Left: Erin Casper. Photo credit: Tanya Braganti.

Right: Erin accepts the fellowship at the SXSW Film Festival Award Ceremony on March 15, 2011.  Photo credit: Mary Sledd


The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship, founded after the passing of accomplished editor Karen Schmeer (The Fog of War, Sketches of Frank Gehry), has awarded its inaugural fellowship to Erin Casper. Casper, editor of the documentary feature Our School, received the award on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival awards ceremony in Austin, Texas.

The fellowship is a year-long, in-depth experience designed to foster the development of an emerging, talented film editor. The fellowship includes: mentorship with an ACE editor, chosen to match the interests of the fellow; education at the Manhattan Edit Workshop; full festival passes to ACE Edit Fests in Los Angeles and New York; SXSW Festival Film Badge, including full access to films, panels, mentor sessions and more; chrome festival pass to the Independent Film Festival of Boston (IFFB); travel and hotel accommodations to one of the aforementioned festivals; $500 gift certificate to Powell’s Books in Portland (Karen’s favorite bookstore); a year-long membership to DocuClub, Arts Engine’s monthly screening series of documentary works-in-progress; and a season pass to Stranger Than Fiction, the IFC Center’s ongoing documentary film series.

Erin Casper is a rising talent in the documentary editing world. Having worked as an assistant and associate editor on a variety of documentary films including Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love, Erin recently completed her first feature as lead editor, Our School, a verité documentary directed by Mona Nicoara about school segregation of the Roma (‘Gypsy’) children in Romania. “Erin has been a joyful and formidable collaborator,” says Nicoara. “I have learned to fully trust her instincts and to listen very carefully when she stands her ground on issues of emotional structure and stylistic choices. The film fully reflects her quirky sensibility, emotional intelligence, and profound understanding of documentary ethics.”

Nearly 100 applications were received for the initial year of the fellowship from a diverse and talented group of editors across the country. Ms. Casper impressed the fellowship committee with her dedication, love of editing, humility, humor, curiosity and remarkable ability to shape a story as demonstrated in Our School. The film is premiering at the One World International Human Rights Film Festival in Prague this spring, followed by screenings at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Visions du Réel, and in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival, where the film will have its North American premiere. Casper was an editing fellow at the Sundance Institute Documentary Edit Lab in 2009 and at the Independent Filmmaker Project Documentary Lab in 2010. She attended the University of Iowa, graduating with honors with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Art.

“Erin is the ideal recipient of the inaugural fellowship,” says Garret Savage, Fellowship Board Member. “She is on the precipice of an exciting and creative documentary editing career, and it’s our goal to help her reach that next level.” Through the fellowship’s year-long program, including notably a mentorship with an ACE editor, Casper will be afforded the chance to deepen her understanding of her craft and broaden her involvement in the documentary community.

"I am deeply honored," says Casper. "The news comes at a very exciting time, having just finished editing my first feature film and preparing for the next steps of 'editorhood.' Although I never met Karen, she inspired me to create a blueprint of how to be an editor, which makes this fellowship a particularly resonant honor for me personally."