This interview is featured in the book, "Clarity for your Creative Career". Available NOW!
For many filmmakers and artists, the elusive world of Television Production can seem intimidating and impossible to penetrate. In my chat with Janis Vogel, we demystify post production and editing, discussing secret tricks of the trade.
Janis Vogel is an editor (and assistant editor) for feature films, music videos, documentaries, and her impressive TV work includes credits on MTV’s “Teen Mom”, “16 and Pregnant”, AMC’s “Feed the Beast” and most recently a TNT series pilot called “Civil”. When she first started in the industry, Janis thought, “This is too fun, this is a passion. I can’t do this for money!”– She was wrong.
We’ll uncover some of the industry’s best kept secrets, including a union which offers freelance editors perks like health insurance. Janis describes the process of editing for reality shows, and at major post houses. We also compare and contrast how editing varies between industries, formats and genres. Tips for editing like a pro, organizing your projects, and overcoming the physical pain of sitting down all day. NERD ALERT! We get super technical. Which application does Janis call the “Grand Piano of NLE’s”? Find out what is industry standard and how to transition into whatever genre or position you desire.
As co-president of the Blue Collar Post Collective, she also gives us the lowdown about Post Production education, tech talks, editor conversations, troubleshooting help, networking opportunities and lots of great programs that can get you hired.
FREE Photoshop tutorial: www.LauraMeoli.com/FREEBIE
The Sound Live: www.TheSoundLive.com
Today’s Guest: JanisVogel.com www.BlueCollarPostCollective.com
BPCP Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BCPANY/
Editor’s union: www.editorsguild.com
“In the Blink of an Eye” Editing book: http://amzn.to/2blfCvS
Fitness in Post: www.fitnessinpost.com
Listen to more episodes of the LoudaVision Podcast HERE
Thanks for listening to LoudaVision, the podcast for all you creative people out there. I’m your host, filmmaker and artist, Laura Meoli. If you want to find out more about me and get creative tips and inspiration, you can visit LoudaVision.com. First, I want to tell you about something I've created just for you. As editors, filmmakers, photographers, we're sometimes perfectionists but we don’t always get photos that are as perfect as we envision them. I've deleted hundreds of shots thinking they were not salvageable, lighting wasn’t good, backdrop didn’t work, lipstick on my teeth or even a reflection on my glasses. Don’t waste your time anymore throwing away shot after shot when all it takes is a little Photoshop magic. Don’t be scared, even if you have never used Photoshop before, or maybe you have and you're tired of just wasting photos. I definitely want to recommend my Photoshop crash course. It’s quick and absolutely free. Plus, it’s a great skill to add to your repertoire, your resume. Once you know the tips, you could even throw some of these flawless photos into your videos. It’s super easy and completely free. Just go to LauraMeoli.com/freebie and get your free Photoshop tutorial. It’s my gift to you.
One more item of news, I want to announce my partnership with the SoundLive. It’s a great website with music news focusing on the underground scene and even bigger artists in the New York area. What I really like is it helps local photographers expand their portfolio and gives local musicians a boost. If you want to get involved as a photographer or as a musician, or if you just love music and great concerts, go to SoundLive.com. I’ll be speaking to the founder in an upcoming episode, so please make sure to subscribe to the LoudaVision podcast on SoundCloud, YouTube or iTunes so that you don’t miss it.
Today’s guest is Janis Vogel. She’s a video editor working in post-production for multiple feature films, music videos and documentaries. She also edits MTV’s True Life Teen Mom, Teen Mom 2, 16 and Pregnant and AMC’s new original series, Feed the Beast. Currently, she’s also editing a pilot for a TNT series called Civil. In her spare time, which I don't know where she finds any spare time, Janis is also Co-President of the Blue Collar Post Collective, which you can join at BlueCollarPostCollective.com or on their Facebook group. You can find out more about Janis and her masterful editing at JanisVogel.com. Hi.
Hi. Thank you so much for having me on the show.
I want to know first about the series pilot that you're editing for TNT.
