Episode 006 – Mark Stepp: No Solution? No Problem.
“I’m always a member of a team and we all carry the same work ethic. It’s a job that I have the privilege of doing but at the end of the day, if we all go home knowing we did something great, that’s what matters. It’s not about rubbing up against celebrities.”
There are few environments in live television that come with more pressure than the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl.
Emmy Award-Winning Director and Editor Mark Stepp sat down for a candid conversation about what goes on behind the scenes of some of your favorite shows.
From his early days working on VH-1’s Behind the Music, Stepp has worked with the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
But for Mark, it’s not about the celebrity cachet or his nine Emmy nominations. It’s about him and his team delivering the highest quality work in the most demanding environments.
“First, I’m always a member of a team and we all carry the same work ethic. It’s a job that I have the privilege of doing but at the end of the day, if we all go home knowing we did something great, that’s what matters. It’s not about rubbing up against celebrities.”
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Until next time, be nice and do good stuff.
Mark Stepp is a live television editor and President of Uppercut Media, Inc. He brings 15+ years of production and post production experience “into the ring”. He passionately embraces any opportunity to create and deliver, no matter the challenge. In production or post, when others have been unwilling or unable, Mark has constantly filled whatever void has occurred to ensure projects are on time, on budget, and their very best.
[00:00:00] Chris: All right. Time to unset. How you doing today? How you feeling? That’s enough, small talk. Let’s get after it.
[00:00:12] Chris: Hello. Hello. Welcome. I hope everybody’s hanging in there. Can you believe it? Here we are at episode six and they said it would never last it’s a good one. My guest today has multiple Emmys and if you’ve ever watched the academy awards or the super bowl, you’ve seen his work. He’s responsible for some of the most iconic episodes on VH 1’s legendary Behind the Music. And he’s here on The Mind Unset. I’m thrilled to have him. Please enjoy my conversation with director producer, editor and good friend Mark Stepp. Hey mark. Thanks for joining me, man. Where are you today?
[00:00:47] Mark: Hey, good to see you, Chris I’m in, um, Nashville, Tennessee of all places right on where it all started.
[00:00:54] Mark: yeah, exactly.
[00:00:55] Chris: what’s going on there. Are you working on a project?
[00:00:57] Mark: Yeah, we, uh, this time of year, we do the CMA Fest for, uh, ABC television. And, uh, we’re about, uh, we shot at the week of June, uh, ninth. And, uh, we’re heavily into the edit right now and starting to finish up, we got two more weeks and then we’ll deliver the.
[00:01:15] Chris: For anyone that doesn’t know. Who you are. Can you just give a brief, uh, breakdown of what you actually do? What’s, what’s your gig? Other, in addition to the president of uppercut media well,
[00:01:27] Mark: I, I’m mainly a, um, editor, uh, specializing in multi-camera editing, uh, concerts and, um, shows that require that kind of, uh, work Oscars, MES, uh, some entertainment around sports.
[00:01:43] Mark: Um, I direct a little bit and I also. Produce a little bit of, uh, projects along the way, mostly television based, uh, occasional film here and there.
[00:01:53] Chris: When you say that it’s almost like you’re downplaying it. It’s funny. Cuz you do the academy awards. You’re an Emmy award winner, multiple Emmy awards. You did the super bowl halftime show.
[00:02:03] Chris: It’s not, you’re not like Joe’s exterminating
[00:02:06] Mark: services. well, I, you know, I I’ve, I’ve been at it um, a long time, uh, going on over 20 years. Uh, I’m very fortunate to work with the people that I do. I’m I’m always a team. Team member of a lot of people to get these shows done. And, uh, it, it humbles me as much as it is great work, and I’ve always just tried to do the best job that I can deliver the product that I’m asked to deliver.
[00:02:35] Mark: And, uh, it, at the end of the day, it’s, it’s a job that, uh, I have a privilege of doing, but it’s also work and everybody involved has equal work ethic. So, uh, I think for me at the end of the day, if everybody went home, like we did something good, then I I’m, that’s what makes me the most happiest. And it, and it doesn’t have anything to do with rubbing a, against a celebrity or, you know, I got to do this game or, or that show it’s just, uh, Uh, I it’s all great.
[00:03:07] Mark: I mean, next month I’m, uh, involved in, uh, uh, south park is doing a 25th anniversary concert at red rocks and, uh, Stuart Copeland. Um, who’s a fantastic drummer and, and actually an idol of mine, cuz I was a drummer in the past life. I’ll get to work with him on that. And, and that one, I’m a little star gazed about, I can’t wait to be involved in that.
[00:03:32] Chris: Well, Stuart Copeland is one of my top, three of all times. Yeah. The police were like, I mean, they’re my go to default band? Like, how do you, how do you not rock out to Zenya Manata and regatta Delan and all those things before synchronicity?
[00:03:47] Mark: Yeah. And he was such a, a unique drummer. And when they hit, um, and I mean, he wasn’t about playing two and four.
[00:03:56] Mark: He was about everything in between it. And, uh, just made that three piece band, a whole, a whole different thing than it, than it could have been. And now he does some really unique things, orchestrations for. Uh, scores and, and, and all this. So he’s my understanding. He’s, he’s kind of the host of this thing.
[00:04:14] Mark: And, uh, he is gonna drum and, and, uh, I I’ll know more once I get on site, but, uh, and red rocks is such a magical place. Anyway, it’ll be a unique event.
[00:04:23] Chris: So like, when did it all start for you? When did you know that you wanted to be in the entertainment business? Did you like when you were a kid, did you make movies and stuff?
[00:04:32] Chris: It was all different back then, like
[00:04:34] Mark: iPhones and stuff. I got started really late on the, uh, visual arts side of things. I, I was, uh, raised in a musical family and, and like I said, it was a drummer. Um, I studied, uh, classical percussion and, uh, that’s basically what my degree was in. And I always just wanted to be a drummer.
[00:04:53] Mark: Um, ended up in Athens, Georgia, kind of in the alt scene. And it was great. Um, but uh, in that process, I learned to mix front of house. Audio started mixing audio, uh, uh, live shows at the famous 40 wat club of Athens, Georgia. And it was a great training ground for me, started mixing some audio for records.
