(Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Alexis Owen-Guenther who was sent to a two day Avid Assistant Editor Workshop at Manhattan Edit Workshop through our Professional Development Accessibility Program.)
I first heard about the Blue Collar Post Collective Facebook group from my editing instructor Cara Friez at Point Park University. I joined the BCPC group about two years into my education because I developed an interest in pursuing a post-production career after college. BCPC is a great resource for individuals wanting a career in post-production. The organization is extremely useful for making connections with others in various cities along with job posts, helpful knowledge, and supportive conversations. As you are beginning a career in the industry it can be challenging to understand how to find work. Organizations like BCPC can provide support and help you succeed with your career in the industry. Success is predominantly about having a strong network and developing new connections with other filmmakers.
When I first started the Cinema Production program at Point Park, I had the desire to be a jack of all trades and study multiple areas of interest, including Cinematography and Directing. I felt the more I knew about the overall industry the better, but also knew that it was important to have a primary focus of what I wanted to do long term. I decided to focus on editing and sound mixing and design by the time I graduated. I realized I would rather pursue a career in post-production sound or editing instead of a career in production. After I graduated from Point Park, I started freelancing in the Pittsburgh area as a production sound mixer and production assistant. I continued to look for post-production work in my area but discovered that Pittsburgh mainly consists of production jobs. Most post-production jobs are found primarily in other cities such as New York and LA.
Last year I read about Kelsey Myers’ (a Point Park University Alumni) experience attending EditFest in LA through the Professional Development Accessibility Program with BCPC. Reading her experience inspired me to apply for PDAP because it sounded like an incredible opportunity to network with post-production professionals. When I applied for PDAP, I applied for several upcoming events and stated my interests and where I am striving to go with my career. I explained how the program could benefit me and help me move into a post-production career. I listed NYC as the primary place I wanted to travel and experience the post-production industry. I made this decision because I already had the opportunity in college to travel to LA for a short film that I mixed and designed sound for. I was selected to represent my work on the film alongside a few other students involved with the project. It was screened in a showcase at Culver Studios with other short films. During the trip, I was able to visit several areas in LA for the first time, which was great because LA is a city I would consider relocating to. After submitting my application, Kylee Peña from BCPC reached out to me about an upcoming Avid Media Composer workshop donated to BCPC by Manhattan Edit Workshop for two days. She asked me if I was interested in an opportunity where they would send me to NYC for the workshop from March 13th-16th, 2019. I happily accepted the opportunity to go to NYC for the workshop. Kylee, Gaby, and Chelsea began organizing my itinerary for the trip. My flights, hotel, and workshop were fully funded by PDAP and I was extremely excited for the opportunity and grateful for the assistance to go to the “Big Apple”!
This was my first time staying in the heart of Manhattan and experiencing the busy life of one of the largest cities in the world. It was slightly overwhelming at first because Manhattan is extremely busy compared to Pittsburgh and what I am used to. Luckily, I had a taxi take me to and from the airport because driving on the road is pretty intense there! Once I was dropped off at my hotel, I needed to figure out the best way to get around town. I found the subway to be the best source of transportation while I was there; however, I took Lyft rides around the city depending how long it took to travel to specific areas by subway. The walking distance to some subway stations can be far depending on your destination and where you need to go.
The first part of my itinerary included meetings with several professionals at Nickelodeon regarding assistant editor workflow and Flavorlab for re-recording mixer and sound editor workflow. My one-on-one meetings at Nickelodeon and Flavorlab were extremely helpful and provided me with useful insight in both assistant editing and post sound. First, I met with Tiffany Isaacson at Nickelodeon. She is the Post Supervisor and gave me a rundown of what they do at their office. After I met with Tiffany, I was introduced to Michael Esposito who is a Creative Producer and also Alex Prekop, one of the assistant editors. Following my meetings, I was introduced to several other professionals working at the company. It was great to meet more of the staff at Nickelodeon because I was able to gain additional insight about assistant editing. This allowed me to see various tasks going on within the company and how each person played a role in developing, completing, and delivering projects. I was able to see their daily work routine and what it was like to work as an assistant editor at Nickelodeon. One of the most important things I learned is the editing projects in NYC are mainly short-form projects such as commercial spots or reveal trailers. The turnaround time for the work is much shorter compared to LA where the long-form projects such as full-length movies and TV shows are edited. This editing department for Nickelodeon is mainly responsible for short commercial spots that reveal details for a new episode that will be airing and the “Kids Choice Awards” advertisements. Next, I went to Flavorlab, where I met with Eric Stern who is a re-recording mixer and sound editor, producer. He showed me around the studio and shared with me the current project he was mixing audio for. I was introduced to several of his colleagues working with him at the studio. I enjoyed these meetings because I was able to see two different jobs that I am interested in as well as the daily routines of the work. I am extremely grateful that I was able to network with all of these professionals. I also had the opportunity to ask questions about living in the city, including where the best places are to live. Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and Queens are popular spots, if you have roommates to share living expenses with. Some people I spoke with lived outside of the city in New Jersey, which potentially seemed like a better option because I would most likely live on my own and the cost of living is more reasonable.