It’s called Civil and it’s about modern day civil war breaking out due to election tensions. It’s extremely relevant. I'm really excited about it. I'm actually the assistant editor on the pilot. It’s the first show that I've worked on that I really am excited to watch. Keep that on the DL, but that’s a big honor for me right now.
When you say it’s a civil war, is it a period piece?
No. It’s about 2016 election-type. It’s a fictional election in 2016 that sort of breaks down into a civil war. The US just descends into chaos basically.
Let’s hope this doesn’t happen for real.
Let’s hope so. I really love the show. There's a strong female lead in the pilot and that’s really fun. I'm working with Brad Carpenter who’s the post-producer and Chuck Willis is the editor on it. He’s a commercial editor and this is his first narrative television show. It was directed by Allen Coulter, who has done everything from the Sopranos to Boardwalk Empire.
How did you get this juicy piece of work on your desk? How did this happen?
Before this, I was working on AMC’s Feed the Beast. That was also post-produced by Brad Carpenter. He brought me on. What happens is you get work from the people you're working with. I had been working with an editor before that and I went on to AMC’s Feed the Beast with that editor, then I piggybacked with Brad onto this TNT show. We’ll see what happens next but I'm hoping to maybe edit a commercial. It’s just like a little leapfrogging. Always scary, freelancing, but sometimes you land something good.
Do you technically have your own production company or you're working just on certain projects that come your way?
I just work on certain projects that come my way. I'm in the union so I feel a little bit more protected than I did before that. Before that I felt like it was all up in the air. That’s a nice change and I really am a big supporter of the union and union shows and making people aware of the union and navigating it. The editors’ union is particularly welcoming in that you can join if you get a union gig. There’s a bit of a catch-22 because you have to find that job and somebody willing to hire you. Once somebody wants to hire you, you can just go and sign up. There are still barriers to entry and it is very expensive to join. That’s hard, so I realized that.
Is it like a sponsorship thing? They’ll take you on even though you're not in the union, but they really prefer people who are?
When they hire you, in the weeks that you have until the jobs starts you can go and sign up for the union and pay your dues. I realized that if you can’t afford those dues then there's still a big hurdle.
Is there a website or something you can recommend to people to learn more about the union or to find union jobs?
It’s the MotionPictureEditorsGuild.com. That’s where you’d find more information about the union.
I’m just so impressed by you because it seems like you're just living the dream. You have found your passion, which is editing. A lot of people are very scattered about they like different things, like me for example, I like a lot of different things. I like variety, I like directing, editing, shooting, teaching, all these things, podcasting. For me, I like a lot of stuff. Editing is one of my passions for sure. You have narrowed and zeroed in on editing and you're getting all these great shows from it. How did you do this? Tell us about your journey.
I am going to say that the biggest key was that when I was twenty, I was like, “I'm going to give myself until I'm 30 to figure out what I want to do.” I think that there’s a lot of pressure to know what you want to do right out of high school. “What’s your major?” I think that there's a lot of fear in that pressure, societal fear. It’s important to ignore that and take your time and explore and figure out what your skills and your passions and the environment you want to be in and people you want to work with, and find what gels in all of those respects. I was a photographer in high school. I went to City College for cinematography. Then I randomly took one more internship after grad school. I was the receptionist at a post house. I got a glimpse into that world and was really drawn to color correction for the photography relationship.
It’s a good foundation, photography, definitely.
Yeah, I think one of the things I always grappled with was, “Do I want to be outside or do I want to be inside?” Nature or the cave. The cave won in the end, which I'm surprised about. You can find solitude but you can also have a crazy party in a cave. I think in some ways it’s both more stable and more versatile. There are a lot of things that determine what you want to do and what works best. I took a little break from work and actually thought I would leave the industry forever. I was post-producing reality television. I've got my start as a PA on 16 and Pregnant and worked my way up to post-producing. My boss and mentor, Dia Sokol Savage and the person she runs the show with, Morgan J. Freeman, they actually fostered me being able to explore different positions because I went from being a post-producer to taking what I called a break, but really I just started shooting and I had a more flexible schedule that way. I was waitressing and shooting reality TV. The physical and the pressure to be spontaneous and being a freelance camera person was rough. I became terrified of my telephone and I knew that I had to change my life. I was like, “Where do they want to send me? What kind of lighting environment do they want me?”
