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Quick Chat: Blue Collar Post Collective’s Janis Vogel

By Randi Altman

Heidelberg, Germany-born and Martha’s Vineyard-raised Janis Vogel (@didyoumeanjanis) now resides in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, making her living editing documentaries, television documentary series, experimental films, fiction, music videos and promos.

Her academic background is interesting — she came into filmmaking with a fine arts perspective. “My favorite film teacher was experimental film and sound artist Ann Steurnagel at Wellesley College.” Vogel then went to graduate school to earn an MFA in directing and cinematography. Her MFA thesis film, Drop, was a fiction short for which she was awarded the Mayor’s Office of Film’s NextGen Award in 2008.

In addition to Vogel’s broad background, she is on the leadership committee of the Blue Collar
Post Collective, a group of young post production professionals who have been having at
first informal and now more formal meet-ups in New York City.

Let’s find out more about Vogel and the BCPC…

Where do you work, and what type of work do you do?
I am a freelance editor. I currently work at 11th Street Productions on various documentary series, primarily MTV’s Teen Mom 2. I recently edited a documentary short called Bambi Lake: Sticks & Stones, directed by Silas Howard. The film is about notorious San Francisco transgender performer and entertainer Bambi Lake. Through the film she takes us on a stroll down Polk Street, sharing anecdotes and the history behind her song Golden Age of Hustlers, which was written about her time as a street hustler in the mid-1970s. It has had a great festival run, recently playing at eight, including Frameline, Outfest, NewFest and as part of an exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

This project developed out of a music video for Justin Vivian Bond’s rendition of Golden Age of Hustlers. I was the editor on the music video, co-directed by Silas Howard and Erin Greenwell.  I also recently edited two fiction shorts, Bright in Here and Room Service, directed by Di Julia Thompson. Bright in Here will premiere at the Queens World Film Festival on March 18.

Janis Vogel edited this documentary about the songwriter Bambi Lake.

What tools do you call on the most?
​I work primarily in Avid Media Composer, but I also use Adobe Premiere and After Effects. ​

What was the idea behind BCPC (Blue Collar Post Collective), and when did it officially form?
The Blue Collar Post Collective is an accessible and focused grassroots initiative, supporting the younger generation of post production professionals in New York. From humble beginnings as a small social meet-up group, the BCPC has grown to over 250 members. Our goal is to foster an all-inclusive community and to provide unique opportunities for its members to develop professionally.

Who were the founding members of the group, and how did you then go about publicizing it and getting members?
Katie Hinsen (finishing artist) and James Reyes (system administrator) began the group as a way for their peers at different post houses to meet each other and break down the boundaries of competition. They hosted events and it grew rapidly through word of mouth. I was one of the people who went to those early meet-ups. As the interest in BCPC grew rapidly, a Facebook group was set up and a leadership committee was formed. The Facebook group grew the BCPC to 250 members in two months, and it is continuing to expand.

I am one of six members on the leadership committee, along with Katie and James, Matthew Levy (editor), Michael Hernandez (DI artist/colorist) and Pat Gerrity (senior engineer). The leadership committee is working to garner the support of post houses and other industry organizations with which to collaborate in providing opportunities.

As a young post professional, did you find there weren’t enough existing groups that were inclusive or affordable to the younger generation?
The BCPC is unique in that it is all-inclusive. There are no prerequisites or membership fees. It is a casual group of seriously ambitious folks who want to share their experiences and support each other.

We feel the members will greatly benefit from the BCPC’s stated goals. It appeals to those who have questions about getting started in post, as well as those looking to advance their careers. It aims to answer questions about trajectory, the questions that seem the most daunting to ask.

At the same time, we want to get the best quality educational and career development opportunities ​for our members at a price they can afford. We are excited to create ties with other professional groups. This can give members the maximum benefit available.

You had your first official event in NYC recently. How did that go?
Over 60 young people from New York’s post community came together at Amity Hall on Monday, February 23, to celebrate the Blue Collar Post Collective’s 2015 launch and meet the newly appointed leadership committee.

Amity Hall provided a great environment for conversation to flow. It felt nothing like a networking event, which really is the goal. We want to give people a warm and welcoming environment to share stories, career goals and ideas. We all work in caves, alone for the most part, certainly not beside others sharing the same title, so it is a great way to meet fellow cave dwellers.

What do you see for the BCPC over the next six months, or even a year?
We have been learning what our members want to know more about and where they need guidance. The BCPC will hold monthly meet-ups. Over the next few months, we will organize events focused on offering educational and career development opportunities as well.

Other events will focus on a subset of the industry, such as panel discussions with editors, colorists, engineers etc. Events specific to an area of post can be places where industry leaders focus on how they moved through the industry.

We will always hold a monthly meet-up. This event will be a constant of BCPC, a place our members can hangout and call home. We will definitely be developing more events with speakers, presentations and screenings as well as co-hosting events with other groups.

While this was developed with an eye on the younger post pros, are you guys welcoming to some of the more veteran types as well?
We definitely welcome the veterans. Our leadership has gained veteran status in some ways and welcomes veteran industry colleagues. I personally started as a producer, but editing is where I found my home. We want our meet-ups to be a non-intimidating place where the younger generation can meet the city’s top talent and have an open forum to get their advice and support. A lot of industry veterans want a way to give back to those coming up in the industry and our group is an opportunity to do that.

Check out the BCPC Facebook page here. Follow them on Twitter at @BCPCollective.

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