Being creative requires one to be experimental when trying to produce something new. Coming up with new ideas isn’t always easy, and there’s never a guaranteed it will work. Last month I was working on a project that seemed to be missing one element. As I drove home I noticed a billboard that sparked an idea. The following day I tried to gather a young couple to film but no one seemed to be around. When I saw an older couple enjoying their lunch at work. I asked them if I could film them for a few moments. They didn’t really want to but I insisted.
When I completed the project I looked at it and was happy everything worked out. The next week, I received a mix of reactions. Some people liked it, other didn’t. I even heard some “hated it”. Which I admit, did hurt my creative feelings.
I took the stab like a grown up and deleted the file. I had one of my new editors give it a go, and create something new. That week, I had to start a new project that would once again require risk, time, imagination, and heart. I realized I couldn’t let the experience of the previous video stop me from being creative.
I was nervous about the next project I had to work on. Everything I was doing wasn’t working. I had over 5 drafts, and still kept refining it. I asked advice from others what they thought when I was stuck. I took notes and made adjustments. When I delivered the final product, everyone loved it.
I saw the value of being open and asking others what they thought of a project. Their feed back help me work out the issues I was stuck on. Being able to do this required me to ask the hard question and allow myself to be open to whatever their comments would be.
Maybe your last project only received 4 views or maybe it wasn’t as good as you hoped. Don’t let it stop you from trying again.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You don’t have to be sloppy in order to edit fast, in fact, if done right, editing faster will force you be organized and even create better work. In order to speed up how fast you make a video, you gotta have a game plan. You have to know what to do next in order to keep your work pace going. Avoid the opportunities to get distracted, avoid repeating task, and avoid making mistakes that will take hours to fix.
Pre-production might as well be called “the fountain”. You must know what you’re going to do before you start. You can create thumbnails but they can be time consuming. What you need is a script of the timeline, this gives you an idea of the beginning, middle and end. Working out the details will help you in post. What questions are ask, who is in front of the camera, your audio, your white balance, and everything that goes into giving yourself or your editor good material to work with.
Audio – Audio can take forever to fix, so start off right with the best audio possible!!!!!
When I am starting a new project I first, save my blank editing project right away, label all my bens, and gather all my footage placing them in a project folder with everything labeled. Misplacement and mislabeling can cause lots of wasted time, naming items will save hours and headache. I like labeling my items by date and subject.
Next, review your interview footage and label markers with titles. This way, you can scan and grab the parts that you want. Delete clips from your bens that are unusable. This will save time from thinking it can be used. (Example: Shots of the camera persons feet walking around.)
Audio- Pick your soundtrack before you edit, this will help set the tone, pace and style.
If your audio needs to be fixed, do it before you start cutting. If its an interview, you can lay your footage on the timeline, send to soundtrack pro, normalize and save.
I met Glenn back in 2005 when I lived in Australia. I remember hearing rumors about a kid who was amazing at editing and animating in After Effects. When I first met him, he would have nothing to do with a lowly college student like my self, 🙂 but he soon warmed up to me and we became great friends.
I’ve always considered him one of my mentors on creating beautiful videos and films. If you haven’t seen Glenn Stewart’s work, I’d encourage you to follow him on vimeo and check out Mindscape Films. He is always producing amazing stuff.
I asked if I could officially interview him about his latest project and short film, The Red Valentine. He was kind enough to take the time to answer 7 of my questions.
Here is The Red Valentine trailer before you read on –
1. How did the project The Red Valentine come about?
– I’d made a few short films in the past, but it had been a few years since the last one and I really just wanted to jump back into that whole filmmaking world again. I find filmmaking incredibly cathartic, stressful, but releasing. So with that impetus, it was just about finding the right story.
2. What made you passionate about the story?
– I’d been toying with a few stories and this one came about when I read a short article about an unsolved murder that had happened in Australia in the 1940s. This story isn’t based on that event, but the events, circumstances, theories and setting surrounding that really intrigued me. Period isn’t done too often or done well, and short films I find to be largely esoteric and vague and I just wanted to tell a very clear cut story.