Where were they sending you? Was it dungeons and stuff?
No, but what some people find exciting is going and doing an interview on the side of a cliff. People get really excited about different lighting environments. I understand the nature of somebody who’s truly meant to be a DP. I didn’t feel like that was the path for me. I started bridging the gap by shooting music videos and then I was editing music videos that I shot. I was working with Silas Howard, who now directs Transparent. We were making music videos and short films together. I've got to bridge between those areas. I had started editing in college and really loved it. I couldn’t leave the editing suite. My first film professor was an experimental film artist. She really showed me work that still inspires me to this day like Maya Deren and Wong Kar-wai, which isn't experimental per se, but just really, really cool work that I still look back to. I fell in love with editing then but I never saw it as a career path. I was afraid of it in some ways.
Why were you afraid of it?
Sometimes the technical pressure seemed daunting. Then sometimes I was like, “This is too fun, I can't do this for money. This is a passion.” I didn’t really know whether I was good at it, I just like doing it. It became a no-brainer when I was later making music videos and things like that. I was like, “I'm enjoying the technical aspects of this. I'm enjoying the creative aspects. I'm able to be myself.” It just worked.
You said you had a goal of when you were 30. I just turned 30 as well. I'm still up in the air. 30 does not mean that’s it.
What was more important is that I gave myself ten years, not the age. I'm certainly not ageist. One of my new arbitrary goals is to maybe write a film and direct it when I'm 50. Maybe I'll have enough life experience then to make something.
You're just giving yourself these long deadlines that you're flexible. It’s like, “I'm being kind to myself. I want to do this but I'm not putting it as I need to do it this year.” That’s a good way to be.
Yeah, it takes some pressure out. There's enough pressure living in New York City and being an editor.
The technical part of editing is very, very intimidating especially for someone coming in or maybe someone who’s taking a break from editing because there's a new software every year and then you're constantly having to learn what is the new thing. Then they expect you to be color correction, audio editing, all these different things. It’s not the same as it used to be where what they teach you in film school which is you're just editing the picture together and someone else takes it from there. It’s so much more responsibility now. I love that.
I think it’s important to continue learning all the time. I think it’s also important to make sure that the industry provides ways for people to learn. As you know, I run an organization called the Blue Collar Post Collective. We have that goal in mind, to provide educational experiences as well as all the other things we do for our members. Education is huge. Whether we are posting educational stuff on our Facebook or doing workshops. We've got a workshop for Mocha 5 coming up. We've done colorist master classes. We have editor conversations which delve in to technical and theoretical aspects of editing in various genres. We do Facebook live tech talks where leaders in post-production technology speak candidly about products, technology, program, software. We had Al Mooney from Adobe talk all about Premiere. We're really focused on making education accessible to people in the industry and making it less daunting.
Once you pick a software and application, that’s what you bought, that’s what you have, and unless they're going to give you updates, when are you going to get a chance to learn something else? Say you're doing Final Cut 7, and then your company, maybe they didn’t spring for Final Cut X or Premiere, how are you supposed to know all these other software unless your company will sponsor it or you can join a cool place like the Blue Collar Post Collective.
Luckily, you can join that for free. That’s the great thing about us, and finding other free ways to learn. I've got my first assistant edit job on the show, Teen Mom 2. I learned Avid in two weeks on Lynda.com.
What did you know before that? What was your previous experience?
