Age 29 / Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. / Favorite Movie: Gimme Shelter / Favorite spot on reel: Ikea's "Living Room"
A family tests an Ikea living room set.
Hounsell's music-driven spots alter expectations by interacting with the music in different ways. But ads like the Wes Anderson-directed "Living Room" and "Kitchen," for Ikea, toy with our expectations by making viewers wait long past a predictable cut. Both Ikea ads open in the midst of family arguments that get pretty heated. Just when voices are raised, the Ikea salesman interrupts to ask how the room feels. The camera pans back to reveal that people are arguing in store displays. "The Ikea spots are my sense of humor," Hounsell says. "A flat, Fawlty Towers type of comedy. Both spots breaks this weird barrier to reveal the joke."
Hounsell at the Avid is like a DJ at the turntable. He sets the audience up by giving them something familiar and then throws them a curve. He tries to create ways to appreciate the same things people have seen and heard before by establishing new expectations, or, even better, breaking down expectations so the visuals just wash over you. "From A to B to C, these things don't make sense -- but somehow it all works." His style is extremely engaging, precisely because it doesn't seem to work. Viewers seek a pattern in his cuts, and just when one begins to emerge, it slips away and the search for a new pattern begins.(AR)
JIM ULBRICH / 89 EDITORIAL / NEW YORK
Age 31 / Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. / Favorite film: Raging Bull, "for the way the sound effects tell the story." / Favorite spot on reel: Coca-Cola's "Trash Talkers"
Karma comes around for Coke.
According to Ulbrich, the next day brings a new perspective. "I hear the mother inside asking, 'Is this necessary for the story?' If it isn't, then goodbye. Once it starts to flow, I know I've found the pulse and I'm ready to show it to the client."
Ulbrich joined 89 Editorial from Day for Night, the in-house editorial department at Berlin Cameron & Partners/Red Cell, New York, where he cut the agency's spots in relative obscurity for three years. But Ulbrich was able to let his work do the talking with "Trash-Talker" and "Care Package" for Coca-Cola; the widely seen "Sumo" for Reebok; and spots like "Kevin Garnett" for the NBA and "Global Presence" for New York Life, which demonstrate his ability to work with complex layering.
"I had never heard of Jim or Day for Night," admits 89 Editorial executive producer Bob Cagliero, "but each year we go through a best reel and I admired the editing on the Coca–Cola spots, which had a cinema verité feel. And so far, the reaction from our clients has been great. I think they see, as I'm starting to see, that he has a tremendous sense of timing for comedy and he has a reel that runs the spectrum from big corporate work to simple, and at times hilarious, dialogue work." (AR)
JUN DIAZ / MACKENZIE CUTLER / NEW YORK
Age 32 / Born in Tokyo, Japan / Inspirations: Harold and Maude, Hal Ashby, Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, Steven Soderbergh, Akira Kurosawa / Reel highlights: FedEx, MasterCard, Red Stripe, The Kid Stays in the Picture, American Movie
A man builds a career on one good idea.
Despite the change of pace, the commercials medium poses its own challenges. "I was used to film breathing differently," says Diaz. "It's completely different in that you can make a cut feel epic, or you can accomplish a pacing that feels as slow as glue in 30 seconds." Nevertheless, his deft editorial touches remain watertight on his advertising reel, on spots for Red Stripe, in which languid rhythms heighten the hilarity of wooden performances; a visually-driven MasterCard spot; and a slew of work for FedEx, including the info-packed "Robocats" and "Joe's FedEx Guy," and several in the recent "Relax, It's FedEx" evolution via Frank Todaro.
On any given project Diaz's approach remains consistent. "I always go in thinking that there's never one answer. I'm not a documentary film editor or a movie editor. I basically edit to develop an idea." He continues to mix it up on new work for AOL directed by Pam Thomas and on another doc with Morgen and Burstein, about boxer Roy Jones Jr., which debuts on HBO this fall. Weaving stories of seconds or hours, Diaz remains fully captivated by what unfolds in the bay. "One of the most exciting things is when every part, the film, music, dialogue, syncs together and creates something that communicates in so many ways. You actually can create a new place that, hopefully, people get lost in. Seeing an edit work, whether it's a commercial or film, is an amazing thing. It's a very emotional process." (AD)
ANGELO VALENCIA / THE WHITEHOUSE / CHICAGO
Age 29 / Born in the Philippines / Favorite film: Out of Sight "I like the pacing, so the editing must be good." / Favorite spot on reel: ComEd
14 local bands plug in for Chicago's power company.
Despite a fledgling career, Valencia has worked at a few well-respected shops around the country. He cut his teeth in the tape room at Filmcore/San Francisco and rose to the rank of junior editor. In 2000 he moved to 501 Post in Austin, and nine months later he got a call from The Whitehouse to fill a position in its Chicago office. Having settled in at The Whitehouse, Valencia is also growing comfortable with how he sees the role of a commercials editor. "When I was first getting started, it was hard to let go," he says. "When you work all night and make something you're proud of, you don't want any changes. But what I have come to appreciate is that the clients give you the freedom to run with it the first time, then they come back and work with you. There is something great that comes out of that process. The production teams come from a place where it's hard for them to let go, too. So you work together to see if there's something even better than what you both thought of. As I've gotten more confident with my work, I realize we are all trying to reach the same goal."
