MEWshop ‘Sight, Sound and Story’ conference, discussing how to deconstruct a scene and improve your editing, which is a very cool concept.
Larry Jordan: And thinking of very cool people, our co-host is the ever affable, ever handsome, completely relaxed Mr. Mike Horton. Hello, Mike.
Mike Horton: Hello, Larry. You know that opening graphic?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Mike Horton: First time I’ve ever seen that. Was this the first time?
Larry Jordan: Well, you know, if you would show up for the meetings, then there would be…
Mike Horton: No, how long has that been going on? Because it never played on the monitors.
Larry Jordan: We’ve changed our playback system, but it’s been going…
Mike Horton: Who did that?
Larry Jordan: Brianna did, and Megan.
Mike Horton: Really?
Larry Jordan: Yes, amazing.
Mike Horton: Brianna and Megan, nice job.
Larry Jordan: Oh great, now I’ve got to pay them more.
Mike Horton: No, they did a great job. This looks like a really professional show now.
Larry Jordan: It is getting more and more professional every week and one of these days both of us are going to talk ourselves out of a job.
Mike Horton: Brianna and Megan are going to be doing the job.
Larry Jordan: What are you up to these days?
Mike Horton: Well, we just booked a special guest for the next LAFCPUG meeting – Randy Ubillos.
Larry Jordan: For LAFCPUG?
Mike Horton: For LAFCPUG.
Larry Jordan: Now, when is that?
Mike Horton: That’s for May 27th, so everybody who lives in Los Angeles, grab a seat right now.
Larry Jordan: Well, you know, the cool thing is I teach Wednesdays at USC and…
Mike Horton: And you said you were going to be off, right?
Larry Jordan: And I’m off. We had our finals yesterday, the students are not talking to me.
Mike Horton: I will have to have you do something for us.
Larry Jordan: And I’m available, so I’m going to have to come on down and check out what’s going on.
Mike Horton: Yes, we’ve missed you. It’s been, like, five years or ten years.
Larry Jordan: Don’t take it personally.
Mike Horton: I won’t. Go ahead, Larry, do your business.
Larry Jordan: Well, the trick is to figure out what that is at the moment, actually, but…
Mike Horton: What, did you lose the words? I can fill in for you.
Larry Jordan: You’ve got the words?
Mike Horton: We’ve got a great list of people here today. I’m not sure really sure who they are but… ok, go ahead.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s do this. What we’re going to do is I want to remind you to visit with us on Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. We’re also on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and you can subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com for an inside look at both our show and the industry. Mike and I will be back with Josh Apter right after this.
Larry Jordan: I’ve got a ton of brand new training videos showcasing all the new features in Final Cut Pro 10.2, and they’re all available today. In fact, we’ve updated our entire Final Cut training for this release. We added more than 70 new movies covering every major and minor new feature in the software.
Larry Jordan: Then I figured, as long as I was recording, I added new techniques and new ways of working that I’ve discovered and written about in my newsletter over the years. We’ve updated our workflow in editing training with 31 new movies and effects with 41 new movies. This makes our Final Cut training the most comprehensive, most up to date and most affordable way to learn everything about this amazing software. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s complete.
Larry Jordan: I’m proud of all of my training and especially proud of this one. Get your copy today in our store at larryjordan.com or, even better, become a member of our video training library and get access to all of our training for one low monthly price. Both are incredible value. Thanks.
Larry Jordan: Josh Apter is the founder and President of Manhattan Edit Workshop. This is a training company based in New York City. He’s also the go-to guy for all editing news in New York and he’s going to be hosting the upcoming MEWshop ‘Sight, Sound and Story’ workshop. Josh, what does the Manhattan Edit Workshop do?
Josh Apter: Well, we do a brick and mortar version, in a way, of what you do in your Final Cut training videos – we teach people the art and technique of film editing. We’re an Apple, Avid, Adobe, Autodesk and Blackmagic authorized training center in Flatiron. We started off just doing the Apple Final Cut Pro thing and have now blossomed into picture, sound, graphic design, you name it, and we just keep on growing so I couldn’t be happier.
Larry Jordan: That’s, I think, a really important point. One of the things we saw was a huge shift in the market probably, oh, five years ago where people just didn’t want to show up for face to face training. They wanted to have more online and watch it in their own time. How are you getting people to come and attend training for instructor-led classes?
Josh Apter: I think it’s the fact that instructors are all naked when they train. I think that’s a huge draw, and all grossly overweight. It’s horrible. No, I’ve always been a fan and the way that I learned personally was I really needed to lock myself in a room, turn off the phone and the internet and just really focus on training. I tried learning things from DVDs and books and whatnot and I’m too easily distracted. I do think there are people out there for whom learning online, learning from a book and these sorts of things are great. I use them as reference materials. When I need to learn a specific thing, I can look it up and there’s always the answer on the internet, but for me in terms of the core training, the instructor led experience and the total immersion of just spending the time, I always feel like that is its own reward and then the concepts catch on so much more quickly that way, and stick.
Mike Horton: Josh, I know you like to learn. Do you sit in on some of the classes that you actually give at the Manhattan Workshop?
Josh Apter: I try to. I’ve been trying to take Warren Eagle’s Resolve class for about two years.
Mike Horton: Oh, he’s the best.
Josh Apter: He’s the greatest and I still haven’t been able to sit in on his class, actually because more often than not it’s full and there really isn’t a seat for me. We can only put so many people in the class, we have a very strict student to teacher ratio and I will get in there someday. I try, I really try to learn as much as I can about the software that we are training in because I do feel like I have to keep up on it, but I am falling behind, I should be honest about that.
Mike Horton: Well, I think you have small children to take care of too, as well as run a business.