3. What did this film teach you about storytelling?
– I guess one of the big things that sort of wove its way in over the course of writing it was setup and payoff. I really made a concerted effort in the later stage of writing to really make sure each little twist and turn was justified early in the story either through a character’s action or dialogue. Also, developing and defining tone was another important thing.
4. What challenges did you face going into production and how did you over come them?
– Or biggest challenge going into production was just time. We had a ridiculously tight schedule to shoot what was a relatively sprawling production over multiple locations. One night we were shooting on a beach, and it was cold, raining at points and because of that, filming was going very slowly but we had a LOT of script to cover. The biggest thing in that moment was really working out you truly will need in the final film and what you can do without. Can you combine shots? Cut shots completely? Pick up shots at a later date (which we did end up doing in a kids sandbox later on).
5. What type characteristics did you look for when gathering your production crew?
– I just like people who are egoless, hard working and are good at what they do. I love collaborating with teams and this experience only strengthened that resolve.
6. Did you edit the film, why or why not?
– I edited the film, mainly because given the complexity of the story and the various stories within it, it was just going to be easier for me to do that than relay what I wanted to someone else. As a result, the edit came together pretty quickly although there were definitely some interesting editing problems to solve along the way, mainly from that one hellish shooting night on the beach.
7. What important lessons did you learn during the process of making this film?
– Collaborate. Be detailed. Take advice but also be firm in your convictions. And always have fun.
Thank you to Glenn, for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish him the best of luck on his film, it looks beautiful. The Red Valentine will be available online to share with the world sometime in the future -I can’t wait to see it. Be sure to keep up with Glenn on his twitter.
This is the most common question I’ve been getting, and the funny thing is that my answer keeps changing. There are many reasons why someone and why you are subscribe to my blog. I think that is the key. Giving you many reasons, attracting many different people.
I also care about you. I care that you reach your goals, that you find happiness and that you are inspired. I at times get emailed from people asking to post things on my blog, to advertise and my firsts thought is what would you want. I want my blog site to be a safe place for everyone, I also want it to be a place where you can find honesty, the truth, my journey in my career, photography, how you can succeed and even my faith.
Blogging is about paying attention to your ideas and your audience. Give them a reason to come back and give yourself reasons to keep on writing.
Here are some thoughts you can apply to your own blog. Maybe they will help.
1. Make your blog navigation easy and organized.
2. Make it easy for someone to subscribe.
3. Use tags so people can find your topic.
4. Don’t have too many categories, it will overwhelm the user. It will overwhelm you!
5. Make your post visually appealing and keep your text short.
6. Your title of your post is important, it needs to say your point.
7. Be honest, even if you are scared, show your flaws but remember to leave on a hopeful note.
8. Blog consistently, once a week is good, and respond to comments.
9. Help others, encourage them.
10. Post photos, everyone loves photos!
11. Write about what you are in to.
12. Make every post as professionally as possible, post work that you are proud of.
I saw my numbers grow when I was featured on WordPress Front Page, Freshly Pressed. It was my Paris trip that got my blog the most attention. I had been blogging for two years with 30 subscribers and gave them my best work. It prepared me for the 2000 that followed. My advice is, don’t make blogging about numbers, make it about people. Write about what you are passionate about and what you love! 🙂 Above all, you gotta enjoy it.
When I have to edit someone’s story I have to ask myself what point do I want to land on. Like any story, it can go anywhere. As I book the person to interview, I have to know my objective. In a strange way, what do I want this person to say, but still allowing room for twist and turns I may not be aware of.
The key is asking questions that will lead you to your point. At church we wanted to talk about one of the classes we have available for special needs as well as show the impact it had on the family. Everything in her story sounded equality important, but as the editor, I had to pick which parts where going to lead me to the objective. I had to eliminate points that were repeated, if she describe the hard times, I no longer needed anymore clips that describe that. If I focused too much on one area it may lead me away from the point of the video.
Telling someones story in less than 3 minutes, is an art. It takes practice, but most of all it about preparing before hand that will make the interview successful. Wording those hard questions just right will make your story 100x better. It will also help the subject feel comfortable enough to open up. When you know what you are doing, they will be able to relax and open up. The last thing you want is someone closed up when you’re trying to share their story.
