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ACE Internship Goes Virtual

The pandemic didn’t derail the ACE Internship Program. On the contrary, ACE ensured that this year’s program, generously sponsored by Adobe, continued despite necessitating all communications being conducted virtually online. ACE Internship Program chairs and program alums Carsten Kurpanek and Tyler Nelson arranged a series of two-hour Zoom workshops with editors and assistants throughout the industry as well as the ‘Master the Workflow’ online course.

The program thanks Sabrina Plisco, ACE, and Maura Corey, ACE, for giving of their time as mentors to this year’s interns, Leanna Castaldo and Kelsy Lua. The interns also spoke with many editors and assistant editors, including ACE members and some former ACE interns. The pair also spoke with others working in post-production and those working in post facilities. New Jersey native Castaldo graduated from Pennsylvania State University in May after studying film production and photography.

She also counts herself fortunate to have attended a high school where she was able to edit on an Avid Media Composer and Apple’s Final Cut. “I have been in love with editing for as long as I can remember,” Castaldo says. “I started by going to a film camp where I learned the basics of editing on Final Cut Pro. From there I knew I wanted to pursue a career in post.

I chose Penn State because it was close to home but it also had a study-away program in L.A. When it came time for graduation and with the onset of the pandemic, I was not able to move out to Los Angeles when I had planned. I wanted to make the most of the time I had even though I couldn’t move right away. I found the ACE program, and realized that it would be an amazing introduction to the industry.”

Lua was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being an editor. She attended the University of Southern California and graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Film and TV Production with an emphasis in editing.

“I applied to the ACE Internship Program after I graduated in May because I wanted to take the next step in my career in the industry,” she says. “I knew that the program would allow me to learn from some of the very best minds about working on scripted and unscripted projects.

“With everything being virtual this year, we used Zoom to have very in-depth conversations with people from various fields and they were able to share their unique experiences. We weren’t able to see what goes on in the cutting room, but I felt that everyone we spoke with gave us very detailed information. Because everyone was in the comfort of their home, a lot more people were able to meet with us. We even met with those who are out of state and out of the country through the ease of Zoom.”

They mainly used Zoom and Evercast to attend workshops and demonstrations. Most of the mentors shared their workflow on Avid, but the interns were also able to see the assisting process on Adobe Premiere. For instance, in a workshop with the editorial team of Clifford the Big Red Dog, they gained a clearer understanding of the workflow of a film with emphasis on VFX. They met with Kelly Stuyvesant and Anna Terebelo, the editor and assistant editor of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., who walked them through their workflow (all media was offline). Terebelo described how she would receive the dailies, and how she would organize the project.

“It is vital for an assistant to be extremely organized and to make sure everything is smooth so the editor can focus on their craft and not worry about anything else,” Lua says. “The assistant editor is also responsible [for] temp sound design and temp VFX. Learning about this has prepared me to improve my technical skills.”

They met with the editorial teams behind The Voice, who shared experiences working in unscripted TV; and Netflix’s CGanimated preschool series Trash Truck. “It was the first time I truly understood the workflow of editorial in animation,” Lua reveals. “I was very fascinated with the process and realized how different an editor for live action is compared to an editor for animation.

This program allowed me to open up more opportunities and learn other things that I’ve never explored before.” Castaldo and Lua were introduced to Nancy Hurley, assistant editor of S.W.A.T., who shared the dailies process and how the log sheet from the script supervisor helped sort the dailies.

“It was incredible to be able to learn from all of the mentors because it allowed me to feel as though I was becoming a part of the community,” Castaldo reports. “The program mainly focused on teaching us about how to be a great assistant editor and how to navigate the politics of a cutting room.

We got an in-depth look into what technical skills we will need such as organizing dailies, sound and visual effects workflows, and the turnover process. We also learned soft skills such as how to read a room and anticipate the needs of the editorial team.” A number of mentors shared PowerPoint presentations with very detailed step-by-step processes of their workflow. Lua says, “One of the benefits to meeting various mentors was being able to see the different working styles and preferences each person has. In one session, the assistant editors showed us the detailed process of the VFX prep, tracking and temping.

