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EDITORIAL - Job Title: Postproduction Facility Manager Or Director Of Postproduction

interview askin school station editing

Job Overview

The manager or director of a postproduction facility helps achieve the client's postproduction goals, from taking the initial phone call that asks “How do we do this?” to offering suggestions and explaining what can be achieved with different effects, to creating the master tapes that meet the technical specifications of the end user.

As senior editor at Scene Three Media Works, Joe Askin's responsibilities also include hands-on editing of material that Scene Three produces, as well as being hired to edit for outside clients.

Special Skills and Education:

In addition to editing skills and a thorough understanding of the filmmaking process, a successful film editor must possess a strong work ethic.

Whether knowledge is gained in school or working on the job as an intern, Askin believes it is important to understand the history of the film industry, its traditions and special lingo. “It helps you fit in and feel comfortable about the environment. It makes people realize you've tried hard to learn things.”

Advice for Someone Seeking This Job

Working as a runner, PA, or grip are good ways to get on set, where you can gain exposure to all aspects of production.

“Internships are a good way to decide if you're going to like working in the business,” says Askin. “People in the TV business have a certain personality, just like theater people have a certain personality and musicians have a certain personality. You've got to make sure you're going to like being around those people.

“If you're in a small town working at the cable TV station, you're not going to get too many opportunities. So you might have to pick up and move to a bigger city. Just be aggressive: knock on doors and hope that somebody, a mentor, takes you under their wing.”

Professional Profile: Joe Askin, Director of Postproduction, Scene Three Media Works

Joe Askin has been fascinated with television since he was 10 years old. The Louisville native avidly watched news programs, not to keep up on current affairs, but because he found the production aspect interesting. By the time he was 15, he had acquired an 8mm camera and a simple editing splicer, and began filming shorts. He continued to make movies in high school and would sometimes gather his family together, set up the projector and screen, and stage a little premiere. “When those were received favorably and I wasn't embarrassing myself, that people seemed to like them, I realized it was worth pursuing as a career.”

Askin's first lucky break came during high school. His mother worked for the board of education in the audiovisual department, giving him access to all of their equipment. “They had just gotten some black and white cameras and tape recorders—this was ‘72. These were relatively inexpensive. Nobody at the school board knew how to use them, or cared about using them. I'd go in and hook it all up and learn how to make stuff work. That was my first taste into the technical side.” Soon he was teaching adults how the equipment worked, how to make dubs, and edit.

In his senior year of high school, Askin's mother got him an interview at the local public television station, also owned by the school board, which led to an apprenticeship. “I would go over to the TV station in the afternoons and just hang out and learn how to light, run camera, and use professional gear. They had opened a brand new facility. It was state-of-the-art.”

Askin enrolled at Western Kentucky University in the fall of 1973. “They had spent several million dollars on a brand new facility. The professors were excellent. Some came from the outside world; they were producers for CBS. On Thursday they would leave and go do NFL Football [broadcasts] and come back to teach on Monday.” Unlike some schools, where students were only allowed to watch the staff operate the equipment, the students at Western played an integral part in the programming the school produced. “They would get a federal contract to create programming and try to make money with the productions. So it was real work; it wasn't just student projects. Out of the senior class, they would hand-pick five or six of the top students to be part-time employees.”

What do you like least about your job?

“The worst part is the creativity, when it's not there. When what's handed to me is not very good and my own ambition and work ethic feels compromised because I can't make it good. That is very frustrating … Unfortunately, people that view it (the footage) a year from now may not know these situations existed, and are going to judge the product they're watching. Sometimes you really have to grit your teeth and trudge through it.”Joe Askin

What do you love most about your job?

“The creative aspect is certainly the best part of my job. It's really fun to work with other creative people. It's like the old saying, ? can't believe they are paying me to do this. ‘That's really true when someone hands you great work and you're just taking it and doing your part. All the elements are there in the right order: the actors did a great job, the cast did a great job, and the wardrobe looks great. Then it's really a lot of fun.”—Joe Askin

Askin was already acquainted with some recent graduates of the school, who made calls on his behalf. When he went for an introduction interview with the faculty, he was offered a student employee position normally reserved for seniors. By the end of the first semester he had earned the same rights and privileges. “It was the first time that had ever happened, and was a pretty substantial break in my career.” During that semester, one of the faculty members alerted Askin to an opening at the local television station, which he applied for and was offered. “I had two jobs and was a first semester freshman carrying 18 hours, which was way too much. So I chose not to stick with the TV station job, and concentrated on the university job—I lived and worked there year round for four years. I never went home. I loved the work and was having a great experience learning more than I could possibly imagine.” In his senior year, he was hired as a full time staff member.

Situated just over the border from Tennessee, Western students were frequently hired whenever Nashville productions needed extra help. “Generally it was carrying wardrobe, props, and sets; that sort of job. They'd call the university and a bunch of us would drive down and make union wages, rubbing elbows with the Hollywood types.”

Initially interested in directing, he gravitated toward post-production once in college. When the staff editor quit during Askin's sophomore year, he was offered the full time position. “It was the closest thing to directing without directing, because you're deciding what shots go where and in what order.”

CAREER TIPS

* Some editors are ‘jacks of all trades,’ skilled at editing a variety of formats, but many specialize in one genre. Comedy editors are proficient at timing and making a joke work. They know how to cut the reaction shot to generate the best laugh and really play out the joke to its fullest extent. The same goes for cutting together a romantic love scene or a big action sequence. “When a producer is looking for someone to work on their project, they're probably going to gravitate toward someone who has a lot of credits doing that [genre].”Joe Askin

* “In our company, there is not a single clock in the building and there is a reason for that: you can't worry about going home. That's the work ethic thing; you're so wrapped up in the job that not just minutes slip by, but literally seasons slip by. We don't have windows. Not for any good reason other than it would probably be disheartening to see the sun rise and go down and the seasons change, and realize you're just pounding away on the same piece of work. If you're sheltered from that, it keeps your concentration. It's like when sports figures says they're ‘in the zone.’ You want to focus entirely on this one moment that you're trying to get across to the audience.”Joe Askin

* Get your hands on a video camera and begin editing your own footage on your home PC, and discover whether you have a talent for editing.

After graduating in 1977, Askin went to work for WDCN, the Nashville public television station. He was there only four months when a college friend who was working in Los Angeles on Hee Haw called to offer him a job. He started the job in January 1978, but after two years realized that Los Angeles was not where he wanted to raise a family. So, he returned to Nashville and his former job at WDCN. He was there only a short time when Scene Three opened. Askin joined their staff in the spring of 1981.

“We've done over 300 music videos, and I stopped counting at about 4,000 commercials that I've done.” Other credits include A Day in the Life of Country Music for CBS, the NASCAR film Thunder Theater, Music City U.S.A., and the series CeCe's Place starring CeCe Winans.

EDITORIAL - Job Title: First Assistant Editor, Assistant Editor, Or Associate Editor [next] [back] EDITORIAL - Job Title: Editor, Film Editor, Or Picture Editor

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