By Katie Chambers
Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to new member Fay Gartenberg! Fay Gartenberg (she/they) is an Assistant Editor and a member of the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild (IATSE Local 700). Their projects span across narrative film, documentary film, scripted television, and finishing.
Prior to working in the film industry, they provided video therapy for patients and families at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital. Aside from film, they are passionate about the intersection of mental health and contemplative practice, (non-dystopian) speculative fiction, and hiking.
Gartenberg talked to us about their favorite projects, latest binge-watch recommendations, and approach to work/life balance.
Tell us about yourself — give us your elevator pitch!
I’m currently a union assistant editor. The part I like most about my job is doing sound design and discussing edits with my fellow assistant editors and my editor. I want to work on productions that feature underrepresented voices in front of and behind the camera.
How does your background in social work and video therapy inform your relationship to storytelling and editorial?
My training in social work has both enriched the way I collaborate with an editor and influenced the way I think about stories and characters. In social work school, I was introduced to interpersonal and systems dynamics. I use these models in the edit room to better understand the ecology of a production, the different settings in which storytellers craft narratives, and how these can determine the impact that a story has on its viewers.
More practically, my social work skills come in handy when I need to defuse tense situations at work and to provide a space for the post team to feel heard. This can really make a difference to an effective workflow.
What has been favorite project thus far, and why?
The production I’m currently working on is fun and thought-provoking, especially from a character perspective. It’s a series called Mrs. American Pie. I particularly enjoy the complexity of the main character, Maxine Simmons. It is fascinating to watch her pursue, almost religiously, a specific kind of identity and to seek entry into a community that doesn’t want her back.
Help us build our next binge-watch list! What’s an example of a show or film you recently watched that had some especially clever or creative editing?
Oh my! There are some great pieces out there. I recently re-watched Florian Zeller’s The Father and was very taken with the editing and how it serves to place the audience within this man’s experience with Alzheimer’s.
I also really appreciated the editing in the recent shows Yellowjackets and Severance. The way the editing in Yellowjackets moves us between the past and present story threads is very compelling. The editing in Severance crafted this subtle tone of discomfort that ate away at my psyche through the season.
For documentary lovers out there, I watched a feature called For the Birds, directed by Richard Miron. It’s an empathic character study that balances several individuals’ perspectives around a significant conflict. As you might gather, I love character studies.
How has COVID-19 affected the way you approach your work?
There has been much in my professional and personal life to acclimate to since the start of the pandemic. I became a remote and then hybrid worker and moved to a new city. This experience led to an interest in the culture of work as a system, and I got inspired by the writing of journalist Anne Helen Petersen, who thinks a lot about this subject.
I am still trying to figure out the best personal work environment; the challenge is how to maximize my productivity by creating a comfortable and convenient space for work while respecting the collaborative nature of film production. But I’m finding that spending my time outside the edit room, engaging with my local community, and cultivating my other passions has breathed new life into my job.
What is the best advice you ever received? And the worst?
I’ve received such great advice that I store in my “toolbox.” Two pieces that stand out are “don’t eat lunch at your desk,” and “when you’re stuck, take a walk.”
The worst advice I’ve received is, “just power through; snap out of it; suck it up. “
I noticed you’re a Dual Member of NYWIFT — what is your other WIFTI organization?
I’m also a member of Philadelphia Women in Film and Television (PWIFT)!
What inspired you to join NYWIFT? How do you hope to participate in the organization?
I was looking to connect with other women working across different departments in the industry. I appreciate learning more about the different niches of media production. I’m also interested in participating in NYWIFT’s international programs.
And what is next for you?
I’m still looking for the next project to follow my current series. I’d love to work on a majority women-driven, women-crewed production!
Connect with Fay Gartenberg on LinkedIn and on Twitter @fayelisedits.
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