[00:05:14] Mark: And at that time from Athens, you could come up to Nashville on the weekends and rent decent studios for not much. And because nobody worked on the weekends here then, and just marathon record a record, take it back to Athens and see what you could do with it. So that kind of got me into being aware of what was happening in Nashville.
[00:05:32] Mark: Through a friend of a friend, I started getting hired to engineer on some big string dates at a studio and here in town. And, um, they were also involved in some television shows and. I was at a point, got to a point in, in Athens where I was starving, you know, living in a van and was getting old for a young man’s game.
[00:05:55] Mark: So, uh, I decided, uh, to migrate to Nashville, um, because I was gonna get a job with a company. It was kind of like Sri a studio in. Rental company that would, you know, mm-hmm, pay the bills, but I would still mix a lot more. And two days after I got here, that job rescinded. So I was kind of here with nothing to do, uh, other than mixing which freelancer world it was a bit scary.
[00:06:21] Mark: Um, through that studio, I was working in, they were doing some television show and I got hired to do some audio for a television show. Had no idea. What any of that was how to do audio for television, but I learned quickly and had good people around me. So I mixed, we would mix that show pretty quickly, but the video would take a long time.
[00:06:42] Mark: So I just started hanging out in the edit bay and to make extra money I would clean up, do, do whatever I could. And then they got a huge order. For a bunch of shows. They went from 10 shows to 26 and the producer and the supervising editors decided to gimme a shot at editing and thought I could do it.
[00:06:58] Mark: And literally once I sat down and did it, I was done. I was, I switched, uh, I wasn’t cold Turkey on music at the time, but it was music related cuz it was a music show. But I just felt that from being a drummer, the rhythm and pace of picture editing, aligned with me, plus I was kind of going. Picture edit from an audio side of points.
[00:07:20] Mark: If I heard a banjo, I was gonna try to see it and, uh, it just stuck to me. And, uh, at that point I just went on and on and on and became an editor here in Nashville. Uh, worked here for several years and then some of my directors and clients started taking me to LA and then Napster hit . Yeah, no Napster from outta business.
[00:07:38] Mark: Yeah. It stuck it to the music video business, which was a lot of my bread and butter at the time. And luckily I had some friends that were already in LA or working in LA and found out that, uh, VH ones behind the music needed some editors. And that was a, a really heavily edited show and kind of an editors type show and lucked into getting on that.
[00:07:59] Mark: Other clients out there multi-camera editing since, uh, started getting a niche to work in live production as well. So now it’s kind of vice versa. I have a place in LA and I have a place in Nashville and then I’m on the road. Uh, several days of the year, especially now the pandemic’s cranking down. We can get out there and do what we
[00:08:16] Chris: used to do.
[00:08:17] Chris: I didn’t know. I knew you were a drummer, but I didn’t know you were classically trained drum. Yeah. I didn’t know that. Cuz I went to school for jazz
[00:08:25] Mark: fashion concussion.
[00:08:27] Chris: That’s how I started. And then, you know, I didn’t know
[00:08:29] Mark: that about you either. It’s a famous joke. Well, what was the one I heard early too is uh, what do you call a, what do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?
[00:08:38] Mark: Homeless. Homeless. yeah, exactly. You know that.
[00:08:41] Chris: So I met. right around when you were doing the VH one gig.
[00:08:46] Mark: Uh, yeah, I think so.
[00:08:47] Chris: Right. Yeah. So when, when you made the, when you hit the VH one stride, right? Cause that was a big show that kind of changed a lot of things about that was like on the forefront of the music documentary stuff, like long form music, nobody was doing that right.
[00:09:04] Chris: So when you landed that gig, did you actually like take a breath and think that you finally made it or was it just like Feasta fem and I gotta keep digging because this could go away. Like every freelancer feels
[00:09:16] Mark: well. Yeah. Uh, that’s a great question. Um, I think that. At, at first it was like, okay, this is great.
[00:09:26] Mark: This is something different to do. And, and it, and I think the biggest thing, I was in a different environment and I was getting my feet wet in LA, which for me at the time was. Kind of daunting because it was, you know, H scary, it was Hollywood, it’s scary and all that, but I quickly found out that honestly, it was a small community, so a lot of circles and niches of different communities, but for multi-camera television editing it, it was a small community.
[00:09:54] Mark: Um, so it took a while for it to land. But honestly, for me, when I was doing, uh, two of the, two of the episodes I did, um, one was Motley crew and the other one was a black Crow. I felt. Really really great about those shows when they were done. And I felt like, wow, this is a big stepping stone that, that this I’ll get some mileage out of this.
[00:10:18] Mark: And I I’ve. And at that point, I, around that time is when I moved permanently to LA or, or really. Kind of made LA my primary residence and then just rolled from there. And, uh, when I was doing, when I was doing my behind the music for Tiffany, I knew we were done so we were, we were out of stories
[00:10:39] Chris: at that point.
[00:10:41] Chris: well, that’s really interesting. Two things I really think are interesting in that is a, you, you had the wherewithal to realize that your work had, had stepped up. You were like, wow. Okay. That’s really good. Yeah. Because most creative people just are full of self doubt and, and, and they just go, oh, you know, I don’t know if it’s good.
[00:11:00] Chris: I don’t know if what I’m doing is good, but I think that’s really interesting. And then too, with when you were working on Tiffany, it’s kind of funny cuz. I heard Janie lane talking about from warrant, the singer from warrant. It might have been on VH, one behind the music. He was talking about how he used to walk into the label and they had a big picture of warrant behind the front desk.
[00:11:20] Chris: You know, the cherry pipe album cover. Oh yeah. Classic. And then one day he walked in and it was gone and Metallica was there and he goes, I knew my record deal was over there. before I ever even got into
[00:11:31] Mark: the office, they were kicking. Oh, he ever walked in to get
[00:11:34] Chris: the meeting.
[00:11:34] Mark: Yeah. Well, you and I both know there’s no loyalty in this industry, so, uh, no, sir, you just wake up every day and know that’s gonna happen.
[00:11:41] Mark: You can get a lot done.
