The Rough Cut: Cutting the Cocaine Godmother for Netflix’s “Griselda”

The Griselda editing team of Joaquin Elizondo and Chris Cavanagh didn’t have an easy time finding work when they first made their way to Hollywood. But through a mentor/mentee relationship built on a foundation of trust, they would eventually join forces on another drug war-themed Netflix show, Narcos: Mexico. That Narcos crew would go on to form the foundation of the team behind Griselda.

Griselda plot summary

Griselda is directed by Andrés Baiz, produced by Eric Newman and Sofía Vergara, and written by Doug Miro and Ingrid Escajeda. It stars Vergara as Griselda Blanco, a notorious Colombian drug lord. The story follows her rise in the Miami drug scene and her pursuit of power and wealth.

In our discussion with the Griselda editing team, we talk about:

  • Not making Narcos all over again
  • Letting go of the facts to keep things fresh
  • Real-time language translation before its time
  • Making the most of mentorship
  • Doing the director’s cut during the assembly

Listen while you read…

Editing Griselda

Matt Feury: I don’t think we can talk about Griselda without talking about a show called Narcos first. There’s a lot of Griselda folks, including you guys, that came from Narcos. Let’s start by talking about how you got connected with the Narcos team back in the beginning.

Joaquin Elizondo: I got involved with Narcos: Mexico around 2017. I fell into that almost by accident. I had been working on a documentary called The Day I Met El Chapo, which was the story of Kate del Castillo and Sean Penn when they went to visit El Chapo. I worked on that documentary first as a post coordinator and then as an assistant editor. 

Once we wrapped, I got a random email from someone who was interested in the name of our researcher for that documentary. They wanted this researcher for their project. And towards the bottom of the email signature, it had the person’s name and it said Narcos Productions. I had always wanted to work in scripted television and I was trying to break in, so I was curious. 

I went on IMDB and saw that this producer had worked on the original Narcos, which took place in Colombia. So I sent this person our researcher’s name and then at the end of the email, I said, “Do you need an assistant editor over there?”

He replied, saying, “Do you speak Spanish? Are you in the union? Yes? All right, come meet with me on Monday.” I got hired as an assistant editor on the first season of Narcos: Mexico. That’s how it happened. I was there for three seasons and co-edited an episode in season one and season two. Then I got bumped up to editor in season three.

MF: So you went from El Chapo to Narcos to Griselda. I think you might be starting to get pigeonholed here. How about you, Chris? 

Chris Cavanagh: Joaquin and I both moved to L.A. from New York in the same year. We didn’t know each other in New York, and we’re on similar paths trying to get into scripted TV.

I was assisting over on the second season of Cobra Kai and when Joaquin was bumped up on Narcos: Mexico, he needed an assistant. We had become friends outside of work, so it was a natural fit. The rest is Narcos history.

MF: So you were on the Narcos team and that became most of the team on Griselda. How did you guys hear about this job? How was it presented to you? Was there an interview process? 

Joaquin Elizondo: I remember hearing about Griselda around the Narcos office. I heard “Griselda” and I heard “Sofía Vergara” and I thought, “Wow, that sounds cool. I want to be a part of it.” I made it a point to reach out to our producer, post producer and director Andrés Baiz. He has been with Narcos since the very beginning and he was also on Narcos: Mexico, but I had never edited any of his episodes. I was an assistant editor, so I knew Andrés, but I had never worked with him as an editor.

I emailed Andrés and expressed my interest in working on this project. Then, Chris and I went to work on Dark Winds for AMC. That’s when I got the call saying, “Andrés wants to work with you. Do you want to do it?” And that’s how we landed on Griselda

Chris Cavanagh: I remember being excited about it. I think I heard about it when we were doing Dark Winds. I knew Griselda was going to be Miami-based and it was going to be with the Narcos team. We were shooting in L.A., but it was L.A. for Miami. I just thought, “Yes, what do I need to do to come along for this?”

