Events

ACE Toasts the Holidays

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1st Qtr, 2020

An estimated 600 guests attended ACE’s soldout Holiday Party, Dec. 7 at the Skirball Cultural Center’s Herscher Hall and Guerin Pavilion. The festive event included a buffet, bar and live music.

ACE President Stephen Rivkin, ACE, greeted guests and introduced 2020 ACE Career Achievement Award honorees Alan Heim, ACE, and Tina Hirsch, ACE.

Rivkin also presented new member plaques to Steven Lang, Bret Marnell, Harry Yoon, Chris Kirkpatrick, Tiffany Hillkurtz, Sue Federman, Michel Aller, Roger Barton, Russell Griffin, Amy Duddleston, Leigh Folsom Boyd, JoAnne Yarrow, Jesse Averna, Shannon Baker Davis, Lee Haxall, Myron Kerstein, Patrick J. Don Vito, Sandra Montiel and Sandy Solowitz. Daniel Nussbaum and Kody Troy Davidson were named affiliate members.

Those that were not on hand to accept their new member plaques during the celebration were Melissa Bretherton, Axel Geddes, Francisco Bello, Alex Márquez, Yana Gorskaya and Jennifer Lame. New affiliates that were not available to accept their membership in person were Mike Saenz, Mark Sullivan and Kye Meechan.

Guests included ACE past president Mark Goldblatt, ACE; and board officers including Lillian Benson, ACE, and Stephen Lovejoy, ACE.

During the celebration, ACE hosted a toy collection for Spark of Love and a raffle benefiting the ACE Educational Fund. ACE thanks bar sponsor Tribeca West Kilroy Realty and all of the companies that donated prizes for the raffle, including Adobe, Avid, Blackmagic, AJA and so many more.

Honoree Cathy Repola

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1st Qtr, 2020

Cathy Repola serves as National Executive Director of the Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700), a role that she has held since 2016 when the Board of Directors unanimously appointed her to the post.

Since then, she has fought for members in areas from benefits to working conditions. Repola comes from a union household in the entertainment industry. Her father, Ernie Repola, was a secretary/assistant business agent at IATSE Local 683 (Film Lab Technicians) and her older siblings all went to work in the industry in various post-production roles. “I wasn’t planning to work in the entertainment industry, so I went to college, got a degree, and was going to teach – or so I thought.

Then I got a temporary job within a union that represents clerical people in the industry. That temporary job turned into a permanent one. “I became a shop steward, my nickname quickly became ‘Norma Rae’ and after sitting through the collective bargaining process, the light bulb went off: This is what I want to do. I took some labor courses and begged the union in which I belonged, OPEIU, to hire me and eventually they did.

A few years later, I saw an ad in the trade magazines that a union [Motion Picture Editors Guild] was looking for an Assistant Executive Director. I had an interview with Ron Kutak, Executive Director, then the Board of Directors and the rest is history.”

Repola relates that 27 years ago when she started at Local 700, there were 3000 members (including picture editors, sound editors, music editors, assistants, apprentices and librarians) and mainly two contracts they worked under. “Now we’ve got thousands of different contracts, 8300 members, national jurisdiction and we have to continue to increase our staff in order to keep on servicing the membership,” she says.

That’s not all. Repola was appointed chairwoman of the first-ever IATSE Women’s Committee (a role she held from 2015-2018). She received the IATSE President’s Award for Outstanding Woman Leader in 2017. Her commitment to the community has also seen her serve on the Board of FilmLA and chair its Community Relations Committee.

She was selected to participate in the #TimesUp women’s production group committee. She is also a longtime advocate, fundraiser and volunteer for the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Looking ahead, she says, “Unions need to work from the bottom up and that became so clear [in 2018] when we were negotiating the new contract. All of a sudden there was a renewed interest in the union and that year we had five brandnew board members installed who never were involved before. That level of interest continues to increase.”

The MPEG Membership Outreach Committee, among many things, promoted the idea of town-hall style membership meetings. “I will say a few words to open it up but the members come up with the topics, the things that are important to them,” Repola explains. Says MPEG president Alan Heim, ACE: “Cathy has awakened the members of the Guild and I look forward to working with her toward the best contract we can get at the next negotiations.”

