Misery Loves Comedy: How Comedian Kevin Pollak Cut His Documentary in Premiere Pro

I interviewed comedian Kevin Pollak about taking the reigns on the edit for his new documentary, learning to use Premiere Pro after three easy lessons from Rob Legato.

Veteran comedian and actor Kevin Pollak is known for many things: a long career in stand-up comedy, dozens of performances in films like Casino, A Few Good Men, and The Usual Suspects, six years hosting his podcast Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, and a killer Christopher Walken impression (among many others). With his feature film directorial debut Misery Loves Comedy, Pollak adds a new skill to his long resume: editing a film with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

The documentary starts with a thesis – “do you have to be miserable to be funny?” – and explores the dark side of comedy through archival footage, day in the life sequences, and interviews with over 50 comedians, actors and filmmakers including Jimmy Fallon, Amy Schumer, Judd Apatow, Christopher Guest, Martin Short and Jon Favreau. There is a quantifiable link between creative people and mental illnesses like clinical depression, but why? Who chooses a life of making strangers laugh?

As Pollak told me, “America’s number one fear above death is public speaking. That’s not even getting a laugh, that’s just speaking in public alone! If you add trying to get a laugh – the single most difficult emotion to evoke – now you’re talking about a very special breed of cat.”

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Exodus: Gods and Kings — Grading Ridley Scott’s 3D Epic

I interviewed colorist Stephen Nakamura about grading Exodus: Gods and Kings with DaVinci Resolve 11.

Nakamura’s colorist credits are expansive, to say the least. He’s worked with David Fincher, Kathryn Bigelow, Martin Scorcese, Quentin Tarantino – and that’s just the start. His career started out in telecine, doing transfers for Warner Bros. cartoons in the early ’90s, eventually moving onto telecine with other shows, commercials and music videos. In 2002, Technicolor started doing digital intermediates, so Nakamura jumped into grading Panic Room for Fincher and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind for George Clooney.

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Why the Academy Awards Matter for Gender Equality in Hollywood

“I hadn’t even heard of that movie until the nominations.”
“Oh, it’s Oscar nominated? I’ll have to see it.”
“I need to see all the best picture nominees before the Oscars are on!”

How many times do you hear these things during awards season? All the time? And then also through the rest of the year? Yeah, me too. Because it turns out that no matter how apathetic you can be toward awards, this is the one award that most people use to judge the worthiness of a film. It makes them seek it out.

That’s the first reason why the Oscars matter. Here is the second reason.

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Editing for Social Impact: How I Saved the San Gabriel Mountains

(You can also read and comment on this at CreativeCOW.net)

(Okay, maybe the headline is a LITTLE strong, but I HELPED.)

In the world of corporate video, the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world didn’t come around often for me. I know that’s not true for many people in the “corporate video” world, which is a general term I could use to mean anything from industrial how-toe or non-profit event highlight reels. But in my little piece of that land, my videos were generally not going to make a change that would last for future generations. At least, not a positive one.

When I started working on the PBS series This American Land, I finally got the opportunity to see what it was like to work on content with consequences in the real world, specifically the natural world and everything in it. The two seasons I’ve spent on it have been focused on the angle of people working toward a greater good to solve an issue — an endangered species, shrinking wild land, or polluted river.

In 2013, I edited a segment about the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California. The San Gabriel Mountains Forever campaign was trying to get the area designated as a national monument so it would be protected from development in the same way other natural lands are in the United States, and with its proximity to Los Angeles, the conservation of the area for providing drinking water and green space is important. It was kind of a tough edit because, to put it delicately, the field producing wasn’t tops. The executive producer (who did not produce the segment) was worried we wouldn’t have what we needed because it was pretty rough, but he gave it to over to me with the hopes I could find the story. We emailed back and forth a couple of times about the mission of the piece and what they hoped to accomplish, and I dug in without a script or guide or notes and came back with a six minute piece called Backyard Wilderness. The EP was so glad I did what I did with it, he gave me the producer credit for the story.

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The Art of Being Industrious: Dody Dorn ACE on Cutting Fury

I talked to editor Dody Dorn on cutting Fury for David Ayers:

Film editor Dody Dorn, ACE, is best known for her work on films like Memento, Kingdom of Heaven, and End of Watch, collaborating with such directors as Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, and David Ayer. Her latest film directed by Ayer, Fury, involved 16 Avids across two continents, with 1.3 million feet of film shot over 69 production days.

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HP Brings Tiny Desktops and Bold Displays to CES 2015

I wrote about HP’s new products at CES 2015:

Ahead of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), HP announced some major updates to its desktops, displays and mobile workstations that enhance the way users interact with their devices. New Zbooks are thin and light (and still powerful), Mini Desktops pack streamable media into a small, energy efficient device, and updated displays feature virtual reality capabilities and curved panels. Media creators should find a lot to like in this new round of products, including support for industry standard software and peripherals with many options for customization.

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Unbroken: William Goldenberg & Tim Squyres on Editing Angelina Jolie’s War Drama

I interviewed William Goldenberg and Tim Squyres about editing Unbroken.

“I don’t think anybody can edit a film to be the best it can be by themselves,” editor Tim Squyres, ACE, told me when I asked him about his first time as co-editor. “You need to push each other and try other things and react to what someone else is doing.” Which was exactly the push and pull process in crafting war drama Unbroken with editor William “Billy” Goldenberg, ACE, in the very next editing room. The second narrative feature directed by Angelina Jolie, Unbroken is based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand and tells the true story of US Olympic track star Louie Zamperini (played by Jack O’Connell), an epic that includes World War II, a plane crash in the Pacific, drifting about on a life raft for 47 days, and spending over two years in Japanese prison camps.

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Editor Bryan Capri Talks Cutting Lifetime TV Movies

“We just wanted to make sure you weren’t an ass****.”

That’s what Connecticut-based editor Bryan Capri was told at his first meeting with Synthetic Cinema International (SCI), where he was nervously clutching his resume and reel and hoping for the best.

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Editor William Goldenberg on Crafting The Imitation Game

I interviewed editor William Goldenberg on editing The Imitation Game.

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Editing a Web Series: Arson Dogs

If a thing happens and nobody writes about it, did it really happen? Of course the answer is no, which is why I’m writing a post about a project I finished editing in September. But there is some freshness to it: it’s actually airing nationally(ish) this week. You could have seen it online this whole time, but there’s something about a thing airing nationally(ish) that brings a new layer of legitimacy to it.

One of my most complicated projects to date at Biscardi Creative Media (or anywhere, really) was started in July, right after the conclusion of the fourth season of the This American Land for PBS…so ya know, “okay good job, *shoves you out window*” basically. It was a web series called Arson Dogs, featuring beloved dog trainer Victoria Stilwell as she visited and learned from State Farm’s arson dog training school in rural Maine.

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