Thinly Sliced: Building Emotional Foundations with Catie Cacci

Catie draws on her instincts and more than a decade (nearly two decades) of experience to mount commercials and branded films at TBD Post. Raised by her mother and grandmother, Catie’s weekends often consisted of movies, musicals and opera. Oh, and like most 80s and 90s kids (did she date herself?) Blockbuster and MTV. In college, she used the VHS tape rewinder to watch The Godfather on repeat. All of these different mediums would influence and inspire Catie, even as she attended the University of Texas at Austin. It was there that she realized she wanted to be part of the process and not just a spectator; editing allowed just that.

Over the years, Catie has had a successful career as an editor in her home country, working with advertising agencies and filmmakers, cutting commercials, feature films and documentaries. Catie appreciates the creative collaboration and attention to detail that editing requires and thinks there’s no such thing as a dark editing room when time is in the zone and time is disappearing. Outside of work, Catie can be found cheering on her daughter’s softball games and hiking Austin’s glorious greenbelt with her dogs.

Q> The first cut is the deepest: how do you like to start an editing project?

Catie> I always start an edit by watching all the footage and marking the things I like. Even though an assistant helped organize and score the set selections, I still like to familiarize myself with each option. It helps me connect more to the director’s intent and catch different nuances that may not be obvious if I’m just watching a few takes. For documentary-style projects, I find it even more important to have an intimate knowledge of the footage…

Q> Non-editors often think of editing only in technical terms, but it’s an integral part of the emotion and mood of a film. How did you develop this side of your job?

Catie> Before a project begins, one of the first discussions I have with filmmakers is about the emotional foundation of the project. Understanding emotion and mood is how I connect most deeply to content and the editing process. Growing up, my family went to the theater a lot; and through films, musicals and opera, I forgot reality for a moment and only cared about what happened on stage. The stories were dramatic and emotional; I was thrilled with how the performances made me feel. As I continue to study film, music and art, I always rely on how to connect emotionally through history.

Crocs – The Enchanted Garden

Q> What is the importance of understanding the story and the mechanics of the story?

Catie> Its very important! If you understand the mechanics of the story, then you can challenge how those mechanics are implemented.

Q> Rhythm and a sense of musicality seem to be intrinsic to good editing (even when it’s a movie without actual music) – how do you feel about the rhythmic side of editing, how do you feel about the beats of a scene or a spot? And do you like to cut to music?

Catie> I believe that editing creates a rhythm, with or without music, and this rhythm is developed by instinct and emotion. By creating this beat, I can create a stronger connection emotionally and intellectually with the audience. I like to cut on the music and have the musicality determine the visual timing, but sometimes that timing can even be driven by silence, and it’s through this use of sound and silence that can be truly engaging.

Q> Tell us about a recent publishing project that involved some interesting creative challenges.

Catie> Recently, I edited a campaign where the creative team was in a different country and time zone. Remote editing has increased since the start of the pandemic, and it’s been a learning process as we’ve developed ways of working within this new creative structure. It has also broadened the pool of people we can work with, as remote work is now possible in this creative landscape. Which is great! The challenge of this past project happened after I created my first cuts and the creative team only had time to comment on the posts. When this happens at the start of a job, I feel like it gets in the way of the collaborative process that I value so much. Text comments can be misinterpreted and quick calls can sometimes create more questions. I prefer remote sessions treated and scheduled as if we were in the room together, and it wasn’t until we had one of those sessions that I felt like I was back in the zone creative, collaborative and flowing in the edit. You just feel more in tune with each other, mentally and creatively.

Q> How important is your relationship with the director and how do you approach difficult conversations when there is a creative difference of opinion?

Catie> I like cooperation. The trust between the director and myself is the most important part of this relationship. If we build trust, when we have creative differences, those conversations are not difficult but are actually constructive. Ultimately, my idea may not be the path we’re on, but the trust in our creative collaboration enables those conversations.

EA Sports – The Predictor (Super Bowl LVI)

Q> In the US we know that editors are much more involved in the post production process than in Europe – what is your favorite part of this aspect of the job?

Catie> I love being part of all the post-processes, but I especially love being included in the music. The composer plays an important role in the storytelling process and can enhance or distract from the emotional tone of a scene with their music. I love being involved in this part of the process.

Q> What is more difficult to cut – too much material or not enough?

Catie> Not enough material is much more difficult. Next, you need to figure out how to make people care about your limited hardware. It could be a fun challenge as you might find a creative technique to work with your limitations or it could be extremely frustrating.

Q> Which commercial projects are you most proud of and why?

Catie> I enjoyed working on the Enchanted Garden spot for Crocs. After talking with the director and creative team, I was given the freedom to develop an ethereal garden vibe for Natalie Dormer to explore. Working with different camera formats was fun and creatively fulfilling.

Creative duo Ben/Dave make fun content, and I was excited to work on a spot for EA Sports with Marshawn Lynch as the fortune teller. It’s fun to work on comedy spots, because pacing and delivery determines whether that comedy lands. Ben/Dave are encouraging collaborators and want to see what I bring to the edit before going through the cuts together. Together we added touches that made this place playful and unique.

I’m also proud of Tootsie, a short documentary I put together with The Bear for Yeti. My first pass was an inspiring look at Tootsie, who is pit master at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, TX, who was 80 years old at the time. After presenting this pass to the agency, they asked if we could make her feel more “bad ass”. I loved those comments and immediately approached my edit with a new approach to not only tell Tootsie’s incredible story, but also to have the audience have more respect for Tootsie’s strength and determination in this environment. hard.

Yeti – Tootsie

Q> There are so many different platforms for cinematic content now, and even in advertising, something can last anywhere from seconds to hours. As a publisher, do you see a change in the type of projects you receive from brands and agencies?

Catie> Different platforms create more ways to deliver ideas and stories. We now examine these spots and brands more intimately, frame by frame, when presented with a short 15 or 6 second deliverable. You really consider the direction and what each image represents in these short pieces. With a 30-second spot, you’re still considering every frame, but you have more time to deliver the story or message. On the other hand, longer deliverables, like :60 or :90, allow more creative freedom and can now have a longer online life.

Q> Who are your editing heroes and why? Which films or commercials represent good editing for you?

Catie> Thelma Schoonmaker is an absolute editing hero. Her longtime relationship with Martin Scorsese created some of my favorite movies, like Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino. Their ability to compress time while creating ambiance and feeling in the spaces we live in is exceptional.

Q> How does editing in the commercial world differ from the world of film and television?

Catie> In the commercial world, I use creative advice, scripts, and preliminary discussions to determine what story we’re trying to tell and what our goal is. Often the message is based on the visual aesthetic and language that the creative team has developed for the brand. Together, the creative team and I will use our usually short time together to achieve this goal. It is part of my job to maintain and cultivate these relationships since our times together are not as long as in the world of film and television. In these cases, we have more time to form our creative relationship. Film and TV edits are determined more by the overarching story and character motivations, which ultimately develop pacing and approach.

Q> Have you noticed any trends or changes in commercial publishing over the past few years?

Catie> I feel like there’s a cinematic trend in commercials where we see longer visual stories connecting us to real people in addition to shorter broadcast spots and social media. Not having so many limitations in social media allows the creative freedom to create a deeper understanding of the stories we tell and the human beings we connect. I’ve seen this with documentary-style commercials as well as editing and music-focused spots.