“One of the things that is really important to me is to not remove myself too far from the membership,” Repola sums up of her approach. “I want to be accessible. I go to a lot of the membership mixers; I go to a lot of the events; I go and talk to members because I do want to understand who they are and what they are about, what their expectations are, what their disappointments in the union are. I want to know what they think, what they feel and what they care about.”

Honoree Tina Hirsch, ACE

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1st Qtr, 2020

Tina Hirsch, ACE, has forged a career that defies all expectations – even her own. She effortlessly weaved through action, documentary, comedy and sci-fi like few others. With a strong work ethic and a natural storytelling talent, she unwittingly influenced a new generation of filmmakers and certainly women in her field when she became the first female President of American Cinema Editors in 2000. “My parents were not in the industry at all. But I would watch television with my mother and, every once in a while, during the crawl at the end where they have the writers, she would say, ‘Oh, I used to know him,’” Hirsch relates. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the people I know now end up in the credits.’ One day, my mother came home from lunch with a friend and said that this friend’s daughter had just gotten a job as a freelance film editor. I didn’t know what it was but I said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

Bettina Kugel Hirsch grew up in New York and, at the time, was unaware that any kind of filmmaking was going on there. She admits, “I was a little naive at the time. I didn’t know how to get a job. I found out later that people were walking around with their resumes. That’s why I think life is magic. If I had made plans, I don’t know where I’d be today. It’s just not the thing to do as far as I’m concerned. You just keep saying yes to opportunities and that’s it.” She did, however, meet some people and benefited from being at the right place, at the right time, with the right determination. “One of the people I met was an assistant editor who worked at a place that cut trailers,” she explains. “I went to the owner of the business and asked, ‘Would it be okay if I came and helped some editors?’ He said, ‘Well, I’m sorry I just laid off five people. I’m not hiring.’ I said I would work for nothing.

There wasn’t such a thing as an intern in those days. Apprentices existed in L.A., but that really didn’t exist in New York. I finally did talk him into letting me work there for free. I started working with people who have remained colleagues and friends later in life.” One of these individuals was her eventual brother-inlaw Paul Hirsch, ACE.

Serendipity knocked again for Hirsch, but this time it was right down the hall. She remembers, “I heard there was someone from California in the back cutting room doing something different, and I said to the guy I was helping out, ‘I think I’m gonna go learn from him. I think they know more about what I want to know.’ And it was true. It was Bud Smith, ACE. He had an assistant who was in New York for the first time.

I asked her, ‘Is it okay if I watch you? I’d like to learn how to do this.’ One day, she said she wanted to go shopping during the day and I did her job while she was out. That’s how I learned.” It was shortly after this that Hirsch really began to examine her craft, interestingly enough as she dabbled in another.

In the late ‘60s, Hirsch had a very brief yet indelible dalliance with acting. She had bit parts in two movies: Greetings and Hi, Mom! Not only were both pictures directed by Brian De Palma and produced by her then husband Charles Hirsch, she actually got to put herself in the frame and see herself from the point of view of an editor, an actor and a viewer. “On Greetings, I played the role of Tina, the photographer’s assistant, which is who I was at the time,” she recounts. “I was looking at this face, these eyes. The most important things are in the eyes. I could see myself acting this part and listening to someone and being very concerned, asking questions, and finding out information. I was so surprised. How did I know to do that? I knew as an editor that’s what I would look for in the footage to tell the story.”

Little did Hirsch know, she was about to take a call that would change the course of her career and take her across the country. She recalls, “I got a phone call one day. A woman wanted to interview me for a job as an assistant editor. I went in and was interviewed by Thelma Schoonmaker, ACE. ‘We’re doing this movie about the Woodstock Film Festival. Would you be interested?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She asked, ‘Would you rather do the music or the documentary?’ I replied, ‘Well, I missed going to the festival and I was so disappointed about that. The idea of being able to see more than any human being who was actually there would see – because there were cameramen all over the place – I’d much rather do the documentary.’ She said, ‘Well, that’s what I’m doing. You’ll be my assistant.’ It was great!