Josh Apter: Yes, there’s a mass of kids, there are two companies, you name it, and Michael you’ll be happy to know I’m almost locked on eight episodes of an original series that I started in the fall and I’ll let you know when it’s ready to watch. It’s finally out there being creative again.
Mike Horton: Finally you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. That’s great. I’m so proud of you.
Larry Jordan: I remember two years ago, Mike, you were beating up on him because…
Mike Horton: I beat up on him every time we have him as a guest, because he’s such a talented guy and he needs to be doing this kind of stuff and great, Josh, I’m proud of you.
Larry Jordan: So, Josh, stop having a life and let’s get out there and start to direct stuff in the evening and then run the business during the day. I think that’s really your…
Mike Horton: That’s exactly what he’s been doing, probably.
Josh Apter: If only I didn’t have to sleep, I think we’d have something here.
Larry Jordan: Well, what is it that Bruce Nazarian said? Bruce Nazarian said we sleep when we’re dead, and I’ve taken that as a motto in my own life.
Mike Horton: Well, in this economy you just can’t survive on one job, you need four, and Josh is proving that.
Larry Jordan: What’s the hot training right now? What are people wanting to learn?
Josh Apter: I think you might be able to back me up on this. Final Cut is staging a weird comeback. I don’t know if you’ve found that on your site, it’s growing in popularity, but I think the dust has settled and people who were initially very angry and looking the other way are getting a sense from the professional community at just how fast it is though I’m not sure that that’s necessarily new, the software’s not. There’s certainly a new version of it but we’re finding more and more people going back to FCP training now and I think Resolve is proving itself to be an amazing product and, with version 12 coming this summer that has an even more robust editor, I think we’re going to find a lot of people interested in using that as maybe a single solution for post and grading.
Larry Jordan: We’ve seen the same thing, starting about a year ago. There was a groundswell after the 10.1 update, that’s really what turned the switch, and we’ve seen a lot of people interested in our training who really have come new to the platform, so we’re seeing the same thing online as well. As you look at the New York environment, we’ve talked about what training is hot and you mentioned a Final Cut resurgence and Resolve, but what skills are in demand? If somebody wants to move to New York and earn a living, what are people hiring?
Josh Apter: If you can carry a giant tray with about eight plates of entrées on them, you’re going to do just fine. No, I think some of our graduates from our six week program have been talking about this now and it hasn’t really changed. People are looking for editors, they’re looking for someone who can edit and do color grading and do sound design and do After Effects and this whole all in one solution. They’re looking for a super human who doesn’t exist, nor do I personally think they should. You guys are from the generation of editors, there was a sound editor, there were color correction people and there were these departments where you had skilled experts in each discipline who brought their skill set to the project. I think so much of it now has collapsed into one person, or at least that’s the expectation, that I think that’s what we’re finding, that people are looking for this all in one solution and, of course, the paycheck hasn’t gone up for it either.
Larry Jordan: Producers have always wanted the fewest number of people to work as cheaply as possible, but there’s a benefit to the team approach in that you get a higher skill set to work with. Not everybody is good at color grading or audio mixing. How do you deal with the stress that puts on the editor when leading into something they don’t really know, say audio mixing, and they start to create bad work?
Josh Apter: What we teach in our six week class, because these are people who are really studying, they’re taking six weeks out of their life to study the technique, the aesthetics, the history and we do address the basics of sound design for picture editors, which is laying out your tracks in an organized way, light EQ, laying down beds of ambience, so there are basic things that I think any picture editor would be expected to do now. Screening a rough cut, I still think there’s the expectation that it’s a full experience. You don’t want somebody to get pulled out because there’s a sound effect missing or there are ambience changes from cut to cut in a dialog scene, so there are those things that I think are necessary. But even then, when you bring it to someone who really does sound design and you hear what they do and how they elevate the experience, it’s like night and day and that’s where I feel like the divide is. You really shouldn’t be trying to take something all the way to air or release as a picture editor.
Larry Jordan: As we look at New York and the media industry in New York, the very first thing that comes to mind is commercials and the second is news and live television. How would you describe the state of the media industry in New York? Is it growing? Holding its own? Hanging on by its fingernails? How would you describe it?
Josh Apter: Well, as long as there is a reality show about food or tattoos or cars, you’re going to find work in New York. It’s a big, big reality town and obviously, yes, it’s a big news town too. But the reality industry is really booming here and New York’s tax credits are better than they’ve ever been, so you’re finding more TV and film, and they’re not only shooting here but getting tax credits to post here. Yes, I think there’s a real resurgence. The last two or three years, it’s been getting better and better every year.
Larry Jordan: Really?
Mike Horton: Let’s hear it for tax credits.
Larry Jordan: And reality shows? You’re not cheering me up here. Good gracious.
Josh Apter: Well, it’s a great training ground for any sort of editing, I think. Having non-fiction is its own discipline, its own skill set, but I think that you can really apply some of that to any kind of editing. I think it’s all valuable. You can learn from cutting weddings and bar mitzvahs, things like that, if you’re really looking at it the right way.
Mike Horton: Do you watch reality television? Do you have a favorite reality television series that you are loyal to and you watch all the time?
Josh Apter: No, I wish. I don’t really watch a lot of TV. I think I carve out enough time to watch ‘Mad Men’, or what’s left of it – I’m so sad that it’s almost over – but no, I actually don’t watch reality TV and I’m not sorry, actually.
Mike Horton: I love talking about reality TV – sorry, Larry. I think the editors on reality television, especially the good ones, especially some of the network television ones, do such a good job of holding our attention through these really goofy contests that they deserve a lot of credit.
