The Editor\'s Take
To paraphrase a well-known chef, author and TV personality, making television is a lot like making sausage. Some seemingly strange and terrible things happen in the process, but the end result is usually very satisfying. So to follow this analogy through, if making TV is like making sausage then, I suppose editing would be like the part where the various bits are stuffed into the intestinal casing. Thankfully, this is all just metaphorical; I\’ve yet to actually use an intestinal casing in any project. Anyway, the point is– editing a very satisfying job (this show especially so). The amount of creative input you\’re afforded, the opportunity to shape something from a rough outline & raw footage to a finished product is great, and I\’m lucky to have this for a career. But at the end of the day, who the hell knows what an editor really does? I\’ve been working in this field for a few years now, and it\’s still not a simple question for me to answer …On the occasion when I meet someone new at a party or other social function, or whenever I\’m around extended family and the subject of my involvement with No Reservations comes up, it is typically met with some enthusiasm, if not outright excitement. Even people who have only a passing knowledge of the show will know about \”that chef guy who ate the live cobra heart,\” or \”oh yeah, the guy who ate the pig anus.\” Typically the first question will be, \”Wow, do you get to go to all those exotic locations with Tony?\”
Well . . .no.
I get to watch all the crazy stuff he does and help whittle it all down from fifty hours to forty-five minutes. This explanation usually elicits something in the neighborhood of: \”Hmmm. . .\” or \”Oh. . .\” or occasionally I get a \”Really. . .\” Now, it\’s true, I don\’t get to experience the exciting exploits of the ABNR crewâ€¦ the smorgasboard of exotic foods …the sublime beauty of a sunset on Waimea … a taste of the local hooch … but that\’s okay, because there\’s something else I don\’t get to do — worry.
I work in a comfortable, safe, air-conditioned production space in downtown Manhattan. The biggest peril I face on any given day is whether I will make it to the office before the complimentary bagels and fruit are gone. I can work comfortable in the knowledge that I will never have to swim in river fluke infested waters. I will never have to drink fermented beverages of dubious origins. I\’ll never come in contact with DefCon 1 level gastrointestinal parasites; I\’ll never be expected to eat anything I might want to have as a pet. Nor will I be obliged to load up on mystery meat, just-removed genitals, dirt, feces, etc. There\’s no worry of vomiting on camera while squid fishing in rough seas. No worry of hitting that one village where the Avian Swine Ebola outbreak just started. No chance that I\’ll fall from a helicopter that\’s flying twenty feet above a molten lava field. My job is light on the adventure and sex appeal, but heavy on the free coffee. I got no complaints.
Actually, that\’s not entirely true. Like all editors, I\’ve got a shitload of complaints. If you\’ve ever spent any prolonged amount of time with an editor than you know that complaining is as close as most will get to a contact sport. It is woven into the spirals of an editors DNA.
\”The edit room\’s too hot.\” \”The edit room\’s too cold.\” \”This editing system is too old.\” \”This editing system is too new.\” \”I\’ve got how many weeks to cut this episode?\” \”The network wants to take out what?! That\’s the best part of the show!\” \”What do you mean when you say, \’more midgets\’?\” And on, and on, and on. In the process of editing it\’s often necessary to have to play and replay a single section of an edit multiple times to make sure that the picture, or sound mix, or music cue is working just as you want it to. I can\’t count the number of times that I\’ve been working next door to someone who\’s cutting a show and they have their playback speakers set at \”Who Concert\” decibel levels. And it\’s inevitably a truly horrendous show, something along the lines of a Celine Dion world tour video, a show about monster trucks, or a Girls Gone Wild Director\’s Cut DVD. And did I mention the lack of exposure to sunlight?
Even if you\’re lucky enough to work in an edit room with a window, it\’s typically covered so as to avoid any glare on the monitor. To help illustrate just how little natural light editors see on a daily basis I\’ve compiled a short list of people who average more hours of exposure to sunlight per day than editors.
People Who Average More Daily Exposure to Sunlight Than Editors:
1. Prisoners in solitary confinement
2. People living above the Arctic Circle from September through December
3. Anthracite miners
4. Children who have fallen down wells
5. Subway construction workers
6. Scientists studying bush babies
7. Missile silo technicians
8. Russian Naval submarine crews
9. Naked mole rats
This is merely a small sampling, but you get the idea.
Despite the lack of natural light, despite the sedentary nature of the job, despite the fact that you can only vicariously enjoy all of the amazing places that Tony visits, it\’s still a great gig. Editing is, in many ways, like writing. You have the chance to craft the episode in the edit room and nothing is more satisfying than taking the scene that was never meant to be or the one that didn\’t quite turn out the way everyone thought it was going to and turning it into what our host likes to refer to as \”video gold.\”
It\’s also a collaborative art, you, the producer, the executive producers and of course, Tony help to turn a handful of separate scenes into a journey that hopefully informs as well as entertains.
I recently finished work on the Hawaii episode, which will be airing on March 3rd (10 p.m. e/p). It came out great. Our camera crews shot some truly remarkable stuff and Tony had a great time. Anyone reading this will undoubtedly be pulling up the Hawaiian Airlines website as soon as the show ends. So, enjoy!
And now if you\’ll excuse me, I have to get to the kitchen and snag that last sesame bagel before returning to the edit bunker. More quality television awaits!