It wasn’t something people do every day. We were making up stuff. Everything had to be coded in those days because it was people in the exteriors. Nobody had any documentary experience except for a few of the cameramen. Most of the editorial staff were brand new. My job was to make sure everything was in sync. It was very hard to synchronize this stuff because people didn’t walk around with time code slates.

That didn’t exist in those days. Fortunately, my grandfather taught me how to lip-read when I was little and it helped me put things in sync. I did a lot of work in New York where I was lip syncing stuff. That was my reputation. I was really good at that.” The massive documentary about the music event of that generation was edited in Los Angeles. Hirsch lived out there for about four months. When she left, she knew she’d be back.

Her second film as lead editor, Macon County Line, would catapult her into the world of B-movie nirvana. “Somebody who worked on Macon County Line recommended me to Roger Corman,” she remembers. “That’s how I got Big Bad Mama. Soon after, Paul BarteI called and asked me to do Death Race 2000, which he was directing.” Hirsch was now firmly in the Corman camp. The 1970s would see Hirsch’s career in the fast lane, quite literally. If Macon County Line started it, Death Race 2000 solidified it. Hirsch became the go-to editor for Corman’s car  chase/road picture subgenre that also included Eat My Dust! and The Driver, plus some non-Corman fare like Just Me and You and More American Graffiti. It wasn’t until the ‘80s that her career pivoted from B pictures to mainstream movies. Heartbeeps and Airplane II: The Sequel introduced Hirsch to out-and-out comedy. “Roger Corman once told me, ‘You’re funny.’ I thought, ‘What’s he talking about? I don’t know how to tell jokes.’ I realized when someone says you have a wonderful sense of humor that just means you’re laughing at the right places.”

That sense of humor coupled with her work on tense action oriented dramas fueled the trio of movies she made with director Joe Dante. Gremlins, Explorers, and Twilight Zone: The Movie required an adept hand at handling horror and science fiction with light comedic moments while maintaining an adventurous spirit. After these successes, Hirsch’s natural ambition kicked in and she sought to direct her first movie. Munchies is a horror-comedy starring Harvey Korman and, in a supporting role, her old friend Paul Bartel.

The movie heavily vibes off the Gremlins mythos and gave editor James A. Stewart, ACE, one of his first lead editor credits. “It was very rare to have women editors in those days,” Hirsch says, speaking about the cutting rooms of the late ‘80s. “You have to be very patient in a cutting room and supportive of the director. They’re the ones out there being criticized and raved about by the audience and the critics and the trades. They’re very vulnerable. The idea of having a woman in the cutting room is very supportive.”

The ‘90s would only see Hirsch’s career climb even higher with the digital revolution in editing and a new focus/challenge – television. Hirsch still found time to squeeze in a blockbuster like Dante’s Peak, but it was the flurry of TV work where she realized drama was where her heart truly lay. “I ended with drama, which to me was the most interesting,” admits Hirsch. “When editing was switching over to digital, I was ready for it to happen. I couldn’t type to save my life so, as the rest of my life has gone, I said I’d work for nothing if someone would show me how to work these new devices. During those days most editors preferred Lightworks because it felt like film, but Avid had all these tricks that would save a lot of time. Avid worked closely with L.A. film editors.” As editing evolved so too did every other facet of filmmaking from cameras and lighting, to sound and special effects.

Tom Clancy’s OP Center proved to be a productive sandbox for Hirsch and her colleagues to play in. Hirsch explains, “A friend of mine who worked with me on OP Center discovered this new attachment that you put on the camera to do a swish pan. That was his idea. He would use it to film scenes with people around a table having overlapping conversations. I didn’t like the swish pans. They made it slower, not faster. He wanted to make it speedier. What I ended up doing was cutting the tracks and using the picture against it so that you thought people were talking over one another.”

She would earn her first Eddie nomination for her work on the TV miniseries. She would carry this technique to her work on The West Wing. “I thought the pilot of The West Wing was fabulous.  Very talky. I didn’t understand a word, but it is fabulous,” she laughs. “You can’t understand what he’s saying unless you had a script with you. Since I had already learned how to edit people with overlapping dialogue I had been there before and knew how to do it. I added overlapping tracks so that it always had that rhythm. I would overlap three frames.”

