Yvette Piñeyro is the founder of New York-based post-production studio /Wildchild/ Editorial. Piñeyro has been shaping the landscape of New York’s advertising, broadcast television and film industry for eighteen years. Her Cuban heritage and appreciation of cultural diversity has formed her as a film editor, and added range and dimension to her company’s collaborative team. /Wildchild/ provides representation and support services for top-caliber film editors from around the world, offering a fresh global perspective to the United States market. Piñeyro has edited campaigns for brands such as Givenchy, Clairol, Louis Vuitton, Verizon, Balenciaga, Johnnie Walker, Jeep, Heineken, AIG, Time Warner, McDonald’s and Hudson Jeans. Her work has won Clio, Telly, Addy, Andy, New York Festival, Mobius and Cannes awards.
The Seventh Art
How did you discover your love for editing and post-production? In college at SUNY Purchase, I was asked to do a found footage assignment, and I remember going through the bins and picking some footage of Abbot and Costello eyeballing some girls gyrating in Hawaiian skirts, which I juxtaposed with the song “Stay (Just a Little Bit Longer)” by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs. That was when the magic happened. It was a great little storytelling music video, all cut perfectly to the beat. It was a thrill to see how two shots put together created new meanings, emotions and humor. I was hooked!
What personal influences or experiences have had the biggest impact on your work and your style? I came up during the MTV revolution and I felt that you needed to be unique in telling a story, and that jump cuts and superimposition were interesting ways to a achieve a desired look. At one point I was doing a lot of layering in my work, and looking back, I realize I was creating intricate designs with the way I would fade in or superimpose certain images. I was very detailed about how the images would look once layered. I did a whole campaign like this for the opening of an HBO special called “Talking Sex,” which won me an Andy for best editing. Now, I look at film and try to tell stories in a more pure form, letting the concept and visuals resonate without calling attention to the art of editing unless it is vital to the story.
Why did you start /Wildchild/? I wanted to make a difference and prove, at a time where all the post houses were owned by men, that a woman, and a Latin woman at that, could play at the same level and deliver the same quality of excellence in creativity and service. I had great mentors in the business who believed in me. [Late cinematographer] Nestor Almendros was my biggest fan and called me his protégé. I had an amazing education in this field that Nestor called the “seventh art.” /Wildchild/ has been a labor of love.
What excites you about post-production right now?
The fact that we are now truly returning to being filmmakers, as clients and brands want a one-stop solution. Being able to take projects from camera to consumer has become the norm, and now we have more control of the creative process from the beginning.
What are the differences between working for the Hispanic market and the general market, and how do you navigate them?
Giving both markets an equal level of excellence has been unique for us since we have always had a deep understanding of the cultural nuances within the Hispanic market. It isn’t just translating a spot; it’s addressing the various cultural target markets and understanding their differences that has made us successful.
What is something people misunderstand about post-production? I’m not sure people realize the amount of time it takes to sift through a set of dailies, analyze shots and performances, pick out the best combinations of each, and then find a way to use your selections to tell the story in a fresh and interesting way. Going through those mountains of material is always the most grueling part for me. It means hours of complete concentration to be sure that the exact shot you were looking for doesn’t slip past your eyeballs while you’re taking a sip of your coffee.
What personal/pro-bono creative projects are you working on, if any?
Two years ago we did a beautiful film commemorating the 20th anniversary of the death of HIV/AIDS activist Ali Gertz for her foundation Love Heals. It raised a lot of money and awareness at an event held at the Four Seasons. More recently, our editor Tom Schachte worked on an amazing video directed by Elma Garcia for Operation Game On, an organization that provides rehabilitation and therapy for wounded veterans by teaching them the game of golf. We are always happy to give back to the community by using our talents and facilities to embrace these types of goodwill projects.
What is the most important skill you need to succeed as a film/video editor? Artistic expression and believing in your vision. Anyone can learn a software program or a system, but few have the discerning eye and imagination to take a director’s vision and make it better or different in an unexpected way. When a director finds an editor who completely understands his or her vision and intent—and who takes it even further than what had been expected—that is when art really emerges.