Philly Creative Guide

Creative Personality

Ann Tegnell |

Interview :: Ann Tegnell
by Ruth Weisberg, 1 Feb 2006

This months Creative Personality is Ann Tegnell, Senior Editor/Post Production Supervisor at Hall Media Productions in Philadelphia. She can be reached at: [email protected] or at: [email protected]

PCG: What's a nice girl like you doing as an ace editor?!

AT: It all started with the manual 35mm Pentax my dad gave me at age 13. It didn't take very long for me to be making photo series, montages and (ahem) slide shows set to music and text. I had no idea that it was leading to filmmaking until a renegade musician-boyfriend started writing songs for a documentary a family friend was making. Looking back on the whole experience, this all seems very funny. However, the idea of images and sounds, over time, has always caught my imagination.

PCG: As your interest, enthusiasm and skills for filmmaking took hold, I suppose you had to go where the action was.

AT: Early in my media-making, I was lucky to be in film school in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was a transitional time, between Stan Brakhage and port-a-paks, between verit and reality-TV. We studied every kind of image-making we could get our hands on and really experimented with what we learned. Southern California lured a few of us away, but many of my West Coast peers have kept making and playing outside the mainstream.

Check out Hall Media on the web at:

PCG: Care to talk about or admit your first film edit?

AT: The very first edit I made was on 16mm film. Stupid, but very satisfying. I made someone disappear. Still shot with and without the character. My first edit. I ran around the halls in delight. I can still get excited about a single cut. It's at the core of what I do. And it's much easier now without the razor blades. I survived the tortures of linear tape-tape editing so non-linear editing is beyond a treat. We're hovering over all kinds of momentous changes so there is still plenty of 'tech time', but I spend much more of my brain power on creative, inventive issues. Non-linear editors have also given me an organic way into sound design, which I truly enjoy.

PCG: So how do you do what you do? Is editing and post-production work a lot of 'fixing it in the mix'?

AT: More than you want. The joke about new technologies, for instance, is that you get this fancy new box that does everything and the first thing you do with it is fix some persistent directorial error. As an editor, I love a prepared producer. I'm lucky to be working on a daily basis with Maureen Hall. She and her team at Hall Media Productions are exceptional at what they do and are unafraid of what it takes to excel. In the absence of that, I'll take some alone-time, respect, and timely, thoughtful input. I do like some structure to start with, something to push off of. Oh, it'll change, but its just a way in, a way to begin. Then I start looking for story content, flow, visual metaphors, resonating audio themes, color cues. I believe it is all about pattern and break in pattern. That's it, how we learn, how we express, and remember.

PCG: Is there a certain Ann Tegnell 'look' or imprimatur to your editing projects? What have you done lately that exemplifies your approach?

AT: When I've looked back at the work I've done, I do find a consistency of 'feel' and flow that I recognize as mine and that I enjoy. Who knew? And I've found that this attribute transfers. Viewers may not articulate what it is that makes my work quintessentially 'Ann', but they do feel it. In the last two years I edited 'Mirror Dance', a PBS National documentary on Independent Lens and produced-directed-edited the Emmy nominated 'KNEE DEEP', which will be distributed nationally by American Public Television. Both pieces had theatrical premieres with receptive audiences visibly moved by what Id added to the work. Wow! That's a treat editors don't get on a regular basis.

PCG: What kind of editing projects do you particularly enjoy sinking your mitts into?

AT: I still like to tinker with nothing but an idea. But thats just play. I enjoy long-form documentary work. Its the most challenging form for an editor. And I have a lingering desire to cut a feature or two. But I am happy that I've been able to straddle the commercial and independent media divide. They pay for each other in different currency and I've been successful at dragging talented colleagues back and forth across that abyss. In doing this, one of the things that strikes me is the energy, passion and craftsmanship available in our area. Were full of possibility!

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