December 09, 2004

below the line, beyond the pale

My husband works as an editor on a well known dramatic series. It's a good gig, creative in the first cut, collaborative in the later passes when you sit with the director or producer and make changes. At least in theory. The reality can be different depending on the show. Some producers are nitpicking monsters who prefer their editors to be hands attached to tape recorders in lieu of brains. But Dan is lucky; the showrunner on this series is talented, intelligent, and reasonably willing to set his own ego aside and listen to his creative team.

After the producer's cut, though, it's time for studio and network notes. Usually delivered via speakerphone; editor present and accounted for. A few episodes ago, Dan was in the room listening to the executives give notes. When they got to a particular scene, they complimented the musical choice (an extremely apropos pop song). Kudos all around, everyone loved it. The showrunner commented that the editor fought hard for that song.

Silence on the other end.

Nobody not one single executive said "Good for him" or "Give him a raise" (ha) or the most natural of all, "Good call." Nobody acknowledged the showrunner's classy referral of credit. Why? Because if the showrunner chose the song, it was worthy of praise. If a lowly below-the-line editor made the call rather than a high-paid, high profile producer? Embarrassing to even mention. What a faux pas, oops, sorry we noticed.

I swear, when Dan told me, I wanted to march over to the network and slap them all down. This industry is one of the most horrendously hierarchical businesses I've ever witnessed. If you're not Somebody, you're dirt.

Bullshit. People are people, people are not great-fabulous-loved-your-last-movie kiss-kiss luv-ya call-ya or, on the other hand, dirt. People are people. I've met movie stars, I've met the people who empty their garbage. Sometimes I like the latter more than the former. People are people. This business, because of the aura of fame and fortune, the glory seeking Entertainment Tonight glitzy surface of it and the disgustingly enormous salaries of the folk at the top, because of all of that, it breeds contempt. But people are people. And the people on the other end of that phone line all deserve spankings. I don't believe in corporal punishment but I'll make an exception here. Nothing less will get through to them.

Posted by Tamar at December 9, 2004 08:30 PM

How very... sad.

And rude.

But hooray to the showrunner for giving the editor props.

Posted by: Christina at December 15, 2004 10:00 AM

I agree...very sad. But, I'm glad that Dan works day to day with someone who respects and acknowledges his talent. I have never been able to understand how people get into that kiss ass mode and lose all perspective. How sad for them...

And keep up the good work, Dan. It's excellent.

Posted by: Rachel at December 15, 2004 02:07 PM