Larry Jordan: But my sense is if you can find a story in reality television, then you’re a superior editor right there.
Mike Horton: Exactly. These people take a lot of stuff and turn it into a story and it’s incredible.
Josh Apter: We had an artist in residence in our last class who cut an episode, she got a few episodes of a reality series about a New York emergency room, I believe, at the New York Presbyterian and it was incredible in that, yes, they had to find a story of the doctor, they had to find these dramatic stories about patients and lay out these story arcs and you don’t know where you’re getting it. It wasn’t one of these things where it was half-scripted, asking them to reenact this or do this again. It was really they got what they got and they had to work with that material and it was amazing. It felt much more like documentary than it did reality, so I agree, I think that when it’s done right it can be really effective.
Larry Jordan: Josh, one of the questions in our live chat, Caesar’s asking whether you find that your students, in addition to having post skills, also need to shoot or need to produce. Are we looking more at a predator market or more of an all in one editor market?
Josh Apter: Few of our students are looking to go to that predator market. We do teach production classes and most of the people in those, or at least back in the DSLR revolution days, tended to be still photographers looking to learn that new skill so they could offer it on the job. But I’ve still found that more people are sticking with either post, because they really love the idea of post, they’re not people who want to be out on set or on location necessarily, and then people in production who are the ones who love going after and capturing that moment. I still find a fair division between those.
Larry Jordan: I want to shift gears. One of the things that you do in addition to offering formal training is you put on workshops, which is beyond what the school itself does, and one of those that you’ve got coming up in June is the ‘Sight, Sound and Story’ workshop. Can you tell us what that is and, even if you can’t, lie? What is it?
Josh Apter: I think I can try. It’s a one day symposium slash bonanza of the experience of editing and talking about the craft, watching people’s work, edits as they evolve from rough cut to fine cut and really what the editor’s process is through these intimate discussions. We’ve done it for the past three years at ‘Sight, Sound and Story’ and then before that we did it for four years with American Cinema Editors, coproducing ‘EditFest New York’, so it’s been a regular stop in June for the editing community on the East Coast.
Larry Jordan: Tell us about some of the panels. What subjects are you covering and who do you have scheduled?
Josh Apter: We like to mix it up every year and hope to get a new look every time we do it. We’re moving to a new venue at the New York Institute of Technology, a beautiful, beautiful theater right off Columbus Circle. You were talking about reality, we actually are going to do a reality TV panel – so if ‘Ink Master’, ‘Mob Wives’, ‘Best Funeral Ever’ and ‘Teen Mom’ are of interest to you guys, let me know and I can introduce you to the editors. We also do a documentary panel every year. We’re lucky enough to have the editors of ‘The Jinx’, ‘Going Clear’, ‘Hotel Land’ and ‘Knuckleball’. Some of these people, I’ve seen these films and to me these are my celebrities, I get a little star struck around them and so to be able to talk to Andy Grieve about putting ‘Going Clear’ together to me is, I can’t even imagine the questions I’d ask. We’re doing a television panel, talking about how that’s evolved into this major new storytelling form. We’ve got Michael Berenbaum, who is a regular for us. He cut ‘The Americans.’ He’s going to moderate. We’ve got ‘America Horror Story’, ‘Masters of Sex’, ‘Sopranos’, ‘Ray Donovan’ and ‘Sesame Street’ believe it or not, represented.
Mike Horton: Yes, Jesse Averna.
Josh Apter: Yes, Jesse Averna, a good buddy. He’s going to be coming in to talk about what it’s like to win every Emmy possible for ‘Sesame Street’ and then our old pal Bobby O’Steen’s coming back, there’s ‘Inside the Cutting Room’, the Bobby O’Steen panel. She’s going to have a long conversation with William Goldenberg, who has been Michael Mann’s editor, I believe, since ‘Heat’ and then ‘Argo’, ‘Imitation Games’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ The guy’s really got a whole lot of amazing stories to tell.
Larry Jordan: Take a breath. You’ve got an A list group of people at the show. Is this something that only high level professionals should attend or you only have seats for 20 people? Who should attend this?
Josh Apter: Actually, we get a very interesting mix of professionals and colleagues, contemporaries of these editors, and then we have people who are coming from schools who are film students or students specifically for editing who look at this as a real treat for them. You can’t learn some of this in a textbook. The actual interaction and to watch the scenes evolve in the clips that they show is a very educational experience for people and so we have students to film geeks and movie buffs to their colleagues who are coming to support them at these events.
Larry Jordan: And how are you pricing it?
Josh Apter: Well, for you guys we’re pricing it differently. The general admission cost is 89 bucks, but I believe with the code buzz15 – don’t quote me on that, I’d better find out what it is because I asked Jason before I got on the call tonight what the code is. Yes, buzz15, lower case, and that’ll get you in for $20 off.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Larry Jordan: Wow.
Josh Apter: And that also includes an open bar and a networking party. It’s got booze and food and that closes the show this year. It’s all the cheap wine you can drink and all these panels for that price.
Larry Jordan: That is very cool. The code is buzz15 and it’s $89 for people who are not clued in to the discount, and that’s an amazing lineup of speakers.
Mike Horton: Yes, that’s so cheap.
Larry Jordan: Michael, how come you don’t have your Supermeets that cheap?
Mike Horton: Yes, why don’t I have the Supermeets that cheap? That’s why we don’t make any money on the Supermeets, Larry, because we’re not as smart as Josh.
Larry Jordan: That’s it. Josh, where can people go on the web to learn more about where to sign up and register?
Josh Apter: It’s very easy – sightsoundandstory.com. That lays out the entire thing, gives you the schedule of events, the location, how to register, all the particulars and a brand new intro video that we just finished about a week or so ago that, I have to tell you, guys, that the office did a great job. It’s a really, really beautiful piece.
