Film editor, UNL alum Krings presents Q&A at Ross
calendar icon04 Sep 2019 user iconBy Kathe C. Andersen
Lincoln, Neb.--Joseph Krings, a film editor and a 1998 graduate of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, will be on campus in September to participate in the Norman A. Geske Cinema Showcase at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center and visit classes in the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.
“It’s really great. It’s sort of—a dream come true sounds a little big—but it’s something that I’ve been dreaming of doing for quite a long time,” Krings said. “When I was a student there, I worked at the Mary Riepma Ross Film Theater when it was still in just the Sheldon Art Gallery. I did some of my work study there and worked with Danny Lee Ladely at the movie theatre and worked with him at the Great Plains Film Festival in 1997. So we had a relationship from that. Lately, we reconnected via Facebook and over e-mail about how cool it would be to bring a project that I worked on to the university and come back and present something. It’s taken a while for there to be the right fit. It’s really exciting, and I really can’t wait.”
Krings will appear for a Q&A with the audience following the 7:30 p.m. screening of “After the Wedding” at the Ross on Friday, Sept. 6. He will also be the featured speaker during the Carson Center’s new IGNITE colloquium on Friday, Sept. 6 from 12:30-1:50 p.m. in the Carson Center Rm. 101. The colloquium is free and open to students, university faculty and staff and the Lincoln community. IGNITE is a weekly colloquium for all Carson Center students, which will involve guest lectures, workshops and seminars around creative and professional development.
“Joseph has had a remarkable career as an editor since graduating from UNL, so not only will his appearance at the Ross as part of the Geske Cinema Showcase series show the public just how good of a film program UNL has, but it will serve as an inspiration to current film students here,” said Ladely, the Director of the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center. “Moreover, we’ve not had an editor participate in the Showcase before, so his appearance will provide a different and unique perspective on filmmaking for our audience.”
“After the Wedding” is about a manager of an orphanage in Kolkata, India, who travels to New York to meet a benefactor. It stars Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup and is directed by Bart Freundlich. It is a remake of a 2006 Danish film directed by Susanne Bier (“Bird Box”) that was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Originally set in Copenhagen, the remake is set in New York and has swapped the genders of the three leading characters.
“This is an independent film that is really a labor of love for everybody involved,” Krings said. “But it has a very splashy cast with people that everybody recognizes—Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, two of the finest actresses going today, and also Billy Crudup, who is an excellent actor. People see that and they know, okay, that’s going to be of a certain quality because that level of people are in it. The reason I came to it is because I had worked with the director Bart Freundlich in the past, and he is Julianne Moore’s husband. So it was something that, no matter what the movie was, I was going to do it because I worked with Bart earlier on a movie called ‘Wolves,’ and we just had such a great time working together and got along so well. What makes it special to me is that it’s sort of a family project, in a way, that’s also a big project.”
Originally from Albion, Nebraska, Krings came to Nebraska to study print journalism in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, but he ended up switching to broadcasting.
“I went to school to be a print journalism major actually, and I ended up switching as soon as I got there because I was interested in the radio, and you could take broadcast journalism classes sooner,” Krings said.
In high school, he wrote for the local newspaper in Albion and was set on being a writer.
“We had a weekly called the Albion News, and I ended up writing all the sports section, I did all the layout. I was really primed for that and really excited to go into that, but a funny thing kind of happened.”
Growing up, his family only got two channels on their television, so he didn’t have a lot of opportunity to see many movies or television shows.
“We were like the last people to get a VCR and start renting movies,” he said. “I was really into music and things that were kind of alternative culture, but to me, movies seemed really mainstream. Right before I was going to college, my parents finally got a satellite, and so the last summer before I went to college, I started to learn more about movies. We had Turner Classic Movies and the Independent Film Channel, and I saw a couple of movies that really kind of blew my mind. I was just starting to develop this new interest in films.”
When he arrived at Nebraska, he discovered the Film Studies program in the Department of English, which he was able to minor in.
“I started with that in the first semester or second semester of my freshman year,” he said. “That was a film class with Wheeler Winston Dixon, who’s still there, and that further opened my mind, and I just got really into movies, but at the same time, I thought I was going to be a journalist.”
Later he discovered his true passion—film.
“As I kept learning more and more about films, and I kept learning more and more about broadcast journalism, I could tell where my real passion lies, and that was in films,” Krings said.
At the time, there was no film and new media program yet for students to learn how to make films, however.
“There was no major for that, for learning how to use cameras and everything,” he said. “But broadcast journalism had all the cameras. We learned about editing, we learned about audio editing and video editing. We had to go out and basically make little short films so that we’d learn to how to use the cameras right and tell stories in sequence. The end result was to learn how to tell journalism stories, but it applied. So not wanting to start over somewhere else, I just kind of decided to make this up as I go along.”
He followed his own interests in his studies.
“I created kind of what I had in mind as my own film major and that was broadcast journalism as a major, but with film studies as a minor and theatre as a minor and English as a minor and Psychology. Actually, theatre didn’t become a minor; I just took a lot of classes because that informed. I took directing there and acting and writing, but more from a fictional point of view than journalism.”
At the journalism college, he learned editing on videotape.
“It was tape to tape editing,” he said. “And if I had only ever learned that, I would never have become an editor, because it was the most frustrating process imaginable.”
