How do you edit a cartoon? For those of you who struggled through Film School locked in a darkened room whilst the delighted shouts of kids playing outside in the sun taunted you, you might be more familiar with the way in which editing works. Cutting long takes of shots into the bits you need and laying them on a timeline, then fiddling with them for hours (obviously I’m oversimplifying, it’s way more painful than this), film editing involves lots of sorting through what you have but don’t need to tell your story. But animators are only going to create exactly what they need, right?
“Editing animation is different in the sense that you work with storyboards first, then once you lock the edit of the boards, you’re given animation to pull or drop in. It’s a lot of fun and very rewarding to see it come to life.” Paolo Kalalo tells me. This is his job, as an animation editor for Atomic Cartoons, the animation house that brought us Atomic Betty, and, Paolo’s current proudest moment, Pirate Express, which he is currently working on. However, his skills don’t stop there, as he also has a strong background in Editing, VFX, Coloring, Motion Graphics, and is inspired by Tarantino and Rodriguez strong visual identity. “My plan is to be established as an editor in the Vancouver Film Industry, doing what I love.” He says.
Growing up in the Philippines, Paolo’s lifestyle allowed for him to be less responsible and independent that the average Canadian teen. “Back home my family had people clean and make us meals, whereas here we did it ourselves”. However, when he moved to Canada with his family 7 years ago, the main differences were social. Paolo felt very shy coming from a culture where he felt the weight of social approval, and found the adjustment to the Canadians famous friendliness a challenge at first. “7 years later and I’m fairly outspoken!” He says, but as the new kid on the block, he was ripe for the kind of bullying that teenagers seem so good at dishing out.
An outlet for this social awkwardness was what led him to his current career, watching a video package for a wrestling TV show, and making his first “mash up” to post on YouTube. “It was my hobby and my escape from reality at the time.” Joining forums to find the advice and critiques he needed, he taught himself and was soon doing video work for his High School, going on to study filmmaking at the Art Institute of Vancouver, and winning the “Best of Show” award in the portfolio show.
Paolo’s Facebook picture shows a happy open face, with an impish, friendly grin. Unlike most people, this is not a front that he presents to the world, but the genuine smile of someone who is not just being nice. The warmth and positivity that flows off him is palpable, and one of the first things that you notice about him. But like so many people with that genuine smile that reaches the eyes, he has had his fair share of dark times. As an introvert in a new country, shy and overweight, the bullying that Paolo experienced was crushing. “What I experienced during those years I wouldn’t wish on anyone, so I try to be as friendly and lend a hand to whomever I can.” Having rocks thrown at you, being ostracized and being told by your peer group that you are worthless and better off dead are hardly character building experiences, but Paolo feels that surviving this has made him part of who he is today. “I slowly became more positive, thoughtful, outspoken, and happy… I feel it forced me to step out of my shell and try different things, as well as give me a bigger heart for people, as I don’t want people to ever be feeling what I was feeling, so I try to be a friend as much as I can.” Turning an incredibly harsh, destructive experience into a positive character trait is one of those remarkable acts of everyday heroism that I find so interesting.
The future looks bright for our hero, then. Making bold strides as an editor, he has some advice for those of you just starting out: get yourself a mentor. “My mentor helped me prepare for the film industry demands that lay ahead. He showed the best way to edit something, how to edit for story, how to meet & engage the right people, and how to budget time accordingly.” The film industry has never been known for being an easy one to break into and build a career in, but he strongly believes that you get out what you put in and encourages perseverance. “Success comes in different times and the harder we work equals the more chances we get.” With many American films being shot in Canada, as well as the nations own strong industry, Paolo is one young editor who is sure to land on his feet. “Seeing amazing films coming out here makes me feel inspired to keep doing what I do.”
If you’d like to see more of his work, or are looking to engage Paolo for post-production services, click on the link to his personal website: www.paolokalalo.com and get in touch.