[00:11:43] Chris: Can you watch movies or shows for fun anymore? Or do you, do you just sit there and see all the edits and that you critiquing the lighting? Cuz my wife hates watching movies with me cuz I’ll be like, wow, look at that lighting. That’s beautiful. Oh man, that camera she’s like shut up.
[00:11:58] Chris: Will you just shut up?
[00:12:00] Mark: well, it’s it. That’s actually a really good question. And very relative. I have an intern. Working, uh, with us right now on the show. And so she sat and watched us work for a week, and then she went and watched a movie and said, uh, things were different now. and, uh, and, and, and definitely after I first started learning, I went, I’m trying to remember the first movie I saw.
[00:12:23] Mark: Oh, it was clerks, uh, at the famous be. Uh, here in Nashville, Tennessee and I went and saw that movie and it was such a different experience. I didn’t really get the movie. I was just watching the technique and watching the edit and finding the great things. And Hey, every, every one of ’em has mistake in it.
[00:12:44] Mark: and they, because you just run out of time or money whichever’s first. And I had to go back and watch it again the next day to kind of be what, to be a, a real viewer instead of an editor watching it. And I’ve learned to separate myself a lot from it all, but live events are tough to watch cuz I’m watching those mistakes happen in real time and understand what everybody involved happened.
[00:13:08] Mark: What happened to that mistake and why it happened and all that, especially sports sports is a tricky.
[00:13:13] Chris: So, right. And I want to unpack, cuz I listened to the podcast you did with Scott Simmons on the art of the frame. Yep. And, um, I really loved it because you guys both found a way, even though it was a really industry specific piece on editors and softwares and stuff, there were so many things in there that I found as a layman that, I mean, I spent 10 years in the producing side of the film industry too.
[00:13:39] Chris: So, but it was maybe that’s what was interesting to me. But you talked about your job. Both left brain and right brain, cuz you have the technical side and you have the creative side. And as an artist, I think as a drummer, you said earlier, you unpack it from a musical position. So can you talk a little bit about how, I mean, that sets you apart?
[00:14:03] Chris: I think when I read all of this stuff, there isn’t much to find on you online cuz I was trying to find some really. Incredibly weird high school statistic that I could pull out. And you say, holy shit, how did you find that? but I didn’t. So, yeah, I, uh, I think it’s really interesting that you said that. Can you unpack that?
[00:14:22] Chris: Yeah. As an artist working in a
[00:14:24] Mark: technical field, I, I run away from the social media oh, me too. Gotta hate it. And, uh, I don’t, I don’t actively, uh, try to take stuff down like, uh, our buddy prince did, but, uh but I definitely, uh, I don’t participate in it, so it, it’s hard to find stuff, you know, it’s interesting.
[00:14:41] Mark: I, I know plenty of people that, that do similar things to me, but they. Through no fault of their own, but just through how they work, they may be singularly left brain, or they may be singularly, right brain. I know very creative editors that wouldn’t know how to turn on a computer. And on the other end, I know some guys who are incredible editors, but they choose to do nuts and bolts.
[00:15:07] Mark: Everything’s, you know, online, you know, this it’s more technical than not, but they’re definitely, it’s an art in its own. And it’s also highly skilled and, and very much needed, I think for me, because I was a musician first, and I know you can relate to this as a drummer, you know, you’re using your four appendages.
[00:15:27] Mark: You know, your arms and your legs, uh, independently of each other, as much as you can. So I think that automatically causes you to be a little left brain, right brain, because there’s the mechanics of it. But then at the same time, you’re trying to be musical. That’s why every drummer sounds different because they’ve got a creative edge working on their way.
[00:15:49] Mark: So I think some of that may have naturally, already been starting in my youth. And I started, I started banging on drums. Junior high school and pretty much never stopped. Um, and, and a lot of different aspects of it. I was involved in marching band and drum Corps. I was involved in jazz bands like you, and then the classical thing at well.
[00:16:07] Mark: So I was seeing a lot of different aspects of it, which I think was already embedding in my brain. What the left side can be doing at the same time as the right side. Uh, when I got to picture, um, the two things that I noticed was I was hearing the audio more than I was hearing, seeing the picture at first, cuz that’s what I was used to here.
[00:16:30] Mark: We are in headphones and we’re really audio based and. and so the audio was driving me to what would be edited even in dialogue. I mean, not just music, but also in dialogue. And then I think. There’s a rhythmic, there’s a rhythm to life. Everything in life has you get in a car, it’s got a rhythm of train, it’s got a rhythm people talking.
[00:16:55] Mark: We have a pace going right now that might be slow for a bit, might be fast for a bit. And I was, uh, kind of paying attention to that rhythm. And say it’s an interview with two people. There’s a rhythm there. And then, um, as far as picture went, I, I, I started watching a lot of movies from a picture standpoint and why I like the edit and versus why a movie may not work editorially.
[00:17:18] Mark: And I slowly learn that, oh, well, they’re leading this, this video edit with an, with an audio sound like the next scene had a train. So you hear the train coming in. And I just started learning, uh, techniques. Fool your eyes, basically your ears are gonna lead your eyes to where exactly when you want to go.
[00:17:37] Mark: And that’s a big deal now with VR, the audio is so important in VR. So I think what is VR for the layman’s oh, virtual reality where you’re, you’re wearing the headset and you’re yeah, yeah. Inside and, and just simply we want you to look left, but the audio is gonna make you look that way. Not, not your eyes, cuz your eyes are kind of trying to take everything in.
[00:18:01] Mark: I think at the end of the day, my creative side was initially based on the, the technical side and then got. Release the creative part in me. And, and I didn’t go to film school. I, my education wasn’t based on film. So I think early on, I was breaking a lot of, uh, unsaid rules and that’s the great thing about doing multi camera music is Hey, it’s.
[00:18:29] Mark: It’s anything goes. And when I edit a song, I try to edit it fast and spontaneous, like the song was made. So therefore I’m trying to reflect what the live experience was like for a viewer. Who’s sitting at home watching that. Um, hopefully that answers your question. I’m not sure if I really was on the right path.
