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Confessions of a crime-porn editor

Over the years I’ve edited many things — drama, comedy, reality, newsmagazine shows — and I’ve earned six Emmys as
a result. But lately I’ve been concentrating on the popular true-crime genre often referred to cynically as “crime porn.”

For this piece, I debated using my byline, but opted against it for fear of loss of work. I felt telling the story was important though, so here I am.

Working in a medium that is predominantly escapist, I edit for drama, emotion and impact… taking liberties with reality and accuracy to provide as much bang for the buck to the viewer (and networks I work for) that I can muster.

As I got deeper and deeper into true crime work, I discovered that the ability to insulate myself from the real horrors and devastation these stories inflict upon the survivors was becoming easier and easier to manage. I became desensitized and cynical (after all, I am an editor and we are generally tough, right?).

It is only when I stepped back from the tight scripts, the carefully selected bites, the well-executed and masterfully-shot recreations — and delved deeper into the emotional transcripts and on-camera interviews that reveal the silent, painful moments and lost, numb expressions of the survivors and victims — that I realized the responsibility myself and others have to honor them, to contemplate what it is we are actually doing. These are real people who have suffered devastating damage. It is so easy to forget that this is true crime.

Modern reality television didn’t invent the genre. To be sure, the dramatization of crime and grief has been around as long as storytelling has existed. The earliest Greek and Roman tales examined real crimes of passion. My problem is how easily and unconsciously we have trivialized and glamorized the most horrendous crimes that represent the lowest levels of human morality. We do it so well.

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Harbor’s Bobby Johanson
discusses ADR for TV and film

By Jennifer Walden

A lot of work comes in and out of the ADR department at New York City’s Harbor Picture Company, including Master of None.

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Lucky Post’s Sai Selvarajan
on editing Don’t Fear The Fin

In the video Don't Fear the Fin, three shark attack survivors explain why they are now on a quest to help save the very thing that attacked them.

Read More >


Boxx Apexx 4 features i9
X-Series processors

Behind the Title:
PS260 editor Matt Posey

Red’s Hydrogen One:
A 3D-enabled smartphone

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