Perhaps it's his natural approach that compelled him, about 12 years ago, to knock on the door of a post house called Fleet Street in the hopes of learning the editing craft. Apprenticeship at the Santa Monica shop led to his work at Hanks Editorial, also in Santa Monica, where Editor Hank Polonsky nurtured Tatro's instinctive knack for comedy.
That flair for frolic is evident in "Drive Thru," a CBS Sports spot that landed 501 Post and Austin's GSD&M a Bronze Lion at Cannes this year. The :30 captures the frustrating absurdity that ensues as barely audible golf announcer Jim Nantz attempts to place an order for burgers and fries at a fast food joint's drive-thru window. While many comedy spots employ music to clue in the audience that it's time to chuckle, "Drive Thru" owes its subtle hilarity to the sounds of silence. "Even with no music, there's a silent beat or rhythm," says Tatro. "The comedy is completely derived from the editing." Tatro does admit that his work wouldn't be up to snuff without the give-and-take of the creative team. He likens editing to playing jazz, which lends itself to collaboration and improvisation. Despite his inclination to groove (he plays guitar with his work buddies in a band they call the Splayers), Tatro shunned the original plan for the U.S. Air Force's "Tachometer." The spot was to rely on rock as the accompaniment to Stuart Kirby's 180-mph joyride in his Air Force-sponsored stock car. Instead, Tatro thrusts the audience into the tense atmosphere of the driver through sounds reminiscent of a full-throttle engine's hum and the muffled buzz of rubber skimming pavement. The spot, which proclaims that "racing is the anti-drug," is especially stimulating visually as a result of Tatro's editing prowess. Jerky closeup shots of Kirby 's head rattling in his helmet, and jittering dashboard gauges are enhanced by film manipulation. "That was achieved through messing with the speed," adds Tatro (usually not recommended when editing an anti-drug spot).
Sometimes cutting to music can work, as it did for Tatro in Land Rover's "One Planet Down." While editing the swiftly paced spot, he found action within the edit to synchronize with the electronic pulses and hisses of its frantic musical backdrop.Of course, when it comes to stripping down two hours of footage to its 30-second essence, settling on the best cut can be almost like cracking code. The goal, says Tatro, is to envision the final product emerging from within that surfeit of film. And what happens when he can't see it automatically? Shrugs Tatro, "Then you've gotta make lemonade."