[00:18:51] Chris: no, I, it was all, it was so fascinating. like, I, I, I, the other thing I found fascinating in that Scott Simmons. Uh, podcast piece was you talked about shooting live events, and then they shoot all of the dress rehearsals in case there’s, uh, an accident or a malfunction on the day of you can slip in a piece from the rehearsals.
[00:19:14] Chris: Correct. Um, and then I don’t want to talk over your story, but you talked about what happened in rent when you were filming rent for a really big, um, Piece that was coming. I forget where it was, but can you talk about what happened and how you guys remedied that? Yeah, basically, um,
[00:19:31] Mark: uh, there was a trend about four years ago where they started doing live musicals.
[00:19:36] Mark: Um, sound of music was first. And then, uh, I, I did, uh, grease live and, uh, and then you’re speaking about rent live, um, and basically it’s taking a musical and doing it live on television as much as possible. Um, we always, uh, as a requirement, the last dress rehearsal we tape, um, and then we edit it just to clean it up a little bit, and it becomes what we call the safety show.
[00:20:05] Mark: That way, if there’s a disaster of any kind, uh, lights go down, there’s a issue whether whatever the case may be, cuz a lot of these shows are outdoor. The network has a backup show that they can play the lead. Uh, the male lead after the dress rehearsal the night before the show, um, fell and broke his, uh, calf, um, pretty good enough to wheelchair him.
[00:20:34] Mark: And, uh, unfortunately, uh, unlike a Broadway musical, there is not under studies. On these shows. So a Broadway musical will say, okay, you’re in put the next guy in who’s, you know, or a girl and they go at it. We did not have that. So a decision was made that we were going to play on broadcast. We would. We would play the tape and for the live audience that was actually there on site, in the room, they would perform what we would call a standup.
[00:21:05] Mark: They’re not going through the motions of the musical. They’re just in an arc and whatever actors needed to be involved in that scene would go the last act. They were just gonna run that live on the broadcast too, to show it. So that decision was made at like 4:00 AM. The day of. and then I got the call.
[00:21:25] Mark: So I went in because they wanted to piece together, uh, scenes from three dress rehearsals because, uh, we had had varying levels of performance and you always wanna put out the best thing you can. So I spent that day, um, re-editing and re-editing and making sure everything was good. The audio mixers were mixing a little.
[00:21:47] Mark: we cleaned up as much as we could. And that’s what went on air that night. There was a slate at the top. That was a disclaimer, so that, you know, we didn’t wanna fool people that it was live live, and it was prerecorded at that point. But I thought it was a great gesture that they did the last scene, the last act, um, live so that.
[00:22:07] Mark: So that the actors did get on television and it was, it was kind of a nice, um, uh, homage to the lead. Cuz everybody felt bad that he felt worse than anyone. So, and that’s
[00:22:20] Chris: what I found super interesting. That’s the point I wanted to get to is that they all came out at the end. Cuz you said he came out in a wheelchair
[00:22:27] Mark: for the, yeah, he had full boot wheelchair just sitting in
[00:22:30] Chris: the middle of the days.
[00:22:31] Chris: So just so in a way, like what I’m getting at is that in a way. Didn’t that make it a, like a really cool, authentic experience that you took something really that could have been negative. And yes, I’m sure as investors and people that are working so hard to put that show on, they don’t want to have to shoot and edit together three dress rehearsals, but in the end it kind of seemed like it was a really poignant.
[00:22:57] Chris: For those people that, that were there and, and had that experience. Yeah, the, no,
[00:23:01] Mark: I think, yeah, it was it actually, you know, again, I was one of many people involved in getting that to happen. And, and you just touched on everything involved. There were, there were agents involved, there were networks involved, there were four different networks that were involved in this broadcast.
[00:23:19] Mark: Sure. All freaking out. It, it, yeah, but, but everybody was very calm, uh, you know, said their piece and, and we decided the best path to go. Uh, you know, For the ultimate result. And we went that way and, and everybody rallied and, and we got it done. And I think that it was one of another one of those nights when we finished, it was a wow.
[00:23:47] Mark: That worked and, and it worked well considering it could have been canceled. They could have just said, screw it. Sure. And I don’t even air it. It made for actually a very. Unique uplifting sigh of relief, rap party. I bet. Yeah. And, and, and everybody was talking a lot more than just to toasting so, yeah, that’s,
[00:24:09] Chris: that’s awesome.
[00:24:10] Chris: I, I really love that story because most people never get the behind the scenes. Right. We all, just everyone on the front end just sees the, the whatever happens, no matter how many mistakes are in there, you’re seeing the facade of the whole hundreds of production crews, effort, effort. Yeah. So like what happens in a live, in a show?
[00:24:29] Chris: So big is the super bowl halftime show that you’ve worked on. Like, what is the stress involved? On on that level, is everybody calm or is everybody kinda, I am sure they are. I mean, I think in those atmospheres, but luckily
[00:24:44] Mark: I I’ve, you know, I, I think I’m on my 13th or 14th super bowl. Um, And it, and it’s a, it it’s been a lot of the same people every year, which there’s value in a team that is one used to doing something.
[00:25:02] Mark: And also the loyalty factor. Uh, if it’s there, it’s something to cherish, um, in our industry. Uh, so the stress comes from every year is a different stadium. Um,
[00:25:14] Chris: ah, yeah, I didn’t think about that.
[00:25:16] Mark: Yeah. And, and what, and if you wanna talk behind the scenes. When you do the super bowl, the stage has to be built in under seven minutes.
[00:25:27] Mark: Uh, on the state, on the, on the field. So it involves some usually somewhere between 20 and 50 carts that are carrying all of the staging equipment, which includes props, lights. Instruments, uh, anything they need PAs now what’s that pyrotechnics now? Yeah. Pyrotechnics. Every, everything has to be portable because it’s on in seven minutes, the show is done and then it’s off in five minutes cuz that’s the length of the halftime.
[00:26:02] Mark: And each of those carts are, are manned. depending on how heavy they are up to 15 people and those are volunteers. So a lot, a lot of the rehearsal is that, um, we don’t just say, okay, here’s the downbeat play for 13 minutes. There’s a, mm-hmm, a rehearsal of, okay. Set the stopwatch and people are discovering traffic problems.