This time Hirsch won the Eddie for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television and garnered her first Emmy® nomination. In 2003, Hirsch added professor to her long resume as an adjunct professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.  “I hate to say this because I have taught editing, but I’m glad I didn’t know the rules,” she admits. “I didn’t go to school for editing. I just did what felt right to me. If it feels right, it’s right.  That’s what I teach my students. You can’t give someone a little paint and a brush and tell them if they follow these rules they will have a beautiful painting. I don’t feel that’s true.”

Before her formal experience as a professor, she was already teaching in the editing room. “I tried to involve my assistant editors as much as I could. Wait until you see the feeling in the room. If the director really wants your opinion, they’ll ask you. If they don’t ask, don’t say it. You shouldn’t tell people they’re doing the wrong thing unless they ask you.” One of the assistants she remembers quite fondly is Nancy Hurley, who happens to be one of the first Assistant members of ACE. “She types 60 words a minute!” exclaims Hirsch. “Anytime I had notes, she took them down. I would always compare my notes to hers to make sure I had everything. She’s gone on to great success on many shows since The West Wing.”

In 2005, Hirsch earned another pair of Eddie and Emmy nominations for her work on Back When We Were Grownups for Hallmark. Shortly thereafter, she and her second husband Karl Epstein begin traveling more and working on passion projects. Their adventures took them from the Dominican Republic to Vietnam. “That’s how Karl and I started making a movie together. We took a volunteer trip to Vietnam giving glasses to the people who live in the rural countryside. He shot [the documentary] and I cut it. We screened it for our 25th wedding anniversary.”

The documentary Four Decades Later chronicles 14 humanitarians including Hirsch and Epstein providing free eye care to people in remote villages. They are now working on another potential documentary about a Haitian waiter they met on holiday in the Dominican Republic who had become an essential fixture of their recurring vacations to the island. “I think my life has been a wonderful story,” exclaims Hirsch. “Editors are the best people on this planet and I am so happy to be part of that family.”

Lauren Shuler Donner

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1st Qtr, 2020

When American Cinema Editors selected Lauren Shuler Donner as this year’s Golden Eddie recipient, it chose to laud the 45-year career of a Hollywood titan as well as illuminate the often-overlooked relationship between producer and editor. Donner’s storied career spans film, TV and stage with a mix of genres and styles that echoes her passions, ambitions and creativity. Along the way, her work grossed $6 billion worldwide and she boosted many notable editors, writers, directors and actors to great success.

Growing up just outside of Cleveland, Hollywood felt like a far-off land let alone a place where one could make a serious living. A combination of seemingly-innocuous experiences ignited a deep fascination in Donner’s psyche. “My dad gave me a little Brownie camera when I was young,” recalls Donner. “I had a real love of taking pictures and I used to write. I wrote prose, poetry. I used to draw. None of which I did very well, but I did it all the time. I have a great love of story. When I was in school, I gravitated to subjects like history and English more than science or math. They spoke to me. Also, I had a cousin I would go to the movies with all the time. Movies were a big part of our lives. Movies and music. My youngest memories were watching Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin movies and just laughing and playing out the scenes from them afterward. Our other favorites were Abbot and Costello movies. These movies weren’t profound, but they inspired me by entertaining me nonetheless. When I finally figured out in college what I wanted to major in, it all made sense.”

Donner graduated from Boston University and it was one of the best experiences of her life. Donner admits, “I loved taking film classes. I remember carrying a 16mm used camera and walking along the BU bridge and filming and imagining myself this budding director. I loved editing my films down in the basements until bleary eyed and begrudgingly having to give up my edit bay to another student. And I loved acting in my friends’ movies because it taught me early on which side of the camera I belonged.”

At the suggestion of one her professors, she moved to Los Angeles in the early ‘70s. She remembers, “One of my early jobs was as vacation relief at NBC for crew. Of all of the jobs available that I was interested in the most was camera. I always loved the visual side of things. The guys taught me the camera on The Tonight Show. I couldn’t shoot that because that was their big moneymaker, but I got to shoot the local news and after that I freelanced quite a bit. I did it for about three years.

