Jason MacDonald

Mad River Post, New York

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Jason MacDonald
Jason MacDonald had already made it as an editor before he realized he had to go back to square one. After working as a DJ at a bar in Toronto more than five years ago, he landed a job as a PA at Canadian production company Partners’, where his turntable experience and his natural feel for music and beats segued easily into editing pictures. Within two years, still based in Canada, he was cutting hip hop clips for Sean Combs and working with directors like Little X out of various shops, including Raje, Hoodoo and Generator. Seventy rap videos later, he’d had his fill of bling bling and booty, which surely comes as no surprise. "There’s a formula to them, they’re all the same,” he explains. "Nobody’s really pushing the envelope; each guy wants what the last guy’s fly video looked like.”

ESPN "Nelly"
So he set his sights on storytelling in the commercials world. Although MacDonald already had a bit of promising comedy on his reel, including a twisted low-budget spec for V8 featuring a suicidal pickle, and an almost Lynchian Asian love story for Sugar Mountain candy shop, that wasn’t enough to ground him in the world of A-level spots. Hoping to get an assisting position in the U.S., he sent reels to New York editing houses and landed a job at Mad River in 2000.

Today, at 27, and after a couple of years honing his craft under resident pros like Dick Gordon and Mike Elliott, MacDonald has begun to groove seriously on a diverse range of filmic styles. Of course it was like "riding a bike” when he returned to his video roots for ESPN’s "Without Sports” campaign, cutting "Nelly,” which, ironically, looks a lot like a typical rap clip. But he proved he really knows his way around eye candy on a Canadian spot for Rogers/AT&T, where swish pans and stop-frame effects make an otherworldly experience out of text messaging. More recently, he took a renegade approach to editing "Pitching Machine,” for Wachovia bank. Directed by Robert Logevall, the commercial features an off-kilter POV that follows a baseball shooting out of a pitching machine and zooming straight at the camera. "There were a couple of cuts that theoretically, film school-wise, weren’t right,” he explains. "I show a head-on shot of the ball launching out, and then another head-on shot. Technically, for the geography of the cut, you naturally should show it from behind and then go up front because it gives the viewer a better perspective, but I liked it being a little off.”

MacDonald seems most satisfied at the inroads he’s made in comedy, thanks to his training with Mad River’s comedic guru Gordon, who helped him to land some spots last year on Y&R’s continuing NFL/United Way campaign, a hilarious series in which an earnest VO and nutty docu-style scenes are woven together to show the sweet side of football jocks — including one MacDonald edited featuring the Chicago Bears’ Ted Washington doing a "trust” exercise with kids, only to fall flat on his back. MacDonald has continued his comic cutting on a new round of Axe deodorant spray spots, directed by LeMoine.Miller, revisiting the demo girl who gets her libidinous jollies out on an Axe-laced mannequin.

"It changes with every job,” MacDonald says about his preferred editing style. "I love cutting "Pitching Machine”-style because it’s editing-driven, picture-driven stuff. I also love the slow storytelling, like NFL/United way. Those are definitely my two favorites. The very simple and the very complex. It’s about what’s fun. It’s fun to laugh and tell a simple story that everyone laughs at. And it’s fun to throw all these images at somebody that makes them think, Whoa, that’s cool.”

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