ACE Internship Program 2018

ACE is an organization that not only celebrates, supports and informs about the accomplishments of its members and all editors, but also shows a keen interest in educating and helping young editorial talent break into the business. It gives aspiring editors the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in the ACE Student Editing Award competition and gain realworld experience through the ACE Internship Program.

Last but not least, the ACE Diversity Program pairs underrepresented members of the post-production community with mentors, to help them face the hurdles of breaking into the business. Alums of these programs go on to become successful editors themselves.

Among them are John P. Bernardo, who won the ACE Student Editing Award in 1994 and then earned an ACE Eddie Award for Black-ish in 2014; and former ACE intern Joi McMillon, ACE, who was nominated for an ACE Eddie Award and Oscar® in 2016 for Moonlight. Each year, the ACE Internship Program selects two participants who are given the opportunity to intern in Hollywood editing rooms, as well as attend activities that lead up to the annual ACE Eddie Awards.

Here, this year’s interns, Qingya Li and Luke Palter, share their stories.

Li enthusiastically admits that being selected as an ACE intern has changed her life: “The ACE Internship Program has not only led me toward my goal of being a film editor, it also has brought me into the most amazing community of talented editors and assistant editors. I have seen myself grow exponentially in technical, professional and personal ways.

I would not have had the confidence in myself that I have now without this program.” As an ACE intern, she assisted at the annual ACE Internship get-together and lecture series, as well as ACE Blue Ribbon judging event, Eddie Nominee Cocktail Party and ACE Eddie Awards.

“I’m so honored to be part of the ACE family now,” relates Li, who was born and raised in Beijing. “I moved to California to pursue my film dreams after [being] admitted to Chapman University, where I graduated in 2016 with a Master of Fine Arts in film production with editing emphasis.

My graduate studies have provided me with profound knowledge of film production and allowed me to fully immerse myself into every project’s post-production as an editor or assistant editor. I want to thank my professor, Paul Seydor, ACE.

I certainly couldn’t have made it into this program without him as my mentor at Chapman. I’m truly grateful for all his support and guidance that has inspired me all these years.”

Palter similarly called his experience “the most transformative in my entire life. It has given me the chance to develop a core group of editing mentors and, more importantly, friends who I hope to know for years to come. It’s also taught me more about the art of networking, how to actively seek out new relationships in the industry, and how to enjoy that process.

As an introverted kid, I grew up practicing many ‘alone-time’ activities: building Legos, watching fantasy movies, assembling Stikfas figures. “The thoughtful, minute craft of putting a story together has always intrigued me and a career in post-production became my dream early on,” he adds, explaining that in high school, he edited his AV club’s 24-hour film contest entry, which would go on to be selected for SXSW’s Student Film Showcase.

He also attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ film & TV program and signed up for all the Avid and Pro Tools classes. He relates, “Taking a leap of faith, I moved to Los Angeles during my last semester for an internship position at a commercial editing company – it was time to relearn how to drive!

In May of 2017, I graduated and was fortunate enough to be hired at the commercial company as their staff runner/PA. I made daily runs all over Santa Monica, happily paying my dues to the industry, but hoping for some way to get closer to the Hollywood movies and the story-building I loved as a kid. I finally came across ACE’s Internship application online and jumped at it. I wrote a paper, begged for recommendations and applied.

This felt like buying a lottery ticket … and then, in January, I was selected as one of the 2018 ACE Interns! “At the Intern Orientation Meeting, I met Christopher Cooke, ACE; Troy Takaki, ACE; Tyler Nelson; Carsten Kurpanek and Sabrina Plisco, ACE; my mentors over the course of the program.

I also bonded with Qingya Li. We both received great advice from two previous ACE interns, Israel Vasquez and Emily Kraklow, both of whom were extremely helpful and accessible throughout the course of the program.

I learned that as an ACE Intern I would be shadowing some of the world’s finest post-production artists for four weeks in order to absorb their technique and prepare for my own career. I promised myself I would ignore my introverted nature and build up some confidence. This was too amazing an opportunity to be shy.”

For her first week in the program, Li shadowed editor Michael Ornstein, ACE, and assistant editor Lisa Cossettini on TV series Madam Secretary. “I also took advantage of shadowing assistant editors Richard Glazerman and Michael Lim as they were working on different episodes at different stages of post,” she says. “I got to witness the stages of the editor’s cut, the director’s cut, and the locked cut all at the same time.

Starting with a traditional TV show really helped me build a thorough understanding of how assistant editors work in the motion picture industry. The assistant editors walked me through every step of prepping dailies, building linestringouts, making turnovers and adding temp SFX, music and VFX. They also showed me all kinds of paperwork that assistant editors need to prepare, such as continuity, ADR and VFX lists.

I really appreciate that Michael O. and Lisa took me under their wing, always generously included me in their viewing sessions and asked my opinions. I have learned so much by just observing the communication and collaboration between them.