Larry Jordan: Josh, thank you, that’s sightsoundandstory.com. Josh Apter is the founder and President of the Manhattan Edit Workshop and sponsor of ‘Sight, Sound and Story.’ Thanks for joining us today.
Josh Apter: Thanks for having me.
Mike Horton: Thanks Josh, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Bruce Nazarian is the CEO of the Digital Media Consulting Group. He’s also a trainer, author, award winning music producer and musician, as well as an award winning production sound supervisor and re-recording mixer. He has a checkered past. Hello, Bruce, welcome back.
Mike Horton: He has a checkered past, yes.
Larry Jordan: It’s good to have you back.
Bruce Nazarian: Thank you, Larry and Mike. I am starved for visiting with you on The Buzz because it’s been way too long.
Larry Jordan: It has been phenomenally long. I was adding it up, it was 251 years ago that you last joined us on the show, Michael was a young boy at that time.
Mike Horton: They were writing the Constitution at the time that Bruce was on.
Bruce Nazarian: Yes, and I had to get my quill pen out for that one.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Bruce, you’ve spent the last year creating a department at Warner Bros. specifically to fulfill DVDs on demand and it gets back to one of the loves in your life, which is optical media. Tell us what you did.
Bruce Nazarian: Well, the long tale phenomenon that I’m sure your listeners are familiar with, which is there’s continuing life in a lot of content but not necessarily enough to justify a very expensive upfront cost for DVD replication, to service the long tale for titles that have either been in replication and have slowed down, or have never been in replication for DVD but still have an audience. We created an authoring division that authored specifically for manufacture on demand, which is burn it as you go, as the orders come in.
Larry Jordan: Wait a minute, burn as you go? But that means that you’re not replicating any more, it means that you’re burning and the media’s not the same between replication and burning a disk.
Bruce Nazarian: It’s more the same than you might think, because there is a secure burning process called QFlix, that embeds the CSS content protection into a recorded piece of media.
Mike Horton: Could you spell that, because I didn’t quite get it?
Bruce Nazarian: QFlix?
Mike Horton: Yes.
Bruce Nazarian: Yes, Q-F-L-I-X.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Larry Jordan: Now, tell me more about this because one of the things that I’ve grown up learning, because you taught me everything I know about optical media, is that with the stuff that we burn we’re working with an organic dye, and with the stuff that’s replicated we’re working with little holes punched into plastic which last forever. Where does this new system fit in?
Bruce Nazarian: What we’re trying to do is fill a need here that may not be for people who are going to collect these particular titles and keep them around for a thousand years, but there is a market for titles that have never appeared on optical disk before for which the budget does not exist to stand the upfront cost of replication. So the balance is let’s author it in a simple form to get the content, which is the interesting part, out on an optical disk that can be ordered as necessary and delivered within a couple of days of the order. It’s manufactured on demand.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Larry Jordan: And are they using million dollar piece of gear to do this? Or is it an incredibly talented database system and standard replicators?
Bruce Nazarian: It’s not standard replicators because you can’t standard replicate a single disk. What they’ve done is connected with a third party vendor who has built a system to automate the production of these recorded on demand disks based on fulfillment that comes in, orders that come in from a third party vendor or the Warner Bros. shop, for example, or amazon.com sales and if you go to the Warner Bros. shop, there are close to 2300 DVD titles online for sale, the majority of which are available as MOD titles.
Mike Horton: Now, these DVDs, maybe it’s because I’m from a different place, but I go to Ralphs all the time and I see that they have a red box thing and there’s always a huge line of people waiting to get a DVD out of that red box machine, so there’s obviously a lot of people who are still renting DVDs.
Bruce Nazarian: Correct.
Mike Horton: I just go on demand and I press a button, pay 5.99 and watch.
Bruce Nazarian: That’s fulfilling a different market. This particular market is for those titles that perhaps have never, ever been released and, if they were going to wait for the return on investment of an upfront replication cost so it could get into a red box and be rented, they would never make it to the marketplace. So what they’ve done, and it’s a very clever move, is they have enabled bringing titles out of their very extensive library at a minimum upfront cost to them to provide options to cinema television series lovers who never had these disks available. It’s pretty cool.
Larry Jordan: That is very cool. What was your role in putting all this together?
Bruce Nazarian: They asked me to specify the gear for the department and ramp up the department and staff it with authors and I basically have been running it for the last year. We’ve been cranking out titles for the Warner archive collection, a couple of which I was just looking at on the WB shop site even today.
Larry Jordan: That is so cool. What are some of the titles that would never make it into replication that have a low demand that you’re pleased with being able to bring out with this new system?
Bruce Nazarian: What’s interesting is just about every title that’s in the archive that hasn’t had a DVD release yet with the typical upfront expense of authoring and menuing and all the rest of that, is being reviewed by the Warner archive folks for potential release as an MOD disk. We did the gamut of things from old black and white movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s that never got a DVD release that now are finally getting a DVD release to serve the market of old film fans who would never be able to find this as a replicated disk because they wouldn’t have spent the money to replicate it.
Larry Jordan: That is so cool.
Bruce Nazarian: And we’re doing cool things like the ‘Dakotas’, the old black and white TV series, Western TV series. We did a bunch of great stuff over the last year and it’s really interesting, but it struck me in doing this how easy it is for content creators to do something similar, although not quite as automated, given the state of the art of DVD recordable and printable burners and media and the way that you can print Amaray case wrappers and buy blank Amaray cases. You can do these things for a couple of bucks a whack and sell them online.
