Sep 25, 2022
Meet the Butcher Birds — Alex Choonoo
Alex Choonoo–Editor, DP
Continuing our “Meet the Butcher Bird” series where we showcase our amazing crew, we’re sitting down with one of our talented editors, Alex Choonoo, who discusses the future of augmented reality, his work premiering at TIFF, and the importance relationships play in career development.
Can you tell us a bit about your background prior to Butcher Bird Studios?
I originally come from a world of filming and editing skateboard videos. After attending the film program at Brooklyn College, I started getting work on small projects as a cinematographer. My move to LA was somewhat accidental, but I linked up with a Gaffer here that got me into larger projects as an electrician. I was about to go help build the lighting grid for Coachella when Butcher Bird made me an editorial job offer that I couldn’t refuse.
Can you describe your role at Butcher Bird Studios?
Besides being a morale booster, usually with the best jokes, I am primarily an editor here. That’s been my role for years–ever since Butcher Bird was still operating out of one of the partners’ homes. I miss those days because he had a lot of cute dogs who always greeted you when you walked in the door. Since then, I have also been involved in a lot of Butcher Birds live streams as a live sound effects designer and operator. I recently won an award at the T.O. Webfest for my sound design work on Orbital Redux!
As a writer, I implement the run-of-show, along with my own ideas, to bring the client’s vision to life.
What’s your most memorable project with the team and why?
Oh wow, that’s a tough question because there are many memorable projects. I think I have to shout out my first project with Butcher Bird though, Above and Beyond Flight Exhibition, which is a series of videos that accompanied a traveling museum exhibit! I think it is still touring the United States, but it went worldwide. This project is near and dear to me because it’s when I first worked with everyone, and the team was a little smaller back then, so we shared some more intimate bonding moments.
Is there anything you wish you knew before starting your career?
“Your Career” can be misleading. Try to remember that “Your Career” relies on collaboration and relationships with several other people who are also concerned about their own careers. Being a good team player has got me farther in this industry than my skills have. A tip I have off the top of my head: Find something to do. Yes, taking breaks is important for your mental and physical health, but if you’re bored, with nothing to do, offer to go get water for someone, or take some pictures of the crew. Also, avoid the blame game! It is important to learn from mistakes, but finding solutions is always a more productive direction to move in instead of asking “who’s fault is this”? I think those are production leaning, so here’s one for post-production, patience and options. Sometimes I find it easier to discover a solution than it is to articulate one. So I always have additional shots, edits, or visuals that I can easily “audition” for the client so we can see what’s working and what’s not instead of trying to describe it.
What does the future look like for the industry? What’s the next big thing?
Oh man, the future? Do I look like a cybernetic organism, living tissue over a metal endoskeleton to you? That’s a little Terminator reference for you 2000s kids out there.
I’m most excited about the future of augmented reality! I think the wearability and comfortability for VR and AR technology is a big problem, but once they solve that, you can catch me in the streets battling my Pokemon against anyone who wants to try me.
As for the next big thing for me, a feature film I worked as a DP for is premiering at TIFF this September. It’s called V/H/S 99, directed by Maggie Levin, and I’m hoping that will lead to more fun DP work! I also got a job editing for a YouTube channel, and I was surprised to learn how many people “consume TV” primarily through YouTube! I’m from the MTV era, so my consumption of TV was changing channels during commercials. That said, I’ve been excited to watch digital filmmaking give a platform to folks who might not have had the same opportunity back when you needed to buy and develop film. So I’m also excited for all the different varieties of content that will be coming out in the future.
Finally – how do you spend your free time outside of work?
Ha, I watch a lot of TV, and most of the time it’s Avatar the Last Airbender over and over again. In the creative realm, I love sketch comedy. Shout out to my sketch team Probably a Cult! I spend a lot of free time writing, shooting, and editing sketches with them. If I’m not doing that, then I’m probably working on repairing my boat, or working on my motorcycle. My grandpa was a pilot for Panam, so you could say I have a fascination with transportation, or lack thereof since both my boat and motorcycle don’t work.
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