Editors from A Black Lady Sketch Show, The Bear, Dahmer, and more on their assistant editors and why they couldn't do their jobs without them.
Emmy Nominated Editors Give Thanks, Part II
12 minute read
Editors from Ted Lasso, SNL, Succession, The White Lotus, and more on their assistant editors and why they couldn't do their jobs without them.
We continue to shine a light on the vital role of assistant editors as Emmy-nominated editors share their gratitude, highlight moments where their AEs saved the day or stepped up creatively, and give you an inside look at what it was like to cut this year’s best shows.
We are definitely feeling the warm and fuzzies (and you will, too). Cheers to the teamwork, and best of luck to the nominees this January!
Ted Lasso (AppleTV+)
Outstanding Picture Editing for a Single-Camera Comedy Series, “So Long, Farewell"
Melissa McCoy, ACE, on assistant editor Francesca Castro…
I'm finally able to sit down and write about my teammate for Ted since the pilot (we worked together two years before that, too, so a total of 5 years working together), Francesca Castro. Francesca (Frankie, for those who know her) has always been such an asset to me in the cutting room. She runs a tight organizational ship, which has given me the gift of not having to worry about any of the processes leading up to me sitting down to watch dailies for the day, and I know for the day she is handling all the fires so I can focus creatively. Knowing she has everything under control and only brings me in when it's a need-to-know situation means everything to me.
But besides being great technically, she's also a wonderful creative collaborator. She's the first person I call into the room to bounce ideas off of and get her opinions. She has great taste, and I know her thoughts and ideas always come from a helpful and honest place, focusing on the story first. Not only is she a great assistant editor, but she's also a talented up-and-coming editor who co-edited two episodes of Ted Lasso with me, Season 2 Episode 3, "Do the Right-est Thing," and Season 3 Episode 306, "Sunflowers," as well as an additional editor on episodes 10 and 12 of Season 3.
We both like to say we love all our Ted Lasso episodes the same, but "Sunflowers" was truly a special experience for us both, where we felt like we could bring a lot creatively to the process. We genuinely loved all the characters in the show so much, and in this episode, we got to spend time with all of them, having adventures all over Amsterdam. Music was such a big part of the episode. Brendan Hunt, who wrote the episode, sent us a big playlist of music that spoke to his experience in the Dutch City. Frankie did a wonderful job of placing a lot of that music. She also came up with the best organizational tool — color coding each storyline — so on the timeline, we could quickly see how each storyline laid out. We discovered that Rebecca on the Dutchman's houseboat story had the longest scene by a lot in the middle of the show. We ended up breaking up that one scene and then reorganizing some of the other scenes so the timeline of the night was laid out in the best way with the director Matt Lipsey and Jason, who also loved seeing all the storylines color-coded.
Frankie was in charge of the teammate scenes in the hotel, where they were all fighting about where to go out for the night, and did a wonderful job with the end montage. We had the best time on the episode, bouncing ideas off each other and trying to come up with ways to elevate each scene. It was the first episode to go over an hour with a lot of VFX and outside media — elements playing on TVs and a wild dream sequence with cartoon elements, for example. She made sure everything was in order and got done along with our post team. It was a lot to keep straight, and it was done masterfully.
Another area where Francesca excels is with our temp sound mixes. Not only does she clean up dialog beautifully so our cuts sound great for all our outputs, but she can really amp up the sound design for our more creative set pieces with just the right whooshes or suckouts, adding a bit of reverb and the like. It's always done in a way that never steps on the story or distracts. Our sound team has even complimented her on giving them a great template to refer back to. The bar is set high with our temp mixes. I feel very lucky and fortunate to have such a great teammate with me, and I look forward to watching her grow even more in her career and hope I can be an equal asset to her as she's been to me all these years. Cheers to all the other assistant editors like Frankie, who make the cutting rooms work at their optimal level both technically and creatively!
Assistant editor Francesca Castro and editor/co-producer Melissa McCoy attend the ACE Awards
SNL (NBC Universal)
Outstanding Picture Editing For Variety Programming, HBO Mario Kart Trailer (Segment)
Film editor Ryan Spears on first assistant editor Nahuel Attar…
Having Nahuel back me up on Mario Kart was invaluable. Over 90% of the final piece is composed of VFX shots, and we're working with that team while we're cutting during an intense 36-hour edit. Nahuel knew my edit inside and out, even as it was constantly changing, and was able not only to keep the flow of shots back and forth with the VFX team going but to help communicate creative notes and feedback, too. On top of that, he does the color conform, helps pull and build sound design, and keeps the gears moving in the room. I couldn’t cut the way I do without having a solid wingman like Nahuel with me on every edit for SNL.