The first time I heard of Story by Robert McKee it was 2008 and I was hanging out with my good friend/editing mentor Nick Khoo in Australia. He didn’t give me much details about the book but said, “You have to read this.” When I saw how thick the book was, I knew I wouldn’t bother.
Last year I was in Burbank visiting another editor friend when the book found me again. I walked in to a used book store, and there it was, in a pill of film books.
I often think books find their way to me at the right time. I finally finished the book and it has taught me so much about storytelling, humanity, God, the struggles of life, and how we long for story.
“…I slowly came to realize that stories mean much more than words and pretty pictures.”
Learning the art of storytelling has taught me how to better understand my story.
“Deep within these characters and their conflicts we discover our own humanity. We go to the movies to enter a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vicariously another human being who at first seems so unlike us and yet at heart is like us, to live in a fictional reality that illuminates our daily reality. We do not wish to escape life but to find life, to use our minds in fresh, experimental ways, to flex our emotions, to enjoy, to learn, to add dept to our days.”
I often see my life as I would see a movie, knowing that today’s struggles will build my character.
“True Character is revealed in the choice a human being makes under pressure- the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”
“..choice under pressure will strip away the mask of characterization, we’ll peer into their inner natures and with a flash of insight grasp their true characters.”
It was fascinating to learn how important conflict is to the story. In the long run, it is the story. How the character over came, how the battle was won…
“Life is conflict. That is its nature.”
“…conflict is to storytelling what sound is to music…as long as conflict engages our thoughts and emotions we travel through the hours unaware of the voyage…if conflict is kept on hold for too long, our eyes leaves the screen. And when our eyes leave the screen they take thought and emotions with them”
“The Law of Conflict is more than an aesthetic principle; it is the soul of the story. Story is metaphor for life, and to be alive is to be in seemingly perpetual conflict.”
As a writer, editor, photographer – an artist, its our mission to connect with the audience..
“If you give me your concentration, I’ll give you surprise followed by the pleasure of discovering life, its pains and joys, at levels and in directions you have never imagined…Insight is the audience’s reward for paying attention.”
“We go to the storyteller with a prayer: Please let it be good. Let it give me an experience I’ve never had, insight into a fresh truth. Let me laugh at something I’ve never thought funny. Let me be moved by something that’s never touched me before. Let me see the world in a new way. Amen.”
“If the audience expects to happen happens, or worse, if it happens the way the audience expects it to happen, this will be a very unhappy audience. We must surprise them.”
We all have stories inside us and sometimes sharing them takes courage and honesty. There is no telling the power a story can have on the listener.
The more I think about the past six months, the honest the answers become to my questions. February I left my job to pursue editing in the industry and to move to Canada. It appears the reason I left wasn’t about my career, my goals, or anyone else but it was about getting on the right road to lead me to my fate.
At one point in all of our lives we stop and have to look at our self in the mirror. We ask our self questions we would commonly ask a stranger: Who are you? Where are you going?
If we are honest, most of the time we don’t know the answer to those questions. I guess we have to decide when we are going to answer them. Search for the truth? Or keep on moving in whatever direction you are moving towards.
After I left my job in February, I could feel myself getting lost – I no longer knew where I was going. I thought I was moving forward because I was going towards a goal I made five years ago but my inner dialogue was haunting me.
As I was living the dream, traveling the world, meeting new people, seeing new sights and drinking the best teas in the world, I was faced with a question every person ask themselves at one point, “Where do I belong?” I felt like I could live anywhere in the world and survive but the real question is, “Where do You want me God?”
From travel to travel, day-to-day, month to month, I asked this question. I received my answer in Paris but it wasn’t until I was in Vancouver did I listen.
“You belong at your post.”
The journey was needed to find the answer.
Those on the outside wont understand, they will think she failed. They will think she couldn’t find a job, they will whisper she tried. But I will say I went, I learned, I saw, I heard, I found peace, I found faith, I discovered the answer, I found where I belong, I found who I am, I know who I am following, I trust where He is leading, stopping was necessary, listening meant doing, and going back means I am ready to move forward.