Today, Valencia is all about finding the core concept and expressing it through his contribution. He avoids looking at storyboards until after his rough cut. Instead, he likes discussing with others, reading the script, and then making rough cuts until it's time to show it to the creatives. "What better audience can you hope to have than the people who thought of the idea," says Valencia, "and what better to hear from them than, 'Hey, we hadn't thought of that.'" (AR)
SARAH IBEN / FINAL CUT / NEW YORK
Age 33 / Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa / Favorite film: Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927) / Favorite spot on reel: On-Health.com
The director certainly deserves a great deal of credit for establishing the mood in a commercial, but Sarah Iben has a proven ability for amplifying the emotion with her cutting skills. "I am a full believer in the equal power of images, sound and music," says Iben. "Whether it's a sound effect or a piece of music or the visuals I put together, hopefully you're going to feel something after you watch it."
In her selects, Iben seems to gravitate towards people's bare humanity. The cuts are edgy and tend to linger a touch on the long side. The visuals and timing encourage a sense of kinship in the viewer, and from there, emotion just oozes.
A Timberland ad on Iben's reel, titled "Anthem," out of The Martin Agency and directed by Ralf Schmerberg, may be the best example of her style. A video collage -- mostly of people experiencing the North American countryside -- is set to Cat Stevens' "The Wind." Whether taking in scenery or challenging it; grouped, coupled or alone; warm, mild or frigid; each scene has weight, as if you are peeking in on a moment of self-discovery. "In the Timberland spot, you don't really know why you're feeling something," she says. "It's not so obvious, and that's nice. There is something big and something small about that spot."
A Rolling Rock commercial for McCann-Erickson/New York, "Diablo,"directed by Todd Philips, shows how Iben's cuts will sometimes mirror the subject. The spot follows frenetic basement musician Jai Diablo as an example of the tagline, "Unsellout." "I was trying to get into Diablo himself," Iben explains. "When he speaks, he's all over the place, so I chose to edit like that. He's talking, then he's driving, then he's playing an instrument, then he's in the bathtub -- then it stops and he's playing one long note on the keyboard."
Iben considers it her challenge to slice through a complex culture and give people something they can relate to. "There is so much chaos going on in the media; I think in order for people to deal with it all, they tend to shut down. People can become a little bit numb, so today, more than ever, whether it's a TV show, an interview or a commercial, if it allows someone to feel, then I guess I have done my job." (AR)
NICK LOFTING / CHROME / SANTA MONICA
Age 26 / Born in London, England/ Favorite films: Top Gun, Cinema Paradiso / Reel favorite: Cornershop, "Lessons Learned. . ."
Cab drivers train their most important digit.
Directed by Douglas Avery, now one of Lofting's frequent collaborators, the good-natured piss take for EB Pils brought early notoriety to the editor's reel, as did his first solo gig, the D&AD-nominated "Landmines" PSA for the Mine Advisory Group. Featuring stilted pauses that heighten suspense as a young girl unknowingly drifts through a minefield, that commercial set the precedent for his editorial approach. "I've kept the same mentality from that spot, which is, Fuck it, just do what you think," he says. "Call it as you see it, go first from your heart and then work it out later with your head. I cut that in a few hours straight from the heart, did a bit of fine-tuning with my head and then it was done."
As Sneade's assistant, Lofting got osmotic exposure to top talents like Glazer, Frank Budgen and Tarsem. On his own, he's already demonstrated a broad spectrum of storytelling skills: comedic prowess on the Cannes-shortlisted "Cyclist," for Preparation H and on Erich Joiner's quirky testimonials for the Newport Beach Film Festival; effects-infused fare for "The Sun"; and a massive music video undertaking for Cornershop, another by Avery, which involved sifting through tons of grainy doc-style footage to create a wild, freewheeling '70s vibe. "This was the most fun because there were no rules," he explains. "Most of the time you're trying to make things slick, but this was making something look like it was done on acid." His most recent work includes a new spot with Joiner for TBWAChiatDay, for the Nissan Armada.
If there's one thing that connects Lofting's eclectic stylings, it's his Everyman sensibility. "I edit as the audience," he explains. "What do I want to see to sell me this car, to make me laugh at this film? That's all it is. I judge dailies or a script by looking at what I like, at how it entertains me and how I can get it to entertain others -- and, of course, sell as well." Lofting's fun-loving mindset also makes him decidedly selective about the projects he takes. "I don't want this ever to become work," he says. "I don't want to ever have a job." (AD)
(This article appears in the October 2003 issue of Creativity.)