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Interview

Eric Kissack p2

How Eric Kissack started editing for the The Daily Show …

READERSVOICE.COM: Your first short film Vanishing Point looks very clean and polished. What lessons did you take from your experience as an editor that you were bearing in mind while you were making that film?

ERIC KISSACK: As an editor you learn the deceptively simple feat of being able to visualize how a scene is constructed. You start to view individual shots as building blocks that will stack up to a cohesive whole. So why is this more than just a fairly unimpressive cocktail party trick? Because when you get to set, you’ll inevitably find that you do not have enough time to shoot everything that you want to shoot. That’s just the reality of filmmaking… especially low budget filmmaking. If you understand how all the pieces will fit together, though, you can be much more economical in your shooting. You can hone in on the pieces that you absolutely need and not waste time on things that will end up on the cutting room floor. No one can do that perfectly, of course. But I genuinely believe that editors have a huge leg up in this regard.

RV: How did you start working as a tv editor in New York when, I read, you hadn’t studied film making?

EK: Like most people in this industry (to one extent or another), I got lucky. I was living in New York City and I taught myself how to use editing software (it’s not that hard, honest) and was editing short comedy videos for friends and friends of friends to hone my skills. In August of 2004, the Republican National Convention came to town and most sane New Yorkers fled the city. [US politics is fascinating. Trump is like a scrappy long-odds horse you can’t help watching, but I think it will probably be Clinton by a nose – ed.] I was too poor to go anywhere so I stayed. The Daily Show was doing a very ambitious amount of coverage of the convention and they wound up getting overwhelmed and needed to hire another editor temporarily. They must have called every editor in New York before they got to me but eventually they did get to me. I was only 27 and had no professional tv editing experience but they were desperate and they ended up hiring me. I only stayed a few weeks but it was an amazing experience. I worked side by side with Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, Ed Helms, Lewis Black and others.
By the time it was over, I had made a couple of contacts at Comedy Central and so the next time they needed some help, they called me. I ended up working on a handful of Comedy Central shows over the next year and suddenly I had a career.

RV: Where were you living in New York at the time and where did you commute to in order to work on tv editing?

EK: I was living in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn at the time. The Daily Show was (and still in) shot and edited on the far west side of Manhattan… a neighborhood affectionately known as Hell’s Kitchen.

RV: Where did you grow up and where have you lived in New York?

EK: I was born in The Bronx, in a neighborhood called Parkchester. My family moved to Forest Hills in Queens when I was 12. After college, I lived in Williamsburg, Clinton Hill and Boerum Hill.

RV: How did you make the jump to Los Angeles film making?

EK: I was editing a Comedy Central show called Stella and one of the directors of that show was David Wain. Stella got cancelled after one season but David and I become friends. A few months later, when David got a feature film off the ground, I asked him if I could edit it. He said no. So I asked him again. And he said no again. I kept asking until he agreed to let me “co-edit” the film. I told him that I wanted to edit it all by myself. He said no. So I asked him again. In the end, I wore him down. That was my first feature film, “The Ten”. A year later, David got hired to direct “Role Models” for Universal and hired me to edit it. That film brought me out to LA and I decided to stay once I realized how much more pleasant it was to live there than NYC. Sorry, New Yorkers.

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– copyright Simon Sandall