When I met Andrés, I told him that Narcos: Mexico season three was the first season that I worked on and we were only in the offices for a couple of weeks before the pandemic hit. Then we were doing nothing but working from home. 

But when everybody was in the office for that short time, there was this giant whiteboard in there. It had the production grid on it, which was how they laid out the scenes, episodes, and shoot days. My biggest memory was that people would gather around that whiteboard and they would talk. They would point to an episode and say, “Andrés is doing that one” and everybody’s shoulders would relax. Everybody acted like, “Oh good, that’s taken care of.” Andrés just has a reputation for delivering great material. It was such a funny first thing to see. 

MF: Let’s explore that relationship a little more because I think that is such an important component of this. you know. What did you try to learn from Andrés about the project to try and land that gig?

Joaquin Elizondo: Even though I had never edited one of Andrés’s episodes in Narcos: Mexico, my editors always brought me into the room when it was time to work with the producers or with any of the directors. Shout out to Monty DeGraff and Garrett Donnelly. I got to watch and learn a lot, and I also got to hang out with Andrés. So, in a way, I kind of developed a relationship with him even as an assistant editor. 

When it was time for it to do Griselda, I knew that I had to pitch myself. I couldn’t just assume that it was going to land on my lap. There were other editors on Narcos: Mexico who had way more credits and experience than me. I had to put myself out there and say to Andrés, “Hey, I want to work with you. I admire your work and this seems like a challenge that I want to be a part of.” I didn’t expect anything, but I know I did my part by just expressing my interest.

When I got the gig, it was weird because we just kind of understood each other. I think it was because I had already worked alongside him on Narcos: Mexico. We just kind of went into it. Then, slowly, we started getting into a rhythm. You get into a rhythm on every project, and it could take a while or not, depending on the people. Eventually, it just kind of clicks. I remember when Andrés said to me, “All right, now we’re on the same frequency!” It was great. Then we’re off to the races.

But it can take time to get into a rhythm. I think it’s simply about good communication. It’s about asking, “What are you into, what do you like? Do you have any references?” I asked Andrés a lot of questions. If you do that. I think you’ll just fall into a rhythm together. 

MF: Chris, Joaquin said that he was familiar with Griselda Blanco before this. Did you take it upon yourself to research this person? 

Chris Cavanagh: I did some research, but not enough to be attached to anything that’s on the record. I checked out Cocaine Cowboys. I certainly wanted to be aware of the references and the characters who are going to be brought to life in a historical fiction kind of way. Andrés, Eric Newman, Ingrid, and the other showrunners and writers were all very forward with the fact that this was a fictionalized version of Griselda’s life. 

In some ways, it was important not to get too attached to things that may have happened so that I could see the story as fresh and flexible. I’d say it’s a little bit of both. You don’t want to be approaching it as a historian, but you want to be thinking, “How can I help people empathize with these characters and tell something that’s exciting?”

MF: Did you get any reference points, docs, TV shows, films, or other touchpoints to help inform you stylistically? 

Joaquin Elizondo: The biggest thing that Andrés said was, “We do not want to make another Narcos or another Narcos: Mexico.” That was the biggest comment. So what did that mean? Narcos is known for having an iconic main title and song. So, we’re not doing that. Now we’re just doing text across Sofía Vergara’s face. We’re not doing any archival footage, no voiceover, or anything like that. 

Andrés is also big on music. He loves cool needle drops and source music. He gave us a couple of Spotify playlists before we started shooting. One was classical, another was Latin music, and a third was English-language pop music. Andrés handed them over and said, “This is what I’m thinking. Just check it out.” Those were the biggest things we discussed when we first started talking about the show.

Early on, we heard that he wanted to go with a classical score and we all thought, “That’s interesting.” So we started temping with Vivaldi and whatnot. We had an amazing composer on board, Carlos Rafael Rivera, who I’ve been a fan of since Godless and The Queen’s Gambit. I remember Chris and I were so excited to get those cues from Carlos. Every time we were saying, “Wow, this is amazing!” 

MF: Visually, the show looks great. How was the show shot and what was the dailies process like?