[00:26:24] Mark: And wait, I can’t make it that far down the field. In that time, I need more people or things like that. That’s one of the fascinating things to me because. I’m waiting for the rehearsal to start. So I get to watch that unfold and I’m just, I would love to see that I would love
[00:26:39] Chris: to see that, that choreography,
[00:26:40] Mark: because it’s actually the fans.
[00:26:42] Mark: If you go to a game, you see it cuz it it’s happening. Okay. Um, and, and, and I think certain people who haven’t gone to the concession stand to grab a beer and a pizza are watching you going, oh, I never, I never knew this happened. So there’s a stress level involved in that. And then. It’s a lot of cameras and, uh, it’s a lot of graphics.
[00:27:04] Mark: And then the other stressful thing is we rehearse for the last thing Friday evening at we’re done at seven and we don’t do it again until it’s the show. So Friday night, Saturday, and, and half of Sunday. You’re just hanging out, but we are working everybody’s double, triple checking everything. And sometimes some changes visualizing all the moves, visualizing, talking through things, choreography.
[00:27:28] Mark: Yeah. A lot of times they have a tape of the rehearsal of that, the, the last rehearsal, which again, there’s a disaster rehearsal for that show too. Uh, so they’ll run it and talk to the cameras. And so. When game, when it’s time, when it is halftime and the show comes up, it’s usually really, really locked in.
[00:27:45] Mark: And, and it’s a great group of people that do it that are currently doing it. And, um, just it’s, it’s a fun one to do. It’s it’s one I look forward to every year and I’m not in there. I’m not even a huge football fan. I grew up in basketball. C so yeah. Yeah. You
[00:27:59] Chris: grew up in Kentucky, right? Yes,
[00:28:01] Mark: I did.
[00:28:02] Chris: oh man.
[00:28:02] Chris: They’re they’re
[00:28:03] Mark: all about their basketball. Oh yeah. Yeah. We blew last year. So were
[00:28:07] Chris: you, um, There for any of the dramatic, super bowl, half time you weren’t there for the Janet Jackson drama or anything like that?
[00:28:14] Mark: No, I’m trying to think of my first one.
[00:28:17] Chris: Gosh. How about the prince one in the rain purple rain?
[00:28:21] Chris: Yes. Yes. Oh shit. What was that like? That it was
[00:28:23] Mark: beautiful. It, it was beautiful. And he drove that, you know, he, he was, he wasn’t gonna not play. The guy was a professional and he understood that people paid a lot of money to, to be that. And, and that peop you know, there was a lot at stake at that, and it actually worked out perfectly.
[00:28:42] Mark: I mean, fascinating. It’s still, to me, the Quin halftime show that that has ever been, I mean, you know, there’s a few, I enjoyed bruise. I enjoyed the. Uh, I thought that, uh, lady Gaga, what an incredible work ethic. I mean, that, that she, she’s an impressive woman that, yeah. Impressive. Yeah.
[00:29:05] Chris: So are there any times, like, um, This mind onset podcast that I’m doing here.
[00:29:10] Chris: I’m kind of trying to talk to these really, um, at the top of their game creatives. Oh, I’ll
[00:29:16] Mark: see if I can find you one .
[00:29:18] Chris: Yeah. um, are there any times where you feel like you’re just not on the, your a game, but you, you have a high pressure situation that you just gotta fight through? How do you work through those days?
[00:29:31] Chris: Well,
[00:29:32] Mark: yeah, there’s plenty of those days. Most everything I work on has a hard deadline. I’m, I’m kind of the last stop. So we’re usually already starting a little behind the eight ball. And then, um, and it’s a zero tolerance. I cannot miss a delivery date, even if it’s a tape thing, there’s requirements and you get fined if you don’t.
[00:29:55] Mark: Um, the days that, that is really rough and, um, I had one yesterday um, I kind of, um, Uh, for lack of a better term, I, I Z myself out of it a little bit and, and try to separate myself from it. And I think what I’m doing there is really checking my ego because that part of it doesn’t really have anything to do with me.
[00:30:20] Mark: I’ve been hired to deliver. and I’ll put on the hats and eyes of the people above me and say, okay, they’re asking me to do this. Whether I disagree with it or not, um, I’m, I’m gonna do it. And I’m gonna do it in a timely manner. Sometimes that requires me to stay late. Sometimes that requires me to stay all night, but it is part of the job.
[00:30:39] Mark: And, and I look at those days as it’s still a privilege to do it, it, I, I could be doing something a lot less satisfying. Um, so at that point, The creative side of it is technically executing what they want in a timely manner. And if I deliver, I know there’s client loyalty involved, plus I gotta know for the next time it happens.
[00:31:05] Mark: Yeah,
[00:31:05] Chris: because you can’t like the one thing I also found really interesting in that Scott Simmons interview was you said editors will inherit everyone else’s problems. The entire, the entire picture that was shot. If it was a footage problem, or if it was a weather problem or. Transportation or communication problem.
[00:31:23] Chris: It all ends up in your lap and you gotta fix it.
[00:31:26] Mark: Yep. That’s exactly right. It’s it’s uh, like I said, it’s the, it’s the last stop. So anything left over, uh, from the production side of it that might have been, um, I have to, part of my job is offering solution or solutions. If there’s multiple, uh, options or.
[00:31:50] Mark: Be the bad cop and say, we can’t do anything about it. And, uh, right. Uh, uh, seasoned producers that I work with, uh, one of them classic gentleman, his old thing is no solution. No problem. Moving on. So, and then it’s done because it you’re fighting time at that point. I mean, I, I can, I can fix most anything, but money and time.
[00:32:14] Mark: Always the, uh, uh, enabler stopper of, uh, of those situations. And. At that point. I understand that I’m in the service of others, that they got more pressure on them than I do at that point in the game. So the best thing I can do is, is support them in some ways, be a therapist and, and get us all through the problem so that hopefully that show comes back to his next year and doesn’t go away.
