So far, at least, all's well that ends at The Well -this particular Well being a new New York post house that, after a year of planning, had the temerity to open in August, during the actors' strike. But that didn't faze partner/CFO Bob Friedrich. "We were actually pretty busy during that time," he says. "It had a minimal effect on us, but the timing was good for the strike to end, and we're all greatly relieved." The timing is good for a new post house too, in Friedrich's view. Despite the panoply of postproduction possibilities in New York, "I believe there's always room for a good editorial boutique," he says. "This may be a new company, but these aren't new editors. So the pie is still the same size, people are just coming together in a new place."
Friedrich is the former controller at New York post house First Edition, and he's joined at The Well by partner/editors Gary Hernandez, formerly at Crew Cuts; Joe McKay and Eric Horowitz, formerly at PIG; and Randy Ilowite, formerly at Earth to Mars and a co-founder of First Edition. So what's the key to opening a post house? Everyone bringing their connections, of course. "As well as putting together the right group of people to create the right work dynamic and the right chemistry," adds Friedrich.
Is the New York post scene about as competitive as everything else in this town? "Sure, there's a lot of competition, but it's not cutthroat," he insists. "I like to think it's friendly competition. Most of the editors in town know each other and we want each other to do well." And though so much of this industry is about connections, don't assume it's a given that editors will bring along the people they usually cut for. "Nothing's ever a given in this business," Friedrich notes. "You can't guarantee that you're going to get return work even if you're very good at your craft - and you have to be very good at your craft to work in New York."
Running a close second to talent is location. "It's become very important in recent years," says Friedrich, who believes "it's imperative for a successful editorial house to be in or near the Flatiron District." Hence The Well's location at Fifth Avenue and 16th Street, "near all the sound and film-to-tape houses, but it's not just the proximity to supporting facilities or agencies or even that the area is easy to get to," he feels. It's just the mysterious cachet of the Manhattan real estate market, best explained by chaos theoreticians. One thing is a given: facilities like this always look great. Plenty of glass and natural light, with that open, airy feel that's designed to create a sense of maximum comfort as you pull yet another ulcer-inducing all-nighter. But The Well has a leg up on the competition as far as equipment goes, Friedrich believes. Not only is everything as brand spanking new as the company itself, but in addition to the four state-of-the-art Avid suites, Friedrich is particularly proud of the Avid Unity system, which allows each suite to be interconnected in a fashion that's unusual in this industry, he says. "Editors and assistants can share the same files; you can go from room to room without moving media, which is the most cost-effective and efficient way of working."
Elsewhere on the personnel front, longtime agency producer Bea King has been lured from Grey Advertising to be executive producer. "We went to an agency for our producer because we figured agencies would be really comfortable speaking with someone who speaks the same language," says Friedrich. And Patrick Lavin, an AfterEffects and Maya maven, formerly at Quiet Man, is on board as graphic designer. While Friedrich stresses that The Well is about editing, not visual effects, "it's also about making that final product better," hence the advisability of a design component.
And The Well has another ace in the hole: Friedrich and Hernandez ride Harleys to work, "so we built a space so when we can't find parking we can bring them up in the freight elevator," Friedrich explains. "Any of our clients who ride are always welcome to free, and worry-free, parking."