This is the fourth in a series of posts on POV’s Documentary Blog about the regrettably underappreciated process and craft of documentary editing. Our guide is 2016 Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellow Eileen Meyer. Catch up on earlier conversations with Meyer.
Greg Finton, ACE, has worked for over 25 years in documentary, television and film. He began a collaboration with director Davis Guggenheim in 2000 with the documentary short Teach. Greg has also edited the films He Named Me Malala (2015, Oscar short list, ACE Eddie and Emmy Award nominee), Waiting for “Superman” (2010, Oscar short list, ACE Eddie Award nominee), It Might Get Loud, Teach (2013), and A Mother’s Promise: Barack Obama Bio Film (2008). He has also had notable collaboration with director RJ Cutler, editing such projects as The World According to Dick Cheney (2013), which he co-directed with Cutler, the TV series American High (2000), Black, White, and 30 Days (with Morgan Spurlock, 2005-08). His most recent film with director Marina Zenovich, Fantastic Lies, aired as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series this past March.
Eileen Meyer: To start at the beginning, how did you become an editor?
Greg Finton: Like many people who enter the film business, I wanted to be a director when I first came to Los Angeles out of film school. I was so naive I didn’t really know how to go about it. I thought if you want to be a director, then probably the best place to start would be as an assistant director. I managed to get hired as a 2nd AD on a low budget film the first day my phone was installed in my new apartment. That first job led to another, and then another, and the next thing I knew I had been working as an AD for about a year. Even though I was well on my way to reaching my required days to get into the DGA [Directors Guild of America], the position really wasn’t something I ever embraced. One day while I was on the set, I overheard a grip talking about his cousin who was an editor and how he might work as his apprentice. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I had loved editing when I was in film school – why not give that a try?