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EDIT GIRLS feature Morgan Taylor Bradley

Edit Girls: “Study the group dynamics of your clients, and identify whose voice you should be listening to (Hint–it’s not always the loudest in the room!).”— Morgan Taylor Bradley – Editor

Describe your job role and the kinds of projects/clients you work with.

I’m an editor at ArtClass, a next-gen production company that in the last year has added a post production division. I edit mostly commercials and branded content, working with directors, ad agencies and brands direct.

What does an average day look like in your post production working world?

These days, I’m delighted that an average day can happen from almost anywhere. I’m based in Kansas City and split my time between my home office, the ArtClass KC office, and San Francisco. Before the pandemic this type of flexibility wasn’t an option for me and I am forever grateful for it.

I’m a very structured editor, and approaching each project the same way feels like a ritual. Process is everything! That said, I made the switch from Avid to Adobe Premiere Pro when I joined ArtClass earlier this year and I still can’t believe how much I like it. Sometimes change is good! I’ve really enjoyed tweaking my process for Premiere (and yes, I mapped that keyboard just like an Avid!).

I’m not naturally very technical, so I’ve always had to work hard to keep up with new tech and speak and understand the language. Back when I was an assistant I thought that my poor math skills and inability to add and subtract timecode was going to end my career. But, it turns out that the actual editing and the people part are my superpowers! So I’ve built a career that makes this work for me. I value the talent and support of assistant editors and engineers when I run into major tech issues. A strong producer is everything, and I have worked with some of the best! I run a tight ship on my jobs, and keep my projects neat and tidy. Once this structure and stability are in place the magic can happen. I’m free to let loose and create, and give my full attention to the work and to my clients.

What has been your career highlight?

I started my career in Chicago, then San Francisco, and now my home town of Kansas City. Chicago taught me the ropes of the business, but San Francisco is where I came into my own creatively. The relationships I built in that town changed my life forever, and the work I’ve made and continue to make with those people is some of my best.

San Francisco brought me Luis Pena, an incredibly talented director that I’ve been fortunate to work with several times over the years. His beautiful style helped me fine-tune mine, and with every project he brings me I become a better editor. He shoots in a wild yet choreographed way that comes together in the edit like a dance. My current favorite of ours was for First Hawaiian Bank, although our Greyhound work is a close second.

Another highlight from San Francisco is the Sephora “Never Stop” campaign I cut with an entirely female team, all of them my dear friends. Their brilliant creative and casting was groundbreaking for beauty, the first of its kind, and changed beauty advertising forever. The timing was crazy, as the campaign was meant to drop the week after the 2016 presidential election. We laughed, we cried, we drank beers on the fire escape, and then there was the day we all took our bras off and hung them from the lamps– it was pure magic in that suite! Days before the spots were meant to ship, the election results spooked the brand and in an instant the campaign was dead. We were crushed. A few months later in the run up to the Women’s March, Sephora brought the campaign back from the dead and it all felt more important than ever. Five years later, and that spot has a forever place on my reel and in my heart.

How did your career in post production begin?

I was a freshman communication major at Lake Forest College near Chicago, and my childhood friend (Allison Swank, now a wildly talented director in South Africa) was a film student and intern at Whitehouse Post. I tagged along with her to a company party at a karaoke bar, ended up chatting to their director of operations, and left with a summer internship. I enjoyed my internship at Whitehouse so much I did it again my junior year. I was intrigued by editing, but had my eye on producing at that point. I wasn’t sure my liberal arts education would be right for editing (how wrong I was!). I was a little lost after college, and spent a (thankfully) brief stint at a non-profit before getting a call that changed everything. An editor I’d written a paper on (Angelo Valencia, now at Optimus) had left WHP to open a new Chicago office of San Francisco based post house Filmcore (now Beast), and needed a “jack of all trades” to join his skeleton crew to answer phones, get coffee, etc. He couldn’t hire me for a few months, but was willing to train me as an assistant editor after hours in the meantime so I could hit the ground running and hopefully not be a “jack of all trades” for long. So every night I’d leave my job in my business casual, and go learn to load dailies (which were still film dailies–this was 2008!). Thanks to his mentorship (and my very poor math skills), editing won over producing and everything took off from there. Within a month of being hired I was assisting, and 3 years later became the youngest editor on the roster at 27.

Tell us about a pivotal moment in your career.

Earlier this year I changed companies for the second time in my 14 year career, ending a 3 year stretch at Cutters Studios to join ArtClass. My background is in traditional boutique editorial, where you’ll find editors who have been at the same company for 20+ years! While I treasure that experience and the foundation it gave me, working from home through the pandemic opened my eyes to the possibility of life outside that traditional setting. Creatively, I was feeling stale and knew I needed a change. I considered freelance, but worried I’d forget to ever send an invoice and go broke (Have I mentioned how much I value my producers?!). Then I learned about ArtClass, a production company that was expanding into post. They had an amazing roster of directors, and were building a model that felt so fresh to me. As an editor, collaborating closely with directors is a dream and becoming their go-to is THE dream. I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back. I’ve been booked solid since joining, so it seems my clients are loving the model too. And creatively, it was totally the change I needed!

Women in post you admire?

I’d be lost without my mentor, Valerie Anderson. She owned and ran Beast Editorial when I was first promoted from assistant to editor 10 years ago, and has been a guiding light and a dear friend ever since. Her producer background has always been such a nice balance to my editor brain. She has championed so many women, and inspires me to do the same.

What advice do you have for other women wanting to start a career in post?

Learn to run the room. Especially now, “the room” doesn’t always look like an edit suite with comfy couches and jars of Twizzlers. Sometimes it’s a Zoom call, a tiny back room on set, or a series of emails. “Running the room” is the experience you create for your clients in the edit and it’s vital to your success, especially in the commercial world. How you listen to notes and interpret feedback, how you problem solve, how fast you do all of this and how your clients feel along the way. Fine tune your listening skills. Study the group dynamics of your clients, and identify whose voice you should be listening to (Hint–it’s not always the loudest in the room!). Figure out how to interpret your clients needs in every scenario, reading between every line. Aim to be one step ahead of them, listening as they talk amongst themselves and solving the problems they haven’t even said out loud yet. There’s a magic to running the room that is unique to every editor, so make sure to put your own spin on it. And don’t forget to have fun!