They explained some common effects and tools used in Avid and showed us specific examples for how each is used. I found this incredibly helpful because many editors look for assistants who are technically proficient.”

Despite the remote learning element there were positive takeaways. For one, it allowed Castaldo to complete the program from the East Coast without the added stress of trying to move during a pandemic. “The program gave me a full understanding of the postproduction industry and the expectations of assistant editors in terms of technical and soft skills,” she says.

“The most valuable piece of advice I gained from the program was that you don’t know what you don’t know and always be open to new opportunities. I have learned that being teachable is an asset and being open to learning new things will help you succeed in any cutting room. In post, it is important to never stop learning and never close doors for yourself.”

She plans to move to L.A. as soon as possible and to finish earning her days to join the Editors Guild. She says, “I am excited to meet all of the mentors and fellow applicants in person and to begin assisting.” Lua also plans to be involved and stay connected with the community as much as possible. “I feel more confident in knowing what to do on the job to be successful thanks to the ACE Internship Program. I’m very excited to see what’s next to come.

“I learned that when starting out, the level of enthusiasm we have may be more important than our technical skills. Anyone can learn the technical side of things, but people would rather work with someone who cares about the project, is kind, is willing to learn as much they can and put in the work.”

Both Casteldo and Lua express their thanks to all the mentors who supported them and for taking their time to speak with them. They also wish to thank their family and friends, their professors  and all ACE interns who have helped along their journeys.

Mentors: Sabrina Plisco, ACE; Maura Corey, ACE.

ACE Internship Program Team and Mentors: Carsten Kurpanek, co-chair; Tyler Nelson, co-chair; Sabrina Plisco, ACE; Maura Corey, ACE; Troy Takaki, ACE; Chris Cooke, ACE; Nena Erb, ACE; Mark Andrew, ACE; Stephen Lovejoy, ACE; John Axelrad, ACE; Vince Anido, ACE; David Bertman, ACE; Tina Hirsch, ACE; Tracey Wadmore-Smith, ACE; Herb Dow, ACE; Serena Allegro; Marco Gonzalez; Irene Chun; Katelyn Wright

Editorial: Richard Sanchez; Amelia Allwarden; John Paul Horstmann; Hansjeet Duggal; David Bach; Susana Benaim; Ian S. Tan; Katelyn Wright; Anna Terebelo; Kelly Stuyvesant; Alyssa Carroll; Josie Azzam; Dustin Chow; Katie Langton; Steve Bobertz; Kelly Soll; Esther Sokolow; Gretchen Schroeder; Ben Stringfellow; Ben Murphy; Qingya “Emma” Li; Yu Jung Hou; Brian Parker; Christopher Frith; Paul Penczner; Venya Bruk; Aaron Butler, ACE; Marc Wiltshire; Jesse Chapman; Mark Hartzell, ACE; Emily Streetz; Ashley Riddle; Luke Palter; Sally Bergom; Carol Choi; Gennie Rim; Laura Zempel; Alfonso Carrion; Johan Lugo; Laura Minto; Jesse Averna, ACE; John Venzon, ACE; Iman Ahad; Nancy Hurley; John Baldino; Sean Basaman; Matthew Blair; Vinnie DeRamus; Noel Guerra; Omega Hsu, ACE; Charles Kramer; Alyssa Lehner; Robby Thompson; Robert M. Malachowski Jr, ACE

Post-Production: Stephen Buchsbaum, ADS Hollywood; Erich Gann, Smart Post Sound; Ken Blaustein, Smart PostSound; Fred Pienkos, Muse VFX; Shane Wise, Muse VFX; Bruce Sandzimier, Post-Production ABC Studios; Brian Bedell, BeBop Technology; Michael Urann, Post Supervisor.