The following two days, I attended an Avid Assistant Editor course at the Manhattan Edit Workshop (Mewshop). Janet Dalton was the two-day course instructor and teaches regularly at Mewshop. She has worked as a freelance editor in the industry for more than 15 years. She was extremely knowledgeable with Avid and answered all of the questions I had during class. I studied and edited in Avid when I was in college, which made it easier to understand and follow along in the course. This two-day intensive training was extremely beneficial because it was primarily focused on learning the skills and job expectations of an assistant editor. We studied the proper way of ingesting media and organizing it. We covered topics such as, AMA linking vs. importing files, offline and online editing, different codecs, managing MXF files/deleting, creating dailies/stringouts, working with subclips, audio mixer tool, grouping and working with multi-cam, syncing/syncmaps, timecode, and properly exporting projects. Learning how to effectively perform these tasks are essential to becoming a successful assistant editor. The class size was small and consisted of me and two other people. This was great because it allowed each of us to have time to ask Janet questions and she was able to give us additional one-on-one help during the training.
After my Avid class, there was a BCPC meet-up and network event at the Gatsby’s Bar. This meet-up consisted of many local NYC assistant editors and professionals with post-production related interests. The event was great, I felt like I was able to get to know people easily, network, and ask questions about their experience and careers in NYC. I must thank Gaby Allen (Treasurer at BCPC) for introducing me to a number of people and making me feel welcomed at the BCPC event. If I ever move to New York, it would be an event I would always attend because I think it is an excellent way to meet and connect with new people on similar career interests. If you are interested in pursuing post-production related work in NYC, I highly recommend attending these events to learn and to continue to build your network.
Following the final day of the Avid workshop, I was scheduled to return home, but my flight back was canceled and rescheduled for the next day. Since this happened, Kylee and Gaby were able to schedule me for another event to attend while I was still in the city. I attended an IATSE Local 700 union event. The event included a panel of professional editors in the union. They discussed their work and the benefits of being a part of the union. I found it interesting to understand the process of joining the IATSE Local 700 Union because requirements can vary depending on where you live. I am glad I was able to stay an additional day and attend this meeting because it was very useful and informative for someone interested in becoming involved in union productions.
Overall, my favorite part of my trip to NYC was having the opportunity to stay in the heart of Manhattan and networking with people in the industry to understand what it is like working in a post-production career. It is very different from Pittsburgh and working as crew on a production. One of the biggest differences is the amount of post-production companies there are in NYC. I think it’s a great place to begin a career if you want to work as an editor or in post sound. Most people that I met with started as interns at their current companies and eventually worked into a permanent full-time position. It helped me to understand where I need to start in order to find a position at a post-production company in a larger city. The opportunity also provided me the ability to establish a great network of professionals in the industry. As I mentioned, your network is a critical part of becoming successful in this industry. I am confident that I could reach out in the future and connect with them at any time.
After taking this trip to NYC to meet with video and sound editors as well as having additional training in Avid for Assistant Editing, I decided that I will continue working on both for the time being. My experiences have been filled with surprises – you can find yourself performing a variety of jobs and gaining a wide range of experience as you navigate your way through this industry. I always felt that being as versatile as possible would make you more marketable in this industry, but also know you can be successful specializing in a single craft or department. Things can fall into place as we go along, and you never know who you might meet while networking or what opportunity might present itself. I am extremely grateful to have additional training as an assistant editor and if a job presents itself, I have the knowledge I need in order to perform well. After two days at Mewshop, I had a clear understanding of what may be expected of me working at a company as an assistant editor. It certainly gave me the confidence to pursue assistant editing jobs, though it will take time and experience to become a union editor and to establish yourself within a company. Presently, I am continuing to freelance in production sound mixing around Pittsburgh and will be working on a final sound mix for a short film. Aside from my sound work, I will be a production assistant for an upcoming series shooting in June around the Pittsburgh area. I plan to stay busy and work on several projects and continue to grow my network. My plan by the end of this year is that I will know where I want to relocate and continue pursuing a career in post-production.
For anyone interested in this industry who may need support and assistance to travel to a large city for a workshop or an event, they should apply to PDAP because it is truly a wonderful opportunity. BCPC is there to support you and to help you find your way into this industry. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have met all of the professionals that I met in NYC. It really gives you the opportunity to put yourself out there and build confidence. This trip helped me so much by providing me with the experience for the jobs I am interested in pursuing. Having insight and meeting people that do the job you desire is the best experience you can get. I was able to have so many one-on-one conversations and ask questions that helped clarify my thought process on pursuing those jobs. If you decide to apply for PDAP, I would suggest applying with your options open unless you have an event you really want to attend, then include that in your application. I would write what your interests are and where you want to go in your career, and they will decide if they can help you with what you want to pursue. That is essentially how my experience went when I applied for the program. I feel that my experience would be great for anyone wanting to explore post-production jobs and building a network with other individuals interested in this line of work. I hope that PDAP continues to provide the NYC opportunity and the workshop. This program is extremely beneficial and will help many individuals like myself develop their career and network. I want to thank everyone again at BCPC for their time and planning this trip, meetings, and workshop experience for me. Without it, I would still have many questions left unanswered, no network in NYC, curiosity about work available there, and no Avid Assistant Editor training! Thank you so much!