Joaquin Elizondo: Apart from Sofía Vergara and the Narcos creators being involved in this, I was also a big fan of Armando Salas, the cinematographer, from his work on Ozark. I knew we were going to get great visuals. The show is shot on, I believe, a RED RAPTOR with Panavision lenses. How much film grain to add was a big topic of conversation. They worked on that for a while. But we had the most amazing-looking dailies every day. And honestly, I watched a show now and I think, “Wow, there’s not that much difference.” It was crazy how beautiful the images looked from the start. 

MF: Once you guys signed on to be the post-production crew, what did you do to prep? 

Chris Cavanagh: We were already in a rhythm from Dark Winds and Narcos. At the risk of embarrassing Joaquin, he is incredibly low-maintenance. He handles so much of what you might think an assistant editor needs to do. That doesn’t mean you can come to work unprepared. But Joaquin always has a project set up the way he likes, and we get a lot of temp sound from the production itself. I don’t know what to say other than, I had to show up and be ready to field ground balls. I had to get after it and give the director what he wanted.

In terms of prep, we had systems brought in because we were fully remote. I want to give a shout out to Tricoast Digital and Tommy Pham. I got great tech support. They do an incredible job just kind of taking care of the nuts and bolts. 

Joaquin Elizondo: Chris and I have been working together for a couple of years and just simply being friends helps the work more than anything. We trust each other. I know that things are going to get handled. When we get hired, I don’t have to worry. It’s just, “I’ll see you on this day”, you know?

I think we had a technical prep meeting for Griselda about how we wanted to set up our dailies. Shout out to Kelly Stuyvesant, the other editor, and Carlos “Charlie” Viramontes, the assistant editor. The great thing about our remote setup, because we were all remote for about six months, was that it enabled us to work as if we had all of our footage locally. It was not like tapping into a remote system. It was as if the NEXUS was sitting right next to us. All the editors and assistants were synched up. It was pretty seamless. 

MF: Were you able to share cuts with Andrés in that remote model? 

Joaquin Elizondo: The thing about Andrés is that he wants to see scenes pretty much every day. We would always send him scenes or sequences and get notes back. Then we had to do the notes while staying up to camera, cutting dailies, and building scenes every day. That’s where Chris saved us. I could not do it without him. I knew right away he could cut and I trusted him. When I’m, say, trying to do notes, Chris can jump in and cut a scene. He also co-edited episode three. He’s just tremendous. I can’t say enough good things about him.

Chris Cavanagh: Well, thank you so much. So much of it leads back to trust. There was a lot of trust going back and forth between all the departments on Griselda. Big shout out to Andrew Ceperley, our VFX supervisor. He’s somebody who’s going to give you a heads up if there’s something that you need to know about, and that just makes the work so much easier.

MF: First episodes are always one of the most important episodes of a series. You have to get the ball rolling, set the tone, and introduce the characters. When we first meet Griselda, we don’t know who she is, but we know she’s in trouble and we know she’s wounded. That episode basically explores her escape from Medellín, Colombia without giving away too much about her. Then, through flashbacks, we learn more and more about how she got to be in this situation. Tell me about working through the first episode and how you got that just right.

Joaquin Elizondo: We spent a lot of time on episode one. From the get-go, it was all about sending scenes every day to Andrés. His approach was, “Let’s get ahead.” He wanted to build an editor’s-slash-director’s cut right from the start. He said, “I want you to have my notes just right now so we can get ahead. Then we can keep polishing, polishing, polishing.” 

For example, when production went on hiatus, the editing team kept going. We had a ton of time to try things out. Andrés was out doing prep for the next block of shooting, but we were still sending him scenes every day and getting notes back. We spent that week of hiatus massaging the cut and trying so many things out. We were moving around scenes, asking, “How do we start this? Where do we take it? How much do we want to explore for backstory?” We had to find the balance between telling the story and finding the right pacing. 