SNL: HBO Mario Kart Trailer
Succession (HBO MAX)
Outstanding Picture Editing For A Drama Series, “Connor’s Wedding”
Bill Henry, ACE, on assistant editor Venya Bruk…
My collaboration with Venya Bruk and his monumental contributions to our two seasons on Succession can not be understated. His grasp of my particular workflow and his felicity with the post-production process gave me peace of mind and freedom to simply digest, study, and construct the episodes to their full potential.
While working on 403 (Connor’s Wedding), the central event of the episode was the plane-to-boat mobile call. Within that sequence, I frequently pulled dialogue pieces from the actual production call (ie, Mathew’s offscreen performance from London to Jeremy, Kieran, and Sarah in NYC on the boat) AND Mathew’s onscreen performance shot later on the plane set. As an example, while the camera was trained on Jeremy and Kieren listening/talking to Mathew, I might cut mid-line dovetailing a read pulled directly from the siblings on set mobile phone of Mathew’s voice, into a piece from Mathew's plane set performance: essentially weaving production call audio clips with onscreen performance clips, simulating a single performance emitting from the mobile speakerphone.
Obviously, the entire episode was plane/boat calls, so every call required this editing/EQ process. Venya would take the cuts as they evolved and carefully EQ production audio to match the production mobile audio. It was painstaking experimental work that took many hours to calibrate. Then, of course, as the cut evolved, all of those changes had to be updated. Venya's work throughout the cutting process was exceptionally helpful as the episode progressed from the editor's cut to the director’s and, finally, Jesse’s.
Additionally, a music and sound FX soundscape accompanied Ken, speaking to Logan over the phone, and continued through Ken, finding and retrieving Shiv from the party. That sequence went through many rebalances between alt-temp score ideas and varying degrees of SFX manipulation to pull us into Ken’s fraught head space. Venya created innumerable audio permutations of this sequence during post. In the end, Andy Kris and Nicholas Renbeck (Re-Recording Mixers) followed our established blueprint pretty closely in the final mix.
Later in the season — there was such a bottleneck of changes happening to my open episodes while shooting continued on episode 409 (Church & State) that I had Venya co-edit. He was the driving force behind the eulogy sequence while I worked on the bookends. The coverage in the church was extensive, with Mark Mylod running 4 cameras at once across the entire length of the eulogies. Venya has that rare ability to take direction and criticism in stride, digest the intention of the notes, and often find solutions that elevate the sequence as a whole. Our workflow went as follows: we would watch the sequence together, discuss what was and wasn’t working, and then he reworked the scene on his own. After a few together, I had him work with Mark and Jesse directly to get the sequence to where they were happy. It helped me manage a complex episode, while it garnered him some excellent firsthand experience working with the director and showrunner.
Having an AE who can anticipate your needs before you do and has the instinct and good taste to create plausible, detailed, sound work while also managing the demands of multiple departments' needs for exports, etc, is the dream — Venya delivers all of that. I’m forever grateful for his keen eyes and ears, unbridled enthusiasm, and valued friendship. I proudly share the nomination honor with this extraordinary young man.
Editor Bill Henry with assistant editor Venya Bruk at the Succession premiere
Outstanding Picture Editing For A Drama Series, “With Open Eyes”
Ken Eluto, ACE, on assistant editor Ellen Tam…
Ellen Tam and I met on the first season of 30 Rock in 2006 when she was a post-production coordinator. She soon became my assistant editor, and we worked together on and off again for 17 years on numerous shows until 2023. I had the chance to ask her to co-edit an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and we clicked going on to co-edit three episodes of Succession. We were nominated for an Emmy in 2022 for Succession "All the Bells Say" and had the pleasure and satisfaction of attending the ceremony together.
Ellen knew the entire process of post-production. She was helpful and generous with her time, thoughts, and ideas. Other assistants would stop by to talk to her, see her methods, and, in the process, learn how she did things. She developed many close friends with people we worked with over the years.
