15 Questions with Eileen Meyer

Photo by Claire Marie Vogel
Manhattan Edit Workshop congratulates Eileen Meyer, winner of the 2016 Karen Schmeer Fellowship! Eileen completed the MEWShop Six-Week Workshop in the fall of 2011. We caught up with her to chat about her achievements since, including a Cinema Eye Honors "Outstanding Achievement in Editing" nomination for her latest film, Best of Enemies, a 2015 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize nominee.

1. Where did you grow up?
Durham, North Carolina.  

2. What kind of film education did you receive?
My first job at 15 was at a local, independent video store that was walking distance from my house.  The store catered more towards the new indy films that were coming out in the late 90s, so that was my first experience with films that inspired me to be a filmmaker, especially all of the Sundance films of that era.  Later in high school I worked nights and weekends at an arthouse movie theater in Chapel Hill, NC and got my second dose of inspiration. I attended Hampshire College in Amherst, MA from 2000-2004 and studied documentary film.  I lived in NY for a few years after college and worked for a small documentary production company.  I was able to explore all aspects of the field, but gravitated mostly towards editing and producing.  

3. How did your experiences in MEWShop’s Six Week Workshop complement the education you had before you took the workshop?
When I attended MEWShop, I was at a turning point in my career.  I was living in Memphis, TN at the time and had been editing and producing there for a few years.  I decided that I wanted to focus my career on editing, and was looking for ways to expand my network-- either by going to graduate school or moving back to New York or Los Angeles, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do.  I did know that I needed to learn Avid if I was going to be in Los Angeles (I was only on FCP 7), and I needed to build a website of my work.
I applied for an “Individual Artist Grant" from the Tennessee Arts Commision and used that money to attend the MEW six-week workshop.  The decision to take those six weeks out of my day to day life just to focus on the next steps in my career was so incredibly helpful and I am grateful for the step up it gave me in my eventual move to LA.  

4. Which film/s originally inspired you to pursue editing?
Sherman’s March by Ross McElwee and David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.  

5. What do you think are some personal qualities (in yourself and others) that make editing a natural fit as a career choice?
Empathy, patience, a deep understanding of people and psychology, and a strong work ethic.  

6. What’s your favorite editing software? Which software do you have the most experience editing with?
I had the most experience with FCP 7, it’s what I learned to edit on.  Now I work mostly with Premiere Pro CC and I’ve learned to love it, although it still seems like such a young program and has its issues.  

7. What is your favorite edited scene of all time? Why?
Editing is so often invisible, that this is a hard question for me to answer.  My favorite scenes are often the very first shot or scene of a film, where you can really grab an audience by the throat.  I love a cold open that perfectly sets a tone for the film you’re about to see and asks the “question” that the film will answer.  The cold open of The Trials of Muhammed Ali edited by Aaron Wickenden (my amazing co-editor on Best of Enemies) is a perfect example- it’s surprising, heart-wrenching and so powerful in the first three minutes.

8. What other jobs in the film industry appealed to you? If you had to switch career paths, what would you pick?
I also really like producing.  I’m a natural “helper” and I often end up with a producing credit on projects that I’m editing because I get so involved with that side of things.  

9. What is your current favorite film or television show from an editing perspective? What makes it so compelling?
The Knick.  The editing is genius, along with everything else Soderbergh does on the show (directing AND cinematography).  A one-man-wonder.

10. What was your proudest/happiest/worst (pick one) moment as an editor?
My proudest moment as an editor was when I first went to Sundance with a film I edited.  It was something I thought I would never get to do, and now I’ve been TWICE!  An experience I hope to repeat as much as possible in the future.  

11. How do you see the post-production industry evolving over the next decade or so?
I’m excited about the possibilities of VR and would love to edit a film in that medium.  I have no idea how it works, but would love to learn!

12. What technological advancements in post-production have affected your work and process the most?
The integration of After Effects and Photoshop into Premiere is a great asset.

13. Talk about your most challenging experience as an editor.
Every project has it’s challenges, and I think the question is how we learn to work through those challenging moments.  When you’re stuck on an idea or a scene, or you are so entrenched in the footage that you lose the audience's perspective…I’ve learned that a change of environment can make all the difference.  If I’m stuck on something, I’ll upload it to Dropbox or Vimeo and watch it at a coffee shop on my laptop or in the bathtub on my phone or on the big tv in my living room.  You’ll see it a different way each time and new ideas will come.  

14. What project/s are you working on now?
I’m working on a film about LGBTQ rights in Alabama and I’m about to start on a film about Clive Davis, the legendary music producer.