We did a lot of work on episode one and in that process, you start losing scenes. It’s stuff that you care about but in the end, if it doesn’t serve the story, you’ve got to let it go. That’s just part of what we do. This was a limited series. Six episodes, one director. It felt more like a feature film than a TV show. We spent a year working on this. It was awesome to have that much time on these episodes 

If it doesn’t serve the story, you’ve got to let it go. That’s just part of what we do.

Chris Cavanagh: The work you put in with Andrés on episode one shaped the entire series. Of the episodes, that one certainly had the most put into it. Some flashbacks didn’t make it into the final version. It was interesting because after the series aired you and I were talking about, “Maybe this scene could have worked. It might have been sustained if we had done it this way.” But the entire process is a juggling act of, “Does this work? Does it serve the story?” You have to sacrifice some pretty incredible things because they don’t ultimately move the story forward as fast as you need it to. 

MF: Being a Netflix show, being a streaming show, do you have the freedom to have the show run as long as you feel it needs to run?

Joaquin Elizondo: That’s the thing. I know from working on Narcos: Mexico, with Andrés that my editor’s cut is going to be over an hour long. All the directors who worked on Narcos were big feature film directors in Mexico or Latin America. So, they all approached it in a feature film way. They had slow-moving shots, taking their time. 

Eventually, as you’re editing, it becomes a gut feeling. I remember as we were working together in the office, we would watch episodes and ask, “Are we still good? Do we feel good?” If something bumped, we would look at each other, nod our heads, and stop the timeline. “Let’s try to fix this.” You can feel it when you find the right rhythm. You’ll watch the episode and say, “All right, yeah, we didn’t feel a bump the whole time. This works.”

MF: Most of the characters are from Colombia or Cuba and they’re living in Miami in the 1980s. There’s a mix of Spanish and English, predominantly Spanish. Does that present any kind of challenge in terms of managing the material?

Chris Cavanagh: So, I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I have some background in it. I can decode it and I kind of enjoy it. It’s like a puzzle to me. The other big part of that process was that we were in a scripted environment. If we were talking about a feature-length documentary, I don’t think I would have been the right person for the job. But because Griselda is scripted, I felt comfortable. 

That’s not to say I didn’t have to pay attention. On any production, actors are going to go off script or change up the lines. They’re going to add something or subtract. It’s not fire and forget. You have to be paying attention the entire time. It becomes a team environment. I was working with super helpful people, so it never became a big problem for me in that respect.

Joaquin Elizondo: When Chris started working on Narcos: Mexico, he said, “Hey, man, I’m going to get this device. It’s like a headset that would translate English into Spanish.” I was like, “This guy is hardcore.”

Chris Cavanagh: That technology never quite worked like I had hoped it would. But yeah, I think that the enthusiasm was. Then you just have to say, “I’m going to jump into it.” I was listening to Coffee Break Spanish while we were still working on Narcos: Mexico. It’s just about getting in there and giving your best shot. 

But it’s also about having a supportive environment. In some situations, you’ll be ruled out without certain qualifications. I give a lot of credit to the producers and the post-producers. It’s about trust. They consider who you are and what you’re trying to do and what you can bring rather than what you already have. A lot of editors and post people have worked in this world and I think they would all agree that this team is a super supportive environment. Couple that with working in a Netflix environment where they’re saying, “We don’t care about length, we just want it to be good.” I feel very fortunate to be involved with projects like that. 

MF: I heard the word “improv” in there. Is Andrés the kind of director that allows for that? Does Sofía like to try a lot of different things? Or did they try to stick as close to the script as they could?

Joaquin Elizondo: I think in this case we stuck to the script more. I know that Andrés’s goal was to be with Sofía and take care of her. It was different from Narcos: Mexico. That show was following different cartels around Mexico, and every group around the country spoke differently. Each group had their own slang, so we saw a lot more improvisation there. On Griselda, I feel like they stuck more to the script. 

Chris Cavanagh: I think you’re right. You mentioned Sofía, and going in, people were saying, “Can she do it? Can she go from comedic to dramatic?” We all knew how good she was and it’s super satisfying to see the reaction that’s out there now. 