[00:32:46] Chris: interesting. And, and so what, now that, I mean, you’ve reached the level you’re, you’re flying back and forth LA to Nashville. You’re working on the academy awards. You’re working on CMAs, you’re working on the super bowl. You did SpaceX, you know, Elon Musk, SpaceX, like. How do you balance the work life? Is there a work life balance now, or is it just I’m gonna make Hey while I can, and I’ll worry about my life when I, you know.
[00:33:10] Chris: Yeah.
[00:33:11] Mark: Well, yeah. Uh, I, I guess truth be told. I I’ve probably. Always been a touch of a workaholic. I hate that word. And personally, I don’t think I am, but other people have made the comment. I think for me, years ago, I, uh, watched an interview with, uh, Nile Rogers and he said, what drove him was an extreme fear of failure.
[00:33:37] Mark: And I think that resonated with me in my world. And, you know, I, I grew up way removed from any of this. I mean, I, I grew up as a kid in Kentucky playing basketball and that was it. And I never thought in a hundred years, I would end up where I am. I’m very fortunate, mostly due to good people around me that took care of me.
[00:33:59] Mark: Uh, but I think. Thing, his statement really stuck with me through my career, especially in the hard days. Like I’m not gonna fail at this. Parents good parenting, you know, pushed me to do a good job, always. And I, and I think that stuck with me too, uh, right before pandemic, I, I was starting to kind of feel like I need to slow down, uh, getting older.
[00:34:33] Mark: Um, Starting to see like, Hey, I might need to retire. I’m getting of that age. Uh, but then pandemic hit and, uh, myself included everybody’s freaked out. And I started saying, shoot, it could all shut down tomorrow. I gotta take as much work as I can. I, I started working remotely as everybody else did and, and had a decent setup, but it was a grind.
[00:34:57] Mark: And then it started picking back up and, and now. You’ve keyed on some of the unique projects that I’ve been privileged to do, and I’m getting some of the best jobs I’ve ever had in my life. And that kind of tends me to say, why should I stop? But at the same time, the work life balance, isn’t good in my world.
[00:35:18] Mark: And, uh, I think it needs to be so. Interpersonally I’m, I’m taking a look at that and trying to start making some changes to head that way. And if any of it, it might be for stress relief and mental health gains and, and all that. And I, I, I think for me too, also, as I think of that, I’m gonna start really helping people that you know, are training to be editors or, or in the world, you know, I I’m, I’m totally happy to pass the torch and, uh, and passing the torch may keep me still involved a little bit.
[00:35:52] Chris: If a kid comes to you today and says he wants to become an editor with, with everything streaming and how it’s all changing, what do you tell him?
[00:36:00] Mark: well, I’ll tell you the first joke I say is I, uh, I go introduce him to the, uh, makeup artist and the still production photographer. because those guys have great jobs and, uh, they’re first in and first out and they carry very little gear, um, and they make those really
[00:36:18] Chris: good money.
[00:36:19] Chris: And makeup artists never wear the right freaking shoes ever.
[00:36:24] Mark: I noticed that, but I’ll start looking. Um, if, if they wanna edit I’m, I’m happy to teach ’em I have, you know, like I said, two interns here, one of ’em really wants to edit, but I also in today’s world, try to make sure they’re gonna learn other things as well.
[00:36:39] Mark: I, I couldn’t have a career right now as just an editor, my, uh, my producing and direct. One gets me some other work, but it also helps me edit more efficiently. And, um, everything’s budget concerning and editors can be really downplayed or, uh, part of lower budgets now because broadcast television is getting more and more to be a thing of the past as streamers are in.
[00:37:07] Mark: And they’re trying to keep the quality, but most everybody’s watching stuff on the phone. and producers are aware of this. So they’re thinking that E editorially things aren’t as important as they used to be, uh, little speakers,
[00:37:21] Chris: little picture. Yeah. Do you find it ironic that they’re spending a hundred million on a motion picture to watch on a cell phone?
[00:37:27] Mark: I, I do. I do. And, and I do too.
[00:37:31] Chris: It blows my mind.
[00:37:32] Mark: Yeah. And still. Things that are latched onto that, that, that drive budgets are really amazing to me, but, uh, you know, so anybody that’s up and coming and doing it, I, I try to tell ’em, Hey, editing’s still gonna be needed. Uh, they’re just not gonna spend as much time in an edit bay and in the world I’m in movies might, but television definitely.
[00:37:53] Mark: Doesn’t, uh, most shows I’m working on right now at coming outta pandemic. They’re reducing days, you know, it’s part of making money and I understand it. So I have to adapt or. And so I just say, you know, learn, learn editing, but also go hang out in the camera department, you know, go hang out on production.
[00:38:11] Mark: Mm-hmm I got into live production because somebody said we don’t like our live bumpers. What can you do for us? And I just took an editorial approach. And so what if we do this and carved a niche? So there was a, there was another job that I could do that I enjoyed and it was a unique skill. So that guaranteed me some.
[00:38:31] Mark: And still does to this day. So, or, you know, the classic be your own filmmaker, learn it, learn to do it all and make your movie on your phone. And then you’re, uh, you know, you’re the next, uh, influencer, as they say, there you go.
[00:38:48] Chris: Oh, uh, so if 20 year old step comes to you for current step, uh, advice, what do you tell ’em?
[00:38:56] Mark: Uh, keep drumming.
[00:38:59] Chris: that’s the
[00:39:00] Mark: first time anyone has ever said stay in the music business. I, I honestly, uh, I really miss it. Do you still
[00:39:08] Chris: play at all? Do you have a.
[00:39:09] Mark: I, I don’t, I, I need to remedy that. I, yeah, I I, to regret, um, and I didn’t think about it till 10 years later when I left Nashville for LA, I knew I wouldn’t live in a place where I could make that kind of noise and electronic drum kits really weren’t functioning well yet.
[00:39:26] Mark: So I left my kit to a studio here in town. Uh, I just said, Hey, you guys can inherit this. They had always liked the sound of it. And they had actually rented it from me some. So I’d just say here, you guys take this and I regret at some point not picking up the kid. I, I played a couple, couple of bands I’ve been in we’d in Athens.
