Monday, November 17, 2014

A Rough Cut

Did you have a good weekend?
I did, sort of.

I went to a memorial.
The second in the course of a month.
I'm hoping there's not a third anytime soon.

We gathered on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, the kind of afternoon that makes East Coasters, Midwesterners and Northern Californians jealous, to say farewell to our good friend and editor extraordinaire, Rick Shambaugh.

Like the previous memorial, there was an outstanding turnout. Similarly, it was another cherished opportunity to be among my old Chiat/Day colleagues, who as many noted, are more like family. There was an undeniable warmth in the air that was not attributable to any Indian Summer or Santa Ana winds.

Being with them brought back a flood of memories. Of late nights and weekends in the old warehouse next to Gold's Gym, Antioch, the Binocular Building and of course, Playa. These were the people that built the Chiat/Day legacy.

There was modest representation from the Creative Department, but most in attendance were Producers, Editors and staff from VBE, quite frankly, the best in the business.

It wasn't until I left Chiat/Day and started working at other agencies, with other in-house production people, that I realized how talented, professional and tight, these people were, and continue to be.

Rick was part and parcel of this team.

As I sat and listened to the eulogies, tales of Rick's missionary adventures in Africa, camping in the Mojave desert, working at a nuclear power plant, I was reminded, fittingly, of a phrase I heard in college. A film professor told us how in Italy, people subscribed to the notion of  'fate un cinema.'

Make a movie.

Your life, it is said, should be like a movie. It should be larger, more expressive, with lower lows and soaring highs. Your life should include stories that other people will talk about, laugh about and cry about.

If it wasn't apparent before, it certainly was yesterday. Rick led that kind of life.

I would always catch snippets of it while we sat in his edit bay, mostly while the Avid machine was rendering. Or buffering. Or transferring tape to D-9. All these years in the business, and I still don't have a clue about the terminology of film and video.

We spent hours, days and weeks in that smelly little room. It's why I selected this picture, above the hundreds of others that are floating around on Facebook. It's the way I remember Rick, looking at the back of his head while he drilled down on the rough cut.

To be honest, I never had the stamina to lock myself in a bay and piece together a story frame by painful frame. Rick did. He started as an errand boy and by the process of osmosis and Pennsylvania-born working class determination, taught himself into the profession. He got so good that often times my partner and I would simply hand him the script or some stupid corporate jack-off manifesto and walk away.

We'd show up later and it would be done.
Start to finish.
A polished piece of perfect communication.

Well, that is until Lee Clow had his revisions.

It is hard to believe that this gentle, stubborn, sometimes-quirky soul is no longer with us.

Whether he knew it or not, Rick, a film editor by trade, embraced the idea of 'fate un cinema.' But like all great movies that manage to transcend the screen and take you out of your world, this movie, Rick's movie, ended way too soon.


Unknown said...

Well said indeed.

Sally Ray said...

"gentle and stubborn" - great description!
I regret not being able to attend yesterday, and so sorry for our collective loss.

Unknown said...

He was a consistently kind and gentle presence at c/d.

DonSchenck said...

Well said.

I was with Rick the morning of the day he passed away.

His last words are fitting of your writing: "I love you".

Of course he did; Rick loved everyone.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said. I'm glad I was part of the cast.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this Rich. I love and miss my friend.