I want to thank everyone in the editorial and post department: Michael O., Lisa, Richard, Michael L., Wendy Smith, John Murray, Tony Palermo, Drew Ysais, Catherine Linebarger and Julie Brown for being patient with my questions and helping me learn. Palter spent his first week at Sony Pictures Studios with the post-production team behind upcoming Venom, led by editors Alan Baumgarten, ACE, and Maryann Brandon, ACE.

“I shadowed assistant editors Charlie Spaht, Ben Cox and Jane Tones, all of whom were approachable and friendly to me. Venom was receiving the last of its dailies, so I watched while Ben organized the new footage and assembled scene bins with pixel-perfect accuracy; Charlie methodically, deliberately performed ScriptSync; and Jane nurtured Maryann and Alan’s additional requests for temp music or sound design.

“The three assistants’ teamwork and workflow were perfect for that stage of the show and I’ve learned that every project has a tailored system like this. Charlie shared with me how important it is for an assistant editor to structure their work in such a way so it always serves the editor. An obsessively-organized Avid bin or script is meaningless when it is too confusing to be understood.

This advice taught me how, at its core, the post industry is extremely collaborative. It requires healthy communication and teamwork, rather than simply the fastest set of hands. I can’t thank the post team on Venom enough for hosting me for the week.

I also want to thank the energetic post PA, Damian Gonzalez, for letting me in early each morning, as well as the VFX editor, Tom Reagan, for sharing his workflow on the picture. “Sabrina Plisco, ACE, my mentor, was cutting in the same building, and I want to thank her for sharing her editing knowledge on the feature, A Dog’s Way Home.”

Each year, Herb Dow, ACE, coordinates a tour of various post facilities in Los Angeles. During the second week of the Internship Program, that tour included FotoKem, CBS Digital, Larson Studios, the post department of Disney-ABC Television Group, Ross 424 and editing technology developer BeBop Technology. Palter reports that at FotoKem “we learned how a physical film is developed, digitized, screened and preserved for archiving. I may be revealing my young age, here, but some aspects of the tour felt like exhibits in a museum! It was humbling to watch the intricate craft of handling real film stock, and I’m so glad that the tactile art lives on.

At CBS Digital, Qingya and I watched VFX artists construct an effects sequence for The Man in the High Castle. The artists modeled, textured and composited corpses floating in a dark lake. It was gruesome and technical and awesome. “We witnessed a fire elements shoot for This Is Us (not realizing its looming impact on my childhood love for Crock-Pot® dinners) and experienced the fantastic Stranger Things VR demo.

At Larson Sound, we attended mix sessions for SMILF and Walk the Prank, and listened to a hypnotic ‘hands-pass’ Foley session for an episode of Designated Survivor. At ABC’s post-production office, post vp Bruce Sandzimier explained the structure of a post team from a managerial perspective. I finally understand who is who when the post-production credits roll! Qingya and I trekked to Ross 424 and toured its professional and simultaneously blissful mixing stage.” He continues that during the tour, “we spent an evening at Local Hero with Fred Beahm, who had us trying on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift [VR headsets], and learning how the program Assimilate Scratch is used to stitch together 360-degree stories.”

Adds Li: “Lastly, we visited BeBop Technology, where we were introduced to ‘cloud-based editing.’ With the processors, editing software and media data in the cloud, anyone can work on projects anywhere as long as one has a laptop that can access the internet. There is no doubt that learning new technology will be a huge plus in helping our careers as assistant editors.” The pair thanks Rand Gladden at FotoKem; Keven Scotti, Chloe Warden and Aaron Daly at CBS Digital; Richard Ellis at Larson Studios; Bruce Sandzimier at ABC Studios; John Ross and Nancy Ross at Ross 424; and “all the amazing people we encountered during our visit.”

During his third week of the program, Palter shadowed the post team behind FX series Snowfall. He recalls: “Organized and passionate assistant editor Susy Benaim took me under her wing on Episode 203, edited by Hunter Via, ACE. Susy went in-depth describing her daily routine and taught me that the quick pace of scripted television requires preparation for every upcoming stage of the episode, from editor’s cut, director’s cut, producer’s cut, network cut, through the final locked cut and CTM.

Susy had turnover settings organized long before the first camera rolled on production, and she arrived an hour early each morning to get a head start on dailies. I saw how this impeccable work ethic freed her to pursue the more creative aspects of the cut – if dailies were done sooner, Susy could perform more sound design and rough assemblies of scenes for Hunter, who valued Susy’s input on the story as much as his own. “They shared a bond between editor and assistant which was so encouraging for me to see,”

Palter continues. “I found out that both Hunter and Susy were also ACE Interns, and they proclaimed it as the chief reason for their success. It’s hard to believe I’ve joined such an esteemed, yet friendly and supportive family! I can’t thank Hunter enough for letting me on to the show, and Susy for setting such a great example as an assistant.”