MF: There’s been a lot of positive reaction to her performance and rightly so. She’s fantastic in it, and also transformed. She disappears into being Griselda Blanco. She’s also wearing a lot of prosthetics. Did you have to do more ADR with Sofía because of all the prosthetics on her face? 

Joaquin Elizondo: We did some, but I can’t say it was a lot. There were some instances where the teeth would pop out. Those made for some funny bloopers. But no, I can’t say we did a lot of ADR in this case. 

Chris Cavanagh: She managed incredibly well. We never did a bloopers reel, but there were times where all her teeth popped out when she was trying to talk. And she had so much makeup on her face and that had to affect her nasal passages and so on. We did ADR, but it never felt ADR-heavy in that sense. Looking back, I guess I should have expected a lot more. Kudos to her. 

MF: Of course, Griselda is the main focus, but the show does become a kind of two-hander. You have Griselda, but then you have the character June, who is in law enforcement. She works for an organization called CENTAC and they’re trying to bring down Griselda and the mob. Were there times when you said, “Oh, we need to get back to June?”

Joaquin Elizondo: Yes, especially in episodes three and five. Episode one was Griselda’s story. We wanted to be with her for this first episode, right? So we spent a lot of time with her. The trick in episodes three and five was finding the right balance, especially with the CENTAC folks and Griselda. It was a matter of feeling it out and having discussions.

Andrés has a lot of energy. He’ll jump around the coffee table when he’s excited by a scene. It’s wonderful to work with him. He’ll sit people down to watch the episode and ask, “What do you think? What are you feeling?” We go back and forth like that and eventually, you know when the balance feels right. 

MF: I want to talk about the co-editing credit. Chris was a co-editor on episode three. How did that happen? 

Chris Cavanagh: I was fortunate to do a co-edit on Narcos: Mexico season three, episode eight. We were up and down because of the pandemic, and that extended our schedule beyond what Joaquin could do. He needed to go on to his next gig. Our schedule had been pushed too far down the calendar.

I was fortunate that there was trust in me to finish that episode. I had a great experience doing that and working with the showrunners on that episode. I have a lot of unscripted and documentary experience, and I took a step back a few years ago to assist. My goal was to move up to a scripted editor. I’m working as hard as I can for those opportunities. 

And Joaquin is a fantastic mentor. There’s no other way to put it. He helped me get that opportunity. He knows that I want to cut, so we talked about doing a co-edit. He said, “I’m going to go to the producers” and the producers said, “Yes, we can do that.” That helped me be fully engaged in the entire season because it pushed my goal so hard. And Joaquin allowed me to cut any scene that I asked for. That goes a long way. 

There are many different kinds of mentorship. There’s the mentorship of bringing your intern in and asking what they think. And then there’s mentorship of, “I’m going to treat you as an equal in the profession.” Joaquin knew that I wanted to cut action scenes and episode three had plenty of them. There are also quiet, menacing dinner scenes. Getting that kind of trust meant the world to me. It was motivating and it made me want to work harder and pay more attention. I’m very grateful for the experience.

Joaquin Elizondo: That’s the key right there. It’s trust. There’s so much to the process. There’s politics involved and so many other things. I learned how it all worked back in the first season of Narcos: Mexico, when I was working under Monty DeGraff. Monty let me work with one of our directors, Alonso Ruizpalacios. As we were doing the cut, Monty went away and left me with Alonso. I’m sitting there saying, “What just happened?” and he said, “You’re getting a co-edit. You got it.” 

Monty saw he could trust me with scenes because one day I showed him a short film that I cut. Right away, he could tell, “All right, this guy can cut. I know he has a talent. I can trust him.” The same thing happened to me with Garrett Donnelly. He gave me a co-edit too. I learned that from them, so now I’m trying to pay it forward with Chris. 

It starts with us being friends. I trust him. We trust each other. We also have a relationship with the Narcos team. There’s already a solid relationship there. So I could just go to the producers and ask, “Can we have Chris cut one of the episodes?” Again, I learned it from my mentors and I’m trying to do the same for Chris. And he killed it. 