My previous experience was as a post-producer, double clicking on a clip and watching it and maybe making some locators and understanding the organization of a project; how things are organized by bins and scenes and whatever else. I needed a fast crash course. Having a foundation and a few things you need to know for assistant editing like grouping, command+shift+G, grouping, transcoding, how to bridge between the finder window and the project window in Avid. Those basic things will show that you have respect for the process. At that point you can and should ask other people for advice and support as things come up. I was lucky to be second assistant and was able to learn a lot from the lead assistant. I think it’s important for incoming assistant editors to work in environments where they're not the only assistant editor, which is often hard because night shifts are often entry level. That’s one thing that happens a lot on our Blue Collar Facebook page, people asking technological questions and troubleshooting with the greater community. I'm actually prepping for a short film right now and have been on the Blue Collar Post Collective Facebook page since 10:00 last night getting help with an AMA linking issue that I'm having.
The community is great about answering questions or responding. Everybody just seems so engaged. It’s a very technical community and there are a lot of questions.
The thing is that people should feel free to ask any question. I think everything in the world is top-down. As co-president of the organization, I am willing to show that I don't know it all. We just want it to be a non-intimidating environment both on Facebook and at our monthly meet-ups. We bring accessibility to everything that we do. We have a program called The Professional Development Accessibility Program where we're funding low-income post-professionals to go to major industry events.
Those are expensive?
Yes, they're expensive. Who can afford to go them? It’s pretty homogeneous, so we're really changing that. We have a program called Get Hired where we are accepting job placements from companies and then any resumes that come in that aren’t ready to be passed along, we are connecting those people with mentors within the industry to improve those resumes and make them more viable for job placements. We've already seen twenty people, whose resumes were not getting responses, changed and improved those resumes so that they're actually getting work now. It’s direct impact. We identify problems and then really just make an environment where those problems don’t have to persist.
It’s hard being someone straight out of college or someone who wants to get into filmmaking or editing and maybe you know Avid or something and then a job wants you to know Final Cut. They won't even look at your resume if you haven’t used Final Cut on a project before. Like myself, I'm in documentary and commercial work mostly. If I want to get into narrative it’s like, “Wait, but you don’t have experience in this.” It’s tough.
Yeah, it is really tough and there is no doubt about it that it is just hard to transition between fields or transitioning from being an assistant to being an editor. It’s always that first time. For editors, every project I've had I've been like, “This is my first action-based documentary series reality show. This is my first pregnancy-related documentary series show. This is my first short narrative film.” It’s always a first because every project is so unique. I wouldn’t have been able to transition from reality television to fiction without the help of my friends. You have to build relationships and those relationships have to be organic to you. I think that’s another thing that we're doing with the Blue Collar Post Collective. We are saying, “Come together and talk about life,” and inevitably that will be talking about work and post. It’s not about networking. It’s about building real relationships that you feel comfortable with and collaborate with and then growing together to achieve your goals and help each other out. I owe a lot to it. My co-president, Katie Hinsen, helped me immensely. I wouldn’t be here in the place I'm in right now if it wasn’t for her.
Why did you and Katie start the Blue Collar Post Collective?
Actually, Katie Hinsen and James Reyes, who James Reyes is now on our board, they started the Blue Collar Post Collective as a way for post-professionals to get together and come out of their caves, to introduce the people from one post-house to the people from another post-house because that just hadn’t been happening. Ten people met up and hung out and it led to twenty and then 40. I came along. I was probably in the 75 person marker. I came along and I just loved what they were doing. I started out as the perfect member. I had just edited my first show. I was needing support and advice in how to proceed and wanted a community. It was just really natural for me to engage with it. I wanted to become a part of it. I had no idea what I had to offer. I was like, “I don’t have leadership skills or anything like that.”
I’m sure you do.
I do now. I’m a professional hounder by now. It was really fun to see that even if you don’t think you have anything to bring to the table, if you're willing to be a teammate and you're willing to support other people, then that’s invaluable and you can change the industry and change your own life and everything surrounding your goals.
You mentioned the word team. That brings up a question for me because being an editor, you are part of a team but you're not necessarily on set all the time, you're not really interacting as much with the people who are part of the shooting of a reality show or something like that. You're not there as much but you are a huge factor in the production process. Tell me about what it’s like to be an editor, being on the team, just for people who are maybe not sure they want to get into it. What is it about being an editor and what’s cool about it?