[00:39:46] Mark: We’d played a couple reunion shows and that was always fun, but to really sit down and get the chops back and, and grind it out. And, and I, I miss. And I, I, I miss it more and more. And I’m wondering if when I retire or slow down in this world, I might start picking it back up again, just for fun. I, I would have years of rust to, uh, dispel from my, my hands and my feet to, uh, be able to drum again.
[00:40:14] Mark: But that, that’s what I would tell my 20 wi 20 year old. So I’ve had a great career and I love it. I, I couldn’t imagine anything else, but looking back, you. A as an artist, I. I would’ve loved to have made it. Do you still,
[00:40:28] Chris: are you still involved racing cars? When I, when we met, you were heavily into the Acura NSX?
[00:40:35] Chris: I
[00:40:35] Mark: still have my NSX same one, same one, my only car. Wow. Um, wow. Yeah, it’s it’s uh, it’s. It’s great. I love it. I, I, I don’t drive a. Uh, surprising enough in LA. I, I actually don’t drive a whole lot. I get that may drive a lot. I’m on a plane more than I’m in a car. Um, I, I, it’s just one of those things it’s superficial and, and a boy toy or whatever, but every time I’m in it, I’m just, I just love it.
[00:41:06] Mark: And, uh, I still take it to the track every once in a while, let it open up, do what it’s made for and all that. And, uh, I. You know, in pandemic it’s become incredibly valuable. Um, I still don’t see myself getting rid of it.
[00:41:21] Chris: Is there anything that you carry into racing when you, uh, from your editing world?
[00:41:26] Chris: Yeah. Yeah. When you’re
[00:41:27] Mark: driving. Yeah. Well, as an editor, um, that’s a, that’s a great question and I’ve never thought about it, but, but two things come to mind. One as an editor, you kind of are a singular island. Um, you’re the one doing the work and more and more you’re left alone. So you’re kind of a, a journeyman.
[00:41:48] Mark: Um, here, here, somebody’s giving me this pile rocks and I gotta make ’em shine and, and they kind of let you go for a while. So if you’re in a race car, You’re kind of there by yourself. Um, the other thing it kind of related, but when I’m editing, I, I really have to be singularly focused. I can’t, I can’t do anything else.
[00:42:11] Mark: I can’t even stand getting a phone call or anything like that. And if you’re in a race car you’re singularly focused or you’re gonna run off the track and hit a wall or hit somebody else. So I think that’s the, that’s the two main things. And I think that’s why I still like racing because it. Focus thing that takes, I can’t think about anything else.
[00:42:29] Mark: I think you can’t think about bad edits or budgets or clients or whatever. I just gotta get through that. I’m I’m still involved a little bit, not as much as I was, but, uh, I still enjoy it. Good question. Um,
[00:42:42] Chris: Thanks man. Um, so before I let you go, give me three movies. That step considers a much watch. Must watch can’t.
[00:42:51] Chris: Can’t go through life without seeing three pictures. Oh
[00:42:54] Mark: boy, that’s a tough one from an editorial standpoint or just me.
[00:42:58] Chris: No. I just mean like no business bullshit. Like this, these three movies blew you away. They made an impact on your life or, and you just, that you consider them a must. Like you, everyone must see ’em
[00:43:11] Mark: okay.
[00:43:11] Mark: Um, I’ll I’ll, I’ll say one would be clerks because. That was a movie that I saw when I was first editing. So I started viewing that first as an editor and then as a fan and, and then also I was being immersed in the business. So when I found out that it was made for $37,000 or something, and it was put on credit cards and it was shot over five to seven days.
[00:43:40] Mark: It worked it’s, it’s highly quotable. Uh, I’m gonna give you four because along the, along the same lines, like typical step over to I’m over kill you. , uh, along the same lines would be big Lebowski for, um, much of the same reasons. Um, I can watch that movie anytime, start to finish and, uh, love it and find new things.
[00:44:02] Mark: Um, then from an editorial standpoint, um, and also I think a very early changing of the guard and changing of the motif as memento, uh, which was an early, oh yeah. Early Chris Nolan film. And strictly from an editor standpoint, that that movie is. Half told forward half told backwards. So to craft that as an editor and make it work kudos to interesting, the good people that did that, also, it, it changed the way storytelling was done at the time.
[00:44:35] Mark: Um, that’s three so far, right? Yeah. Oh, shit, three good ones. Now it might have to be five . Uh, then I would go with Tropic thunder. Um, because that movie, uh, you worked on that. I, well, I worked on a, uh, promotional video for that, with, uh, Ben Stiller and, uh, a couple other people in it. Uh, Nick NTY we had to, we had to cut.
[00:44:58] Mark: Yeah. Robert Downey Jr. And, and Jack Black. And, and that was just a fun experience. But just to watch the movie in general, that was completely respectfully bashing my industry. uh, was incredible. And, uh, I, I still think for a comedy film, it holds up, which a lot of comedy films struggle with and then, uh, Talladega Knights, you know, really interesting.
[00:45:23] Mark: Yeah. Yeah. I know it’s crazy, but I
[00:45:25] Chris: haven’t seen it. Oh, can I can’t stand, will Farrell as a comedy actor. Oh, you did. You can’t. I, I love him as a serious actor. He did. He did that one movie with, um, the one where he was like an OCD guy. Oh yeah. Yeah. Did you see that one? Yeah, I did see that one. Yeah. He’s a great,
[00:45:42] Mark: he’s a great, awesome in that.
[00:45:43] Mark: Yeah, he’s a great, he’s a, just a great actor, but, uh huh. That’s interesting. Do me a favor. Yeah. Board off your ass. So watch Talladega. Nice. Watch tall. It’s uh, It, it it’s really, to me, two things there. One, I think, I think it’s a great, a great ensemble cast. You know, it’s, it’s not just him. He’s the main guy up front, but John C.
[00:46:06] Mark: Riley holds up with him as well. And then there’s a lovely woman that plays his wife while she ends up being both of their WIS, uh, not giving anything away, but it’s quota. There’s family stuff. There’s kid stuff, there’s racing stuff, which probably appealed to me. And there’s just dumb, dumb movie stuff.
[00:46:24] Mark: Right. Which works. Right. Uh, the other thing is I had the pleasure of working with, um, Michael Mann, uh, several years ago on a, on a short film he did for the Oscars, which was kind of a, uh, what is America? Through films. How is the story of America told through films and, and interesting. Yes. And he had a great writer on it with him, but, um, it was a lot of blade runner in there.
