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