Lecture Series: Aj Francois; Shelby Hall; Kristin Valentine; Nicholas Manting Brewer; Nena Erb, ACE; Robert Komatsu, ACE; Mike McCusker, ACE; Julie Rogers, ACE; James Wilcox, ACE; Molly Shock, ACE; Ben Bulatao, ACE; Michael Lynn Deis; Austin Childress; Kelly Soll

ACE Internship Program Sponsor: Adobe
ACE Office: Jenni McCormick; Marika Ellis; Gemmalyn IdmilaoBrunson; Jasmine Staehle

Aspects of Editing – ACE Internship 2020


1st Qtr, 2020

The goal of the ACE Internship Program is to open a door to Hollywood for recent college graduates who want to pursue a career in editing. All of the interns in the last 10 years are now either working as assistant editors or have already moved up to editors. Chaired by program alums Carsten Kurpanek and Tyler Nelson, the program involves spending time in editing rooms and touring post-production facilities while being mentored by experienced ACE editors.

The most recent interns are Serena Allegro, a grad of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and Marco Andres Gonzalez, an alum of Boston University. The four-week program gave them their first look into the professional post-production scene across both scripted and unscripted work.

Boston born and raised, Allegro finished college with a B.A. in Cinema and History and planned to work at a nonprofit for a year before pursuing editing. “I applied to the internship with no expectations,” she says. “To my surprise, I was selected as a finalist. I decided to move to L.A. and shift everything I had expected for my future up a year.”

Allegro visited the cutting rooms at HBO comedy series Insecure and the feature Clifford the Big Red Dog. She explains, “During my first week, I was lucky enough to go through a lot of the technical work of an assistant editor – everything from dailies to temp VFX. I was also allowed to sit in on a tone meeting.

This gave me a deeper appreciation for the vast number of artists who work on a single project. “The second week was so much fun,” she continues. “It was incredible to see how much a family the post team becomes. They kept reminding me that when you work long hours in small quarters, it’s hard not to become close.”

At Shed Media she gained insight into cutting a reality show and a deeper appreciation for the need to stay extremely organized. “When there are two assistant editors for over 40 editors, there is no choice but to keep on top of everything.
It was so different from the previous three weeks. They could be working on four shows at once at any point in the process. I was so in awe of each assistant editor’s speed and passion for the work they do.”

Gonzalez from Chino Hills, Calif., graduated with a B.S. in Film and Television and attended some ACE events as a student where he first learned about the internship. “During my first week, in editorial for Jumanji: The Next Level, I learned about the workflow of features from Chris Jackson, an extremely skilled first assistant editor,” he explains. “He is a master of temp VFX. This skill was my biggest takeaway from the week. I had never seen them done before, and after seeing their importance I knew it was a vital skill.

“During my television week, I was fortunate to have shadowed another highly skilled and experienced [editor/assistant editor], J.D. Sievertson, ACE. The show was in dailies, so he showed me the workflow of receiving and organizing them. J.D. offered me so much fantastic advice throughout the week, all of which I wish I could share. However, the best lesson was to always be ready and willing to adapt to your editor’s requests. This was important as we organized dailies, and vital to keep in mind throughout any show.”

Gonzalez gained his first exposure to the world of reality in the cutting rooms of The Floor is Lava. “I could not have asked for a better opportunity. The team was incredible.

Being a reality assistant editor requires one to be technically skilled and extremely organized. In addition, they need to be able to keep calm through the busier times. Technically, I learned the important skill of grouping. Organization-wise, I was able to note how their Avid projects were structured. They were clearly formulated and allowed for an easy workflow.”

Gonzalez continues, “If there was one piece of advice that was consistently given by all of the people I met, it was to always stay positive. Being positive has a multitude of positive impacts. It makes work easier, it makes tense environments calmer. It is also important for getting a job. People want to hire people they’ll enjoy working with, and having a positive attitude definitely helps one’s chances!”

Having finished a Post PA job on the feature, Antebellum, edited by his internship mentor, John Axelrad, ACE, Gonzalez is looking to begin his career as an assistant editor. Allegro is now looking for an assistant editor position to start her career. “I take away from my experience that everything is possible if you are willing to put in the work,” she says. “In an industry where so much is based on relationships, I understand the importance of being someone everyone wants to be around.

It is not easy to reach your dreams, but if it’s what you love, all the work and long nights will be worth it.”

