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!

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

In 2015 we actually met up!! Had so much fun talking about editing, moving making and life.

Travel: New York, New York

Back in 2010 I traveled to New York. I never shared the pictures or the journey until now.
Anytime you travel somewhere new, you have this idea painted out in your head of what it will be like. You gather all the stereotypes you’ve heard and develop an opinion about a place you’ve never stepping foot in.
The moment comes when you are finally there. Suddenly, the city becomes more than fancy buildings and entertainment venues. It becomes a place where real people call home. That is when travel starts to change you. Each day your opinion changes.

New York. What I didn’t expect was to enter in to a city that was very much a community. When I was on the subway, I was looking around at all the different cultures that were there. I then felt a woman looking at me, she was looking at what I was wearing, my hair, my eyes. I was the odd one! She was looking at how different I was. I suddenly became a part of the culture. I was a person in New York traveling on the subway awaiting my destination.

What I began to discover was a place where everyone seemed to be taking care of each other. It might sound strange, but New York was nice to me. When on lookers saw that my friend and I were lost they wouldn’t hesitate to help us. One girl even said, “This is my stop, I’ll take you to the place you are looking for.” We walked and talked with her and suddenly she felt like an old friend. She told us what brought her to New York and the dreams she holds.

The first place we went to was a record store. I am thankful for technology, but I still enjoy walking through a real music store. By the time I grew up and had money of my own, record stores no longer exists in my area. Buying old vinyls makes me feel like I have the only copy in the world!

Anabel and I arrived at Time Square. It was nearly 9pm and the night was just starting. There seemed to be a million things to do. Since I had my big camera with me, people smiled when I took pictures of them, which made me smile. Usually I get mean looks when I take pictures of people. I guess here in Time Square, it was okay to be a tourist.

When I got my portrait taken by a street artist, I asked if I could take a photo of him too. It was like exchanging  images. I showed him his photo, he smiled and said, “very nice.” When I received his drawing of me, the girl had long lashes and a different chin. I said, “This girl doesn’t look like me.” He answered like a man would, “I made you pretty.” I laughed and said, “Thank you for making me pretty.”

The next morning we went to see the Statue of Liberty. I began to place myself back in the late 1800’s when immigrants from all over the world came to America. The joy they must have felt when they saw Miss. Liberty for the first time. Freedom was awaiting them, a new life, hope, dreams and the possibilities of living a great life. It was surreal to see it myself.

When I looked at the sky line I figured out why New York was different than I thought. There were two towers that changed it. Changed everything. No one would have ever thought buildings would go away. This is why the city was taking care of each other, even ten years later.

I couldn’t help but imagine the streets covered in ashes, people running. What I saw on TV back in 2001 became real to me.

Construction of the One World Trade Center was still taking place. I could see the ground where the buildings once stood. I took a moment to believe what I was seeing.

I could feel the sorrow in the air but most of all hope. Things would never be the same but what was being built would bring some peace to some. The memorial center was more than just remembering 9/11, it was a place where we  could remember all the families that were directly effected by the tragedy.

That evening Anabel arranged for us to go see the Lion King on Broadway. I was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

The next day we slept in. One thing about New York is that it will take all your energy away if you let it. We decided to take it easy and walk around Central Park.

It was so relaxing to hang out with the butterflies and birds. We spent hours walking around the garden.

What makes Anabel great to travel with is that she is as spontaneous as me. We ran in to the zoo and decided to go see some New York animals.

I remember it being so hot that day. Everyone seemed to be looking for a way to cool off.

We walked around the city to grab lunch. There was still so much to see! Lucky we had a ticket for one of those tour buses who took us all over town.

We arrived at Soho. The place looked strangely familiar. I couldn’t help but think of Felicity, one of my favorite TV shows when I was in high school. There on the corner was Dean & Deluca, where Felicity worked while she was going to NYU. I loved watching her adventure in NY. Even though it was a fictional show, being here in her neighborhood made it feel real.

The last thing to do on our tourist list was visit the top of the Empire State building. I remember going through all the lines, elevators, stairs and said, “This isn’t very romantic.” haha.

Finally, our last day in New York came. We spent it once again in Central Park. After we had a nice picnic we ended up taking a long four hour nap. I guess this made us official New Yorkers or just homeless.

As we walked to a music venue I tried to take in the city and notice all its details. My world back home is so different from here.

We found Pianos, a cool music venue and enjoyed one of the local bands. There is so much to see in New York but I think the best part of traveling, are the discoveries.

Seven Questions with a Fashion Photographer

How amazing is Twitter, that I can have direct contact with some very talented people. I recently started to communicate back and forth with a fashion photographer in New York about his work. I randomly asked him if he would be interested in answer a few questions about being a pro. To my surprise, he was more than happy to!


Arturo’s Portfolio

Arturo Cantu-Fotografo

1. How did you break into fashion photography?
I’ve photographed people for a long time.. I eventually decided to visit some modeling agencies to show them my work. They started sending me girls. I then went on to shoot for designers and other clients.

2. What did you do to prepare you for it?

Countless hours in front of computer advertising myself. (which I still do) Word of mouth helped a lot too.

3. What type of preparation do you do before a shoot?

I like to keep things very simple. If I’m shooting indoors, I set up one or sometimes two lights, but for the most part I shoot with one. Unless Im shooting something specific for a client. I make sure my camera batteries are fully powered and make sure my memory cards are formatted. I love listening to music and drinking iced coffee while doing all this.

4. What are some things you do to push your creativity?

That’s a tough question.. I believe that creativity comes from within, either your born with it or you’re not. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me. What do I do? I really don’t. For personal work, a lot of my ideas come to me while I’m alone thinking and over thinking.

5. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Life

6. Looking at your work you capture women’s beauty with such taste and class, what are some things you keep in mind when you are taking women’s portraits?

I try to make them feel 100% comfortable with me and our project. If they’re not, it’ll definitely show.

7. Which lens do you use the most?

Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 and Nikkor 85mm f/1.8

Thank You Arturo for taking the time to answer my seven questions.

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