Larry Jordan: In fact, there are a number of people who are doing exactly that. Their business is based on selling a limited quantity of DVDs which could never afford to be replicated, whether it’s antique cars or antique tractors or something more traditional like weddings, delivering on DVD, so it’s cool to know that the big guys have taken an idea from the small guys and that’s all due to your thinking. So yay you.
Bruce Nazarian: Yes, well, we had a great deal of fun putting the department together and getting all the kinks out of it. It’s really exciting to work as part of the Warner Bros. team and I had a great time, but I’m happy to be back amongst the independent contractors now these days.
Larry Jordan: So that gets me to my next big question – what are you working on next, now that you’ve finally got Warner Bros. on the straight and narrow?
Bruce Nazarian: I have been looking forward to having enough free time to be able to finally finish a CD of my very own, a music CD.
Larry Jordan: Oh, that’s right.
Bruce Nazarian: So I’m involved with the beginnings of putting together a CD project that I’m calling ‘Long Overdue’, for obvious reasons, and getting together some very serious musician players to help out with that.
Mike Horton: Yes, we should note that even though Bruce has been very busy with Warner Bros. for the last year, he has never, ever, ever stopped doing music and thank you for that, Bruce, because the posts that you put on Facebook about all the music and all the musicians that you know and unfortunately some of the musicians that have passed away in the last year has meant a lot to those of us who feel your passion.
Bruce Nazarian: Well, music’s in the blood and it’s part of my DNA, so no matter how technical I get from one side of the brain, I always keep getting yanked to the creative side, the other side of the brain, and reminded that first, last and always I was put on the Earth to be a musician, so I’ll do it again.
Mike Horton: And Bruce knows the best and has worked with the best.
Larry Jordan: I was just thinking, now that we’ve got The Buzz studio, we should bring Bruce out and have him do a Buzz concert for us.
Mike Horton: Now, wouldn’t that be great?
Larry Jordan: That would be cool.
Mike Horton: You’ve got to come out here, Bruce, and see this place. It’s unbelievable.
Larry Jordan: Seating for 250 people, a 4,000 square foot studio. It’s just…
Mike Horton: Acoustically perfect.
Larry Jordan: Set up by DTS. It’s an amazing place and it needs someone with a musical touch.
Mike Horton: Yes. Bring your friends for a Friday night concert.
Bruce Nazarian: I just may come on out there and bring some stuff, some guitars and whatnot, and roust the joint out.
Larry Jordan: Just don’t ask Mike to sing, it would not be a pretty sight.
Mike Horton: No, no, no, no, no, no, Bruce can sing.
Larry Jordan: I’ve seen Bruce sing.
Mike Horton: Is it good?
Larry Jordan: We won’t talk about it on this kind of broadcast. No, it’s an entirely different moment. Bruce, for people who are interested in learning more about what titles Warner Bros. has, I know you’re independent now, but where can people go to learn about what Warner Bros. is offering on the web?
Bruce Nazarian: If they go to wbshop.com, they can survey all of the online offerings from the Warner archive collection. There’s a little button there called ‘Warner archive’ and it’s a pretty amazingly large offering of various titles. There’s animation, there are feature films, there are television series, old and relatively recent and new. I mean, we did the ‘George Lopez Show’, we did that one…
Larry Jordan: Hold, hold, hold, I don’t have time for you to list all 7,000 of them. Thomas is asking, quickly, is it DVD or do you also have Blu-Ray?
Bruce Nazarian: There are Blu-Rays, but there’s a very limited selection of Blu-Rays because Blu-Rays are much, much harder to manufacture and ultimately they all just go to short run replication.
Larry Jordan: Last question, what’s your website, for people who want to follow you?
Bruce Nazarian: They can follow me at thedigitalguy.com or they could follow music at thedigitalguy.net.
Larry Jordan: And Bruce Nazarian is both the digital guys. Bruce, thanks for joining us today.
Bruce Nazarian: Thanks very much, you guys.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Bruce.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Larry Jordan: Garret Savage is a documentary film editor whose work includes ‘My Perestroika’, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Peabody Award, as well HBO’s How Democracy Works Now television series. He’s also the co-founder and President of the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship. Garret, Hello, welcome.
Garret Savage: Hello, guys, how are you?
Mike Horton: Good.
Larry Jordan: We are doing just ducky in here.
Mike Horton: Ducky? That’s a Wisconsin word.
Larry Jordan: Were we not talking about ‘Sesame Street?’
Mike Horton: Yes, I think so.
Larry Jordan: All right, so we add a duck in for ‘Sesame Street’ and Garret is from New York and I wanted to try to use a New York colloquialism to make him feel at home.
Garret Savage: Ducky fit right in. … interview Dick Cavett was saying a few years ago how he… he wants to eliminate it from the English language, so I think you’ve found a nice replacement. I’ll start saying ducky more often.
Larry Jordan: The world would be a better place if ducky were used more frequently. Garret, what got you started as an editor?
Garret Savage: What got me started as an editor? I went to school, I studied at UC Santa Barbara and made some films, enjoyed the editing part of it. I moved to LA and I really had no idea what area I wanted to go into. I just PA’d and tried to meet a bunch of people, but was miserable as an office PA on a TV show and the assistant editor said, “Why don’t you come over here, take a look at what I’m doing,” and she brought me into this dark room with the curtains drawn with a coffee maker and a little refrigerator and it was actually light work and it was this calm place, so different from being on set or in the production office, and there was the footage that they’d shot the day before and I found that to be so exciting. Sandy Grubb was her name and she helped lead me into the world of post production and that’s what really got me involved professionally into it, and then I ended up – what did I do? I got lucky, my first job was cutting a friend’s independent fiction feature film and then from there I got hired at a trailer company in Los Angeles and cut trailers and then from there I moved to New York and I got involved in commercials and was an assistant editor on that and later documentaries and promos. I’ve cut promos for AMC and IFD and USA and feature documentaries, so I’ve worn a bunch of different hats in the editing world.
