Q3 2020

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43 F A L L Q 3 I S S U E F E A T U R E who worked on episodes of Moore's late-1990s TV series "The Awful Truth" and, most recently, the director's fea- ture-length documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" (2018). Picture editor David Tedeschi, ACE, describes a similar catch-as-catch-can environment for many post-production professionals looking to work in doc- umentaries. "A lot of films are passion projects but start very slowly," said Tedeschi, who also lives in New York. "Maybe they'll hire an editor for a couple months, or maybe they 'll think that they're bringing on the editor just for the last month but it turns into a year." Understandably, many editors early in their careers just want to work on stimulating projects, regardless of their union status (or lack thereof ). "When you're 30 years old, or even 40 years old, you don't necessarily see that benefits are necessary," Tedeschi said. "Especial- ly in New York, you can slip in and out of getting healthcare; there are work- arounds in clinics. But it's only now, past 50, that I really think about: 'Oh, right, It's nice to have those retirement benefits.'" S i n c e t h e m i d - 2 0 0 0 s , h o w e v e r, Tedeschi has been working almost ex- clusively on the documentary projects of Martin Scorsese, which, as with Burns's or Moore's editors, puts him in a uniquely advantageous position. "They're good to me," said Tedeschi, whose credits include "Shine a Light" (2008), "Public Speaking" (2010), and "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" (2011), the last of which netted him Primetime E m my a n d AC E E d d i e n o m i n a t i o n s. "First of all, [Scorsese's] company is a signatory. . . . They're very open to the Editors Guild. And I'm very strong about it. It's made a real difference in my life." B u t w h a t a b o u t t h e c o u n t l e s s low-budget documentaries made on both coasts each year? For them, the story is less upbeat. "I have a very good friend—she's a great nonfiction editor— who hasn't done a union job in a long time," Tedeschi said. "Years—like over ten years. I asked her about it once. She said, 'No one will pay my benefits,' which is heartbreaking." There are reasons to hope. Tedeschi said that he has noted an uptick in union interest in recent years. "I went to a union meeting maybe a year-and-a-half ago for the first time in a long time, and I was shocked how many young people there were," Tedeschi said. And before the pandemic swallowed up so much time and energy, the Guild itself had been emphasizing the need to bring more documentaries under contract early in the process. "We are in discussion with Local 600 [International] Cinematographers Guild about how we might close that loop so that we can get our foot in the door soon- er, if we could be more proactive with reaching out when production starts," said Repola, who added that Editors Guild Eastern Executive Director Paul Moore has been successful in getting New York-shot documentaries under contract. "When they're shooting in New York, we've managed to get deals done somehow," Repola said. "I think the universe is a little smaller. If you're shooting a documentary in New York City, everybody knows it." For his part, Burns describes the Guild as eager to find solutions for his team of editors—and to assure that his classic documentaries continue to be union-made. "We've been able to appeal to them and say, 'Look, we're planning to keep [editors]on not for a three-month job, not for a four-month job, not for a six-month job, but a two-year job,'" Burns said. "They have been willing to work with us." ■ 'Now, past 50, I think: It's nice to have those retirement benefits.' Costin on non-union jobs: "They'll just work you to death." P H O T O : G E T T Y I M A G E S

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