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.