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New Talent

New Talent: Marian Oliver

Cutters Chicago Senior Assistant Editor on her ‘guardian angel’, not taking things too personally and the incomparable feeling of getting the cuts juuuuust right

New Talent: Marian Oliver

Marian Oliver’s passion for editing began when she was as high school in Minnesota. She was lucky enough to have the chance to play around with professional editing software there. Having found her calling in filmmaking, she went to film school in Milwaukee and ended up as a receptionist at Red Car in Chicago, where she met her ‘guardian angel’ Craig Duncan.

After more education - Columbia College Chicago’s film program - Marian ended up at Cutters straight out of school and ever since she’s been assisting in edits, building a formidable portfolio through collaborations with The Distillery Project and their clients at Meijer, GSD&M and their clients at Southwest, and mcgarrybowen and their clients at Hallmark. LBB’s Jason Caines caught up with Marian to hear about her route into editing and what she’s learnt along the way.

LBB> What were you like as a kid and how did you become interested in editing?

MO> As a kid, I think I was a bit of an odd duck - I danced to the beat of my own drum, so to speak. I became interested in editing in my high school video production class and knew I had found my love when I lost track of time and was interrupted, very late, by a shocked janitor who promptly kicked me out so he could lock the school up for the night. I had no idea what time it was.

LBB> You studied film/editing at Columbia College Chicago? What did you learn on the course?

MO> As I'm sure we can all agree, you learn many of the skills you'll need while on the job in the real world, but I am grateful for the many styles and perspectives I was witness to at Columbia. I got a sneak peek into the industry while sharpening my skills. 

LBB> What is your favourite thing about editing?

MO> My favorite aspect of editing is getting the rhythm juuuust right. Nothing feels as good as when you get the cuts hitting perfectly. It feels akin to getting a perfect double bounce off a jumbo trampoline. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you've missed out on a delight.

LBB> You began your career in the film/television industry with Red Car in 2010 as receptionist/client service representative. How did you make the transition to full-time editing? 

MO> I had a leg up. Craig Duncan [Cutters’ Managing Partner] has been an unwavering guardian angel. I worked really hard, just hoping someone would notice - and they (he) did. Craig has always been a champion of my work… and for that I am truly grateful. 

LBB> How long have you been a senior assistant editor for Cutters in Chicago and what's a day to day like for you?

MO> Oh, there really are no lines in the sand for titles like 'assistant editor' and 'senior assistant editor'. I have been editing my own projects for long enough that, at times, other assistants ask for my help so I guess that’s why I have graduated to ‘senior assistant editor’ - but it's all trivial until the word ‘assistant’ gets dropped altogether. 

Day to day, the job is very different. It all depends on who I am working with at the time and where in the process we happen to be.

LBB> What are the main challenges of being an assistant editor?

MO> The hardest thing about my job is the constant uncertainty that is the very foundation of this profession. Not only is there the constant rollercoaster of creative subjectivity but there is also the sales side. We are not only selling our work, we are selling our personalities as well. 

When things don't go 100% your way, it can be challenging to not take it personally. As someone in a creative field, I put a large part of myself into everything I create. You work around the limitations and restrictions our industry, by design, must have and in the end you feel very tender towards those decisions and really, they say a lot about you... then you post for the agency. 

LBB> What's your favorite project that you have edited?

MO> I loved digging into the Meijer Founders project. The footage was gorgeous and the two owners of Founders were legitimately having a blast on set. It all came together really smoothly. 


LBB> Tell us a bit more about your favourite work with The Distillery Project and their clients?

MO> Oh man, anyone who has met those dudes at TDP knows that every project is a favorite. They keep you on your toes but by gosh if they don't also keep you rolling in the aisles. They understand the beauty of non-prescriptive collaboration, which is what I love about them.

LBB> What advertising, brands or people in the industry inspire you to create?

MO> What inspires me is good, well thought-out work. Sounds simple, sounds easy...it ain't. I am so critical of all the commercials I see every day. It is very hard to make something ‘good.’ It takes a lot of forethought, deep thinking and sometimes guts. You know it when you see it. 

LBB> Any inspirational campaigns that you would love to mention?

MO> OK, this may sound silly but there is this Purple Mattress pre-roll commercial that is like four minutes long that I watched in full before I went on to my regularly planned programming on YouTube. To me, it was brilliant. It kept me from my Seinfeld outtakes for four extra minutes BY MY OWN CHOICE! If that's not a something special, I don't know what is. 


I also really enjoyed Leo Burnett's Brooks shoe campaigns, Rule 40 and Big Endorsement. 

LBB> What are you into outside of the advertising world?

MO> I like taking pictures, I like editing those pictures and I really like getting social validation on those pictures. Speaking of...find me on Instagram @crack_inthe_dam

LBB> Do you have any advice for younger, budding editors?

MO> Try not to sweat the small stuff. I am still learning this lesson most days but honestly, you'll save yourself a lot of anxiety and heartache if you can master perspective and patients.

LBB> Do you have any upcoming projects for the future that you'd like the people out there to know about?

MO> Nothing I can talk about here but I am staying quite busy...but never too busy for new work *wink, wink*.