I was the only woman! Everybody was watching me. The older men didn’t want me. It was the hardest thing I did. They really didn’t want me. The younger men were great. I’m generalizing but mostly that was the truth. At a certain point, my second to last show, I shot the Easter sunrise service at [the] Hollywood Bowl. I was the top camera. Those who know the Hollywood Bowl know that it’s all uphill and pretty steep. I carried my own equipment, so nobody could ever say a woman couldn’t do what a man could do. I was walking down the stairs and I thought, ‘You know, I could do better than this.’ I had done it. I had done it well.

At that point, I had been in the business enough to start thinking about what I wanted to do. I was still in my 20s. I decided I wanted to tell stories. Instead of shooting, I want to tell other people how to shoot. That’s when I decided to make the transition. I knew all the crews. As the only woman, everybody knew me. And I could write just enough. My next step was as an associate producer in television because I could put together a crew and work on the show.”

Soon Donner would face another adversary. “I got into a serious car accident that put me out for many, many months. A woman ran a red light and I crashed into her,” recalls Donner. “That’s when I started writing again. I had a lot of friends who were writers and I found I was an okay writer, but I was a very good editor and collaborator. I could nail what was wrong and try to fix it. A friend of mine knew (writer/director) Nancy Meyers, who at Motown Productions was a Creative Executive. Nancy left, and my friend told me about her job opening. I went in there, they gave me this script, and I wrote five pages of constructive criticism and they hired me. That script turned out to be Thank God It’s Friday.” She joined Motown as a creative executive and was upped to associate producer. “That’s how I was able to make the transition. It was a really different way than anyone else has become a producer. It’s usually story or development jobs or through production as a line producer.” True to her producer spirit, not even recovering from a major car accident could keep her from making this downtime productive.

Donner hit the ground running after Thank God It’s Friday. Her follow-up, Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill, paired her for the first time with director Joel Schumacher. However, it was her third feature that really cemented Donner as a Hollywood producer on the rise. Mr. Mom came about purely through creative networking. Donner shares, “I was reading the National Lampoon and came across a very funny article that made me take notice of the writer – John Hughes. We connected and talked on the phone all the time. I thought he was really funny. Duh. We both had a midwestern sensibility, so we got along very well.

At the time, he was writing a movie for the movie division of ABC. During one of our many conversations on the phone, he relayed to me that his wife was away and left him alone with the kids. He was a total idiot with the boys. His stories were hilarious. He said, ‘I have an 80-page script in a drawer about those experiences called Mr. Mom. Would you like to read it?’ Not only was it funny, it validated those men who were out of work [at the time due to the recession] and had to stay home and take care of the house and kids. At the same time, it validated women, too, because it showed that being a housewife wasn’t easy especially if you had kids.”

Donner continues, “I figured out John got married right after college. He had never been on his own. He was telling me these stories and they were hilarious. He had never done laundry or cooked for himself. I really loved working with John Hughes on that. It’s a movie conceptually that I was very proud of. John and I stayed close.” She also made it her mission to cast Michael Keaton in the lead role after an agent friend told her to watch Night Shift. While she wasn’t on the set of Mr. Mom every day, the film turned out to be a resounding success.

Soon after she reunited with Joel Schumacher and John Hughes, respectively, on two era-defining movies: St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink. Both films were edited by the late Richard Marks, ACE. Donner reminisces, “Since I was there every day, I really saw the power of editing. It was storytelling in a character-defining, story advancing way. Richard was a genius. He was very tough but tough for the right reasons. I loved being in the cutting room. Occasionally, we’d make a deal. If he and I were on the same side and the director wasn’t, we would play good cop/bad cop on what we felt was right.” She laughs, “I probably shouldn’t say that. No director will work with me now. I respect immensely the power of editing.”

Just before that time, Donner produced the adventure drama Ladyhawke. While the film wasn’t the success she had hoped it was an absolutely worthwhile endeavor as it introduced her to editor Stuart Baird, ACE, and re-introduced her to director Richard Donner, from which Lauren Shuler gets her surname. She gushes, “I had the great honor to work with Stuart Baird. Baird is an awesome editor. Watching him and Dick in the editing room was pretty good trial by fire. That was four years of college right there.”