Both interns express their thanks for being part of this program and vow to continue to volunteer at every ACE event they can. Kurpanek and Nelson both express deep appreciation to ACE and the previous directors of the ACE Internship Program, Lori Jane Coleman, ACE, and Diana Friedberg, ACE, for entrusting them with it.

They also wish to thank everyone on the ACE Internship Program committee. ACE sends its gratitude to Adobe, which sponsors this vital program. “Our program provides information and networking opportunities that guide participants through the milestones of their budding careers – getting into the union, finding jobs as a union assistant editor in features and television, maintaining a career and hopefully moving up to editor,” says Kurpanek.

“A great side effect for ACE and its members is that the program creates a pool of talented, hard-working and knowledgeable assistant editors that they can hire.”

EditFest London 2019


3rd Qtr, 2019

A stellar cast of editing talent headlined by Lee Smith, ACE, shared tips, knowledge and experiences during a sold-out EditFest London.

Presented by ACE, the July 29 event at the British Film Institute on London’s South Bank featured a keynote conversation by Smith and panels on episodic dramas, reality programs and feature films.

There are few editors who have enjoyed a greater run of critically-acclaimed hits as Smith – who during his conversation shared clips from his longtime collaboration with Christopher Nolan, including Inception, Interstellar, The Dark Knight, and his Oscar®- and Eddie-winning Dunkirk. He also screened a clip from Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of  the World, as well as the opening sequence to Sam Mendes’ Spectre which was designed to look like a single uninterrupted take with subliminal edits. “My father was an optical-effects supervisor, my uncle ran a small optical lab, my aunt was a neg cutter and my brother an animator so I guess I didn’t have a choice,” the Australian-born editor said of his early career.

Smith described Weir as a “very organic” filmmaker. “Some directors rely on storyboards and arrive on set with a very accurate plan of what they will shoot. Peter just responds to what he sees on the set and will change tack on the day when he realizes something is not working.”

Nolan, by contrast, “has precision knowledge of how he is going to shoot. The edit is built into how he shoots. He knows what he wants and gets what he wants. He’s a force of nature.”

Smith has also collaborated with director Sam Mendes on projects including the in-production period drama 1917. “He will abandon a scene in the middle of shooting if he intuitively feels it’s not working. Doing that requires conviction and the budget to back it up.”

Audience test screenings are the scariest part of the process, he said. “You can’t make any excuses. If the audience doesn’t understand it then you have a problem. But they can’t tell you how to fix your film. The studio will come up with a blueprint for repairing your movie. It is never right. “For example, the third act could be pitch perfect but maybe you’ve brought the weight of a slack second act coming into the third act. There will be lots of people running around in a panic wanting reshoots but you have to take a pause and be confident enough to look again.” Smith added, “You don’t work any less hard on an also-ran movie than on a cinematic masterpiece. You gain experience on every film but if the DNA of a film is simply not there then there’s nothing much you can do.”

How A-list editors managed to get their big break is of perennial interest to aspiring editors and assistants, and this was covered in the feature panel. Turns out you typically need to endure frustration and multiple bad jobs before seizing the moment when it comes along. You also need a lucky break. For Tom Cross, ACE, that was meeting director Damien Chazelle. “We found we liked a lot of the same movies and then made a short version of his script for Whiplash which did well enough to secure finance for a feature,” Cross related.

“The new financiers didn’t want any crew from the short film apart from Damien but [producer] Couper Samuelson wanted me to do it and assured them that he had a more prominent editor in the wings in case there was any problem.” Cross went on to win an Eddie and Oscar for the film. Jeremiah O’Driscoll cheerfully related how he “planned to be the world’s oldest assistant but got foiled in that plan.” Like Cross, he found it a struggle to be trusted to edit solo even by Arthur Schmidt, ACE, for whom O’Driscoll assisted over 11 years. “It was Bob Zemeckis who turned to me on Contact and asked me to cut the opening audio montage,” he said. “Later, when Artie couldn’t work on The Polar Express, I thought Bob would go hire an A-lister like Michael Kahn (ACE) but he asked me. I’ve stuck with Zemeckis ever since.”