Larry Jordan: Do you have a preference of what you enjoy cutting?
Garret Savage: I feel pretty lucky that I’m able to go back and forth between feature documentaries and promos, that’s usually what I’m doing. It’s a nice way for me to not get stuck in a rut and to exercise different muscles. Cutting promos takes a really specific set of skills and tools and you have to be quick and you can’t really worry about it too much or over think it. You have a couple of days to put it all together and get it out the door; meanwhile, when you’re working on a documentary feature, of course, a lot more time is spent mulling it over and coming back the next day and it’s a lot more thoughtful and a lot deeper. But I like doing both of those things.
Mike Horton: You say you’ve got a couple of days to do a promo. Any tips for us in finding the story and how to do promo in a couple of days?
Garret Savage: Sure, get a good producer and have them tell you what to do.
Mike Horton: Good answer.
Garret Savage: But if you don’t have that, I don’t know. It really depends.
Larry Jordan: Well, wait, wait, wait, wait. Hold on, stop a second, back up. You’re cutting a promo of an existing show. Why is the producer important at all?
Garret Savage: The way it works in promos is you’ve got the network, let’s say it’s IFC and they’ve got a show, a… I would say, and they’re trying to promote the show so they give an assignment to a producer, who has to write a script, whether it be a voiceover or maybe there’s no words but there could be title cards or voiceover or something that says something witty or provides some kind of hook and contextualizes the footage that you’re going to put in that 30 second promo. They usually come up with that and they may even select a piece of music. As a freelancer, sometimes I come in and I don’t know what the network’s current style of promo is, so usually the producers are the people who are keeping that consistent. That’s some of it, does that makes sense?
Larry Jordan: Yes, so basically the producer’s acting as both the writer and the guide to make sure that you stay consistent with the other promos the network’s creating.
Garret Savage: Exactly, and so a lot of what they do is come up with the sometimes brilliant approaches to pitching this program or episode to the audience and then as the editor you come in and they probably don’t know how to execute it or they may have some ideas, but what I find exciting is to come in and have that intense collaboration where they’re dependent on you to say, “All right, here’s what I want to do, help me make it happen,” and then of course as the editor coming in, you’ve got to remind yourself to not say, “No, that’s not going to work.” That’s often our first reaction, “Are you crazy? There’s no way, and we only have two days,” … and just say, “Yes, all right, let’s go figure this and make it happen.” I’m joking, but it’s true. If you have a great producer and somebody who’s got a bunch of ideas, then that’s great, and oftentimes as a freelancer you establish a relationship with those people and they call you back, if they’re freelance, whatever network they’re working for. That’s kind of how you get hooked in.
Mike Horton: How often do you come into a situation where you’re doing a promo and you know nothing about the show? And how do you get that gig?
Garret Savage: Again, at a place like IFC, they have a bunch of different shows and they have some staff editors, but then their staff editors are all booked and then maybe there’s a special that’s coming up or there’s more material, more promos that need to be cut that they don’t have the staff for, and so quite often you come in and it’s a 30 minute show… spend your first 45 minutes of work just watching that show and becoming familiar with that episode; and then lots of times they’ll say, “Hey, check out these old promos we did,” to get an idea for the style and the flavor of it. You guys mentioned predating earlier when you were talking to Josh. A lot of times, more and more, I find myself in a predating position, where they say, “Here you go. Make it happen,” and those are definitely more stressful than when you don’t have a producer.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of stress, you’re a freelance editor in New York. How do you manage to survive as a freelance editor? What are the challenges? It sounds like you’re almost always in marketing mode trying to find the next gig.
Garret Savage: From my own personal experience, I think there’s a period where I was, but what I find really encouraging about New York, and lots of times people say, “Oh, you’re an editor, why are you in New York? Why don’t you do it in LA?” I explain that there’s so much content in New York that’s just needing to be edited. Every week, every month I find out about new places that I never even heard of that are hiring freelance editors. I moved here in 1997 and I’m somebody who’s been here a while. I don’t know what it’s like to talk to somebody who’s younger or newer, but after a while you do a good job and you’re personable – as you guys know, so many parts of the job is how you are as a person and how you are in a room and how up for the job and task at hand you are and just being a good person – and so after a while you establish that reputation, the same people start working with you and before you know it, you’re in demand because producers talk to each other and they say, “Well, who do you like?” and they say, “Oh, this guy, this woman,” and they talk to them. I don’t know if it’s lucky or good or a combination of both, but I think certainly in New York there’s so much work that if you prove yourself, you’ll be in demand.
Mike Horton: Yes, that’s what I always say. If you have a lot of talent, people will find you as long as you put yourself out there.
Garret Savage: Yes, and I will say, as we’re talking about promos, people say to me all the time, “That sounds great. How do I get into that?” An established editor will say that and I just sort of shake my head sometimes because most promo editors are hired from within and they start out as maybe a PA running whatever a PA does nowadays and they just sort of work their way up – they’re an assistant or they’re digitizing or organizing footage at night, and digitizing speaks to my age again, and then they work their way up and they get, “Oh, you know what? We’re going to throw you a little 15 second promo. Why don’t you cut that? You did a good job,” so they work their way up. Promos, I think, are a pretty hard thing to break your way into if you haven’t grown up in that system.
Larry Jordan: I want to change the subject. You co-founded a fellowship called the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship. Who’s Karen Schmeer and why did you found the fellowship?
