Interview: Harold M., New York Freelancer

It’s always cool to meet other editors around the world, even more exciting to see them succeed. I met Harold a few years ago when he left a comment on my blog. Since then I watched his instagram feed fill up with awesome jobs. I couldn’t help but notice and wonder how he got to where he was. When I asked him for an interview he said, “Me? I’m just an editor.” And of course I went into a “we change the world” speech. haha I asked him if he could answer 7 questions.

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1. How did you become an editor?
It was definitively not something I planned, but now that I think of it, it wasn’t a surprising choice.  My Dad has worked all of his adult life in television stations back in my native Dominican Republic, and me and my brothers basically grew up roaming around where ever he worked.  First he was a camera man, and for the better part of the last 25 years, he’s in the control room during live broadcasts.  Pretty much I had always been attracted to the idea of working in a TV station, but it wasn’t until my third editing class using Final Cut Pro (First one was cutting 16mm, and the second one was using tape to tape) where I saw it as something attainable.  I took an Avid class in my senior year of college, and was lucky enough to land a gig cutting 15 second promos at a station called Metro TV in NYC in the early 2000’s.  I guess becoming an Editor wasn’t a crazy achievement, but keeping at it has really been the challenge.
2. What kinda projects do you work on?

I do mostly short form programming: Magazine style shows, Field packages, and lately, News.  It’s been a really weird few years trying to figure out what kind of programming I like doing, and in between reality tv, scripted dramas and news programming, I have felt in love with doing small feature pieces for a few of my current employers.  I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to jump from one genre to another from project to project…but for the better part of the last few years, I have been doing news/short documentary type of projects.

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3. How did you land your current editor position?

I don’t have a position, or a 9-5 job if that’s what you are asking.  I freelance for a few networks (ABC, CBS, and FUSE right now) and production houses in New York City…and pretty much, for the better part of the last few years, I have been working non-stop.  The current nature of the industry, at least in New York, calls for people to freelance as staff positions are really scarce.  I’ve managed to get my name in the roster in a few places and have kept busy that way.  It’s fun, in the sense that from one week to the next I could be in one place, and then another.  I have learned about myself that I don’t really like a fixed structure when it comes to my professional life, and I have somehow managed to keep things interesting at least in the sense of working for several people.

4. Can you share some editing tricks that you’ve mastered along the way?

I really don’t know of any tricks I could share that haven’t been shared yet somewhere in the internet yet.  One thing, though, and I guess I might be the only editor I know who’s really crazy about this: I collect presets for effects on Avid.  I have bins, and bins of effects that I have either created, or “borrowed” from places I have worked on.  It’s very rare that I start an effect from scratch these days, but rather I would start with a preset and go from there.  It has really helped in terms of me being a faster editor in certain situations, but it mostly controls my obsessive compulsive disorder to leak into other parts of my life – as I am always organizing such bins, and tweaking effects with ideas that pop in my head.

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5. What type of dedication does it take to complete a successful project?

Lots of focus is the answer.  I’ve been in situations where I am the guy cutting a 30 second promo and have over 4 hours of footage, and the director is right there next to me trying to work in as many shots as possible, and literally screaming when I tell him I don’t want certain shot, and he makes me work it in because it took over 20 minutes to get that setup just right on the field.  I’ve also been the editor putting a piece on a plane that crashed just an hour before the 6pm broadcast, and we have to make that piece go on air, because that’s the news, and people need to know – and 15 minutes before air, there’s no script, let alone all the elements which are still being fed by our nearest affiliate.  Then magically, at 6pm, your piece is done and you are playing it to broadcast straight from your Avid, because there was no time to send it to the server, and you can’t recall how you did it.  So, I guess lots of focus is the answer, whatever the occasion…a little bit of sense of humor also helps too.

6. What have you learned from working with others on important jobs?

I’ve learned to get along with people mostly 🙂 – I heard somewhere, that editors are sly politicians and I have taken that to the heart.  I also heard that we editors are just like bartenders, and also implement that train of thought in the way I handle myself at work.  As far as important jobs…I see every job as important; Being freelance in a city where just about everybody is an editor demands that I do the best I can – or at least try! – every single time.

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7. What have you learned about life from peoples editing stories?

That there’s so much going on outside the edit room.  I’ve worked crazy hours for the past few years, full months at a time without a day off recently, and work has sort of become my window to the world.  Sometimes it’s really crazy what I am watching while I am working on it, and sometimes it’s really beautiful.  I really love what I do, and I don’t see it as work…hence working 7 days a week doesn’t bother me.  I am slowly, but surely, trying to get out there a little more and trying to take a crack at what most people call a normal life…but like everything I’ve done so far in my life, it’s a slow process.

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Pictures provided from his instragram.

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Its so cool to read that with hard work and lots of sacrifice, opportunities open up. Thank you to Harold for taking the time to write up the responds! I know you’re busy instagramming! 🙂

—- You can see all Harold’s work on site. www.hrldm.info

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