15. Is there anything you do outside of editing that has helped you sharpen your storytelling skills?
Lately I’ve been reading books about screenwriting and story construction.  I never had a real formal narrative education, so I’m working backwards and learning all the rules now.  

Weekend Post-Production News Roundup!

The best VFX breakdowns of 2016 (so far), including Deadpool, Ant-Man, and Terminator Genysis. [Rocketstock]

How Zero FX created a bygone era for the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass [Animation World Network]

BatchFrame releases Move Anchor Point 3 for After Effects, allowing the user to to move an actor point in After Effects without moving the layer along with a host of new, more flexible features [Lester Banks]

Daniel Peters comes out with a few LUTs for the 4.6K Blackmagic URSA Mini camera [Cinescopophilia]

What virtual reality really means for the music industry [HypeBot]

Every Best VFX Winner, Ever: a supercut [Lester Banks]

Polaroid releases two new camera stabilizers [AOTG]

VIDEO: How to Import Footage from a Hard Drive in Final Cut Pro X

Manhattan Edit Workshop Instructor Ari Feldman shows how to import footage from a hard drive in the latest version of Apple's Final Cut Pro X.

Manhattan Edit Workshop is a New York Film Editing School offering a full range of basic to advanced manufacturer certified training courses, from the Avid, Autodesk, Assimilate and Apple products to the complete suite of Adobe applications.

Manhattan Edit Workshop's mission is to provide the highest quality education for filmmakers and editors. Focusing on both the art and technology inherent to our craft. We foster a "learn by doing" approach in an atmosphere where mistakes are encouraged as part of the process and the only "silly" question is the one that isn't asked.

Weekend Post-Production News Round-Up!

Why film editor Jim Clark was Hollywood's greatest repairman: He completely recut Midnight Cowboy, won an Oscar for The Killing Fields and worked on James Bond. [The Guardian]

Visualize un-shot sequences with Martini, a storyboarding plug-in for Media Composer: Martini is designed to help you fill in missing shots in your projects so you can better visualize what you have to shoot next. [Avid]

An interview with editor and Avid-certified trainer Christian Jhonson of Ecuador's Teleamazonas [Post Perspective]

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen spoke with CNBC’s Jon Fortt to discuss Adobe’s Q1 2016 earnings and the company’s strategy for growing Adobe Creative Cloud [Adobe]

Editor Julie "Bob" Lombardi on crafting a scene out of B-roll in World of Jenks [MEWTube]

Polaroid announces waterproof underwater DSLR case [AOTG]

Weekend Post-Production NEWS Round-up!

Television editor Jesse Averna discusses techniques used in bringing "Sesame Street" to life [MEWShop]

How to create stunning hyperlapse footage [Premium Beat

Easily modify daunting amounts of keyframes in After Effects [Lester Banks

How A.J. Calomay overcame vision impairment to make it as an editor on "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" [Balitang America]

Three all-important questions to ask before starting work on commercials and features [Command Edit Podcast]

Tips for matching shots captured on different cameras in DaVinci Resolve [AOTG]

MEWShop Owner Josh Apter Interviewed on Forbes.com about the Padcaster!

Say hello to the future of filmmaking — on an iPad or smartphone.   A small bootstrapped startup is now selling an aluminum and urethane contraption on the Apple Store that can turn any iPad into a movie-making machine.  
Since DSLR cameras start at $500 (for a very basic kit) and lenses alone can run upwards of $10,000, filmmaking can be an expensive hobby.  That’s why Josh Apter, a filmmaker and founder of the Manhattan Edit Workshop, created the Padcaster.  “I literally took my iPad to a framing store and had it framed like a picture,” he says.  

VIDEO: VFX Artist Rob Legato Discusses his Process of Pre-visualizing "Avatar"

Manhattan Edit Workshop presents: Sight, Sound & Story - Avatar Part II. From Manhattan Edit Workshop's "Sight, Sound & Story: An Evening with Visual FX Artists Rob Legato and Mark Russell"

Robert Legato is a visual effects supervisor, second unit director and second unit director of photography. He has been nominated for three Academy Awards and has won two. His first win was for his visual effects work on "Titanic." His second was for his work on "Hugo." In 1996, he won the BAFTA award for Best Achievement in Special Effects for "Apollo 13," for which he also garnered his first Academy Award nomination. Prior to his work in film, he was a Visual Effects Supervisor for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" from 1987 to 1992, and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" in 1993. His work on the "Star Trek" franchise earned him three Emmy nominations and two wins.

Rob Legato is a member of Directors Guild of America (DGA), American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and the Visual Effects Society (VES).

Legato is known for his work on "Avatar" (2009), "Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles" (1994) and "Apollo 13" (1995).