Garret Savage: I’m glad you asked. Karen Schmeer was a film editor, a documentary editor, one of the best, I dare say, of her generation. She worked on many films with Errol Morris. She cut ‘Fast, Cheap and Out of Control’ that was her first film back around ’97/’98 and she’s somebody who started in Errol’s office and worked her way up pretty quickly to cut the film that he thought was uneditable and she was the second editor on that and figured it out and it went on to become a classic. From there, she worked on ‘The Fog of War’ which won the Academy Award. She worked on ‘Mr. Death’ she worked with Robb Moss on ‘The Same River Twice.’ She cut 13 films and eight of them, I think, premiered at Sundance and besides all those accomplishments, she was just an amazing person and really the best friend somebody could have. I met my wife at a dinner party that she hosted and she was just a dear, wonderful person. In January of 2010, she was crossing the street on the Upper West Side in Manhattan and there was a police chase and these guys were trying to get away from a silly drugstore robbery and they were going at high speed and they hit her and she died. They ran away but were ultimately caught and prosecuted. After she died, we were listless and confused and sad and lost and thought, “Let’s do something positive with this,” and Karen was always very supportive of younger editors and often insisting on younger editors who may not on the surface show that they’re ready for a job but she’d call the producer and say, “You should really promote them and get them to cut your film,” so we thought the best thing we could do was start a film editing fellowship in her memory, to carry on her legacy and also to actively help and support emerging documentary film editors.
Mike Horton: Well, congratulations to you because a lot of people still talk about Karen and I’ve had conversations with Jenny McCormick about Karen over at Ace, so thank you so much for doing what you’re doing.
Garret Savage: I’ll tell you more about it briefly, and you can cut me off if I get too longwinded, but I just want to sketch it out and then we can tell people how they can apply and how they qualify.
Larry Jordan: Go ahead, tell us.
Garret Savage: This is our fifth year. We just awarded our fifth fellowship to an excellent emerging editor named Anna Gustavi. She’s the editor of ‘Seymour: An Introduction’ a film that Ethan Hoff directed. It’s still playing in theaters, it’s a wonderful film, her first feature editing job. She’s going to get a range of benefits. She gets a class at Manhattan Edit Workshop, thanks to Josh and those guys. They’re one of our biggest partners. She gets special membership at ACE, as you mentioned, Jenny McCormick there a huge partner of ours. She gets tickets to South by South West. We present the award to the fellow at South by South West, at their award ceremony. She gets $1,000. She gets passes to other film festivals and the most important thing we find is she gets mentorship. We set her up to have three veteran mentors, documentary editors – Bob Eisenhardt, Toby Shimin and Matthew Hamachek – and she’s already established relationships with them and consults with them throughout the year and they’ll bring her into the edit room and show her rough cuts and that’s just one of the best things that the fellows get.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Garret Savage: Yes, it’s great; and we have a new partnership with the Sundance Film Festival, so the fellow gets to get to Sundance and this year our organization partnered at the festival and we presented the first ever Editors’ Brunch during the festival, about the art of editing. They’ve had brunches for years for producers and directors but never for editors, so we got about 150 editors in the room together. Joe Bini, Werner Herzog’s editor, gave a fantastic keynote address that’s available online and I highly recommend people seek out and find Joe Bini, Sundance, Editors’ brunch will probably get you there if you Google that.
Larry Jordan: Garret, before we do run out of time, where can people go who would like to apply for this fellowship?
Garret Savage: They can go to karenschmeer.com. I’ll just tell you really briefly, the basic requirements are you need to have cut between one and three feature documentaries and be living in the United States during the year of your upcoming fellowship. I think those are the two main things.
Larry Jordan: That’s very cool. Well, the other thing that you’re doing that I want to touch on briefly is a workshop coming up at the ‘Sight, Sound, Story’ workshop that Josh was talking about earlier and your panel is on something that I’m very interested in, which is deconstructing a scene. Tell us about that.
Garret Savage: Yes, it’s going to be awesome.
Larry Jordan: Well, before you talk about the panel, tell us what deconstructing a scene is.
Garret Savage: Ok. There are different ways to do it. We can simple show a scene and an editor can talk about it and we can talk about what went into it. I ask my talent to find scenes that presented some big challenge during the editing of the film. I find that when I moderate panels, it’s best to cut right to the chase. Cutting anything is really hard but cutting documentaries is really, really hard and so I think it’s beneficial for the audience to find out what was really hard about this movie that we’re talking about. What I like to do sometimes and we may have this year – we’re still figuring it out – is to show a scene from a rough cut, maybe that was presented as a rough cut, and then they got feedback on it and they figured out it was problematic but they knew it had to be in the film. We’ll show that and then talk about it, talk about why it was a problem, talk about what went into solving those problems and then show the final scene and show how it works. It may be early to say this but I’m going to go ahead and say it, we may be showing a scene from ‘The Armstrong Lie’ edited by Andy Grieve. When Alex Gibney was making that film, from what I understand, I don’t totally know yet, but he was filming for years with Lance Armstrong, and believing everything Lance Armstrong told him. I mean, he was making a film about it. And then once the fact that he was doping came out, that changed everything.
Mike Horton: Yes, well, that changed the entire film.
Garret Savage: Yes, and much of the film was already cut, so they had to go back and change a lot of the film, so we may be showing a scene before that news came out and then what the scene turned into.
Larry Jordan: Now, help me understand, why is deconstructing the scene so helpful when you’re doing an edit?