It is interesting. I'm an only child but I love to hang out with my friends.
But then you go home and you don’t see them anymore.
Exactly. That’s similar to editing. You get to have your solitary time but you're an integral part of bringing a film or story to life. I love that aspect of it because I love having a room full of creative people and all discussing how to craft this thing. I love having my quiet time to just do all of that. I think in terms of being part of the team in a larger way, I'm a big proponent of being involved in the pre-production process and having a close relationship with the key players on set. As an editor, I think it’s really valuable to be able to communicate with the DP, to communicate with the DIT and to communicate of course with the directors and producers of a project. As an editor, it’s still really important that you communicate with people and that people want to sit in a room with you. It’s important too.
It’s the best of both worlds in a way.
You can visit set and remind yourself how happy you are that other people enjoy it.
What does your conversation look like with the director or cinematographer in the pre-production process?
We’ll go through a script and really talk about everybody’s ideas for the visual look of it and the pacing of a certain scene. It’s great to know what the director and the DP have in mind before the shooting begins. Sometimes during the shoot, questions will be asked like, “Can this be handheld, this moment? Should we shoot it on sticks? Is it going to cut if we do this? Do we need to have a green screen moment here? Can we composite this?” It’s nice to be involved before you just receive a drive and are like, “What’s in here? Surprise.”
Do you have advice for people? I feel like when you're learning editing on Lynda.com or an editing class, they teach you all the technical parts of it. They even might teach you some color correction and things like that. No one really teaches how to organize a project. It seems like a lot of different editors have their version of organization. Is there a standard? What’s your preferred way?
As an assistant editor, it’s really important to do what you can to accommodate an editor’s needs in terms of organization. Each editor will have a different preference, which is great because when you don’t know something you can just say to the editor, “What’s your preference?” You don’t have to say, “I don't know how to organize a bin,” because there is no right way to organize a bin. You learn their preferences and hopefully remember to do all the things they prefer in terms of just organizing a scene bin.
Are you given a shot list from on-set that says which were the best takes or are you just going through and picking on your own preference?
I do receive script notes that give us the preferred takes. The footage goes to a post-house first and then the transcoded footage comes to us at the edit suite. That footage already has selected takes burned into the metadata there. It’s really a nice workflow. Of course, when I was working on reality before that, there weren’t takes. It was all the footage for one scene or one day. It was still be organized by scene and then it would just usually be a two to four-camera shoot. The footage would just be chronological for that scene.
In that case, are you given a script?
No. Yeah. You just craft the story as you go along. It’s a lot of fun. I miss cutting Teen Mom 2. I hope to go back and do some more of that. Flexibility, I think that’s what’s great about bridging different aspects of the industries, is building more flexibility. Not necessarily like calling it a move up, it’s just creating more ability to move left and right.
Flexibility is important because what an editor is in one show is not what an editor is on a film or on a reality show or on something else. You just said being a reality editor, you're pretty much post-producing the whole story on your own. Meanwhile, if you go do a film, you're given a tight script that you have to adhere to and you're given which takes and everything. It’s being open to different workflows and different styles and being willing to do it all and seeing which genre you like best. I think being an editor in one genre is completely different from doing something else.
To their credit, I have worked with amazing post-producers in reality television. That’s part of being on a team. Everybody adds something. Sometimes I'm left to cut a scene however I think it should be. Other times, it’s really a team effort, unlocking a scene and getting to its emotional core, finding that path to making the strongest story. It’s really fun to have partners you respect in doing that. I have worked with some post-producers who are also my very close friends. That’s what I love about it.
That’s the fun part of editing. There’s all these technical stuff. The fun part is telling the story in a creative way, in a different way, in your way, but still being in the style of the show and making the audience like it and feel something.
It’s like finding the ways to unlock something. It’s a bit of a maze usually, no matter whether you have script notes. Everything changes when you actually see it on screen and you actually have to start cutting it. There are some trial and errors. There are some decisions you know will just work. One of my favorite analogies was what Walter Murch said in In the Blink of an Eye.