Richard Donner and Baird had great success before on The Omen and Superman so their shorthand in the editing bay was well grounded. She had met Richard Donner at the premiere of Superman some years earlier, but this time while scouting locations in Czechoslovakia and nursing a broken heart over a failed marriage, she soon saw in Richard Donner “the bighearted guy that everyone knows.” From that point on, he became her greatest champion, good friend and soon-to-be husband. With three hits under her belt, Lauren Shuler Donner kept her trajectory going with hits like Three Fugitives and Dave, but she would soon find herself associated with a phenomenon that was altering the industry – the blockbuster. This designation has been something that really started with films like Star Wars, Superman and Jaws in the ‘70s, but those weren’t seen as the norm. In the ‘90s however, a film could recoup its entire budget in a weekend. For Donner, Free Willy was her first taste at breaking the $100 million mark domestically. Its success spawned two sequels and a television series. Later on, You’ve Got Mail continued to prove romantic comedies could hold their own in the blockbuster category alongside big-budget special effects pictures. The film also reunited her with Richard Marks. It was around this time that The Donners’ Company development executive Scott Nimerfro brought Donner the X-Men properties.

She explains, “He gave me a big notebook filled with bios. First bio I read was Logan. He had these heartbreaking flaws: an uncontrollable berserker rage, Adamantium someone had put into his body that forced him to heal any physical damage, no memories of his life and an unrequited love for Jean Grey. There was so much to empathize with him about. I read all the characters after that and fell in love. Their mythology was captivating but just human enough that you can access them and empathize with them. If we purposefully ground these characters so that the only thing that’s not real about them are their powers, then people will accept this as reality.

When Bryan [Singer] and I made the first X-Men, it was his idea to start out the first film at the concentration camps in World War II. It explains Magneto’s origins and why he feels enormous anger about what people have done. It’s the humanity of these villains and heroes that make them familiar and you can feel that they’re part of our lives just enough to want to spend time with them. In the first one, there was enough politics and thematic material to draw me in. The X-Men canon is about tolerance. We hit it on the head. The government wants to restrain them, cure them, and separate them. Anyone can identify with that.” Superman and Batman movies had already been popular fare with moviegoers before, but it was the X-Men movies that really catapulted them into the mainstream. The X-Men franchise has birthed nearly 10 sequels and a number of TV shows, many of which Donner has produced or executive produced to varying degrees.

Throughout she’s found the time to work on other projects like Any Given Sunday Deadpool and The Secret Life of Bees, as well as spend time on her philanthropic work helping fund cancer treatments. In recent years, Donner has tackled new creative challenges: a return to television and two forays into musical theater. The shows Legion and The Gifted mirror the X-Men’s flawed humans with supernatural abilities and debuted in 2017.

Both shows are still part of the Marvel expanded universe but create a sensibility and world unto themselves. While Donner is still looped in on the movie franchises she built, she has removed herself largely from the day-to-day producing duties of the latest X-Men films in order to focus on Legion and her passion projects: transforming two of her favorite films, Dave and The Secret Life of Bees, to the stage. “It’s been very different,” she admits. “Totally different ways to tell the story. It took me years to learn and I’m certainly still learning. Musicals are two acts, while movies are three acts.

I’ve done 35 or 40 movies now, and I can say this musical world is quite challenging. However, I love the actors and talent that we’ve worked with.” In times like the one we’re living in now, two heartfelt stories about a decent everyman as the President of the United States, and a young girl who finds a surrogate family in 1964 South Carolina may just offer some good feelings we so desperately need.

For those who want to enter the entertainment industry, her words speak for aspiring producers as well as editors. “Keep in mind, it’s going to be very tough. Someone’s going to push you out of the way. Someone’s not going to give you what you want. Always remember it’s not personal. No one is going after you personally. It’s a business. You have to keep your sense of humor. Pick your fights. Don’t go picking fights about everything or no one is going to listen to you. I just read this quote from Nancy Pelosi, which I think is great and I definitely advise: ‘Know how to take a punch, but know when to throw one.’ As you’re working your way up, make sure you’re constantly networking and forming alliances because in our business it’s half what you know and half who you know. And that is really important. Don’t worry about peers that are advancing when you’re not. That has nothing to do with you. There’s enough room for everyone’s success. Do keep your alliances!” Looking back at her roster of work, Donner admits, “When I watch audiences laugh at our films’ jokes, when the audience weeps at moments of our character’s goodbye, when the audience fans out of the theater happy to have been moved at something I had a part in creating, I feel a satisfaction like no other.

