Going Pro: Assistant editor Dustin Kaufman
Issue: September 1, 2014

Going Pro: Assistant editor Dustin Kaufman

Before earning his degree in Film and Video from Columbia College (www.college.columbia.edu) last year, Dustin Kaufman soaked up all the advice he possibly could from his instructors — many of whom are film/broadcast industry veterans — and from the industry professionals he met through internships with Chicago production and post production companies, including Answers Media, Foundation and Cutters Studios. While the knowledge of craft and the benefit of his instructors’ life-lessons took him far, Kaufman’s hands-on experiences during these internships gave him both the real-world training and the connections needed to enter the professional work force.

Following his graduation last May, Kaufman joined Cutters Studios (www.cuttersstudios.com) as an assistant editor last August, where he now has the chance to learn from and assist a who’s who of award-winning editors and do important, meaningful work alongside leaders of all facets of the creative and production industries. With Cutters’ editorial operations in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo, Kaufman has a chance to host visiting editors and even to venture out himself, as opportunities move forward over time. Cutters Studios also houses high-end design and VFX capabilities through Flavor, top-tier post audio services through Another Country, and live-action production through Dictionary Films, so not only is Kaufman now immersed everyday within a dynamic group of production and post experts, he is also loving his collaborations with creative industry leaders at the top of the game.

Describing the day-to-day duties of his job, Kaufman takes pride in being responsible for collecting and managing every single file that factors into an offline edit. “Everything from stills and supers to footage and sound effects is logged and organized by yours truly to best suit the editor’s preferred workflow,” he says. “From there, I work alongside the editor to build the most complete and engaging cut possible.”

Since experimentation is part of an editor’s DNA, Cutters artists encourage their assistants to apply themselves and pursue ideas with no holds barred, which means they are part of the team pursuing the best client solutions. As such, helping to address revisions, creating promotional assets like stills, navigating music possibilities and usage issues, and providing VIP customer service are standard parts of each day.

“Working with clients is one of my favorite aspects,” Kaufman professes. “I love meeting and working with creative people.  Whether they are art directors, producers or other creative or business executives, being part of the creative process with them is a huge highlight of this job.”

Specific projects where Kaufman’s talents have been key to the end solution include a large-scale campaign for Cottonelle via Tris3ct.  Involving a five-day, six-figure shoot for a total of about 10 spots ranging from :90s to :15s, Kaufman describes being faced with “a daunting amount of footage.” With everyone counting on him, he handled the workflow and organization in ways that earned solid respect from his peers and boosted his self-confidence.

A more recent example came from supporting editor Steve Bell for an Esurance spot from Leo Burnett. Thanks to his positive attitude and strengths in customer relations, he was able to help facilitate important spot revisions dealing with Bell in New York and clients in Chicago — and make himself an even more invaluable member of the creative team.