Chris Cavanagh: Thank you for saying that. But I also want to highlight, it is about teamwork on projects like this. I remember when I first started on Narcos: Mexico with Joaquin. The other editors and assistants don’t know me at all. I had to earn their trust.

You know immediately accepted until you prove that you have a team mentality. That kind of vibe extends out into other shows. I think that it’s important for people to go into these environments working as team members. For example, if you happen to have time and another editor needs something, you should be helping that editor. Same thing with assistants. Joaquin always has as many conversations with the other editors as possible because that eliminates blindspots and it lets you know how your showrunner is feeling about this, that and the other.

I think that we have both seen editor/assistant combos that aren’t necessarily team-oriented, or they have a competitive philosophy. I feel like that is a much harder road to travel. You just don’t see as many things and you don’t get the benefit of someone else’s support. I think it is very important to treat everyone else like a team member and not as somebody that you’re trying to outshine. I can’t say that enough.

MF: Chris, you were given the choice of what you wanted to cut. I don’t know how you didn’t choose episode 105. That episode is insane. In 105, Griselda has a birthday party for her boyfriend, Dario. Being a drug lord means that she has to have every other drug kingpin come to the party and she gives them all cocaine. What else would you give drug lords at a birthday party? And it just devolves into an insane evening of people being forced to do weird things at gunpoint. And a very odd-looking cake. And Griselda doing crack for the first time. Tell me about doing that sequence.

Joaquin Elizondo: I remember thinking, “This is going to be good. It is going to be so fun.” That episode was one where you felt free to push things as much as you could. You could push until someone says, “That’s enough.” We were free to go crazy. We lost some scenes where I think it might have been too much. 

Chris Cavanagh: We cut some scenes that would have made it even crazier. 

Joaquin Elizondo: But again, you find that balance, right? But it was great because it was that one episode where you could go crazy with it. If you went too far, it was fine. Just dial it back. 

Chris also edited scenes in other episodes. I remember at some point I took the first scene here in episode five and said “Here, Chris, just take a crack at this.” He took a day or so to cut it and then he said, “Let me know what you think. I took a big swing here.” And he did it! It was a big swing. But I like that. It was awesome. Even Andrés said “Whoa” when he saw it. That was a spot where you could try things and push it. But you also have to read the room and understand where it fits with the tone.

A lot of that episode was about having fun with it. The material allowed us to do that. And Andrés allowed that by saying, “Go ahead and push it and then we’ll see what we have to pull back.”

Chris Cavanagh: Joaquin was the only force behind that whole episode. That had to be the hardest episode to keep balanced. It’s so unlike the other episodes. It is such a fever dream. It was challenging for the crew to shoot and was challenging to get it to be its best self. But I think it absolutely paid off. But would you agree with that, Joaquin? 

Joaquin Elizondo: Yes. I think they had shot for about 100 days at that point. Everyone was tired. Shout out to them. They’re the true warriors. I think at some point even Sofía Vergara’s back gave out. It was rough. It was a challenging episode. The scenes that came before the party were hard too. It was hard to find the right rhythm and pace because we knew how big that sequence was going to be. More time was spent getting the earlier part of the episode right. But the crew was running on fumes, but they got it done. They did an amazing job. 

MF: I can only imagine what you left on the cutting room floor because it was too excessive for that episode. Mentorship is a theme that has been running through our talk today. How do you like being in the editing room together? It’s like it’s important to be in the room together. A lot of this remote workflow stuff seems to be separating assistants from the cutting room, making it more challenging to do proper mentorship. What is the best way for editors to mentor assistants or up-and-coming editors?

Joaquin Elizondo: You’re right, things have changed and now a lot of us are working from home. Now, maybe it requires more of an effort. I make it a point to pick up the phone, or sometimes I jump on Zoom with Chris and we have virtual lunches. I think those things go a long way. 