It’s a powerful gratification. It’s an aphrodisiac. I am eternally grateful for the editors I have worked with. I know the power of the editor. I respect it. I need it. Half of the job is making the film and the other half is putting it together. I am truly honored and flattered to receive this distinction from ACE.” Thank you, Lauren Shuler Donner for the laughs, the tears, the thrills and the comfort

Adobe Tech Day 2019

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4th Qtr, 2019

The ACE Tech Day featuring Adobe was attended by the curious: Many were editors who hadn’t seriously used or had experimented only briefly with Premiere Pro. And their curiosity was rewarded. Held Sept. 7 at Raleigh Studios, Tech Day had many from Adobe’s team in attendance, including Mike Kanfer (Principal Strategic Development Manager), Meagan Keene (Senior Product Marketing Manager), Michael Phillips (co-inventor and designer of Avid’s Media Composer and general all-around very smart guy) and several others.

Adobe always brings a full team to events such as this. The day was led by Van Bedient (Head of Strategic Development) and presented by Karl Soule and Matt Christensen.

First up was an exclusive sneak peek extended scene – previously shown only at the 2019 Comic Con panel – for Terminator: Dark Fate. Directed by Tim Miller, edited by Julian Clarke, ACE, they are the team that used Premiere Pro and connected applications on Deadpool. It was a very entertaining start for the day. One couldn’t tell how Premiere was used, but it looked great and certainly isn’t a bad advertisement for the editing software. Next was a video presentation featuring the many productions that have used Premiere Pro. These included the Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, David Fincher’s Mindhunter and FX series Atlanta. Next was a look at Premiere Pro.

The main focus of the presentation was a new workflow to facilitate editors sharing on a network. It’s called Premiere Pro Productions. A Production is the umbrella project you would create for a film, documentary or episodic TV show. Within that you’d create folders and bins for editors and assistants to work.

Part of the Production workflow includes a new data model for tracking clips and sequences which eliminates any instances of duplicate clips which previously could occur. The point of a Production is to organize bin locking, where several editors can share a Production and lock bins (dailies, sequences) while they are working. Once locked, no one else can alter anything within that bin.

There is no chance you could open a locked bin, do a lot of your best editing work, then lose it because it can’t be saved. Soule demonstrated as he and Christensen locked and unlocked bins. They also showed off the Freeform bin arrangement, where picture tiles in a bin can be up to four different sizes and can be placed anywhere in the bin’s work area. It is an impressive new feature.

Then some magic started happening. Adobe has been investing resources into Artificial Intelligence that is applied in different tools, which they term Sensei. Premiere Pro now uses what’s called ‘Content Aware Fill for Video.’ They showed a shot of a couple in a field. As it pans, a boom operator comes into the shot. By drawing a mask around the boom operator, the computer figures out the pixels needed to replace him with the background. It is very similar to the Mocha Pro plugin from BorisFX. It was very impressive.

Then Richard Zhang took the podium. He is researching AI for Adobe, and showed not only how deep learning can create deep fakes, i.e. a person saying something different from what they actually said, but also how deep fakes can be exposed. One great example of manipulating media through AI had a ballet dancer modifying the behavior of a standing person – to becoming a person mimicking the ballet dancing. Funny. And scary.

After lunch Vashi Nedomansky, ACE, and director/editor Todd Douglas Miller discussed the making of the CNN Films documentary Apollo 11. Adobe is intent on having a place in the Hollywood editing community. They have an edit suite in Santa Monica designed for training. They offer free one-on-one training for ACE members. They have seminars at the Motion Picture Editors Guild. And they have a direct email address for ACE. I’ve used it, and got an immediate answer to my comment.

And Adobe is open to collaboration with other developers. Bedient made the point that Adobe works with about 320 partners who write add-ons or extensions to Premiere Pro. One example is Frame.io, which has a system for remotely getting notes from a director that can be placed directly in your timeline.

So, these curious editors may have gotten inspired to kick the tires on Adobe Premiere Pro on their own. There was certainly enough in the Tech Day presentation to pique their interest.