Behind the Title: Weta Workshop editor Betsy Bauer

NAME: Betsy Bauer

COMPANY: Weta Workshop (@WetaWorkshop)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
The official company description is a creative development that creates weapons, props, creatures, make-up, miniatures, public art and merchandise for films such as The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar, Elysium, District 9, Godzilla and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

My description is it’s a hive of creativity and creation, filled with the most talented and humble people I have ever met. It’s a place that, as a 13-year-old girl in rural England, I dreamed of catching a glimpse of one day — and now I get to stroll right in every day!

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Editor

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
At Workshop my role involves many aspects, but first and foremost it’s about supporting the crew and company however I can. I create production videos for our crew and clients to review the progress of things like props and costumes; promotional videos to show off our creations and collectibles; AV content for our CEO’s presentations around the world; video content for internal and external clients, such as our Tourism department or the National Museum of New Zealand; and managing and maintaining the beast that is our media server.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I think the breadth of influence an editor can have over the final product would surprise many people. Though each job has a creative director and producer, more often than not the story is found, firmed or finalized within the edit. Something else people might not realize is that a big part of editing is problem-solving. On any given day you’re up against seemingly endless technical issues or difficulties with the script, performances and story. As editor, it’s my job to wade through it all and come out the other side with solutions.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
There’s always that turning point in every job where it goes from chaos to order, from a thousand muddled-up jigsaw pieces to starting to see the picture it’s supposed to form. I love that moment of clarity when you can knuckle down and craft the story that you can see amongst the footage. There’s also a great satisfaction in delivering a product that exceeds your client’s expectations.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
The anti-social nature of the job can be a bit of a downside. Especially at Workshop, where I literally spend all day looking at footage of my colleagues, who are in the same building as me, but in many instances I have never even met them!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Unfortunately, my internal clock is out of whack with my work schedule and I find so often I obtain clarity on a project in the late afternoon, when everything magically clicks into place and I only have a few short hours to put this newfound purpose into action. Inevitably, I just end up staying late.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I haven’t a clue! I never thought I’d find a “career,” so I consider myself beyond lucky to have stumbled into my craft. I think I would still want to work in the entertainment business, possibly in some kind of organizational or production role as that would suit my strengths.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
I think this profession chose me. I knew I wanted to work in film and live in New Zealand so I chose a film internship in Wellington at the production house Martinsquare. Within the first week I knew that editing was it for me. It all clicked into place like nothing ever had before. I was also fortunate enough to have a wonderful mentor, Jeff Hurrell, whose endless patience and generosity helped kick-start my career from nothing.

Cleaver

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I recently had a great time editing the short film Cleaver with the brilliant Alex McKenna which should hopefully be released early this year. I’m also very excited that Status Pending, a feature film I edited, will be having it’s world premiere at Cinequest festival in March. And I’ve just signed on to edit a short documentary called Finding Venus with an amazing team of people. At Weta Workshop recently I have worked on videos for master sculptor Sabin Howard, Tencent Games’ Path of Exile and Thor: Ragnarok.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
All of them. No matter the job and the content I always strive to achieve work I’m proud of. I love storytelling, be that in the classic drama cutting of the short films and feature I have edited, telling the story of an incredible piece of art our artisans at Workshop have made or bringing a smile to my colleagues’ faces by visually capturing their journey throughout the year.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Bose noise-cancelling headphones, my Wacom tablet (my wrists thank you!) and big-ass monitors.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I try not to become too reliant on social media, but on Facebook I do follow some editing/filmmaking groups, which, when working in such an isolated role, can really help make you feel part of the larger community. I also probably spend far too much time on Reddit.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Try to laugh it off as much as possible. It may be stressful, but it doesn’t need to be life threatening. Another editor friend of mine recently showed me the benefits of popping to the gym in our lunch breaks to de-stress. I try to switch off in the evenings and not take my work home with me… but that doesn’t stop me from often waking up in the night thinking about “that edit.” I find the best solution is talking to people, getting perspective and remembering that I do this job because I love it.


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