What the Director of MIGStudios Really Thinks About Sylvester Stallone

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MIG Employee Spotlight

MIG sits down with seasoned TV producer, video editor and MIG Studios’ John Zeran to find out what impresses and inspires him – and why he changed his tune on Stallone after meeting the real Rambo.


MIG
What does a Director of Video Production do?
JOHN
I oversee the day-to-day operations of the postproduction and studio production here at Multi Image Group, otherwise known as MIG Studios.

MIG
Which means?
JOHN
I watch over the team of sound designers, video editors and studio crew – and I take care of the editing equipment going out for shows.

MIG
How long have you been part of MIG?
JOHN
Twelve years since March 2003. Before MIG I was a freelance editor and a Senior Avid Editor at Venture Productions. The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service was our main client. We created inserts into US Network programming which would be re-broadcast to service personnel. Commercial content was not allowed, so we would create insert spots based on military life, services availability, health/nutrition even Medal of Honor recipients – all sponsored by the US Armed Forces. While in production I had the honor of meeting the real Rambo! He made Stallone look small if you can believe it. I worked with James Garner on some spots about the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. We also did a lot of reenactments of gun battles in which MOH recipients were involved. We’d shoot at night at a beach park in Fort Lauderdale rambothat would serve as a shore in Vietnam. Sometimes the crew would shake trees so it looked liked a helicopter was overhead as we would lower someone into the scene. I had a lot of fun doing that stuff.

MIG
How did you start in this line of work?
JOHN
While in college I worked for a local AM radio station in Ocean City, MD. I played mostly night Rock, but on Fridays and Saturdays I played Disco (Oh please say no…). Once I graduated I began working at a local TV station. I started in master control and within my first year I became the evening video director for TV news broadcasts. My duties included calling the show, switching cameras, inserting graphics and so on. What I did is what viewers saw at home. If I made a mistake thousands saw it… I did that until the early 90’s.

MIG
Was it like the movie Broadcast News?
JOHN
To tell you the truth, that movie was tame in comparison. True story – someone left a tape in the newsroom, which was located in the front of the building. I had two minutes to run down the hall, the end of hall was a quick left turn in to the newsroom. I turn so hard and with so much force I ripped through the side of my shoe. But I did manage to get the tape back to the control room with only fifteen seconds to air. So things like that really do happen.

MIG
What led you into the corporate scene?
JOHN
Oh editing did really. I left news production to go into avid editing when it first came out. I was at a TV station in Tennessee and it was one of the first stations to have the avid system in place. Back in the day it was a big sell to all the agencies that we could store footage digitally and not deal with tape, it was the beginning of the digital era. We had lots of agencies working with us with big brand name clients coming to us all the time; Coca-Cola, Hardees, etc.

John-Zeran-in-video-suite
MIG
I know you head a department. But what’s your favorite thing about what you do?
JOHN
Being creative, finding new ways of presenting the message we have been entrusted with. That’s what it’s all about. Being able to come up with new and exciting ideas and expand upon them. After all we’re not just editors, we’re true storytellers.

MIG
What inspires you?

“You have to look past a lot of things to appreciate and recognize the craft that went into the final product…Every edit is part of the story and there is reason behind it.” John Zeran, Director of Video Production/MIGStudios

JOHN
There are a lot of things that impress me. For example, people might say “such and such” is a bad movie but I’ll think the editing was great. You have to look past a lot of things to appreciate and recognize the craft that went into the final product. I actually have a hard time viewing movies because I’m so busy exploring them; the angles, the cuts, the action scenes, how the editor made it flow. The Jason Bourne movies – they are fun to watch and the chase scenes are astounding and the film work is outstanding. I study them and wonder why they chose that shot, why they cut to that person. Every edit is part of the story and there is reason behind it. Remember the movie Se7en? That movie was extremely well edited. Suspense, drama, rhythm … that’s what I like to do with video; make sure it flows, keeps the eye in motion; keeps the audience focused.

MIG
What’s your ultimate mission when it comes to video editing?
JOHN
One thing I’ve learned about being an editor is that you have to learn the subject matter. I did a video about a national aquarium for example — and ended up knowing everything there was to know about fish. You have to know your subject in order to make sure you what you’re editing is correct. One thing I try to teach everyone in this department is how important it is to pay attention to detail. Don’t assume anything, ask questions, check and follow through. It’s all about the details at the end of the day because what we do can never go out wrong.

MIG
Thank you for your time, John! Give my love to Rambo.
JOHN
Will do!