Charles Little II, ACE, Emily Mendez, Angel Gamboa Bryant, Robert Michael Malachowski, Jr., ACE, Michael Ruscio, ACE, Nena Erb, ACE, Russell Griffin, ACE, Mohammed El Manasterly and Timothy Good, ACE
Moderator Michael Ruscio, ACE
Teamwork was the watchword when three pairs of picture editors, all recent Emmy winners or nominees for Outstanding Picture Editing, took the stage for the 75th Emmys Prime/Cuts panel, the Television Academy's 17th year highlighting the art and craft of editing.
Held January 27 at the Academy's Saban Media Center in the NoHo Arts District, the afternoon's panel discussion drew duos Timothy A. Good, ACE, and Emily Mendez of Max's The Last of Us, Emmy winners for drama series; Russell Griffin, ACE, and Angel Gamboa Bryant of Netflix's The Upshaws, nominees for multi-camera comedy series; and Charles Little II, ACE, and Mohamed El Manasterly, part of the editing team for FX's Welcome to Wrexham, winners for unstructured reality program. Former Academy peer group governor Michael Ruscio, ACE, whose credits include Six Feet Under and the upcoming Netflix series 3 Body Problem, was the moderator.
"Collaboration is so crucial, because ... television is entirely a collaborative medium," said Griffin, who was also nominated for Hulu's How I Met Your Father. "So, to be able to work with another gifted editor, bounce things and see how they react, and also how you react to what they've done, makes the collaboration so much more involving and engaging to everybody. And it elevates the craft."
I addition, having multiple editors brings fresh perspectives and nuances to the footage, added El Manasterly, who also won an Emmy in 2014 for Netflix's documentary The Square. "It's fascinating how many different versions you can cut from one scene," he said.
The crucial editing elements of that collaboration include pacing, sound and music. "The way we pace a scene changes the feeling of the scene entirely," said Bryant, who was also nominated for another Upshaws episode and for Hulu's History of the World, Part II. "[In] comedy, depending on how quickly we cut it, it could land a joke completely differently than if we go slower and give a long pause." With one Upshaws actor adept at physical comedy, pacing means including those bits and leaving more time for the resulting laughter. "I think that's part of the art form of creating comedy," Bryant said.
Music is a significant part of the pacing, and not just when it comes to working with the music selections: Many editors have longtime experience playing musical instruments, which provides an innate sense of rhythm when cutting scenes. Former classical pianist Good cited the influence of classical music structure in shaping drama; percussionist El Manasterly recounted the improvisation of living in the moment and feeling the shots as he watches them.
White said he first cuts without music. Then, "Once I score it, that's what I'm particularly tuning in," he said, "to really either get your gut wrenched or get you upset or make you confused, or make you feel what I hope or intend for you to feel."
Sound has turned out to be Mendez's specialty. "When I started as an assistant editor, I really wanted that creative freedom to do something where I was contributing to the story," she said, before discovering an affinity for sound. Upon learning that The Last of Us creator-executive producer Craig Mazin loves sound, "We would just talk, and I'd even say, 'I want this scene to feel like this.'" Sound can help direct viewers' focus in a scene, and sound effects can punctuate moments in the action.
Another key factor in editing: assistant editors. Mendez had bee8n one of Good's assistants before he promoted her to editor. "I love assistant editors, obviously." Good said. "They are the primary source of defense: They see everything as it comes in from the beginning. And then they can alert anyone if there are any issues or problems." They also tend to have various skill sets Good relies on, such as visual effects or Mendez's sound design.
When it comes to their careers, panelists agreed that luck plays a role, as do hard work, mentoring and learning from those mentors and others. Ruscio noted something he'd once heard from an industry speaker: "You have to be ready for the luck, when the luck comes."
Prime/Cuts was presented by the Television Academy's Picture Editors Peer Group Executive Committee; Robert M. Malachowski, Jr., ACE, and Nena Erb, ACE, are the peer group governors.
[NOTE: This is assuming the video will be up.]