What are you currently cutting?
THE NEW BLACK, an ITVS funded feature doc. Also cutting IN THE MORNING, a micro-budget narrative feature from home on nights and weekends.
Where did you grow up and when did you decide that you were an editor?
I grew up in Maplewood, NJ. I didn’t discover editing until I was 30 and bought a bubble iMac (purple) and a miniDV camera. I fooled around with FCP 1.2 on my own. Then I took a workshop at The Edit Center taught by Kate Sanford. I thought, “You can do this for a living? An they’ll pay you? And there’s a union with set wages and benefits and a hierarchy for building a career? Sign me up!”
What was your first cut?
BUTCH IN THE CITY, a spoof short I cut on the purple bubble iMac. It screened at Frameline and boy, did it look and sound like crap in the Castro theater.
What’s one thing you’ve seen in the past 5 years that’s influenced something that you’ve cut?
Jim Lyons gave a talk at MPEG where he explained the use of OTS shots and motivated cuts.
Who gave you your first break? Who’s one person you owe thanks to for getting you to where you are now?
Brian Kates talked to me in an elevator. He asked if I knew FCP and was in the union for a Movie of the Week gig at Oxygen. The next day I had a phone call from Keith Reamer who hired me and showed me the ropes of Narrative editing. I worked for Keith for 9 months an Brian for 5 years. These are two key people I owe thanks to, but there are many people I’ve learned from and who have helped me out over the years. I hope there will be many more.
How did you approach your career trajectory?
Work with good people. If they are better than you, you can elevate your game.
What’s the most important thing you put into your projects?
L cuts! No, really, I strive to make people feel something real.
When approaching a scene, what’s your process?
Watch everything. Make notes. Re-read the script and notes from the shoot. Try to build to a moment.
What’s your degree in?
BA-History, University of Wisconsin
What do you look for in a good AE?
Attention to detail and technical knowledge. Hygiene is good too.
The one project you’re most proud?
Stock Music Libraries?
Match Frame key?
Mouse, Tablet or Track Ball?
Sitting or Standing?
FCP, Avid, or Premiere?
Avid and FCP when requested
Mac or PC?
Mac and PC when requested
Easier to Cut: Comedy or Drama?
Blazing Saddles for the WB commissary scene.
Ali is a member of New York Editors Collective.