Paper Cuts 1st Qtr 2018

Troy Takaki, ACE, is a fountain of positive energy who is well-known in the industry but especially among the younger generation of professionals in the post-production realm. For years, he championed the ACE Internship Program, he has spearheaded the ACE Diversity Program mentoring underrepresented minorities in post, and he has been a very-much respected mentor and teacher of upcoming post-production assistants, assistant editors and junior editors. Reminiscing back from the early days of his career till the present, he has gathered a lot of funny stories, but more importantly, very wise suggestions and practical recommendations on how to start, bolster and enjoy a long and successful career in post-production and especially editing.

You would never expect a book about editing to have in the title Avocado Milkshakes but this exotic drink from the Philippines is a metaphor to always exploit your opportunities. In the last chapter of the book, Troy explains how somebody was offered an avocado milkshake on the first day of work in the Philippines, but only tried one after three months on the last day before leaving the country: a truly missed opportunity. This is just one example of how Troy explains many important notions of being a film editor. If you expect a book about the intricacies of the art, craft and technical aspects of editing, you will be disappointed – but if you want to know how to become a great film editor you will be delighted. As you would expect from a film editor who knows about storytelling, Troy knows how to engage the reader with the dos and don’ts of getting your foot in the door of the film and TV world and to empower you to stay and thrive there.

His life lessons encapsulated in what he calls “The Tao of Troy” are divided into short, easy-to-read, and often funny but oh-so-important stories that seem almost redundant in their conclusions. However, when you follow his lead through the book, you’ll understand why he is one of the most successful and respected film editors in the business. His on-the-surface simple advice in Don’t Miss Out on Any Avocado Milkshakes includes starting out as a great post-production assistant through the long and winding road from apprentice to assistant editor to finally becoming a successful film editor for film and TV, and should be required study material in the last semester before graduating at film schools. Because you might have studied Eisenstein, analyzed Hitchcock, know how to make the perfect cut and are a whiz on the Avid, but nobody prepares you for the reality of getting a job, holding onto it and progressing successfully in your career. The assumed triviality of simple things like getting to a job interview on time, no, at least 10 minutes before the appointment, might seem common sense, but in the reality of how somebody gets hired, just small details can give you the edge over other well-qualified candidates. These important life and job lessons are not commonly taught at film schools even though they’re more important than having a complete knowledge of film history.

The book, however, is not only for students or people starting their careers. As Troy notes, “You never stop learning,” and that means that even if you are a wellattuned film professional there might be something of value in his book since you might have forgotten the simple truths of how to handle your job, your job environment or your job communications. Our job as film editors can get stressful sometimes due to the long hours, difficult characters and unreasonable requests, but reading a few chapters of Troy’s book will put everything back in perspective. It’s a quick read and it will refresh things you might already know and practice – and who knows it might teach you something new. I certainly picked up a thing or two and apart from that it’s a delightful, positive look on the job we all love. –Edgar Burcksen, ACE