During his senior year, the broadcasting program got its first Avid editing system, so he was able to learn that by creating his own project after graduation to help him learn it.
“I talked to [Prof.] Rick Alloway and asked him if I could use the Avid over that summer to do my own project, so I created a documentary, went on the road with a band and documented their tour. I came back and got on the Avid system they had there to learn it,” he said. “Having to edit my own material, but then seeing how you could do it digitally through a computer instead of that crazy method on tape really changed everything for me. I found that I really like that part of the process.”
After he graduated, he took a job with KOLN/KGIN TV in Lincoln in their creative services department, where he further honed his writing, directing and editing skills, creating commercials for clients and promotions for the station.
“That was like a little film school in and of itself,” Krings said. “During that process from 1998 to 2000, I really found that it was easy for me to see that once I started doing that over and over again, the part I really loved the most was the editing.”
He moved to New York in 2000. He used directories from the television station to blast out cover letters and requests for interviews.
“I wasn’t looking at job listings,” he said. “I was just saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to be moving to New York. I’m from Nebraska. I don’t know how to start a career in the post industry, but I’m very interested. If you have an entry level job, that would be great. Otherwise, I would love to just meet with you and have an informational interview.’ And I just sent those out like crazy. And I sent them while I still lived in Nebraska so that they’d stand out.”
He eventually landed at a post-production boutique called Refinery, where he worked for eight years.
“That’s what kind of took off,” Krings said. “I was able to rise quickly. I got up to assistant really quickly and went from being an assistant on commercials to editing spots in commercials for national campaigns like for Hertz Rental Car and things everybody saw on television like MTV promos.”
But then he realized it still wasn’t quite what he wanted.
“I realized I was doing something that was fun and interesting, but it wasn’t what my passion was, which was to do films,” he said. “So I had to start over yet again.”
He decided to freelance while he figured out how to get into movies.
“I got enough clients from doing commercials that I could do freelance doing the work I was used to doing, and that if I worked just six months out of the year on that stuff, then I could spend the other six months concentrating on getting any kind of film work I could get, even if it didn’t pay anything.”
That led to work on creating trailers for small, independent films, music videos for up and coming directors, short films—anything to get his foot in the door.
“Whatever I could do to get myself sort of on a path,” Krings said. “I started trying to meet the people that would be doing the kinds of work that I really wanted to be doing, and being cognizant of that. It took a couple of years of that before I really got the opportunity to work on an actual movie and for someone to trust me to cut their movie.”
That first movie was “28 Hotel Rooms” with director Matt Ross in 2012.
“That movie was the first movie I got hired to do, and it went to Sundance,” Krings said. “And that was my break. I finally got into the world of making movies.”
Ross went on to direct “Captain Fantastic,” which is the best-known narrative film that Krings has edited, prior to “After the Wedding.”
“I scraped and clawed and took weird paths to get here,” Krings said. “I’ve had a lot of luck, for sure, but I’ve done all the prep work to get myself into that position.”
What Krings loves about film editing is its endless creativity.
“You are obviously limited by the finite amount of material and what you can do with it, but that just gives you nice parameters from which to work from,” Krings said. “You can reinvent anything that’s been given to you. You’re not just taking the script and putting it in order and putting it up on the screen. You are rewriting the entire thing, but now with living materials. You have actors in the parts. You have amazing camera shots. You’ve got the ability to cut fast or to cut slow to manipulate how the audience is feeling, trying to get the most emotion that you possibly can out of a moment or get the biggest laugh that you possibly can at the moment. So it’s just boundless. It’s an endless creative process. I really enjoy that.”
It’s not entirely different from the writing work he did in high school.
“I said earlier I wanted to be a writer. This is like writing, but without having to actually put the words down on the page from scratch,” he said. “You have material, and now you just rewrite the script, but with the material you have. There’s an axiom that says a movie gets written three times—once when it’s on the page when the script first gets written, once on the set with the directors, actors, cinemaographer and production designer, and then the editor writes the final version. That’s another thing that’s ultimately really satisfying about editing is that you get to make the final version. Every final decision you are a part of.”
He is looking forward to visiting with students in the new Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.
“I think that’s really important. It’s something I have always valued when I have received it,” Krings said. “I really am into this idea of mentorship, and this isn’t exactly that necessarily, but I think it’s important to seek out knowledge in this way.”
Krings earned a fellowship through the Sundance Institute called the Sally Menke Film Editing Fellowship, which allowed him to be mentored by editors.
“I was mentored by four of the best editors in the business,” he said. “I got to choose them and spend time with them. The business can seem like a really closed door and hard to get information about it. I want to be able to impart whatever experiences I’ve had or answer whatever questions other people have in a way that hopefully helps them either sparks their own dream more or gives them practical information they can utilize.”
Nebraska remains a special place for Krings.
“It was where I learned to have really big dreams,” he said. “I was surrounded by a lot of creative people in the music scene there in the 90s, and all those people were dreaming big. There was this real, creative energy happening in Lincoln and Omaha, as well, that was great to feel like a part of. That’s where all the dreams got seeded.”
For tickets and more information on the Geske Cinema Showcase, visit https://go.unl.edu/rrb8. For more information on the IGNITE colloquium, visit https://go.unl.edu/7m36.