On the fourth and final season of Succession, I worked with various assistant editors, Ellen Tam, Andrew Pang, Michael LaFond, Nate Whiteside, and I occasionally asked Venya Bruk for help as well. They were all great.
Ellen was not well during some of the final season, yet she contributed so much. Sadly, she passed away near the end of the season in April from breast cancer. She is genuinely missed by all. 💔
Ellen and I worked closely together. She would import footage and organize the bins. Often, she would do string outs of takes so that I, the directors, and/or producers could compare them for performance and see various angles. It was hard to believe how fast and accomplished she was. She’d point out issues or problems that she saw with the footage. I’d ask her to edit alternate cuts of scenes where something might be shot differently, blocked differently, or alternate dialogue was used. It was always helpful to have her watch my cuts to see what thoughts she had before I sent a cut to a director. She would tell me what she liked, disliked, or had questions about.
If we were co-editing an episode, she would cut certain scenes, and I would give her feedback on her choices. We’d split notes we got from the director and/or producers and go over them together. We’d revise, revise, and revise some more. It was a fruitful, creative, collaborative relationship that made the final cut so much better.
Assistant editors are vital to the whole editing process. They are involved from the beginning to the very end. They import the dailies and organize the footage. They help temp VFXs that are needed and do additional sound work, add backgrounds, ADRs, etc, to help support the cut. They export and post cuts to the directors, producers, and studio executives. They keep track of everything, working closely with the editor. When I find a good assistant, I hold onto them as long as possible because they are invaluable.
Editor Ken Eluto and assistant editor Ellen Tam at the Emmys
What We Do In the Shadows (FX)
Outstanding Picture Editing For A Single-Camera Comedy Series, “Go Flip Yourself”
Yana Gorskaya, ACE & Dane McMaster, ACE, on season 4 assistant editors…
What We Do in the Shadows is highly collaborative, and we could not do what we do without the extraordinary support of our season 4 assistant editors, Hannah Anaya and Wendy Nomiyama. As well as the vital backing of our VFX editor, Thomas Calderon, and our VFX assistant editor Vince Filippone. We value them not just for their crucial technical and organizational skills but also for their deeply creative contributions to our show. Sadly, we can't keep them as assistants forever as so many of our former assistants have gone on to have phenomenal careers as editors themselves — which they so richly deserve.
What We Do in the Shadows (FX)
The White Lotus (HBO MAX)
Outstanding Picture Editing For A Drama Series, “Abductions”
Heather Persons, ACE, on assistant editor Bob Allen…
I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with total pro — Bob Allen. We’ve collaborated on several projects - Brad’s Status, two seasons of The White Lotus, and currently a Melissa McCarthy project for Working Title. Bob has worked for many great editors in the past — Mia Goldman, Francoise Bonnot, Dody Dorn — and brings all that experience and cool with him.
On The White Lotus, Season 1, we had lots of novel technical challenges for various reasons. It was the height of the pandemic, pre-vaccine, and we were traveling and working in Hawaii. Our Avid tech tested positive the night before he was meant to get on a plane to set up our systems, so Bob and fellow assistant Brent McReynolds did it themselves. I was impressed! We also had to set up our Hawaiian cutting rooms to mix and color time remotely. Bob and Brent handled it, and we finished the show from Hawaii with our LA teams. Total heroes!
I depend on Bob’s technical skills and knowledge, and I am also thankful for his other talents. I always ask his opinion on first cuts or whenever I’m unsure about something. We don’t always agree, but I’ve learned he’s usually right. Bob does all the sound work, VFX, and titles. He’s got a great bedside manner, and I can always count on him to say the right thing with directors, producers, etc., and raise cogent, helpful points. He takes care of things without me having to think about them, and I am SO grateful for that. He understands the priorities of the cutting room and helps me get them done. My work life would be so much harder without him. He’s my partner in the truest sense of the word.
Thank you, Bob, for everything you bring to our work together. You’re the best.
Editor Heather Persons and assistant editor Bob Allen on the way to the ACE Awards
Thanks again to all the editors, assistant editors, and post teams who work tirelessly to bring joy, tears, laughter, and everything in between into our living rooms.
Want to learn more about the nominees and their editing processes? Read or listen to our Art of the Cut series with Steve Hullfish.