The differences between me and others is that I want to go where He wants me not where they say I should be. Not even where I think I want to be. “I want my dream to be Your dream, it’s where I am the most happiest Father. You know me better than I will ever know myself, You know eternity.”
If the past few months were a movie, my life would be a Miniplot- opening ending, inner conflict, self discovery…yes, it would be your classic indie movie. The movie will end where it started.. San Bernardino, but the audience will leave the theater with a new discovery about where they are in their own life.
Next month, I will be returning to my old job to do a new job. A place that was created for me. A position with new challenges, responsibility, and possibilities. I will be in charge of the TV department, a boss, a supervisor, a leader. I have only been given a glimpse of where we will be going, but I know it’s somewhere no one thought possible, not even myself.
I finally made it to the correct platform.
Now Boarding a new adventure.
I am probably the only video editor who doesn’t own a DSLR, a Mac computer, or a video camera. How do I get work done? Well, I make use of the resources around me. I bought a film camera at a Goodwill and use my church’s video camera sometimes. Everywhere I’ve worked, I have always had a Mac with all my editing programs.
I know I need to get my own equipment so I can finally experiment and reach my creative potential.
This year I plan on saving up for some good equipment, that and save to move to Paris. So though I may not have the best equipment I do have creative passion. And you can not buy creative passion.
I love what the Bible teaches about how God looks at the heart and not the outer appearance. It reminds me that where I go in life it will be because of the passion that is in my heart not because I can create the best video in the world.
And that helps me create the next video with DV footage or take photos for fun with my grainy film camera.
A dream of mine for years was to go to Bible College in Texas. After things didn’t work out because of finances I went to design school and studied video editing and graphic design. Even in the midst of my new-found passion as an artist, I still never forgot my desire to go to Bible College.
After much exposure to some of Hillsong United DVD’s that documented a youth movement in Sydney, Australia, I began to do research. Turns out it was not only an amazing church but a Bible College that offered a course in TV and Media. It was the perfect place for me.
There I met some amazing people and had some great opportunities. I volunteered for their large conferences as a camera person and assistant. The moment they found out I had some background in video editing and design I was asked to be apart of the youth video team. There I became a faithful volunteer and later was asked to do some paid jobs for albums and weekly church services. This is my demo reel of the work I did. Things were making sense as to why God had me wait things out and go to school first. My passion + my faith and love for Him was going to come together for my = destiny.
Almost 3 years later since I called New South Whales home, my life has changed and I have grown dramatically as a person. I recently went back for a visit. Here is a video I edited together of some of the fun moments I had with my Australian and New Zealand Friends.
In New Zealand, it felt like time stopped. I no longer could hear the clock ticking. We came across the most amazing greenhouse at one of the museum.
When we were out getting lunch I found a little book store which had the most unique books I ever came across. If I was alone I would have spent a few hours in this used book store. Looking through all the rows of books I found a book of poems that caught my attention, I knew this would be perfect for my collection.
The best part of going back and visiting friends was seeing how much they changed and grew. I was also able to see how far I came along, and how much this place was no longer home for me.
On the last day I went to the Harbor and said good bye to the beautiful city, I knew I wouldn’t see it again for a very long time.
I decided to make baby sitting my nephew in to a memory. I wanted to display the freedom a child has, the carefree life and the magic of it. My sister loved the video and I know this will be one that is seen over and over in my life.
For years I dreamt of attending Hillsong College in Australia. I wanted to devote myself to learning leadership skills, biblical principles, and to give my talent to encourage the church. While I was there I was able to create projects that thousands around the world have seen. I enjoy work that has a great purpose and that influences people to go after their dreams, potential and get connected to God.
The Encoutnerfest youth conference was the first time I not only edit projects for a conference, but looked over a team of editors as a producer.
The honesty that a film carries reflects on the filmmaker. I believe the filmmaker must stay true to the characters they create, even if it means disagreeing with the characters reactions. People value honesty, its something that isn’t seen much. Everything in front of our eyes is edited to appear a curtain way. I often say its my job as an editor to lie. But creating “The Search for Her” short film was my chances to finally be honest.
This was my first film that I wrote, directed and edited. It was fun to gather friends and recreate what I wrote alone in a room. Behind the scenes photos: