Art Vizthum

What are you currently cutting?

I recently worked at the Katie Couric talk show cutting both doc-style short form pieces (2-6 minutes) and multi-cam studio shows.  I also served as the Supervising Producer for Post.  Also, I did some post management consultant work at The Blaze.com, then cut two one-hour episodes of a pilot series for Investigation Discovery (via Atlas Media) and most recently worked on a two hour special for ABC News 20/20.  

Where did you grow up and when did you decide you that you were an editor?

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan and later, for High School, in a small town west of Detroit called Stockbridge.  I sort of “fell” into editing, as I started in the business as a copywriter and commercial producer/director in small market Tallahassee, Florida.  Because it was a small market, one was required to wear many hats, including that of Editor.  This reality continued as I moved north to Pennsylvania, where I had the ultimate “slash” title of Producer/Director/Writer/Photographer/Editor…working on everything from commercials to promos, industrials and corporate training videos to live programs and news docs.  A fantastically thorough way of learning the television/video production and post business.  I started out cutting in traditional tape-to-tape “online” rooms on ¾”, 1” and BetaSP, using such now antiquated gear as switchers, ADO sfx boxes, Chyron for font grfx, etc.  Moving to New York in 1991, I found it much “easier” to land gigs as an Editor vs. Producer or Writer.  As someone told me then, Producers were a “dime a dozen” in NY, while Editors had “actual skills”!  Therefore, the skill sets of an Editor were much more valuable and in demand.  So, my career shifted to a more Editor-centric one, and I soon evolved from tape-to-tape to this new-fangled creation called non-linear editing.

 

What was your first cut you were credited as editor?

1985…a commercial for a pub chain in Florida.  Not exactly Hollywood, but it paid the rent.

 

What’s one thing you’ve seen in the past 5 years that’s influenced something that you’ve cut?

Scorsese, Syriana…that’s two things. Sorry!

 

Who gave you your first break? Who’s one person you owe thanks to, for getting you to where you are now?

Joe Surges…a genius writer/producer/director from Pennsylvania who taught me everything that I know about this business.  He was a mentor, sometimes a tormentor, and a friend.  He still is the best writer/producer I have ever worked with.  He has passed on and the world is less because of it.

 

What’s your degree in?

Political Science, with a minor in economics.  I am not a film school dandy LOL.

 

What do you look for in a good AE?

  1. Attention to detail
  2. OCD style organizational abilities
  3. A thirst for knowledge that goes beyond the parameters of the work day…a “vocational” attitude about the industry
  4. Thinking outside the box
  5. “Ownership” philosophy about projects, and a “partner” mentality regarding their editor
  6. Respect for their “elders”

How did you approach your career trajectory?

I started at the very bottom…market two hundred something…as a writer/producer/director/editor/lawn mower/etc.  I feel truly fortunate to have started my career in such a small market for I was exposed to ALL aspects of television production and post from day one, and received basically the equivalent of a post graduate degree in video production and editing. I was a sponge and willing to do any task, work on any project, take on any role to learn the craft inside and out, from grip to producer.  From there, I clawed my way up through mid-sized markets, small film production companies and a lot of late nights to finally reaching The Big City in the early 1990’s.  Once in NYC, my career focused on editing and post, though I did trail off from time to time to write, shoot, produce and post manage.  I even had my own Production Company for a while. All in all, I feel that my eclectic background has afforded me one of the more varied and interesting career trajectories than anyone could possibly hope for!

 

What’s the most important thing you put into your projects?

Heart and soul.  As a mentor of mine once said to me, “any Jackass can hang pictures and push buttons.  It takes a real editor to tell a story, and the editor has to feel the story!”  My overwhelming thought and goal going into each project, be it long form, reality, commercials, promos, pieces…whatever…is “am I telling the story in the most imaginative, original, entertaining and informative way?  EVERYTHING is about story telling, from music to pacing, reaction shots to b-roll coverage, transitions to L cuts!

 

When approaching a scene, what’s your process?

I determine what is the emotion that the scene is trying to convey, what is the intent of the “beat”, what it is trying to trigger in subsequent scenes…it’s overall place in the whole story.  I then pace out the sound bites / reality moments in the scene accordingly.  Next comes the scoring.  Then I cut the master and cut-aways based on the pacing, reactions if I’m cutting verite reality, transitional montages, etc.  Then I watch the roughed out and paced/scored scene to see if it is indeed conveying the emotion that the producers and I want it to.  Rinse and repeat!

             

What’s the one project you’re most proud to have your name on?

A verite documentary for TLC that I served as a field producer/photographer/editor for called “Police Force: Straight Shooters”.  The doc was about the homicide and narcotics officers & detectives of the Baltimore Police Department’s Western District.  The district is one of the most violent neighborhoods in the United States.  The program served as background research for the acclaimed series “The Wire”.

 

QUICKIES

Stock Music Libraries. Is there one that you actually like? 

JinglePunks!  Fantastic

Where is your Match Frame key mapped? 

F9

Mouse, Tablet or Track Ball? 

Mouse and Tablet

Sitting or Standing? 

Sitting, though I’m starting to think about standing

FCP, Avid, or Premiere? 

Avid, though I’m looking forward to the new release of Premiere

Mac or PC? 

PC, but I cut side projects in Avid on my MacBook Pro 17” laptop.

Easier to Cut: Comedy or Drama? 

Comedy!  Timing, timing and timing!

Childhood movie/show that made you want to work in the industry? 

The Godfather”.  Simply the best film ever produced.

Dream project? 

The documentary that I am trying to get off the ground about the rise, fall, and…hopefully…rise again of the city of Detroit: “The Motor City Is Burning”…a working title.

 

Art is a member of New York Editors Collective