20Q: Catching up with film/video editor Joe Fulton


Editor's Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area's arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person's artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.

Joe Fulton

Fulton, a Janesville native and Craig High School graduate, moved to Los Angeles in 2007 to pursue a career as an editor in the TV/film industry. He has worked continuously in various jobs since, mostly on freelance projects that last anywhere from a month to a year.

In the past year, Fulton has had about two dozen jobs in various aspects of production and post-production. He is currently working as an assistant editor on the CBS comedy show “The Great Indoors” starring Joel McHale.

1. Can you name some recognizable projects you've worked on? I've worked on shows like “House Hunters” (HGTV), “Fuller House” (Netflix) and “Mike & Molly” (CBS). I've also edited a couple of “webisodes” that were released online only for “Happy Endings” (ABC) and am editing some digital-only content for my current show, “The Great Indoors” (CBS).

2. Editing can be a pretty thankless job. Is there a specific cut you have been involved in that you are particularly proud of? In the last season of “Mike & Molly,” there was a scene with a car chase—which was a little unusual for a multi-camera sitcom to have such a stylized scene. We compiled and matched shots from the soundstage with the principal actors and from a second-unit shoot on location with stunt performers. The first time the producers came into the edit bay, they loved it. Of course, there were some changes from the first cut to the finished product, but it did not change that much.

3. People would be surprised to know: That I am named after Joe Montana.

4. Is it hard for you to watch a TV show or film and not focus specifically on the editing? Yes and no. They say editing is supposed to be “invisible”—that is, it shouldn't call attention to itself. I am definitely able to “zone out” when I watch and just enjoy the product.

5. How has video/film editing evolved since splicing? Since we are now editing digitally (on a computer), trial-and-error is a lot simpler. It's just a few mouse clicks and button presses to see if a cut (or series of cuts) will work. If not, you can “undo.” Go back to what it was and carry on.

6. Name a film you have seen that a professional such as yourself would consider well edited. After watching “Mad Max: Fury Road” last year, I thought it would win the Oscar for Best Film Editing (it did). There was so much happening, but the film's editor, Margaret Sixel, did a great job of tying the shots together in a coherent way.

7. What do you do for fun in your spare time? I enjoy getting outdoors to go hiking, camping and play sports like basketball and kickball (yes, adult kickball is a thing).

8. Strangest item currently on your work desk: I have a Hot Wheels car of Biff Tannen's Ford from “Back to the Future,” including the manure. It reminds me of the film that made me want to get into the TV/film industry.

9. Have you ever turned down a project? Rarely. It is generally if the timing isn't right, like if I am still booked on one project and would not be able to begin another without having any conflicts.

10. At the grocery store, what item always goes in your cart whether you need it or not? I love chips and salsa, so it's generally on my list every time I go to the store.

11. When you tell people what you do professionally, how do they respond? Most say they don't have the patience for editing. Even though trial-and-error is simpler, it's still a big part of the job.

12. Name something you can get in California that you can't get in Wisconsin. I definitely miss the Culver's double deluxe cheeseburger, but at least I've got the In-N-Out double-double.

13. What was your first job? My first job was delivering The Jotter.

14. What is the most valuable tool you use on your job? I've accumulated a vast library of sound effects files. You never know when a certain sound will make a scene or joke better.

15. Is there a difference between editing film, TV and IMAX projects? The timetable for television is a lot more compressed, so there is a lot of pressure to do your best work as quickly as possible. The typical TV timetable is about one to two months between shooting and airing, but a couple of times I have helped turn an episode around in about 10 days. Films can sometimes be in post-production for up to 18 months, so there is more time to fine-tune things before locking and finishing.

16. How did you first become interested in editing? When I was in middle school, I found my parents' camcorder and started recording anything and everything. When we got a computer, it included an editing program (I think it was Windows Movie Maker). I started messing around with all of the features and tools and became fascinated by the simple concept of editing—shooting things out of order, then rearranging them into the correct order. When I started college at Bradley University, I studied communications and took all of the relevant editing courses I could.

17. Explain what you do: I'm the first person to get the footage and audio from the set. I'll ingest the material onto a shared storage system, then assemble and organize it for the editor so we can begin the editing process. At various stages, I send portions out to have other work done, like from a visual effects company or music composers, and ingest the materials they send back (and repeat the process if there are notes or changes). After the producers, studio and network give their notes and we address them, the show is finally locked. Then I prepare the materials to send to color correction and sound mixers, who put their finishing touches on the show before it goes on the air.

18. Do you have a pet peeve? I'm not sure why, but I hate when people call me “Boss.”

19. What is the most frustrating/rewarding thing about being a film/video editor? I've always enjoyed putting the best of everyone's talents together into the final product. To me, it's like putting a puzzle together.

20. White or whole wheat? Whole wheat. My mom told me it was healthier.

Know someone involved in the local arts/entertainment community you think would be a great subject for 20Q? Email kicks Editor Greg Little at glittle@gazettextra.com.



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