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Interview With TV and Film Editor Yvette M. Amirian

Yvette M. Amirian , ACE is an award-nominated film and television editor. After graduating from the University of Southern California’s(USC) School of Cinema-Television, she built a successful career and has been transitioning seamlessly between editing scripted and documentary content for the better part of two decades.

In 2011, she and her team received an Eddie Award nomination from the American Cinema Editors (ACE) for their work on Animal Planet’s Whale Wars. In 2017, she edited and produced John Singleton’s L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later for A&E, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy (Outstanding Documentary Special). Her most recent project is an upcoming scripted feature for critically acclaimed filmmaker Robert Machoian, The Integrity of Joseph Chambers.

Yvette is a proud member of the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild, the Academy of TV Arts & Sciences, and ACE. She also teaches editing as an adjunct faculty member at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and loves educating future generations of aspiring filmmakers. Yvette lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

Pop Style TV recently had the honor to interview Ms. Amirian to discuss about her career.

Karly B.:

Ms. Amirian thank you for speaking with me and Pop Style TV. I’d like to ask you to tell our audience how you first got into your line of work and what’s your favorite aspect of it?

Yvette M. Amirian :

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me! I fell in love with editing at a young age, when I was introduced to film-making through my high school’s media program. I learned how to cut on various software programs, primarily Avid Media Composer, and just got lost in the magic of crafting a story through editing. I would say that’s the thing I still love most about it now — that magical feeling never left, and I’m still as much in love with the process as I was when I first discovered it. It’s very much like putting pieces of a puzzle together and solving problems in creative ways. That aspect, and the collaboration that film-making and the editing process involve, are my favorite things about it.

Karly B.:

You worked on the critically acclaimed documentary show The Whale Wars, which follows the exploits of activists seeking to end Japanese whaling expeditions. How did the subject of the show impact you and your craft?

Yvette M. Amirian :

It was definitely an emotional subject matter to deal with, at times. But it was also really inspiring to work on something that was making a difference in the world, and that followed a group of passionate activists in telling the story of their mission. It was also a very challenging show, just by nature of the sheer volume of footage we had to contend with, and streamlining all of that into a compelling story that resonated with audiences.

Karly B.:

You later edited and produced the documentary L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later. How did you come about taking on that project and why was it important for you to help produce it for the small screen?

Yvette M. Amirian:

I had worked with the producers before, and they introduced me to our directors, Erik Parker and One9, with whom I had an immediate connection. I’m an LA native and remember the impact of the 1992 riots. But being that it was 25 years after this difficult moment in our city’s history, there were a lot of platforms that were creating projects about this. Erik and One9 wanted to focus on human stories, which was what really appealed to me. They wanted to share that this was more than just an important moment in time that we can look back on and learn from historically, but that it also impacted so many individuals, changed the trajectory of their lives and families’ lives, and still impacts them today.

Karly B.:

Are there any genres that you haven’t worked on yet that you would be interested in doing?

Yvette M. Amirian

I feel really fortunate to have worked on a huge variety of genres in my career — drama, thriller, horror, documentaries, action, comedy, romance, music-driven projects, etc. I love working in dramas and thrillers, which are my most recent genres and hope to do more of them. I would also love to explore more romantic comedies and musicals, as some more lighthearted/heartwarming projects would be a nice shift. I also love a good paranormal/horror story, and have done a ton of that on the TV side, but would love to explore it more fully in features.

Karly B.:

You recently worked on The Integrity of Joseph Chambers which tells the story of a lowly insurance salesman who ventures into a fateful hunting expedition. Can you tell us what it was like working alongside veteran screenwriter and director Robert Machoian on the film?

Yvette M. Amirian:

Robert is an amazing collaborator, and I loved the process of crafting this movie with him. He has a very distinct vision, and yet still manages to give you a lot of options to work with as an editor. He is an editor himself and has cut a number of his own projects, so he understands the power of editing and thinks about it as he’s shooting. More than that, he genuinely valued my perspective and respects what the editorial process brings to the story, in helping further define it and take it to the next level beyond the words on the page or the frames that were shot. I sincerely hope to have more opportunities to further develop our collaboration on future projects.

 Karly B.:

You also worked on the Amazon Prime documentary for legendary singer Mary J. Blige titled Mary J Blige My Life. What was it like working on this documentary?

Yvette M. Amirian:

Mary is a powerhouse, with projects in film, TV, and music. She is a true multi-hyphenate. So when you’re telling the story of someone so legendary and influential, and also someone whose work you grew up listening to and admiring, it really does feel like a huge responsibility to help tell that story properly. Our focus for the film was primarily the pressure of crafting her second album, My Life. Learning about her process as a creator, the struggles she dealt with at such a young age, and how she overcame them to become the self-aware and confident woman she is now… that all really resonated with me, and I loved being able to help tell her story.

 Karly B.:

In addition to your successful TV career, you are an adjunct faculty member at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. What inspired you to work there and what is a typical day like for you at USC?

Yvette M. Amirian

So much of my editorial voice, and my desire to commit to editing as a career, was discovered as a film production student at USC, both through my professors and the talented peers I worked with. I really value teaching and mentorship, and that was instilled in me at USC. So when the opportunity to teach at their School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) presented itself, it felt like a natural fit to give back to the place that had instilled a deep love of storytelling in me, and hopefully impact future generations of filmmakers.

 Karly B.:

It’s clear in your body of work that you have a passion for film and activism. What about those subjects has compelled you to dedicate your career to them?

Yvette M. Amirian

As an artist, it can sometimes be hard to feel like the work we are doing matters. Many of my friends are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other such professions that quite literally involve helping people on a daily basis. I have found some of that desire fulfilled in my teaching and mentorship. But I also love working on content that is making even the slightest difference in the world, stories that help open one’s mind to environments other than their own, and to characters or people they wouldn’t otherwise have been exposed to or learned about. Film is such a unique medium in that it unites audiences, and I love being able to be a small part of that with my projects.

 Karly B.:

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to aspiring editors and producers?

Yvette M. Amirian:

It’s obviously important to have experience, proficiency, and passion, for whatever line of work you hope to pursue in this industry. But I think the thing that goes the longest way in my mind is kindness. We work long hours, and under intense pressure and circumstances, and your reputation precedes you in our industry. So if it’s between someone a little less experienced who is pleasant to spend those long hours with, versus someone with more experience who has a history of being difficult to work with, in my mind the more pleasant person is worth giving that extra attention and guidance to, even if it initially takes up more of my time and energy.

Karly B.:

What do you hope audiences gain from watching the shows and films you have edited and produced?

Yvette M. Amirian:

Story is always at the forefront of everything I do, so of course audiences being entertained and feeling whatever emotion you intend for them to feel — sadness, triumph, empowerment, empathy, whatever it might be — is important. It means a lot when someone learns I cut a project many years ago and shares that it resonated with them, or that it impacted them in some way. And I think the hope is always that you have opened their minds to some sort of new information, some sort of new story or world they were unfamiliar with, and have that stay with them in some way.

Kevan Hall Fall 2023: Faceted

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Karly is a USA based Entertainment journalist.
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