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Finding a Place in LA's Post Industry: Emerging Editor Kelsey Myers

COW Blogs : Kylee Peña's Blog : Finding a Place in LA's Post Industry: Emerging Editor Kelsey Myers
Note: This blog was written by Kelsey Myers, one of two recipients to be sent by Blue Collar Post Collective to ACE EditFest LA, an annual celebration of the craft of editing hosted at Disney by the American Cinema Editors. Blue Collar Post Collective's Professional Development Accessibility Program identifies lower income emerging talent in post production and provides them an opportunity to attend important industry events where they can build their education and professional network to take the next step in their careers. It's important for emerging talent to be present in these spaces to remind everyone they belong there too. PDAP also provides an opportunity for the full-time working professionals who volunteer for BCPC to utilize their network to introduce emerging talent to people they should know in their field for one-on-one conversations.

BCPC owes a huge thanks to ACE for providing entry to their event, the volunteer committee that helps us pair candidates with the best opportunities for them, Mary DeChambres ACE, Pi Ware, and Light Iron for donating mentorship time, and the donors to BCPC whose funds go almost entirely toward this program.

Kelsey Myers is a recent graduate of Point Park University's Cinema Program. She started out working as a freelancer around Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, she lives in Los Angeles after making the move cross country in September. After shadowing in the industry and learning about the world of post-production, she recently landed her first job as an Assistant Editor.

When I started college, I remember hearing about EditFest from my professor Cara Friez. She would tell me how great of an event it is and how one day I should make it a priority to attend myself. When I saw the Facebook postings on the Blue Collar Post Collective page to apply to attend EditFest, I knew I had to give it a shot. I had been planning to move to Los Angeles in September with a cross-country road trip from Pittsburgh, PA. The event was taking place on August 25th, so I knew this would be a great way to learn from industry professionals and make more connections before I made the final move a few weeks later. I filled out the application and sent it in. Not too soon after I received the news that I was selected to attend! Everything in the process was extremely simple. They set up the flight, hotel, event ticket, along with the itinerary of places to be and people to meet. All I had to do was show up on time!

Kelsey Myers

Before all of this, I had made a trip out to Los Angeles during my senior year and attended the Blue Collar Post Collective Meet-up. This is where I met Kylee Peña, who has been a major help with making the transition. The day I flew out for EditFest, I was set to attend the BCPC meet-up once again. I was looking forward to seeing some familiar faces while getting to know more members. Their meetups are always extremely inviting. You know that you are part of a larger community who are all passionate and working towards their dreams. They strive to help young professionals get connected. This time around, the best part was speaking to people my age who are starting out in the industry just like me. Some had just made the move to LA and others were just in town for the event. The one thing we all had in common was our love for both post and this career path we are all entering. After leaving the meetup, I became even more eager for EditFest the next day.

Kelsey with Kara Paar, the other EditFest PDAP recipient in 2018.

The event takes place on Walt Disney Studios lot, so as you can imagine when I pulled up it felt like a dream. Growing up watching Disney movies and now standing on the lot where the stories were created was surreal. During check-in, there was time to grab a coffee and mingle with the attendees and panelists.

I was a finalist for the ACE Internship this year, so it was a great chance to meet people involved in the program. Carsten Kurpanek is one of the heads of the Internship program and I was able to introduce myself to him. Several of the other finalists were also there, so I was able to meet them before I made the move. When the interview came around a month later I already knew familiar faces that would be there and it was all thanks to this event.

Everyone began to gather inside for the first panel, “Small Screen, Big Picture”: Peter Beyt ACE, Jacques Gravett ACE, Tim Porter, ACE, & Meaghan Wilbur. They had a ton of great insight into the world of post in television. One thing that stuck with me was the idea of whatever makes you laugh initially, stays, an observation contributed by Meaghan as a comedy editor. It’s hard after getting deep into a project to find something funny after watching it over and over again. It’s important to see the footage as you originally reacted to it.

Another major topic was how the change in television becoming more cinematic and accessible creates a rise in content being produced. TV is bigger than ever now. This requires schedules to be shortened and the assistant editor’s role to grow with more work than ever before. In the end, this takes away from the assistant’s ability to learn from seeing the sequence completely evolve as they described. If you have the chance to sit in on and editor cutting or cut yourself, never turn it down. It shows your drive to one day edit and, hopefully in the schedule of an AE, the ability to dedicate yourself to learning the craft.

