Wednesday evening, members of the Television Academy Editors Peer Group gathered at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre to honor their Emmy nominated members. In the crowded Emmy field, editing is crucial, as evidenced by the large number of award categories – outstanding single-camera picture editing for a miniseries or a movie, outstanding single-camera picture editing for a drama series, outstanding single-camera picture editing for a comedy series, outstanding multi-camera picture editing for a comedy series, outstanding picture editing for short-form segments and variety specials, outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming and outstanding picture editing for reality programming.
Steve Polivka loved editing Killing Lincoln, not just because of the wonderful script by Erik Jendresen and Bill O’Reilly, but also because those involved in the project were great to work with. He was especially impressed by the historic details brought to the story by the writers, who had both been fascinated with Lincoln from a young age.
Claire Scanlon, of The Office, who shares her editing nomination with David Rogers for the series finale, came from a documentary background, including comedy shows such as Last Comic Standing. The Office was her first narrative job. She started in season five and worked on the series for five years, editing more than 25 episodes. One of the challenges of editing a long-running series is keeping the long-term character arcs consistent, knowing what each character would do. She credits Greg Daniels with the long-term planning for the series, sharing that the creator/writer was working on the finale two years before the end actually came.
Two-time Emmy winner, Sue Federman (How I Met Your Mother, “P.S. I Love You”), commented about her multiple nominations, saying, “I always get on a good show.” Currently on its last season, she shared that editing is a big part of How I Met Your Mother.
First time nominee, John Patrick Nelson (Project Runway, “A Times Square Anniversary Party”) was working on another project for Bunim-Murray Productions when he got the opportunity to move to Project Runway, “All Stars.” He likes working in reality because the editor is largely responsible for the story that develops as it goes. He usually works on competition shows and actually enjoys watching the show even when he is not working on it.
The amount of footage on a reality show is one of the biggest challenges according to Adrienne Salisbury (Project Runway, “Europe, Here We Come”), but she likes the creativity and the emotional challenges on the competition show, especially unusual challenges such as making a dress from items found in a hardware store.
Lead editor Dan Dome (Conan, “Occupy Conan”) shared how his background in both news shows like Dateline and comedy sketch shows like Saturday Night Live, helped to qualify him for leading his editing team of Rob Ashe, Dave Grecu and Chris Heller in the fast-paced environment of a live daily series. The show includes taped pieces – comic sketches, commercial spoofs, Conan on the street bits – that must be finished each day before the 4:30 p.m. taping begins. After the show is laid down, the team must turn around the complete episode, fixing anything from color to sound mixing that needs to be changed before air time.
The editors work closely with the team of around a dozen writers, developing a mutual trust. “We use all the skills and have a good laugh all the time,” Grecu said. “If you laugh, you’re doing it right.”
For students and others interested in more stories about what it takes to edit for television, Editing Peer Group governor, Stuart Bass suggests they come to “Prime Cuts.” Presented by the Television Academy’s Picture Editors Peer Group executive committee in association with American Cinema Editors and the Motion Picture Editors Guild, the panel will be moderated by Shawn Ryan, creator and executive-producer of The Shield and The Chicago Code. Open to the public, the free event will take place Sept. 14 from 1-3 p.m. at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre.