118 – Coming to terms with a difficult decision

So, um… scratch almost everything I wrote in that last entry. I received the cut from the other editor, watched it, and immediately determined that I needed to do a page one, scene one recut of the entire show. Scrap everything she did and just start over. It was very rough and when you add to it how much the script had changed since she started her cut, it made no sense to use any of it. The problem with starting from scratch was that I only had two weeks to do it and I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

To help me meet the deadline I knew exactly who to ask. My buddy Shane Ross is an editor who I have known for about 10 years and have worked with on several occasions in the past. In fact he had worked on a previous season of this series and was the one who initially recommended me for this gig. I called him and asked if he was interested and available. When he said he was interested and could probably make himself available I was thrilled. I then called my show runner, explained the situation to her and told her I needed Shane’s help. She understood and got the ball rolling. Within two days, Shane was on the show with me and we had divided up the show in the most logical fashion.

Shane and I cut fast and furiously for about two weeks in order to meet a Thursday morning of week 2 deadline. We hit that deadline, but unfortunately there were notes and rewrites that pushed the edit out an extra week. 2 insane weeks turned into 3 and by the end of it I was feeling completely burned out. When you consider that the episode I had cut just before this one also ended in a crazy fashion I wasn’t too keen on diving right into another one.

I’ve been working in this industry long enough to know when it is worth dealing with stress and insane schedules and this wasn’t one of those instances. In an extremely rare move for me, I made the decision to walk away from this gig and not take on another episode. This wasn’t a decision I arrived at lightly, but I did not see the craziness of the turnarounds changing and frankly working 7 days a week for 12-16 hours a day wasn’t healthy for me or my home life.

Some people may wonder why I would even write about this publicly, but I feel it is important to let people know that you don’t have to continue working in a situation that you don’t enjoy. Producers fire editors all the time, I think it is equally acceptable for an editor to fire a producer (client, production company, etc.). Bottom line, I did not want to spend another month working late into the night, every day on a show that I was completely indifferent about.

Luckily when I reached my decision I was contacted by someone that I had worked with in the past who wanted my help for a few weeks with another show. In the end, everything worked out. I’m happy with my decision and the production company found a replacement for me right away. I believe they understand why I decided to walk away and I would hope that they don’t hold a grudge. I know I don’t.

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About danwolfmeyer

Dan is a Freelance Film/TV editor in Los Angeles, California. He lives on a ranch in the San Fernando Valley with his wife and a whole bunch of dogs, cats, horses, ponies, lizards, fish, and one single black sheep. Dan has been editing in the documentary and news genres for over 15 years. He is passionate about film and television and would love to make the move into narrative film and TV, while still retaining the option to edit fascinating documentary projects. (Hire him, really you won't regret it.) He aspires to have a career like Michael Kahn or Sally Menke.
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