That’s a good book.
Yeah, it’s a great book. It’s pretentious to talk about it but it’s actually a really good and almost spiritual book. He says, “Bees find their way back to the hive more easily when they go further away from the hive.” If you try to get bees back into the hive by putting it two feet away from the hive, they won't find their way back. You have to really do something different sometimes to unlock the emotional potential of the scene.
Get out of your comfort zone.
It’s interesting. Editing is very meticulous and very, very detail oriented. Then it also has to be totally reckless and unexpected and creative.
Sometimes I find myself working on an edit and I'm not reckless enough. I feel like, “I'm going to go home and I'm going to sleep on it and tomorrow I'm going to come back and I'm going to butcher this.” It’s a phrase that I use with my friend, Kendra, who’s another editor. We have to be in butcher mode. You're just going to destroy everything you did and just make it better.
Walking away is so important.
It’s important in arguments and in editing. Just walk away.
Any decision-making, I guess. Editing is decision-making; thousands of decisions a day. I would say I've become faster, maybe not better, but a faster decision-maker since editing for this long. You just have to make one and then you'll find out whether it’s right or wrong.
You have to try it and not be afraid to mess up your timeline. Just duplicate.
Organization, duplication and then recklessness.
Let’s get technical. You're using Avid?
You learned on Avid?
I learned on Final Cut Pro, Final Cut 7 back in 2004. That was the first thing I worked on and first thing I had. Now, I edit on Avid. I really like Avid a lot. Exactly what we've just said, I like the organization of it and I feel the most reckless in it as well. I call it the grand piano of NLEs because I can just play it. I love it. I have done a few projects in Premiere. I have avoided Final Cut X like the plague. I have not touched it yet.
It’s not that bad.
Premiere is very user-friendly and nice to look at. I don’t have anything against it. I think it’s going in a really great direction. I think Adobe in general really listens to its users. For some reason, the Avid keyboard and the way I have my Avid set-up is just so intuitive to me. I just love it.
You memorize the actions and then it becomes an extension of your hands at some point.
Right. I' replicate that as much as I can in Premiere, every keystroke counts.
It does. I think Premiere, they did a good job. When they first had Premiere, maybe two or three years ago when they were getting rid of Final Cut 7 and they brought in Final Cut X, everybody was just like, “I hate this. I hate Final Cut X.” Then all of a sudden Premiere was like, “It’s okay, we're going to make Premiere as close to Final Cut 7 as possible,” and that’s when I jumped onboard. I was like, “Let me try this.” I actually like Premiere better now than Final Cut 7. Final Cut 7 is obsolete at this point, but I do still use it for certain things. I've used Avid before. What would you say the transition is from Final Cut 7 to Avid? It’s not that bad. It’s not that different.
Avid is not just intuitive. There's a lot to learn in Avid. But once you learn it, it makes a lot of sense. It replicates a film process. I don't like that in the nostalgic way, but I like how much sense that makes. Trimming is the most important in final step in edit of picture. When you can't just trim really, really intuitively and easily and toggle between sides, toggle between the head and the tail of a shot, not that you can't do those things. You can do those things in Premiere and Final Cut 7. But I prefer how it works in Avid.
You just got used to it. I got used to 7 and then I was struggling a little bit when I started learning Premiere. I definitely have jumped over to Premiere for sure, especially the way it interacts with aftereffects. I don't know if you do any After Effects work. The way Premiere and aftereffects work together and with Photoshop is amazing because I use it all the time. The dynamic link is key for me.
I know. I love that when you know one Adobe product then the user interface translates to the other programs. I have done some work in After Effects. I do really like that. I think that Premiere and in the past, Final Cut 7, have been really great for short or independent projects where you're just working. When you have a shared project and you want to be working with sixteen people on two different floors, or even just if you want to be an assistant editor outside of the edit suite and the editor is working on another version of that project. Avid is still superior in doing that.
It’s updating your project for the other people to see live?
Yeah, both in the same project. You can drag and drop on the finder level anything you want in an Avid project, which is really great.
