Tony Orcena, who has served as one of the show’s key editors since 2012, has found that the power of making a joke land often comes from collaborating with the writers in the editing room and trying to keep the show feeling fresh. In a recent piece in Below the Line, Orcena offered insight into cutting for comedy.
To Orcena, one of the best ways to make something play funny is focusing on the jokes above all else. “You have to remember, it always plays best, simple,” he said. “It’s about finding a way to tell the story in an interesting way, but remember that the joke is king. You have to make sure the joke plays.”
The most rewarding part of the process on “Modern Family” is collaborating with the writers and fine-tuning the cut to let the comedy shine through. “The work part is screening the dailies and putting a show together,” Orcena mentioned. “Once it’s together that’s where the fun starts. You’re making it better, making changes. You’re having the big picture conversations, focusing on story points.”
One of the most challenging episodes of the show that he’s cut was “Connection Lost,” which was shot entirely on iPhones. “This was the first show I’d done on ‘Modern Family’ where the whole thing had to be created in post,” Orcena said. “It was a fun and fascinating process, I had to come up with a new way of editing. I had to forget everything I knew about editing. Claire is on the screen the entire episode, so if you wanted to change takes or take time out of a take, you had to find a really creative way to do that. You couldn’t just cut to someone else’s coverage. It definitely presented a whole new set of challenges.” (Below the Line)