The third week of Li’s internship was spent at the editorial department of a major studio feature, which she couldn’t identify due to non-disclosure agreements. “Since it has a huge amount of VFX shots, it’s extremely fun to learn how the assistant editors process such large amounts of dailies and VFX renders every day. I want to thank everyone on the post team. They welcomed me with open arms and they were always willing to help me learn as much as I could.”

The last week of his internship, Palter joined NBC’s The Voice. The ACE program includes a week with an unscripted series since many of the first opportunities for assistant editors are on nonunion reality shows. The Voice, however, is a union job, mainly because it’s so massive, but it shares many common elements and multi-camera workflows of a non-union reality show. “I was guided by seasoned
The Voice editor Robert Malachowski, Jr., ACE, who introduced me to the rest of the editorial department,” Palter relates.

“I shadowed daytime assistants David McBride, John Alpino and Garland Young as they taught me the technical practice of stacking, syncing and grouping 18 live cameras rolling on the show. In addition to organizing all this footage, the trio of assistants daily serves a team of 20 editors on The Voice. The team’s incredible support for one another (and their almost-healthy obsession with the Star Wars canon) gets them through it – and you couldn’t ask for a more humble and proficient team.

In addition to learning from them, I received valuable editing lessons from Omega Hsu, ACE; John Homesley; Noel Guerra and Matt Antell. Whether it was an in-depth tutorial on the Avid ‘Replace’ function with Omega, emailing and networking strategies with John, musical performance editing with Noel, or comedic timing with Matt, I learned that life as an editor is filled with equal parts humanity, technology and storytelling. I can’t thank them enough for their time and for answering my overexcited questions.”

Li spent her last week at the post-production office of Shed Media, a non-scripted TV company with multiple series running at the same time. “I had the pleasure to meet Justin Robertson, ACE, the editor of the show, Who Do You Think You Are?, and to see how he worked closely with the producers and story producers. I shadowed assistant editors Russell Wheat, Mike Starr, Chance Mayfield, Scott Johnson, Nate Dusek and the digitizers, Laura Hartung and Dune Harman. I want to thank them for teaching me the technical skills and giving me hands-on experience so I could soak up every task.

I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to try offloading, ingesting, transcoding, stacking, syncing, grouping and Avid ScriptSync with their guidance. Undoubtedly, they helped me fully prepare myself for what’s coming next in my career. They showed me the importance of multi-tasking and having an attention to detail because, not like scripted TV shows or features, the assistant editors who work on reality can have multiple shows in post simultaneously. It is crucial to maintain an efficient and accurate workflow all the time.

“I would like to thank Paul Rosenthal and Tiffany Phelps for arranging to interview me on the last day of my internship and offering me the position as a digitizer after my internship. I truly appreciate all the invaluable opportunities they have given me.” Looking back, Palter concludes: “The connections I’ve made through this program are beyond what I could’ve imagined (and, let’s be clear, I was very excited about the program long before it began). The ACE community has welcomed me not as the ‘green,’ naive youngster I probably am, but as their capable mentee and friend. The mentors have genuinely invested in my future in a way no one else has.

I’m forever grateful to my mentor, Sabrina Plisco, ACE, especially, for helping me navigate a parting email to my past employer. I also want to thank Carsten Kurpanek; Tyler Nelson; Chris Cooke, ACE; Troy Takaki, ACE; Mark Andrew, ACE; John Axelrad, ACE; Herb Dow, ACE; Stephen Lovejoy, ACE; Nena Erb, ACE; Lori Jane Coleman, ACE; Diana Friedberg, ACE; and Vince Anido, ACE, for all the encouragement and support. Li concurs: “They have taught me so well, in every way, to become a better assistant editor and a better person. My experience in the ACE Internship Program has been beyond amazing.

The unique opportunity of meeting talented editors and assistants through the program and making profound connections with them has brightened both my professional and personal life. I’m forever grateful to ACE for their commitment to education and generosity to sponsor the Internship Program that makes all the difference and I want to especially thank my mentor, Chris, who has always been patient and enlightened me from the interview to every ‘footprint’ I stepped along my journey.” The pair thanks the totally-on-top-of-things Jenni McCormick, Gemmalyn Idmilao-Brunson and Jasmine Staehle for keeping them busy and engaged during all of the ACE events. Also, they thank Thelma Schoonmaker, ACE, who personally sponsored their tickets to the Eddie Awards.

They give a shout-out to Adobe for its generous support of the ACE Lecture Series, hosted at the Egyptian Theatre; to Avid, Adobe and Blackmagic Design for their generous software donations; and to Larry Jordan, ACE, for providing them with his assistant editor online training course, Master the Workflow. Finally, apart from thanking each other, Li and Palter thank all the ACE program finalists and they hope that they can continue passing their job opportunities around and supporting one another. “We’ve all been blessed with a great start!”