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WIRED Interview: DIY artists host student workshops; create viral Webisode content

WIRED spoke with Avid Editor Lenny Mesina about the Make Something! Webisodes which document a series of student filmmaking and artist workshops. You can read the article online - "Street artists launch DIY vid series"

Here is the full Q&A with Lenny Mesina (LM):

Did your students first go out and shoot the subject matter for their short films?

[LM] In keeping with the spirit of inspiration and true collaboration as seen in the film I edited Beautiful Losers, (which is how Make Something!! came about with Aaron Rose directing the film and then subsequently working with Nike Sportswear to create artist led D.I.Y. workshops for kids in NY, LA, SF, and Tokyo) the workshop I taught on editing was directly connected to three other workshops in NY and LA: (cinematographer of Beautiful Losers) Tobin Yelland's documentary interview workshop, (music composer of BL) Money Mark's class on creating musical scores for films, and (graphic designer for BL) Keith Scharwath's make merch workshop. Early on during the planning stages of the curriculums, Stefani Relles (our wonderful teacher who led the way for all of our classes), Aaron Rose, and I came up with the idea that it would be appropriate to incorporate Tobin's, Mark's, Keith's, and my workshops since we all worked together during the making of the film. What it basically came down to was; since Tobin was going to teach kids how to shoot doc style interviews, and Mark was going to teach his class how to create music for films, and Keith's class was about creating movie merchandise based on the subject matter from the interviews, why don't I use the end products from their respective classes to show my kids how it can all come together to create a sum bigger than it's parts. So the footage my kids ended up editing in Los Angeles was actually shot by kids on the streets of New York.  

What kind of Avid equipment did they do the editing on?

[LM] Working closely with high school kids and teaching aspects of editing was definitely fun and ultra rewarding on a personal level, but I found that during the creation of the web series we really had a golden opportunity to inspire people on a much larger scale. And for me that started as the supervising editor of a team of up and coming editors. In working with Meg Decker, Siobhan Prior, and Sin-Halina Sy, we were able to speak the same language of editing using Avid Media Composer systems. Using Avid was really important to me because I wanted this team of editors to continue to work with the industry's leading tool, especially since the majority of professional work is still cut with Avid editing systems. I felt that the more time they had to work with a program as established as Avid, the better off they would be when they work on their own big jobs.        

Why did you feel Avid systems were the best fit for this project?

[LM] First and foremost, the efficiency of Avid editing tools easily made it the system of choice. We had a constant flow of footage to bring in each time we wrapped a workshop shoot and we knew time was going to be a factor in the completion of this series. And since all of us were already fluent with Avid and its superior media management, it made no sense for us to use any other program, especially the clunkier ones that require multiple steps to do the simple tasks an Avid can do in one stroke. To me, efficiency is always the key to editing; the smoother the workflow the more time an editor has to concentrate on what's important and that's being a creative storyteller. And with the quick turnaround inherent in web-based projects, I knew using Avid systems would enable us to deliver the content Nike Sportswear expected and on deadline.

What makes editing a webisode different than a feature length film?

[LM] One of the major differences between editing this web series and a feature length film was just knowing that the final destination for these pieces was going to be on the internet. Working closely with Arlo Rosner and Jon Barlow, the director and producer of the series respectively, we came up with a model of how we wanted the pieces to be presented as a whole before we even began shooting. Knowing that our audiences were going to be online viewers meant that we would be editing each piece down to approximately three to four minutes, in a form that would maximize impact and at the same time be easily digestible for internet audiences. In a film like Beautiful Losers, we had the luxury of allowing scenes to play out longer and had more freedom to explore the nuances of each character which inevitably made the film so personal and intimate. That isn't to say these webisodes lack any of that personal intimacy, in fact the film and the web series have much in common in the end, but rather the medium directly dictated the approach during the editing process. Using Avid systems made the technical side of things transparent, which let us dedicate our time to fully engage the creative process.

Are there plans to continue this workshop approach or is it a one-shot deal?

[LM] I really hope the Make Something!! workshops can continue to live on, grow larger, and travel to different parts of the country and the world with new and different artists attached along the way. I believe we've created a blue print which can easily be followed for future workshops to happen wherever there are kids who are willing to be inspired and be creative.

Tell me about some of the projects you've worked on yourself as an editor.

[LM] My editing background comes from the world of music videos and commercials during a time when music videos were thriving both creatively and in quality. Having the good fortune to have learned from some of my editing heroes like Fernando Villena and Chris Hafner, and then working with directors such as Francis Lawrence, Meiert Avis, and Motion Theory, I feel like I was already set up to follow a path that would lead to more unconventional collaborations. I eventually started to work with creatives whose backgrounds didn't necessarily originate as film directors. Editing with musicians like Kanye West (Common "The Corner") and Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 (Taking Back Sunday "This Photograph Is Proof"), photographers Estevan Oriol (Blink 182 "Down") and Nylon Magazine's Marvin Scott Jarrett (Good Charlotte "Fast Future Generation"), to even actors Jared Leto (30 Seconds to Mars "The Kill") and Joaquin Phoenix ("Lydia"), all led me to the film of a lifetime, Beautiful Losers directed by Aaron Rose and Joshua Leonard. With Beautiful Losers not only did I get to edit a documentary that featured some of my favorite artists who I've looked up to over the years, but I was part of something that was much bigger than just a film. We were able to create something special that truly inspires people to go and make stuff, to go out and be inspired by the people you're with and your surroundings. And even in the way we made that movie was extremely special. We ended up renting a house out in Silver Lake and I had setup the Avid system in one little corner room and Money Mark setup shop in another room with his ProTools and all his instruments and keyboards, and we'd go back and forth working on scenes just handing off media to each other on a little zip drive or CD. Then I'd adjust the cuts to fit the new music and all of us, from directors and producers to our post coordinator from Brooklyn who lived in the house while we rented it, would just sit in the living room and watch what we came up with like a little family. The completion of the film and the successes we've shared from it eventually led to the Make Something!! workshops with Nike Sportswear, totally changing my way of thinking about how I can use editing as a tool for good. For example, I just recently cut a piece with local screen-printing shop Fresh Pressed prior to the election using Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" speech, Z-Trip's Obama mix, and Shepard Fairey's "Obama/Hope" wheat pasting to create a viral video which I did for free because I believed it to be for a good cause. Being able to inspire people on that level and to have a positive effect on people through editing, those are the things that made Beautiful Losers to me quite possibly the best project I've ever edited or maybe ever will edit.  



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About Taryn Unruh

Taryn works for Formula PR. As a former Avid employee, Taryn remains passionate about the craft of storytelling, and tracks stories on related industry news, Avid customers and products.

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