He added, “You really have to suffer or put yourself in at the deep end or basically lie like I did to get yourself in the door.” Paul Machliss, ACE, also had to climb the ladder to the top. “I was a runner at a facility in Melbourne when Sony UK asked if I would do some demos for them of equipment at trade shows.

Aged 23, I turned up at Heathrow with a suitcase knowing no one and that it would be my fault if it all went wrong.” A decade later with experience editing comedy shows he met director Edgar Wright, for whom he most recently cut Baby Driver. Machliss described their current project, Last Night in Soho, as “Edgar’s love letter to a place which is rapidly disappearing.”

He told the audience, “Luck is when timing meets preparation and when that moment occurs, if you are ready, you can grab it.” Virginia Katz, ACE, candidly admitted her route to the cutting room was via her father, editor Sidney Katz, ACE, but faced a different kind of struggle. “Dede Allen [ACE] aside there were very few women editors, but I learned from some of those rare and strong women about being a woman in this business. I’ve also been fortunate in assisting editors who give you a chance to gain experience. I give my assistants scenes to cut since really the only way you can make it as an editor is by getting your hands dirty.” Elliot Graham, ACE, (Milk) says he pestered Mark Goldblatt, ACE, with letters and phone calls until he agreed to meet for a coffee. “Out of that, by circuitous route, I ended up assisting for director Steve Norrington who was cutting The Last Minute at James Cameron’s Lightstorm.

Since the film required me to work seven days a week, 18 hours a day, I ended up literally living in the edit bay for two months. Since I had access to the Avid all night, I went ahead and cut some scenes without telling anyone. Steve ended up recommending me to Bryan Singer for X-Men 2.” Graham underlined, “You can assist as much as you want but it is essential that you cut.”

In a conversation moderated by CinemaEditor’s international editor, Adrian Pennington, another panel of editors spoke on the topic TV drama and agreed that television and series content has reached a Golden Age with more and more talent from the feature world taking part.

“We have an Oscar [nominated] director,” said Pia Di Ciaula, ACE, of working with Stephen Daldry on The Crown, which she called “a perfect example of treating a series like a feature film.” She also showed a clip from A Very English Scandal – another such example as it was directed by Oscar-nominated Stephen Frears and stars Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw. “I had brilliant performances,” she said, adding that the editing challenge was “keeping the viewer informed of time” with flashbacks.

Tony Kearns, editor on Netflix’s interactive drama, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, agreed that a growing number of A-listers are getting involved with the rising number and range of new content outlets. He welcomes services such as Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new shortform mobile content platform, Quibi, with its 10-minute format, saying of these new models that they will work “as long as the story is compelling and fits the format.”

“It will make binge-watching a shorter experience; we won’t be up until 6am,” he quipped. Of the potential of interactive content such as Bandersnatch, he said, “I don’t think it will replace anything. I think it will be an adjunct.” He advised of working on interactive content, “You need to understand coding. … [Audiences] are not viewers; they are users. And you have to be super organized. It’s a really different experience. It’s technical; it’s daunting; it’s a tremendous experience.”

Terilyn Shropshire, ACE, described her work on Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us, the Netflix drama about the Central Park Five. “When I read the script, the interrogation scene was a linear structure,” she explains, noting that when she and DuVernay got to the edit, it was decided to crosscut between the different boys and their individual interrogations. “You needed to understand that the boys didn’t know one another … and you see the detectives using coerced testimony to implicate the others.”

There were three editors cutting different episodes of the four-part miniseries and collaborating. They were Shropshire, Spencer Averick, ACE; and Michelle Tesoro, ACE. “When we pared [an individual episode] down, we had to make sure it wasn’t something that would be needed later in the story,” she explained. “It was extremely helpful to have that collaboration. Our footage was cross-pollinating.” Editor Cheryl Potter showed an action scene from Amazon series Hanna, on which she worked with director Anders Engstrom. That challenge, she explained, “was setting up that title character Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles) is in danger and the geography of the action.”