Garret Savage: When you’re doing an edit? Well, if you’re an editor of documentary films, it’s important to deconstruct a scene and deconstruct how the scenes fit into the structure. Documentary films don’t follow the Hollywood beginning, middle and end structure. Usually that’s part of the excitement of documentaries – we can start anywhere and go anywhere, I find – so it’s a huge puzzle, a huge mystery and so to get in a room with these experts and these people who are so versed in breaking down structure and figuring out ways of talking about it I think is incredibly valuable and it really doesn’t happen very often.
Larry Jordan: That’s for sure. Also, it’s like watching a production with the sound turned off – you’re suddenly paying much more attention to camera placement and actor blocking because you’re outside the story and you’re able to look at how they put it together and how they shot it.
Garret Savage: That’s really true, even if our sound is up while we’re watching the scene, just to isolate a scene and talk about what came before and what came after. I find myself all the time watching a great documentary and I just slip into it and it’s only when it’s over or later when I’m talking about it that I really piece together how hard it was. That’s one thing I love talking about with editors. On a project, every documentary editor, if they admit it, which they usually do because they’re cool people, that they’re working for a long period where they have no idea what they were doing or where it was going and I love voicing that. If you’re trying to be a great editor, it’s scary when you don’t know, but here these veterans admit that too.
Mike Horton: Yes, how do you find the story?
Larry Jordan: Garret, what website can people go to who want to keep track of what you’re doing?
Garret Savage: The best thing is the karenschmeer.com website, I think. Go to the Manhattan Edit Workshop website to find out about the…
Larry Jordan: Thank you. That’s karenschmeer.com. Garret, thanks for joining us today.
Garret Savage: Thanks for your time, Larry.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Garret.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Mike, do you remember that conversation?
Mike Horton: I remember that. I usually don’t remember yesterday but I remembered that. I remembered Nollywood.
Larry Jordan: We’ve been doing The Buzz for more than eight years, believe it or not. You were a young child at that point.
Mike Horton: That’s right.
Larry Jordan: We just had a look back at some of the…
Mike Horton: I’ve still got my hair and so do you, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Yes, yours and mine is both glued on. We thought it would be worthwhile to look back five years and see how the industry… we had last week, it’s a company that doesn’t exist any more. The industry changes that quickly.
Mike Horton: Really?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Mike Horton: It changes every six months, let’s face it.
Larry Jordan: IBC and NAB, actually.
Mike Horton: Oh, I’d love to go to this Manhattan Edit Workshop thing.
Larry Jordan: I’ll fly you out, by the way. The Buzz has got a large budget.
Mike Horton: June 13th. You know, I’m not doing anything on June 13th.
Larry Jordan: I’ll add you to the list.
Mike Horton: I want to go.
Larry Jordan: It’s a great group of editors, isn’t it?
Mike Horton: It’s only money.
Larry Jordan: $89.
Mike Horton: Oh, I know that. It’s just flying there.
Larry Jordan: But for you, I can save you 20 bucks.
Mike Horton: I’ve got buddies in New York with couches.
Larry Jordan: buzz15.
Mike Horton: There’s no excuse, I’m going. I’m going. Josh, save me a seat. Ok.
Larry Jordan: And thinking of saving a seat, you’ve got something cool coming.
Mike Horton: Yes I do. Oh, we haven’t really announced it, kind of, but we’re doing a Supermeet-up in the Bay area on June 26th, alongside the Final Cut Pro X conference but it’s a separate event, and guess who we booked.
Larry Jordan: I’m afraid to ask.
Mike Horton: Randy Ubillos.
Larry Jordan: Two for the price of one.
Mike Horton: I know, it’s like the Randy Ubillos farewell tour. It is, that’s what I’m calling it because he’s retired from Apple, so I’m having him down here and then we’re going to bring him up there. We’re going to bring him around the country so everybody can see him and say thank you and hi and all that kind of stuff, because he hasn’t been able to do this stuff since he was working at Apple.
Larry Jordan: And when’s the meet up?
Mike Horton: 26th June.
Larry Jordan: And where can people go?
Mike Horton: And the LAFCPUG meeting is 27th May.
Larry Jordan: Yes. Oh, the LAFCPUG meeting I will meet you at.
Mike Horton: And you’re coming.
Larry Jordan: I will be there.
Mike Horton: Yes. If you want to meet Larry and you’re in LA…
Larry Jordan: And can people sign up?
Mike Horton: Yes they can.
Larry Jordan: Where?
Mike Horton: Lafcpug.org. I’ve got to change that one of these days.
Larry Jordan: But not today.
Mike Horton: And supermeet.com.
Larry Jordan: And the guy that co-produces Supermeet is Mike Horton, that handsome dude right there.
Mike Horton: That’s right.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests, Josh Apter, the owner of the Manhattan Edit Workshop, Bruce Nazarian…
Mike Horton: I’m coming to New York, Josh.
Larry Jordan: …Bruce Nazarian, CEO of the Digital Media Consulting Group; and Garret Savage, freelance editor based out of New York City.
Larry Jordan: On the digitalproductionbuzz.com website you’ll find a history of our industry – hundreds of past shows, thousands of interviews, all searchable, all online and all available. You can talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ, and Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
Mike Horton: I’m looking busy.
Larry Jordan: You are doing an incredible job. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Doogie Turner; additional music on The Buzz is provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania. Our engineering team is led by Megan Paulos, and includes Alexia Chalida – we will miss you, by the way – Ed Goyler, Keegan Guy – we’ll miss you too – Lindsay Luebbert and Brianna Murphy.
Mike Horton: Wait, is everybody leaving?
Larry Jordan: Yes, they’re gone. Thanks for listening…
Mike Horton: It’s Larry Jordan and Associate.
Larry Jordan: …to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Buzz is copyright 2015. Thanks for listening.