Let’s do this right: My name is Hal. I’m a same-day edit addict. I need to do one at every video job I am hired for, whether the clients want one or not. Like most same-day edit (SDE) addicts, when my clients say no, I lower my fees until they say yes. I will do an SDE for any price, at any time, so that I will not have to go cold turkey and videotape a wedding without showing the signature product that we brand "The Wedding at the Wedding."
SDE addict that I am, I did not think twice when I got a cold call last September from a client who wanted us to produce a video that would be shown in Dublin, Ireland, at her sister’s surprise 50th birthday party.
As any addict would, I lied to the client when she asked me if I had previously done an SDE overseas. Most of my work is done in the Boston area, but having done one as far away as New Jersey, I reasoned, how different could it be to do one in Dublin? My anxiety started as soon as I agreed to do the job. The client gave me a healthy deposit check, but I left it on my desk for weeks, thinking that if something went wrong, I could always give the money back.
My regular SDE editor, Jim Meegan, does great work, even under pressure, and we have had our share of high-pressure moments. Besides working full-time for me, Jim freelances for the Boston Red Sox. He shoots footage at home games for Fenway Park’s JumboTron screen.
He was excited to go to Dublin. Yet, when he realized the party was Oct. 26, the same weekend as the Red Sox playoff games, he had to bow out gracefully.
I needed an experienced same-day editor to assist me, since I would be busy shooting footage of the toasts and speeches while the editor worked on the footage for a fast turnaround to show the production. My brother Michael runs a great video business in New Jersey, Lifetime Video Productions, but he had two major productions that weekend, so he also was not available.
My third choice was my 20-year-old son, David. He has worked video jobs for me over the summers, and he had a grasp of Final Cut Pro from studying film and video in college. He said that if it were any other weekend, he’d love to help out, but he couldn’t go because it was a special holiday. Recalling that Yom Kippur was in September, I couldn’t think of any major holidays in October. It turned out David’s holiday was Halloween, and on college campuses around America, he assured me, no one would miss such an important event. Luckily, my star editor Jim came to his senses (I offered him a large bonus). He decided to bypass the Sox (who went on to clinch the American League pennant in a stunning comeback that weekend) and accompany me to Dublin.
Next, I put the word out to my network of videographers that I was doing my first overseas job, and asked for advice that would help me avoid unexpected pitfalls. Randy Stubbs advised me to register my video equipment with U.S. customs before we left so that I would not be taxed on my way back into the States. John Goolsby, Mark and Trisha Von Lanken, Steve and Laura Moses, Laura Randall, and Howard Neill all chimed in as well.
We brought suitcases of cables, equipment, wattage converters, and plenty of stress as we left for Dublin. The client had us change some pictures and music for the photo montage 1 hour before the honoree arrived with a big grin and a look of surprise on her face. My body had been tense for 2 months thinking about this production. Toward the end of the presentation, I could feel tears of relief on my face as I realized this production had succeeded. Luckily, I had my big DSR 300 camera covering my face as I was shooting reaction shots. No one could see my tears as I thought to myself, was this all worth it?
Of course it was. I love doing same-day edits, especially when I get the chance to add them to a video history of a client’s life. The payoff for the rush and stress is the instant gratification: Within minutes of the final edit, you are being applauded by your clients and their guests.
The Betty Ford Rehabilitation Center is opening up a new wing for SDE addicts like me, and I’m sure I’ll be in good company when I arrive. Will I be seeing you there?
Hal Slifer is known to his clients as a Video Historian and has produced thousands of family histories for clients throughout New England for more than 25 years.