Rounding out the panel was Gary Dollner, ACE, who showed the opening of BBC-produced series Killing Eve, which begins as Villanelle (Jodie Comer) locks eyes with and imitates a child in an ice cream parlor. He related that the challenge was intro- ducing a new series in a scene with no dialogue. “The scene was about mimicry, which is a big part of what she does, she observes and regurgitates.” Also during the day, Job ter Burg, ACE, NCE (Elle) moderated a panel on “Cutting for Truth and Finding the Story.”

Editor Anna Price shared a clip from The Trial of Ratko Mladic, which examines the trial of a general convicted of war crimes during the Bosnian War. The challenge, she related, was to “make the political personal. … to get across the historical information about the war in the trial of this one person … also to get the emotional story of the lawyers trying to convict this person, and the victims.” She admitted, “It was a very difficult film to organize.”

Will Gilbey showed his work on After the Screaming Stops, which follows the band, Bros. He described how the clip involved steadily building an argument between the band’s Matt Goss and Luke Goss. “They didn’t have cut approval,” he added.

Also featured was Three Identical Strangers, the story of triplets that were adopted by separate families and learn that each other existed at age 19. Editor Michael Harte, ACE, explained that he wanted to make the film feel like the eras during which they happened.

Elements included archival footage and music. In his clip, he showed the wedding of one of the brothers, Eddy, to his wife Brenda. Harte related that he and director Tim Wardle wrote a letter to Billy Joel asking permission to use “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” Joel’s ‘70s classic whose lyrics tell the story of a ‘Brenda and Eddy.’

The Bachelorette’s Sharon Rennert, ACE, shared a tearful scene during which a contestant tells the bachelorette that he is bowing out. “We are mostly on her face; it’s the discovery of  her realizing what’s happening to her,” Rennert explained, calling the cut “deceptively simple” while saying she “cut from the gut and followed her instincts … less is more, and it was addition through subtraction.”

Platinum sponsor Blackmagic Design kicked off the day by hosting a presentation by Patrick Hall, head of post and editor at Liverpool-based LA Productions, who talked about the company’s toolset that includes Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve. “We have been using Resolve for finishing for the last three years,” he said, noting that projects have included 10-episode prison drama Clink for U.K. Channel 5, which required a fast turnaround. The series was delivered within 20 weeks – two weeks per episode. “In terms of Resolve, the beauty was it’s incredibly fast,” he said, describing a collaborative and creative workflow.

The day concluded with a reception. ACE would like to thank EditFest London sponsors, including platinum sponsor Blackmagic; gold sponsors Avid, Adobe, Ignite Strategic Communications and Motion Picture Editors Guild; silver sponsors Evercast and FotoKem; media partners Editjockeys, Master the Workflow, Optimize Yourself and Televisual; and trade partners BECTU and

Karen Schmeer Fellowship 2019


2nd Qtr, 2019

The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship (KSFEF), now in its ninth year, is annually awarded to a new Fellow during the SXSW Film Festival Awards ceremony.

This year’s Fellow, Victoria Chalk, is a British-Chinese film editor whose career in post-production has spanned more than a decade, several countries and garnered numerous accolades.

“Growing up British/Malay in rural France forced me to see things differently. I have lived a life of constant adaptation, bridging the gap between cultures and social norms” says Chalk.

“Struggling to learn a new language in my early teens made me realize how difficult it is to express oneself when conscious of translating. As I became fluent in French, I would joke about having two different personas, since I wouldn’t express myself the same way in English as in French. I wouldn’t have the same go to expressions, the same sense of humor, the same vocabulary, and this fascinated me.

This is what first drew me to editing. There are endless possibilities to the artistry of expressing emotion, plot, pacing and storytelling.”

Chalk’s latest feature documentary, Call Her Ganda, which tells the story of a transgender Filipina woman who was brutally murdered and left in a motel room in the Philippines, premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was the winner of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Grand Jury Award.

The film’s director and Chalk’s longtime collaborator, PJ Raval, who gave a keynote at SXSW this year, remarked, “Victoria’s ability to empathize enables her to view the footage through the subject’s own perspective, avoiding the pitfalls of extractive filmmaking or reducing our subjects to
victims or ‘others’.”