I didn’t know that. I learned something.
It’s just that there's a lot of changing software all the time. There are workflow consultants. My friend, Boon Shen Ang is a workflow consultant. Those people are important. DITs are important. There are people to manage the ever changing flow of software and upgrading cameras to make sure that cameras can talk to the editing software. I think it’s important to try to learn all that and keep up with that, but also to enlist the help of all the rules that there are in the industry.
As a freelancer, do you have any advice for people who want to also freelance as an editor?
There's definitely a lot of advice I could give to somebody who wants to freelance. The first thing to come to mind is building relationships and to create different resumes for different types of work. That’s a really important one for trying to transition between narrative and reality or to move up from assisting to editing, is have your assistant editor resume and then have your editor resume. There are career assistant editors. I really love assistant editing. I have a very important role on the pilot that I'm working on and any show I work on. Don’t see it as a step back to assistant edit, to change career paths.
What is the difference would you say between an assistant editor and an editor?
The assistant editor is in-charge of organizing the project and supporting the editor in any way. It’s a shifting role in that if you have a lot of the effects background, if you have an After Effects background, you bring to the table whatever experience you have. That’s another piece of advice. You bring with you whatever experience you have from other jobs or other things in life.
It’s not a formula to become an assistant editor. It’s whatever you like, just get good at it.
Yeah, and don’t underestimate the experience you’ve had as a producer if you want to become an editor. Or whatever experience you’ve had in life, it will probably help you be better at whatever it is you want to do. The editor, the priority is really for them to be free to be creative and to really be focused on the storytelling. The less technical stuff that they have to do, the more the assistant can take on. I always offer to do a preliminary sound mix on scenes. I had the opportunity to edit a lot of scenes on Feed the Beast, do rough cuts on scenes, which is invaluable. I love to get feedback. While I'm doing dailies, maybe I will edit a scene. I told the editor on this show that I'm working on now, “I edited the scene, do you mind taking a look at it? I don't want to cloud your vision.” What he ended up saying is he did his own edit before watching mine and then he looked at both of ours and some of it was the same and some of it was different. It was a really interesting conversation.
That’s always an experiment. Have two people edit the same thing.
It was really fun. I love laying in music. I love working with the music editor. I've been working with Missy Cohen on the last couple of projects. She’s an amazing music editor. I've learned a lot about using music and when it should come in and when it shouldn’t. What I've been really surprised about is how in all of filmmaking there isn't a right or wrong answer. There are so many ways to do things. People at the top levels are not debating what the best way forward is. It’s really good to keep that in mind. It helps a lot to not think that there’s one way to do things and that you don’t know it.
Editing is very interpretative.
Yeah, it can be.
As a freelancer, do you have your own Avid at home? Are working in a production company?
I actually am starting an edit on a short film right now. I actually rearranged my living room to be more of an office. I rearranged my whole living room so that the TV is my second monitor. I have a standing desk, a VARIDESK platform on top of a shelf which holds my hard drives and then I can have a nice standing desk, which saves my life every day. I'm basically going to be in a cave for the rest of August and September. I’ll be at home when I'm not working full-time and when I'm not at BCPC events. Life and work have to run together sometimes. I want my home to be comfortable but also a place of work. I'm really excited about this new office/living room.
Editing is so intense for your back. When I first started editing and I was learning Final Cut, I remember in Brooklyn College, I would sit there for ten hours and they were like, “We're closing.” I'm like, “Oh my gosh, I've been here. I didn’t eat. I didn’t use the bathroom. How did I go in a trance for ten hours?” It takes its toll in a while. It’s not really good for you to sit down for that long. You have a VARIDESK. Do you find yourself using it most of the day or do you have any tips for people or other products people can use so that they're not in pain?
Everybody should have a standing desk opportunity. There's actually a $25, if that much, standing desk platform that you can put on any desk. I have a fancier version of that. I had been just stacking crates and Pelican cases on my desk. At Teen Mom 2, people can attest to the fact that my monitors were stacked on a bunch of reams of paper and I had all these weird junk that I made a standing desk out of. I did that for about six months. Then I was like, “I've earned a VARIDESK.” As we know, reality television does pay, editing-wise. I bought myself a VARIDESK, which was $400.
