Kristi Shimek is a Los Angeles-based film and television editor. Her most recent editorial work includes Netflix’s Falling for Christmas, starring Lindsay Lohan, and Peacock’s Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin, starring Adam DeVine, both of which premiered in November 2022. Other credits include Inheritance, starring Simon Pegg and Lily Collins, which was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival (2020), and the second season of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist for NBC. She uses Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere, whichever NLE the show requests. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Editor Kristi Shimek in action
Where are you from? How did you get your start in the industry?
I was born in southern California but raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that loves movies, so we were going to the theater and watched movies on television a lot when I was young. As a teenager, I was always borrowing the family video camera to make my own little movies, but I had never really thought of it as a career path until I had a teacher in high school who recognized my interest and got me connected to my first feature film set the summer before I went to university. I absolutely loved it and pursued film studies in school, where I found my love for editing.
I produced and edited indie features with my husband, who is a director, for quite a few years, but when we decided to move to LA, I really focused on my passion of editing. Editing exclusively has been a real joy for me. I’ve been fortunate to work with so many great people and on so many incredible projects over the last several years.
What Boris FX tools do you use? Which effects/features do you rely on most?
I’ve worked on quite a few projects that involve dream sequences, flashbacks, or a type of break in reality. I frequently use Sapphire to convey the visual tone I’m hoping to achieve for that type of sequence. So for something like that, I turn to effects like UltraGlow, LightLeak, TimeWarpRGB, Soft Focus, and GlowEdges that give it a dreamlike quality and can really help convey that kind of jump into a different headspace.
I’ve also needed effects for footage that needs to be degraded or have grain added to look more realistic for a time period or from a certain recording source (like a video camera or film camera) so for something like that, I use Sapphire’s Digital Damage, Film Damage, Scan Lines, and Grain. I’ve used the grain filter more times than I can count.
Boris FX has such great tools for getting the creative juices flowing for look and tone, and feeling that you wouldn’t be able to achieve with just the regular NLE tools.
Falling for Christmas, Netflix
What project are you most proud of — and why?
I have been so fortunate to work on so many incredible projects, from thrillers to comedies and everything in between. I really enjoyed this last year working on Falling for Christmas and Bumper in Berlin. Falling for Christmas was so well received when it came out in November. Everyone was so excited to see Lindsay Lohan back on the screen. Her footage was wonderful to work with. And Bumper in Berlin was such a fun comedy to work on with such a delightful team. It’s a unique genre, I never thought I’d get the chance to work on a musical, let alone two.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was the first musical comedy that I worked on. The music and choreography were incredible, and I was cutting in a way that I had never cut before. Plus, it had such a wonderful balance of comedy and drama. These types of shows don’t come along very often. I’ve been so lucky to have had such good experiences the last few years with wonderful teams of people and heartfelt projects. I can’t pick just one!
How do you prep before a big project?
Before a big project, I read the script multiple times. I’ve found that different things stick out to me with each reading. I also break down the scenes onto 3X5 cards with little descriptions so that I can physically shift them around if we get into the edit room and something needs to change structurally. It helps me to visualize what scenes will be next to each other and how the character arcs will play out if we make the change.
I also talk with the creative team in depth about the movies, music, and other creative works that inspired the movie or TV show and explore them before my editorial work on the show starts. It gives me a good idea of the tone and feel that we are planning to explore with the piece.
I try to get a lot of mental and physical rest before I start a big project too. As an editor, you are usually on for quite a bit of time. It takes a lot of energy to review and revisit the same work every day, so I try to make sure I’m as rested as I can be before jumping into a new project.
Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin, Peacock
What's a keyboard shortcut you can't live without?
Command or Ctrl + Z - Undo. I’m so glad that I can try something out and then quickly undo it if it’s not working. It’s such a relief to know that you can hit that undo a hundred times and get back to something you liked better. I’m a big fan of trying things out and iterating, so I wouldn’t be able to work without an undo option.
How do you keep yourself fueled/your favorite snack when you're in an epic session?
I start the day with coffee or tea and then usually have a coffee or tea in the afternoon as well. I also try to drink a lot of water during the day because it’s so easy to get dehydrated in the edit bay.
I’m a protein gal, so I try to have an egg or cheese or something to give me a little boost of longer-term energy. But the snack I can’t stop munching on is Cheez-Its. I don’t know why they’re so addicting, but once you start, you can’t just have one.
Where do you turn for artistic inspiration?
I find inspiration in a lot of things. I love to sit quietly and listen to music. Sometimes those quiet moments are where inspiration really strikes. I love reading, too. That’s where my love of storytelling really began. I just feel transported into totally new environments and realities when I’m reading.
I frequently return to some of my favorite movies as well as an emotional reminder of the types of art that brought me to working in this field. When you’re having a hard time with a creative problem, sometimes that reminder can be all you need to get back into the edit bay and find the solution.
What do you do when you start feeling creative burnout?
I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a short walk in the middle of the day as often as I can. Even if I’m having a great day, it’s just good to get some fresh air. It really helps clear my mind. I feel like I’m one of those people that has a lot of inspiration after I’ve had a chance to rest and sit quietly with a problem, even for a short time.
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, NBC
What's your favorite film and/or TV series?
One of my favorite films of all time is Steven Spielberg’s Hook. It was one of the movies that really struck a chord with me emotionally at a young age, as well as showed me the incredible magic and spectacle that films can provide. It’s one that I turn on as a reminder of why I got into all of this because it meant so much to a little girl in Utah. I hope that the projects I work on can be as meaningful to other people.
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to collaborate with Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Everything, Everywhere, All at Once spoke to me on such a deep level, I get emotional every time I watch it. I think about it all the time. I just love how unique, bold, and beautiful that movie is. I would love to be a part of something that touches others so deeply.
Walter Murch has also been a huge influence that I’ve looked up to throughout my career. I would have loved to be his mentee. In a way, I feel that I was because his books opened my eyes to how to communicate my editorial ideas and how to take the fundamental ideas of editing and build upon them with theories of my own. As an editor, it’s very liberating once you have the language to explain your decisions, and his editorial work is just as inspiring.
What career and/or life advice would you give your younger self?
The advice I would give is to learn how to communicate your ideas to other collaborators. Expressing yourself and your ideas is an essential part of editorial. You will frequently be asked why you chose to cut something a certain way. Start with writing your ideas down, figure out why you cut something the way you did, why it felt right, and try to figure out how you could explain it to someone else. Being able to communicate with the other artists is an essential piece of the puzzle when we’re working in a collaborative medium. I think you’ll find that it creates a really great environment in the editing room.
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