Sponsored annually by ACE, the KSFEF was established to develop an emerging documentary film editor by offering opportunities for creative growth and professional community building.

The Fellowship pays tribute to the legacy of Karen Schmeer, ACE, who edited projects including the Academy Award®winning The Fog of War in addition to the controversial Mr. Death and the IFC series, First Person.

Schmeer died in 2010 when she was struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident. This year, the Fellowship launched a new initiative called the “Diversity in the Edit Room” program with 29 mentees selected in this inaugural year.

It’s designed to cultivate the careers of emerging assistant editors and editors from diverse backgrounds and experiences working in the documentary field. Garret Savage, KSFEF founding board member and diversity committee co-chair, says, “We’d like to acknowledge American Cinema Editors’ Diversity Mentorship Program, headed by Troy Takaki (ACE) and Mark Yoshikawa (ACE), as an inspiration and model for ours and thank Troy and Mark for their guidance.”

Of the many benefits the KSFEF bestows on a Fellow, Chalk is most looking forward to learning from her appointed mentors who include Victor Livingston (The Queen of Versailles, Crumb), Azin Samari (The September Issue, Ethel), and previous KSFEF recipient Lindsay Utz (American Factory, Quest).

Says Chalk, “The Karen Schmeer Fellowship will allow me to grow in experience, confidence and communication in profound ways. The mentorship and support it provides is like nothing else. The community offered through this fellowship is also a way for me to help my own communities thrive.”

Chalk hopes to harness what she can from this experience to inspire other emerging editors from diverse and marginalized backgrounds, sharing her resources and what she learns with them. “I truly believe that the organizing I do with the Asian American Documentary Network (A-DOC), shines a spotlight on the lack of access and opportunities we have as a community of people of color. If I can add to the resources and bring something back to filmmakers in that space, I will,” says Chalk.

Chalk’s next feature documentary,  A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, directed by Yu Gu, will premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival where half of this year’s competition lineup were directed or co-directed by women.

ACE is a proud sponsor of the KSFEF and through the program, Chalk receives associate membership in ACE as well as admission to EditFest in Los Angeles.

ACE Interns 2019


1st Qtr, 2019

Following a rigorous selection process, ACE interns Irene Chun, a grad of Pepperdine University in Malibu, and Katelyn Wright, an alum of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., recently completed a four-week ACE Internship Program that gave them their first look into the professional Hollywood post-production scene.

The program, chaired by program alums Carsten Kurpanek and Tyler Nelson, involved spending time in editing rooms and touring post-production facilities while being mentored by experienced ACE editors.

Wright remembers how she became aware of ACE and the intern program: “There was one day during school where we were analyzing film credits and how the style of them helps introduce and close the film. I asked my teacher why you would put ACE after someone’s name.

I went down a very deep rabbit hole after that. After stalking the different ACE editors and exploring the website I fell across the internship program. The same day I was begging my program director and the editor I had worked for on Fox Hunt Drive to write me recommendation letters.

The program was everything I needed. It would take the basics I had learned in school, and expand my perspective on the roles in postproduction. I may have had a general understanding of editing, but I had no idea how much effort and work went into being the assistant, which was the first step I had to take.

“Throughout the application process, I was convinced I would not be selected,” she adds. “Even when I was a finalist (which is already a huge honor) I knew that I didn’t know nearly as much as the others.

When I was driving home, I received the call from Tyler Nelson and Carsten Kurpanek that I was chosen. And so, the journey began.”

For Chun, participating in the various editing rooms during her internship was a crash course of different aspects of post-production. During her week in the editing rooms of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,  lunches with the post-production team were exhilarating and fun.

She soaked in as much as she could from the years of experience present around the table. She also spent a week with the editorial team of 6 Underground where she learned how to process dailies and prep them for the multiple editors working on the show.

Wright shadowed the editorial team of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. She got her feet wet in how to deal with dailies and organize them for the editor. The assistant editor would group clips together and mark them ‘action’ or ‘reset’ and create thumbnails. As an assistant you could then familiarize yourself with the footage and give the editor an opinion if that’s asked for.

