Extra Credit: HBO VICE Lecture

The lecture began with Joe Langford and J.P. Olsen airing two segments of the VICE news program–one that dealt with Greenland’s rapidly melting glaciers and one that dealt with a young Iraqi boy named Hader who serves in a Shia militia. The Greenland piece was polished and impressive; it was Langford’s first work as an editor at VICE and painted a grave picture of our future from an environmental standpoint. However, it was the latter of the two clips that was truly sobering. Hader, a 16-year-old Iraqi boy, spends his time illegally driving trucks to raise money for his family and fighting in a civilian guerrilla force. Here, Langford’s piece is a powerful character study that relays the larger social conflict through the life of a broken, damaged boy.

Following the screening, we transitioned into an open question and answer session. I spoke with Mr. Langford specifically about his editing process and how he approaches the challenge of molding a cache of raw footage into a tangible, polished product. His response struck a chord with me–as musically-minded individuals, we both start by establishing what music we’d like to see (or, more specifically, hear) in our productions. He then focuses on getting a “blockbuster shot”; something with enough of the “cool factor” that he can show it to anyone who walks into his office and elicit a good response.

After the general Q&A, Joe and J.P. stayed for an additional half hour or so to field any leftover questions from the audience. I spoke with both of them about their career paths and my next steps in the industry. Both of them emphasized the importance of developing a strong portfolio that highlights your interests and strengths. Want to edit? Get a reel that showcases the pacing of your cuts. Aspiring DP? Pack your portfolio with some stunning shots. Location, persistence and experience were their prescription for a successful career in the media industry;  securing internships, getting involved with film festivals and networking are vital to doing so.

I received contact information from both Joe and J.P. and I look forward to corresponding with them in the future.