At Stillmotion, we are always under tight deadlines, but not like this.

Picture this – you’re an editor with a crew that has two days to produce, direct, shoot and edit a short film that will be seen by millions exactly 48 hours after you have the concept. From start to finish, and with not even an inch of wiggle room if something goes awry.

 If you’re Adam Epstein, editor for Saturday Night Live’s film unit, this isn’t an every once in a while-type event. Every single week, Adam has less than 24 hours to turn around an edit that’s ready for broadcast just in time for SNL’s iconic “Live from New York…” to hit the airwaves. As Lorne Michaels says, “It doesn’t go on because it’s done. It goes on because it’s 11:30.”

After five seasons of this madness, Adam is hitting the road this summer on MZed’s The Cutting Edge Post-Production Tour to share the methods, theories, techniques he’s developed while editing in a lightning-fast turn around environment like SNL.

 We had the privilege of being able to check out Adam’s workshop when he came by Portland, and it’s seriously awesome.  The workshop delves deep into the technical side of things, but what makes it every cooler is that Adam shares a lot about the art and soul behind what makes a good editor, too.  As Adam says in his workshop, being an editor today encompasses so much – you have to know how to cut, know rhythm and story, be a compositor, a sound designer, a motion graphics artist, and maybe more importantly you have to be able to deal with people. But, according to Adam, none of that is as important as the why – the overall feeling and bigger picture of what you’re trying to accomplish.

We had a chance to ask him first-hand how he turns around hilarious, memorable work, and stays sane in the process.

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LogoWe are driven by story.

But not the buzzword story. At Stillmotion, we’ve taught across the world, we’ve worked on several Emmy Award-winning productions, and our studio mantra has long been ‘Story First’. Story is in our DNA and this is something we share with
Story & Heart.

Guided by heart.

We know the power of a well-told story. We donated our time to telling the story of Old Skool Cafe, and a year later, we dove into our first feature-length documentary about a 9-year old fighting child slavery with lemonade. We’ve invested ourselves for years in stories we believe in, and that we believe need to be told. We have, and always will be, guided by heart.

Today marks a significant moment, and no countdown could ever correctly represent the breathless anticipation we’ve felt as we’ve spent the past year telling a new kind of story.

Because:

The time has come: Story & Heart has taken flight!

Story & Heart, the world’s first story-driven stock footage licensing platform is HERE.

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When was the last time you told a story that you felt so connected to, that if you could, you would tell it entirely for free? And as a storyteller, when was the last time you made a film that truly moved people, and intensely reminded you of your passion for this craft?

Today we announce something very special. An opportunity to tell an inspiring story, to learn, and to win $100,000 in amazing filmmaking awards.

Bad news is easy to come by — in the newspaper, on screen, over radio waves, saturating our media: the world is a troubled place, and it seems like this is something we’ve grown used to hearing.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to let it deflate us or try to drown out the noise.

We are media makers too, and there are some pretty incredible stories out there to tell!

A little more than two years ago, we told a story that changed our path as a studio.

It was a story without a contract, or client, or payment. It was a story we were deeply connected to both in its purpose and how the film we’d craft could help them. It’s because we had such creative freedom and felt so deeply connected to the piece, that we still consider it be the best short film we’ve ever made.

It was a story full of hope, struggle, diversity, deliciousness, and support. In fact, those were our 5 keywords — themes within the story that guided us as we made choice after choice to bring the film to life.

This story was that of Old Skool Cafe, a youth-run supper club in San Francisco. Their mission:  Confront the epidemic of violence by providing at-risk and previously incarcerated youth with career opportunities that would normally not be afforded to them.

We’d just wrapped production when it happened. One of our last scenes was in the projects in San Francisco, an area so dangerous, we were advised to back into our parking spots so that we could get away quicker, should the need arise.

We were in the gear room of our old Mountain View studio putting everything away. It was a tiny cube of a room with uber-ugly fluorescent lighting. And as everything was going back onto the shelves, Justin walked in and said he had an idea.

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Five years ago, I entered into the filmmaking arena a minority, an underdog. I didn’t go to film school, I’m just over 5’ tall, I’m young…. and I’m female. If you were able to place bets on me at a casino the odds would be something like 341:1.

That’s not too far from where a lot of other women feel like they are at in their filmmaking careers, but here’s the secret:

On paper, you may be the underdog. But don’t for one second let yourself believe it.

I went from working at 3M in an engineering lab to all-access on the sidelines of the Superbowl in just 19 short months. From there, I went on to take a major role in the production of A Game of Honor and, over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege to work on a number of different productions, large and small.

As I look back, I’ve discovered a lot about what it takes to succeed as a female filmmaker and I want to share five powerful ideas I’ve learned with you.

This is a tough industry. It’s a harsh landscape for any filmmaker, but it’s especially challenging for women who have dreams to succeed in this space. Make no mistake, women are still the minority, but we don’t have to be the underdog.

It’s important to point out that with immense challenges also come opportunities to succeed.

Some may say that being DP of a feature-length doc and winning some Emmys in just five short years are significant triumphs, and I wouldn’t disagree, but I also feel that is something that’s within everyone’s reach.

You just have to want it enough to go for it, regardless of age, race, or gender.

So how do we handle being repeatedly marginalized, dealing with inappropriate comments on set and making the most out of fighting an uphill battle? Ladies, this one is for you.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about how to succeed as a female filmmaker.

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What would you say if you could share one thing with the world?

We had the amazing opportunity to speak at the Social Innovation Summit hosted at the United Nations in New York.

I had 10 minutes to talk to an amazing group of people, but what did I want to say?

In ten minutes you really want to get to one big idea. So what was it? Our one big idea that we wanted to share with people. I knew that if I tried to say too much I’d end up saying nothing at all.

One big idea to give to a room full of people: CEOs or heads of social corporate responsibility for companies like JetBlue, Chobani, Google, and Microsoft and a few hundred more.

As we thought about what we wanted to share, we realized that there is one storytelling secret that we think everyone should know.

Heidi McKye and I put our heads together to co-author what exactly we might say on behalf of Stillmotion.

This is what we came up with. Our one thing, as shared with everybody at the Summit.

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