Editing on FCPX with George Abbott Clark

Clark's timeline in FCPX

George Abbott Clark knows that Final Cut Pro X has a cloudy reputation in the editing business. “When it first came out, it was a nightmare,” he says on a phone call from Los Angeles. “But the new updates are remarkable. It’s like power steering - you would never go back to making it more complicated and cumbersome.”

In editing Jim Shoe from writer-director Pete Sutton, Clark faced pushback from post-production and industry peers in his choice to cut in FCPX. Amid a series of major studio releases also cut with the controversial program — Focus and Whiskey Foxtrot Tango among them — Clark remains steadfast in his adherence to FCPX, citing the ease of working with the system.

“[FCPX] has a rep for being simplified and dumbed-down,” Clark says. “But it’s not. It’s sophisticated, and advanced. There’s a misconception in the community.”

In the transition from FCP7 to X, Clark knew the new program was being built on a 64-bit platform from the ground up, making it much more stable than 32-bit based FCP7. While 7 was known for being unstable and prone to crashing with larger projects, he says that X nearly never crashes, even while editing natively in 4K. “You still must use proxy files for multi-cam, even with my high-end Mac Pro cylinder,” he says. “Time lapse can drop frames in 4k. But not if you use .MOV files and avoid Apple Pro Res 422 ‘optimized’ files on import.”

It’s worth pointing out that Clark is no stranger to doing things the hard way. As a bioarchaeologist, he received a Smithsonian Institute Fellowship after discovering a biological link between poor early growth and lifespan in the immune and neural systems, and earned a Ph.D from UMass Amherst. He segued into writing screenplays, earning a master’s degree in screenwriting from AFI, and eventually into editing. As one of a minority of editors working primarily on FCPX, his work has spanned both documentary and narrative projects, but he sees few major dissimilarities between the two genres.

“With a documentary, the main difference is that you sometimes don’t see what the story is until you’ve finished shooting,” he says. “You see the thread come together right in front of your eyes.” Clark served as a longtime editor, producer, and cinematographer on the documentary series Hooked on the Fly, which followed fly fishers through the ups and downs of their sport from Alaska to New Zealand. Clark cut all of Hooked on FCP7, citing the program’s organizational capacity, magnetic timeline, and the ease of its many shortcuts as upsides. “They take some getting used to,” he says. “It does have automated features, but you do have manual control as well.” He finds the FCPX interface and process to be faster and more intuitive than editing in FCP7.

Jim Shoe (2016) dir. Pete Sutton
With Jim Shoe, Clark worked with two 12-terabyte drives to organize his footage on his Mac Pro, as well as two 40-inch 4K displays. The film, which follows four attorneys competing for a partner slot through assigned, competitive pro bono work, clocked in at nearly nine terabytes as a finished project.

“The workflow did offer some challenges initially, because the post house didn’t know Final Cut X,” Clark admits. “They were all on Avid and Resolve, of course. We had to go back and forth between L.A. and Chicago, and it took hours to upload and download footage between us.” The film was colored and sound-mixed at Periscope Studios in Chicago, which was working on Premiere, Avid, and Resolve. Periscope needed OMF files for sound mix in ProTools, but because there is currently no direct way to export OMF files in FCPX, the challenge demanded a workaround. Instead, Clark used the app X2Pro to export AAF files from FCPX for use in ProTools. Clark then ran delivery tests with Periscope via DropBox, using 300 mbps Internet speed to quickly upload and share files with the post house. According to Abbot, “the test went perfectly.”

Another challenge presented itself during the coloring process, which was done in Da Vinci Resolve, by an Avid-trained colorist. “Importing went well, but we lost some stabilization,” Clark points out. Resolve has translated some elements of FCPX, but the process is currently far from complete. “Any time you rebuild a timeline from one editing platform to another, some things that were perfected get lost,” he says. “I hope Resolve and FCP keep closing the gap and talk to each other as Resolve continues to build out their editing functions.”

Jim Shoe (2016) dir. Pete Sutton

Through editing the film, Clark didn’t use keyword collections. “You have to come up with a much more intuitive way of organizing material,” he says. “I used keywords on a few things, to make sure I didn’t bypass certain formulas, but realized I really don’t need it.” Instead, he organized files by scene, by take, and by camera angle, then created multiple projects for each scene to provide options for the director. “One of the things I find helpful is having an MFA in screenwriting,” he says. “The editor isn’t just thinking about the cut, but you’re also thinking about story in a very deep way.” His background as both an editor and a serious writer gave him insight into editing alongside writer-director Pete Sutton, whose attachment to the material required some negotiation on certain cuts.

“Sight, sound, and story is what it’s about,” he says. “At the end of the day, you’re telling a story. You can’t let a lot of fancy editing get in the way. Form follows function.”