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!
Finding your tribe is one of life’s greatest pleasures—and losing it is one of the greatest sorrows. In NYWIFT Member Amy Nicholson’s beautifully observed film Happy Campers, working-class Americans gather every summer at a seaside trailer park in Chincoteague, Virginia, to enjoy the simple pleasures of a scrappy, no-frills vacationland, and each other’s company. When a developer buys the land and reimagines the property, the inhabitants of this shabby Shangri-La wistfully eke out the joys of one last summer together as a melancholic twilight hangs in the air. Happy Campers just made its world premiere at DOC NYC, where it received a Special Mention for the Grand Jury Prize. Amy spoke to us about her unique process making this film, biggest challenges and triumphs, and the commodification of some of life’s simplest pleasures.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Melisa Ramos! Melisa is a filmmaker and professor from Puerto Rico, bringing 14 years of post-production and motion graphics experience to New York. Her first production, Puerto Rican Voices, a docu-series about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Following Puerto Rican Voices, Melisa continued to share Puerto Rican and Latin American stories. In 2020, she directed and produced From Performers to Spectators, a doc-series showcasing New York City performers during lockdown. She is currently in production on Hoop Warrior, her first feature film. Read all about Melisa’s journey as an editor and artist here!READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Aisha Amin! Aisha is an NYC-based writer and director. As a director, her work expands across narrative, documentary, and experimental forms to tell authentic stories built from real experiences. Her past film projects have explored and highlighted overlooked communities particularly in New York City, including formerly incarcerated mothers and communities struggling with the presence of gentrification in their neighborhoods. Amongst her directing, Aisha is an emerging screenwriting and was selected to participate in Cine Qua Non’s 2022 Screenwriting Lab. She is a 2022 recipient of NYFA’s Tomorrowland Grant and a 2021 recipient of the NYFA Women's Fund grant. She was a recipient of the 2019-2020 Sally Burns Shenkman Woman Filmmaker Fellowship at the Jacob Burns Film Center where she directed two short documentaries. She is also a recipient of The Shed's Open Call Fellowship where she expanded her film practice to installation art. Aisha spoke to us about her favorite styles of storytelling, the intersection of narrative and documentary, and her latest projects.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Lorena R. Valenica! Lorena R. Valencia is a Mexican writer-director based in New York. Her directorial debut and MFA thesis film, Cuanacaquilitl (Dandelion), received the 2022 National Board of Review Student Award and is an Official Selection in several international film festivals, including the Morelia International Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the New York Latino Film Festival, and the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Film Festival. Lorena is passionate about both narrative and documentary storytelling and is interested in addressing issues such as reproductive rights, identity, and belonging. Currently, she is directing Mi Ranchito, a documentary short film that explores resilience and love for the land, while she is developing her debut feature film, Mayahuel. Lorena spoke to us about inspiring empathy through storytelling, the overlap of narrative and documentary filmmaking, and her latest projects.READ MORE