We both have the standing desk. The past year I've been through a lot of physical up and down with my back and having to switch from heavy cameras. I used to shoot with 40-pound cameras. I don't know how I did it. Then of course I said ten hours of editing at a time, but I've completely downsized and changed my workflow to be DSLR and working with lighter cameras. What did you want to say about that?
I think I've had my physical hurdles. I have a scoliosis and I have tendonitis in my hips. I think it’s just important to try to foster the physical capabilities that you do have. If you can stand for a little while each day, that’s great. Whatever your range of motion is, try to keep that up. That’s challenging. It’s really challenging as an editor. Actually, one of the things that really helped motivate me was fitness and post. I don't want to say that everybody should be running three miles a day. People have limitations. Whatever you can do for your well-being, whether it’s dietary or meditation or physical activities, it’s all really important.
There's a very meditative state to editing as well. I find it very relaxing to be editing. Then of course when you're dealing with physical pain from sitting in a chair, you’ve got to do what’s best for your body and listen to that. Our field is very demanding physically but there are so many different roles that anyone could find a place in any of those roles. You don’t have to be an editor sitting on a chair all day. You don’t have to be someone carrying a 40-pound camera or 20 pounds of equipment. There’s so much variety in the field. That’s what I love about it. Not being afraid to ask whoever you're working for to accommodate you in that way. It’s not annoying. People have hearts. They totally understand.
I hope that standing desks are becoming more available and something that people can ask for without seeming spoiled.
Is there anything you wanted to say about being a female editor?
Editing at the beginning was considered tedious women’s work, like sewing or cooking. That changed somewhere along the line. I also like to think about the fact that knitting was originally a man’s art. Arabian men would knit fishing nets and that’s where that came from. I don’t live my life in the confines of the gender binary. I definitely defy anything or anyone that tries to make those generalizations. It’s important for everyone to be doing what they're doing and not try to pigeonhole each other based on gender.
Then pigeonholing each other in terms of their genre or if they're an editor versus being a director. If you know how to tell a story, you know how to tell a story. That’s it.
More than storytelling, it’s how to interface with the different workflows on different genres. I think it’s more than like, “You can't do that because you are this. You can't do that because you're a woman. You can't do that because you're a reality editor.” Learn about that thing. Everybody should learn about each other and learn about different genres and then expand their horizons.
I think the Blue Collar Post Collective is going to be awesome for people that want to get into editing. There are a lot of really experienced people in that Facebook group that I love chatting with. Also, for the people who really want to break in. I think the stuff you're doing is amazing.
We call ourselves a gateway organization. Every aspect of post is welcome at the Blue Collar Post Collective. Actually, we consider ourselves a bridge between production and post. People who are looking for collaborators and people who are in production are also welcome. It’s just a community of supportive people who believe that’s the right thing to do for each other. It’s grown from twenty people hanging out to nearly 3,000 people worldwide. We're the largest post-specific organization. We just opened in LA. We just launched in LA. We have meet-ups in LA. We have monthly meet-ups in New York. Our meet-ups are the hubs of post-discourse both in LA and New York. We're really spreading the love for sure.
It’s free, yes?
It’s free to join. It’s all volunteer, run and we encourage our members to engage in the community and be leaders. All of our events are moderated by members. We really make everything accessible and representative.
You can see Janis’ work at JanisVogel.com. Join the Blue Collar Post Collective for free at BlueCollarPostCollective.com or on their Facebook group. As for me, I'm filmmaker, artist and your host, Laura Meoli, you can connect with me getting creative tips and inspiration on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, @LoudaVision. You can listen to more of these podcasts, read my blog, watch my videos and contact me. Just go to LoudaVision.com. Subscribe to my email list to be the first to hear all new episodes. If you like what you’ve heard, please rate and review this podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or YouTube. Thank you for listening.