[00:46:48] Mark: And once upon a time in America, there was just a lot of serious historical films that were in there. And I, all of a sudden we were working. I was, I was actually isolated working on my own and I, I took the quote. Of from Talladega nights, there’s a famous quote that says, thank thank you. Sweet baby. Be Jesus for the $20 million.
[00:47:11] Mark: It’s just will Farrow in a bunch. A bunch of crap and he, you know, he’s thinking Jesus, but he’s thinking him for the money. And I just kind of juxtapose that in the middle of it. And Michael man just kind of said, that’s it, that’s it, it it’s, America’s hodgepodge. It’s just a bunch of different people with different views on the same thing.
[00:47:31] Mark: And that became the runner, uh, and the kind of arc of the whole thing. So that, that movie probably sticks with me because that was a, a pretty cool job in my, in my past that I was lucky to deal. So, and, and at that time, the director of the Oscars, a very, very good director had done it for years when they played that thing in rehearsal, he, he went out of his way to find out who did it and came up and thanked me and said that that was unique.
[00:47:58] Mark: So there’s one of those good things. I went home with that I felt like, so can we, can we watch that? Oh, uh, it’s probably online somewhere. I think what’s it called? I think if you, uh, if you searched Michael Mann, Story of America through film. Okay. Uh, it might pop up if, uh, somebody posted or the academy, put it up at some time.
[00:48:19] Mark: Uh, if I can find it I’ll I’ll look for it. I’ll send you a link to it as well. It was, it was, it’s a unique little, no VO, you know? No, no, go from here to here to here. Just kind of randomly. I love it stuff happening and, and that’s funny. It makes me wanna see it again. I I’ll I’ll look forward to cuz I haven’t seen it.
[00:48:38] Mark: And gosh, that was probably 10 or 15 years. So
[00:48:41] Chris: interesting. Interesting. Yeah. I’m, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Bridges. He’s one of my favorite.
[00:48:46] Mark: Yeah, what’s the new one that came out that he’s in.
[00:48:50] Chris: Um, I don’t know, but, um, what’s coming to mind. Is, did you see come Heller high water where he was the Texas sheriff?
[00:48:56] Chris: Yep.
[00:48:56] Mark: Great movie. Oh,
[00:48:57] Chris: just great movie blows my mind. The O the old opening shot. I won’t even go into that opening shot cause it’s just tech geek stuff, but
[00:49:05] Mark: he’s so versatile.
[00:49:07] Chris: Ah, he just come on like big Lebowski to Texas sheriff and go back to the fabulous baker boys. Yes. I mean, that’s right. Like. Yeah, like he’s.
[00:49:18] Chris: Yeah.
[00:49:18] Mark: And then what was that? Sci-fi when Starman last Starman, wasn’t he? The last Starman he was
[00:49:23] Chris: Starman. Yeah. Well, like he was young. Oh my God. That was horrible. Horrible. But, and then he played, then he played in a movie called fearless. Yes. Where he survived a plane crash. Yeah. That was also great, man.
[00:49:39] Chris: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So
[00:49:40] Mark: he’s made, uh, he’s made excellent, uh, content choices. On his, uh, yeah,
[00:49:46] Chris: that would definitely Heller high water would be, uh, one of my three and big Le Basia. I would agree with you the original Butch Cassidy in Sundance kid. Ah, Newton and Redford. I mean, just the cinematography in that and the content that’s so quotable, it was done in 67, right?
[00:50:03] Chris: It’s just like it could have been done yesterday.
[00:50:05] Mark: Yeah. It’s amazing. Uh, the older I get to, I noticed these, you know, films and, and even shows that, that hold up, that just, just are timeless. And I know because I experience it myself. You have no idea if something’s gonna be timeless or not, when you’re making it, you, you just can’t, there’s too many moving parts.
[00:50:25] Mark: You.
[00:50:26] Chris: Well, I could keep you all day, man. Um, is there anything you’re working on that you’re super excited about as we close, you want to tell us about?
[00:50:33] Mark: Well, the, the south park thing is, is gonna be great. Um, uh, our buddy Garth is going to kind of redo the Ireland concerts. That he did in 1997. So we’re going to Ireland, uh, beginning of September, we’re gonna shoot five concerts and, uh, do them up.
[00:50:54] Mark: And then hopefully they’ll be out by the end of the year in some way, shape or fashion. Uh we’re in the early, early days of getting that all done. Um, that’s the, the immediate stuff that’s coming up that I know of. And in television, it works at a much less predictable pace than films. Yeah, so that that’s, that’s basically all I can think of other than the normal stuff.
[00:51:18] Mark: I don’t, uh, hopefully I’ll be on super bowl this year. You never know. And, uh, um, you know, whatever, anybody will give me a check, I’ll try to show up and see if I can help.
[00:51:29] Chris: Well, man, I, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time out to, uh, talk to me. And, uh, I, it’s such a fascinating thing that you do. I’ve been blessed to sit next to you in the edit bay.
[00:51:39] Chris: Um, you were so gracious to help me out when I was young and broke and, uh, it’s, it’s. So wonderful to watch your journey, your me York rise to, to where you are. You. I can’t think of a better person that deserves it, uh, more and I wish you all the best we can’t. We can’t let it go too long. Uh, can’t let it go this long again.
[00:52:01] Mark: yeah, no kidding. Well, thank you, Chris. It’s great to be on here with you and great questions and, and catching up is more valuable than.
[00:52:12] Chris: Hey, thanks for listening. Mark’s the co-host of a podcast of his own called full contact cannabis for all the happenings in the cannabis industry. Go check that out and make sure you check us out at the mind. Done set.com subscribe or follow us on your favorite platforms and tell your friends, cuz this show doesn’t go anywhere without.
[00:52:30] Chris: Next week, episode seven, rise and shine. It’s a solo episode and you get no teaser. It’s such a special show for me. I didn’t wanna spoil a single minute of it, so you’re just gonna have to trust me. So until next week, be nice. Two good stuff.
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