Her second week was at Disney’s Stargirl where she learned the importance of editing sound effects to help to give an indication of how a sequence is going to evolve.

Both Chun and Wright were introduced to the advantages and intricacies of Avid’s ScriptSync, through which clips are organized in lined-script order, a very fast and organized way to get an overview of what was shot for a sequence. They also learned how to do turnovers and how essential these are for a smooth hand-off to all the facilities that take care of the post-production after editorial.

How important flawless turnovers are became very clear to both ACE interns when they spent their third week visiting Los Angeles-based post-production facilities. They went to a film lab, a sound studio and a visual effects studio that all needed to work with the flawless EDLs and AAFs supplied by the assistant editors of all the shows.

The interns watched sessions with a colorist, Foley walkers, sound mixers and digital artists. They saw the professional transcoding of dailies, learned how VFX can help pre-visualizing sequences and got a taste of how the cloud can help an editorial team to work remotely.

The last week of the ACE Internship Program involved shadowing a reality-show post-production team. Chun spent the week on The Voice, during which time she was amazed to see how organized the assistant editors needed to be in order to keep track of all the footage. “They used a whiteboard in the office to communicate tasks from day-shift to night-shift. They not only have to prep the footage, but also address media requests from producers.

Without a script to follow, the editor needed to create a story by combing through the interviews with the transcript and watching the footage. “After my week at The Voice, I’ll never be able to watch unscripted shows the same again,” she admits.

“There’s so much work that goes into creating the story. It was also amazing to see that even though there are so many editors working on the show, they make it look seamlessly cohesive.” Wright spent the week with teams from American Idol and the Academy Awards.

She enthusiastically recalls how this was a nonunion house, Sim Digital, so she had the opportunity to do some hands-on work: “I got to sync and group [15 cameras] on the Avid, working with managing assets, and creating outputs from the Avid. As a kinesthetic learner, this was vital to really bring everything together. The assistant spent a great deal of time illustrating to me how to handle playback for the editors with a tape workflow and conform.

Cutting multicam for reality is immensely different from anything scripted. It can be said that there is certainly a rhythm to it. Navigating 10-15 cameras is no easy feat, but the editors and their assistants here have mastered the way.”

For both interns the first step into the professional world of post-production will likely be an assistant position, so shadowing an editorial team and learning all the ins and outs are important aspects. But surely their ultimate goal will be to become editors themselves.

Then the creative part takes precedence. What have they learned about the creative side of editing? Says Chun, “I was indeed exposed to the creative sides of editing. On the scripted side, I learned that it really is important to watch all the dailies. You don’t want to miss anything and you want to be aware of what footage was shot. By attending the table read and tone meeting, I was reminded of how important communication is to collaboration in film.”

Adds Wright: “Watching all dailies was important for all editors. They form the sequence in their head, making sure that all the golden moments from production are included.” Both say they were introduced to valuable contacts and learned technical, organizational and creative information that will speed them ahead in their careers in post-production. They both recognize that staying in contact with others in the business is key.

Wright remarks that the one thing the ACE internship has taught her is that the post-production community here in L.A. is small. Everyone knows each other. The only way for the editors to stay sane is for them to stay connected.

“I think the most important thing for me is not only stay in touch with the different editing rooms I visited, but also stay connected to Irene, my fellow intern, and the other honorary interns, the people I met at the lecture series, and my mentors and guides through this journey,” she says. “I have a nice long list of contacts that I can call whenever I run into issues as a post-production PA or as an assistant editor.”

She plans to continue to grow her involvement in the community by attending upcoming events including EditFest LA. Chun is determined to do the same: “I’ll be holding up the social part of post-production by going to different mixers. I’ve been to every mixer I’ve been invited to since I’ve been an intern and it’s been really fun.

I also have a system set up so that I can remember to touch base with those I haven’t talked with for a while. I’ll be going to upcoming ACE events and will try to volunteer as much as I can in the years to come.” Chun, Wright and ACE wish to thank the people, productions and facilities that so generously opened up to make this once again a successful ACE Internship Program.