Susan Horowitz, Director of Pacific New Media at University of Hawai‘i Mānoa’s Outreach College, works diligently to keep PNM up to date with the ever-evolving multimedia community here within the island by organizing courses that one simply cannot find anywhere else in Hawaii, making the courses offered through PNM a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity. Horowitz ensures that each of the courses offered through Pacific New Media are taught by some of the most prominently recognized and respected professionals in the various areas of multimedia offered through PNM: photography, web design and marketing, digital imaging, and film/video courses. This summer, Horowitz has set up an opportunity for film junkies and beginners alike to learn from one of PNM’s best instructors, Walt Louie of Flash Cuts, Inc. in Los Angeles, California.
Louie has been working in production since he was a child and shares: “I’ve been involved in some form of multimedia since I was about 12. My dad gave me an old Canon reflex 35mm still camera he had ‘found’ and I eventually learned to develop my own film and print pictures throughout high school and college.” One might say Louie owes his dad his career as his simple still shot camera has led him down avenues that have helped him build an impressive résumé as audio supervisor for The Cosby Show, Growing Pains, and serving as a post production supervisor on ads for some of the most recognizable brands like Hyundai, Nestlé, Honda, Ford, and Safeway to name a few. An example of Louie’s amazing talent is his editing work on the recent documentary Restoring the Light.
Now, Walt shares his passion for production with likeminded individuals at his Glendale, California studio. Louie had an interesting and specific idea in mind before setting up his production studio. “I like the idea of the saloons which I’ve read about back in the day. If there were some way to emulate that feeling, that creative folk can just drop by and hang out and talk story, then that would be great. “ Walt continues, “I’ve always been more interested in the conversations about films and the process of story telling, than perhaps the technical aspects. So when I built [the studio], I made it with room to just hang out. We have this really nice old 1929 brick building, which has a beautiful bow-truss roof, so there are no supporting columns or walls, and I put in a full kitchen. We have a BBQ out on the deck, so when it’s not too crazy, I’ll cook for whoever is at the studio that day and we all eat in the common area. It’s always interesting when someone drops by just to layoff a cut, runs into someone they don’t know, but surprisingly have so much in common with. Connections are made.”
Aside from the strong sense of community Walt has fostered at his studio, Walt also happily shares with me some of the various projects that have come out of his studio, five of which were featured at the Center for Asian American Media film festival in San Francisco. One of these films, White Frog, was featured as the Opening Night film of the festival.
When asked what the secret is to his success, Walt explains, “As an editor…the main job is to enhance the story as much as you can. So my advice is to learn how to tell a good story. You have to be able to tell as good a story in 30 seconds as you could in 90 minutes.” Walt will be teaching what he preaches in his upcoming film editing workshop “Telling a Good Story: The Art and Craft of Editing” in early August, being offered through Pacific New Media. Though the workshop will focus on film editing and production techniques using software like Final Cut Pro, Motion and Photoshop, it will also focus on what Louie says is the most vital part of film production—the story. So, writers, directors, producers and editors alike will each have something invaluable to take away from this workshop.
“It’s all been done before, and probably better. So all one has is their own style of interpreting the same story. That is the challenge.” Walt offers this example, “When I cut a car commercial, I’m not so interested in that car itself, but more about what kind of emotional response I’m supposed to have driving that car. We are selling the concept of the car, not the actual piece of metal. The same goes for marketing a film. When I’m cutting a trailer, it’s not so much about the actual story line, as it is the emotional value of why one should see the film. Study and evaluate every frame of great film work. Learn to copy and emulate how others before you have done it, and then add your own touch to it. This is how you start to develop your own style.”
Spoken like a true professional, Walt offers one last bit of advice that, no matter what your passion, can be useful. “If you want to be a director, start directing. If you want to be a writer, start writing. If you want to be an editor, start cutting. You have to keep re-educating yourself. Take workshops, take webinars, read up on the latest gear and software, and even if you don’t understand it all, at least keep up and know what you don’t know.”
Walt will be offering these tips and so much more August 3-5 in Pacific New Media’s lab at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. For more information or to register for Walt’s upcoming workshop, visit: www.outreach.hawaii.edu/pnm. Or call 808-956-8244.