Interview with Emmy Award winning Editor Josh Bodnar – Part 1

Josh Bodnar

I had the great pleasure of interviewing, Emmy Award winning editor, Josh Bodnar.  He has helped produce such projects as, Emmy award-winning, title design sequence for Showtime’s  “Dexter”, and Emmy nominated title design sequence, “Kingdom Hospital”.  His work is also part of the New York Museum of Modern Art Permanent Collection.

Bodnar’s client list includes HBO, Showtime, Sundance, MGM, Touchstone Pictures, Warner Brothers, Disney and Cartoon Network just to name a few. Josh has worked for Digital Kitchen, Superfad, Shilo and is currently an editor at The WhiteHouse.

What drove you to become an editor?
To begin, I actually started off in photography. A teacher of mine recognized I had an eye for unique shots. She suggested to me that I should take some video classes. Video was photography in motion, I remember her telling to me. While pursuing video I found the craft of editing. I was overjoyed that I was able to manipulate and transform things into whatever I could imagine. If was like I was in the dark room again, but this time with motion images. The thing I love about editing, even to this day, is that it’s a puzzle. There are infinite ways the story and shots can be put together. Your building something that can take on a number of emotions. That’s powerful.

What are your favorite video production tools of choice and why?
A lot of people ask me this question. I have two answers. The first answer is I use both Avid and Final Cut Pro. 10% Avid and 90% FCP. More and more I’m using FCP. Although Avid is the industry standard – – it’s falling behind and doesn’t like to play well with others. FCP is so flexible that I can cut any format – with any frame base – anytime. I use the FCP studio package with Color and Compressor quite a bit as well.

My second answer to this question is that it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is the human behind the machine. The artist that can make his or her visions come to life. I’ve worked with a lot of great artists and I’ve seen some ridiculous work made out of a regular applications. Your biggest creative asset is yourself. The minute you rely on plug-ins your finished.

Audio is a very distinctive attribute to your work, how is it developed and manipulated into your workflow?
Audio is a huge portion of what I do. I personally like to work with the track before I start editing. I try to play it over in my head and visualize the edit and sequence of events. However, typically I’m working with a composer or and audio house that I collaborate with. We go back and forth like a teeter-totter. I edit a rough cut to a demo track – the composer comes back with more instrumentation – I enhance the edit and fine tune it to the music. We go back and forth til we find our best work.

Explain your “preferred” editorial process.   What are the main steps, you always like to follow, from the time you first meet your client to final approval?
The great thing about editing is every job is unique. However, I usually like to talk to the director first. They’ve been attached to the job for a longer period and have pretty specific ideas on what they are looking for. The next step is talking to the agency creatives. Usually their vision is similar to the directors, but often they have their own ideas as well. From there I watch the footage. I always watch the footage going into the machine. I like to get a raw viewing of everything that was shot. It also helps in putting ideas together and seeing what might be good takes. Then I edit. I usually crank out 4 versions of the edit. My version – The director’s version – What I think the agency is looking for (editing word-for-word the storyboards) – then an unexpected version, something completely different.
From there we (myself, agency & director) whittle it down to a version we all like. We present to client. Some times make revisions, sometimes not. Then finish.

How much time from conception to completion did the Dexter opening title sequence
take?
Dexter was about a month-long process from start to finish. From the boarding phase – animatic phase – shooting phase – editing – reediting- reediting – and then finish.
Did you learn anything new on the Dexter Project?
In terms of the process of editing no. I’ve worked with hollywood studios & production companies quite a bit and I’m always amazed each time that I’m always faced with a challenge. There is never a dull moment in entertainment work.

What advice do you give editors on taking their work to the next level, keeping their work unique and on avoiding or hurdling editor’s block?
Never say no. Always take every job good or bad. Because it’s not about the job, but rather the human connections you make. Exposing yourself to new people is how you get ahead and along the way your work get’s better. You have to have an open mind and be able to surround yourself with people who are better than you that’s how you become better.
As far as editing goes . . . be uncomfortable. Getting out of your comfort zone and feeling uncomfortable with your edits is how you progress.

How did you land your job at Digital Kitchen
and White House Post?

I think I did what anyone would do. I called the office said I was looking for a job and sent in a resume/reel.

Could you tell us more about the New York Museum of Modern Art Permanent Collection you have displayed? 

It’s a fabulous award and I’m truly honored to be apart of the museum’s collection. The work in the collection is a Budweiser commercial. It won the AICP 2005 award for best table top.  The spot is called “Fresh Pour”. It consists of 3 shots.  A bottle cap opening that was done in 3D, a beer pour down into a glass, and a splash with a composited in bottle in a beer bubble.  It was all shot with a phantom camera, which at the time was just out on the market. It was a daring new way of working at the time. Funny story,even though there was a full day of shooting for all the liquid elements, we actually ended up using the test pour we shot in the office for the final pour. I guess that shows you really don’t need anything elaborate sometimes. Check it out for yourself.  Budweiser – Fresh Pour

 

What advise can you give video editors to further their social network? 

You’d be surprised how many people you really know. I joined Linked in several years ago and people started finding me. The best advice I can give is to get your work out there and in front of people in any form you see best.

What is your favorite source for inspiration?
Hand’s down fashion.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
I’m not sure I have a favorite. I’m getting back into photography again believe it or not. One of my all time favorites is Platon. http://www.platonphoto.com/

How may someone contact you if they want to learn more or require your services?
You can visit my website: http://www.joshbodnar.com
e-mail me: [email protected]
or visit my blog: http://editorsdecisionlist.tumblr.com

Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

Here is a great video interview with Josh Bodnar I found on the very informative website designchat.com :

Part 2 of the interview can be found here:
http://deysonortiz.com/blog/inspirational/interview-with-emmy-award-winning-editor-josh-bodnar-part-2/

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