Editor Lauren Dellara shares her journey to becoming a full-time editor at Rock Paper Scissors and why Adobe Premiere Pro is her NLE of choice.
Lauren Dellara is a rising star in the editing world. After starting as an intern at Rock Paper Scissors (RPS), a leading film and commercial editing studio, Dellara quickly worked her way up the ranks to assistant editor and then editor. It didn’t hurt that she had the opportunity early on to work with founder Angus Wall, a consecutive two-time Oscar-winner for film editing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network.
Dellara is a long-time fan of Adobe Premiere Pro, which she now uses to edit commercials and music videos for high-profile clients such as Facebook, Nike, and Harry Styles.
We sat down with Dellara to ask her about the benefits of working with Premiere Pro and to hear her advice for editors wanting to break into the industry.
Your editing career has quickly progressed. How did you get your start?
Dellara: My mom is a producer and I’ve been going to sets since I was little, so that opened up my interest in the behind-the-scenes process of filmmaking. As a kid, I would make movies with a little camcorder, and cutting them together on iMovie was always my favorite part. I loved it! When I went to Loyola Marymount University and studied Film and Television, editing was always my goal. I was telling my mom about how the editing on The Social Network was so inspiring, and she suggested that I try to get an internship at Angus Wall’s company Rock Paper Scissors. So I went for it.
Are there things that might surprise people about the editing world?
Dellara: There’s the stereotype of an editor sitting alone in a dark room, but working at RPS is a completely different experience. It’s fun, bright, and interactive. We’re always working with other editors and meeting with different clients. My mom thought that I might be too outgoing to enjoy editing, but once I joined RPS, I knew I wanted to be an editor there.
What advice do you have for people wanting to start a professional editing career?
Dellara: One of the biggest pieces of advice I have is to take your ego out of it. When starting out, be a sponge. Just absorb the knowledge of those around you and always be ready to help out with anything. Even if you’re just assigned small tasks at first, prove that you can do a great job and you’ll soon get entrusted with bigger and bigger tasks. As an intern, I created subtitles, worked on sample projects, and learned how a breakdown works and how to sync footage. Then as an assistant, I did cutdowns, pulled sound effects and comps, and put scenes together. It was all valuable experience.
Also, don’t get defensive about client feedback. You might show clients something that you’ve edited, and they just don’t like it. It’s nothing personal, just take their comments and put them toward creating something even better the next time.
In addition to learning Adobe Premiere Pro, I’d suggest people learn at least a little bit about other Adobe Creative Cloud apps, like Photoshop, After Effects, and Audition. You don’t need to be an expert, but the apps all work together and can help you learn how to do some temporary effects, as well as open you up to all that’s possible for your edit.
You were introduced to Adobe Premiere Pro at Rock Paper Scissors. What made Premiere Pro your editing platform of choice?
Dellara: As an intern, I mainly worked under Marjorie Sacks who assisted Adam Pertofsky. They were the first people at Rock Paper Scissors using Premiere Pro for editing. I had only worked with Final Cut Pro before, but Premiere Pro felt like Final Cut with wings. I can’t imagine going back.
One of the most noticeable differences is rendering times. With Premiere Pro, I don’t spend hours sitting around, waiting for renders to finish. I just pull footage or effects into my timeline and start working. This freedom from restrictions lets me keep the momentum going and just focus on making my edit the best it can be.
I also love how versatile Premiere Pro is. We do a lot of different work at RPS from TV commercials to music videos to titles to feature films. Premiere Pro has something for every type of project. For instance, I used the multi-cam feature when I edited the “Watermelon Sugar” music video for Harry Styles and it helped me keep track of every take and sync all of the footage to the song.
What do you consider to be standout features in Premiere Pro?
Dellara: Overall, what I love about Premiere Pro is that I can find just about anything I need in one app. I can add in masks or use Ultra Key for simple and fast rotoscoping without needing to open After Effects. Optical Flow is another great one. It does a fantastic job of adjusting video speed smoothly.
I keep the Lumetri Color and Essential Graphics panels open all the time. I don’t have a strong color background, but I like using Lumetri Color to quickly adjust exposure, contrast, or saturation so that all the footage has the same warmth. Essential Graphics is like having Photoshop built into Premiere Pro, for when I want to quickly add shapes and titles with a few clicks. They’re both great for when I’m sharing a cut with clients and don’t want to worry about them being distracted by colors or graphics that look off.
There’s also lots of little quality-of-life features in Premiere Pro. Like the fact that I can keep editing or even working in other apps while video is playing in Premiere Pro. Sometimes I’ll be sharing video with a client and making last-minute tweaks in the edit while they’re watching.
You’ve worked on all types of projects as both an editor and assistant. Tell us about some of your favorites.
Dellara: I’ve always really liked working in commercials. There’s something about the speed of commercials, from the quick turnaround to the short form. It feels like a puzzle. I like trying to figure out how to fit in everything that’s needed to create a story in just 30 seconds, while still adding an element of surprise that will make people take a second look. I worked on a Facebook Groups ad with director Calmatic about a man asking a Facebook Group for advice about caring for his house plant. He’s told to sing to it, and when he does, the plant grows and grows. It’s super cute and was so much fun to work on. The client approved the first cut we sent, which is really unusual.
Also, I personally love sports, and editing-wise, it’s the fast pace that really gets me interested. I did a big Nike campaign, Dream Further, for the Women’s World Cup. The final spot is a three-minute piece that celebrates how these female athletes inspire girls around the world to dream big.
So, what’s next for you in your career?
I'm really happy with what I'm doing now, but if a film editing opportunity came along with a director I’d like to work with or a script I loved, I would be interested in giving it a try. For now, I'm just enjoying the short-form life.