I don’t think people should rely so much on things like Slack. Get on the phone, talk to people, introduce yourself, meet if you’re in the same town, go to a meetup every once in a while. Have coffee, have lunch in-person. It’s as easy as putting yourself out there. Communicate your goals and tell people what you want and what you want to achieve. Be proactive about staying in touch. Ask questions.

I’m all about mentorship. I enjoy it when people come to me with questions. I love it. Now, there’s technology that can help you shadow someone or see how they work. It might take some effort, but it can be done. You can tap into someone’s system and check it out. 

MF: Tell me about the mentorship program that you put together.

Joaquin Elizondo: It’s called Hollywood Editing Mentor. I started it during the pandemic back in May 2020. It comes from the fact that I had so many people helping me out. Working in film and scripted television was always my dream. I spent around fifteen years working on local news, sports, and talk shows and that’s all great, but it’s not what I wanted to do. I realized that I had a fear of taking risks and I didn’t have any information on how to find jobs or how to do it right.

Eventually, I got to L.A. and started meeting the people who eventually became my mentors. During the pandemic, I didn’t want to sit around watching TV. I wanted to give back to the community. So I started the Hollywood Editing Mentorship program and eventually the podcast. The goal is to create a resource and a community to help aspiring and seasoned editors navigate their careers in this industry. 

I’ve worked on every kind of project you can think of. I’ve been making a living off of editing for over twenty years and I love it. I couldn’t do anything else. But I also know what it feels like to be lost. A lot of the program is about asking questions and giving guidance. When I was out there, I was just trying to figure everything out by myself. I wasted a lot of time and it was frustrating. I had a lot of headaches. Then I started meeting people and getting involved with communities and having mentors. I got the guidance that I needed and my mentors started bringing me into rooms to have sessions with directors and producers.

That’s the golden opportunity. The things that you learn in the editing room are not things you will learn in any film school. So I decided to create this program to pull back the curtain on this industry a little and just tell people how it works. I want people to know how to have a sustainable career, make a living, and have fun with it. Community and mentorship have helped me out so much and I want to give that back to the post production community.

The things that you learn in the editing room are not things you will learn in any film school.

MF: I think that’s cool. I always struggle to come up with a good question to close on, but I think I’m going to close on one about giving. In the show, Griselda gives Dario an amazing birthday cake. It has half of his body on the top of it. It’s the most bizarre cake I’ve ever seen. In light of that, what is the best gift you’ve each been given by a show that you’ve worked on, including Griselda

Chris Cavanagh: I’m going to say my co-editor credits. My dream is to cut scripted work and that has given me a step forward to achieving my goals. I think that gift fits neatly into what Joaquin was saying about community. Community is everything. Nobody is doing any of this alone. We’re all collaborating, so the opportunity to collaborate is an incredible gift.

The opportunity to collaborate is an incredible gift.

Joaquin Elizondo: This goes way back for me. When I got to L.A., I was a little bit too confident. I thought that if I could make it in New York, I could make it anywhere. But no one in L.A. would give me a job. 

Chris Cavanagh: I had the same experience. I was unemployed for the longest time. I thought I could just pick up where I left off in New York, and that was not the case. 

Joaquin Elizondo: I’m just very appreciative of getting the opportunities that I got. I call people my mentors, but they might not even know that I think of them like that. But some people have given me just a single sentence, and that has changed my life. In general, the postproduction community in L.A. is full of beautiful, lovely people. I think I found my place here. This is where I belong, and I’m very grateful for that. 

Speaking of gifts, I want to offer a gift to your readers. Head over to to get some freebies, including a free masterclass on the five key concepts that I believe are important to break into film and scripted TV.

MF: That’s awesome. Thank you for doing that. Those are both great answers. I have to admit, I thought you were going to say something like a Narcos mouse pad or a Dark Winds hat, but those are much better answers to close on. Thank you, guys.

Matt Feury

Matt Feury is host and producer of The Rough Cut podcast, as well as the Sr. Director, Market Solutions – Video & Post for Avid.