“Small Screen, Big Picture” featuring Peter Beyt ACE, Jacques Gravett ACE, Tim Porter, ACE, & Meaghan Wilbur

“The Extended Cut” panel was exactly what I needed during the beginning stages of my career. Zack Arnold ACE, Lillian Benson ACE, Carol Littleton ACE, & Andrew Seklir ACE, spoke on how to survive and thrive in editorial. They brought up topics that are harder to talk about and that usually aren’t shared in the daily workspace. They described how we are an extension of the machine so you can’t get yourself intertwined with it. If you are healthy, you’ll concentrate and do better work. You’ll make more spontaneous and creative choices. They stressed how important it is to establish your daily habits early on. These habits will carry through the rest of your career. Make it a priority to get up and go for a walk in the morning. If you can, don’t take lunch in your cutting room. Get outside because sitting will stunt your brain and movement is the key to creativity.

One of the films that impacted me the most in the past year had been I, Tonya. When they announced that Tatiana Riegel was going to be one of the speakers, I couldn’t believe it. Her work has been memorable for me over the years. The Way Way Back came out when I was graduating high school and had decided to attend film school. Then I, Tonya released my last year of college, assuring to me that this is the career path I want to pursue. Films like hers are what drive me and my passion for editing. Listening to her speak was captivating and she had great insight to share.

Tatiana S. Riegel ACE at EditFest

When Tatiana described her editing decisions behind scenes, it gave me a better understanding of her thought process. She explained how it’s very courageous for editors to hold on characters and use limited coverage. At one point she mentioned how she explains editing to her peers who don’t quite understand her job. Tatiana compared it to sitting at a dining table and who your eyes follow. Where do you cut to in order to get the full story? This really put into perspective why we all cut, simply to tell stories no matter how complex. She also spoke about how important it is to live below your means so you have the freedom to navigate your career choices.

The final panel, “The Lean Forward Movement” spoke with past ACE Internship alumni, Mark Hartzell, Joi McMillion ACE, Shoshanah Tanzer, and Julia Wong ACE. This was a really helpful section for me since I was a finalist for the internship this year. It allowed me to gain insight on how much being part of the ACE community can help starting out in a career. But also assured me that it isn’t anything without hard work and dedication. Whether you are an intern or not, the results really come down to what you choose to do with your time. You are the one in charge of your career. Be competent, be nice, learn the craft, stay connected and your career will blossom.

At the end of the event, they have an after party where you can talk to the panelists and other attendees. It allows everyone the opportunity to talk to professionals about their work and how they got started themselves. Standing around looking over everyone you discover how small the world of editing is. Names get shifted around and one person knows the next person. Since EditFest, I’ve been able to stay in touch with everyone I met as I made my move to LA. Now living here, I see many of them as familiar faces in this big city.

Other BCPC attendees at EditFest 2018.

My biggest take away from this event is that this industry really is what you put into it. No one’s going to just hand you this career path. If you make friends and show your love for editing, you can make it. I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that you can’t build a network from your hometown or because you are still in school. What it truly comes down to is motivation, effort, and showing your passion for post-production. People are willing to meet with you, but you have to take the first steps. Do your research and reach out to professionals, editors and assistants, who are working the jobs you one day want to be doing. Make a trip to the city you want to work in and ask to meet for coffee or lunch. Don’t be upset if they say no or that they are too busy right now. Stay in contact with them. This will show your interest. Soak up all of their advice and insight. In the world of post there are so many nice people and they remember starting out in the industry themselves. I hope to one day be in their position sitting down with young aspiring filmmakers for a cup of coffee and tell them these stories.

Kelsey at the Grand Canyon during her drive to LA.

I wasn’t planning on moving to LA until December. However, all of the opportunities I’ve had up to this point it emphasized how much I needed to make the move earlier to get started. Now I’m living in Los Angeles with the ability to apply to jobs, reach out to people for coffee, and attend meetups in the area. It’s hard to see working in post as a reality when you live across the country. Take a trip, make the move, talk to professionals, make friends, and you’ll see all the possibilities.

Thank you to everyone I met at EditFest, American Cinema Editors, and the Blue Collar Post Collective. Thanks to the PDAP program I was able to make attending EditFest a reality for myself. At the start of my career, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. This group made it all possible and will continue to do so for those who make the effort. So what are you waiting for? Go apply!

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Nov 26, 2018 at 6:28:48 pm

Focusing on post-production, from editing and motion graphics to personal experiences and the psychology of being an editor.


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