Ep128: How to Have a Successful Career Without Sacrificing Family | with Farrel Levy

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By Zack Arnold and Zack Arnold: Hollywood Film Editor. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

One of the many fears this pandemic has magnified is that we can’t possibly focus on our careers and work at the highest level while also having time to be parents, partners, and well-rounded individuals. And with the transition to working from home, navigating this challenge has become even more complicated.

Today, I’m talking with ACE editor Farrel Levy who has worked at a high level her whole career moving between features and television, working on shows like Nashville, NYPD Blue, and Criminal Minds. She was already a mom when she got her start in the business so she’s spent many years perfecting the balancing act. To say she is passionate about advocating that family and career are not mutually exclusive would be an understatement. Her passion comes from having successfully balanced the two for much of her career while also mentoring many others in the business working hard to do the same.

In Farrel’s own words she firmly believes:

“You can be proud of the work that you do and also proud of the fact that you’ve had a good life.”

Farrel and I dive deep into the topic of work-life balance in Hollywood as well as many others including, mentorship, burnout, and choosing the right jobs to match your personal needs. If you’re a parent struggling to choose the next step in your career because you believe “it just can’t be done,” please listen to Farrel before believing that you can’t. Because she and I are both convinced that you absolutely CAN.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:
  • How Farrel got into the film business in New York.
  • The criteria she used for choosing jobs so she could get home to her daughter at night.
  • The surprise hit film that Farrel got her big break on and how it came about.
  • How important it is to let people know what you want and be proactive.
  • Why Farrel enjoys mentoring and seeing the success of those she’s mentored.
  • Being a student of Farrel’s has often led to career success.
  • The responsibility of the mentor to push the mentee, even if it means losing them as your assistant.
  • Farrel’s advice for reaching out to a mentor and developing that relationship.
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: The soft skills are a much bigger part of the job than most people realize.
  • What Farrel means by calling a successful editor a chameleon.
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: Persistence and patience is critical when networking and finding mentors.
  • How to navigate being a parent while also managing your career.
  • Why she made the switch from features to television.
  • What Farrel tells parents who are afraid that they can’t both be a good parent and work on scripted series.
  • The criteria for determining whether a job will meet your lifestyle needs.
  • Addressing the difficult tension between knowing a job is not the right fit and gracefully turning it down.
  • Farrel’s perspective on how to handle the disappointment of not getting the job you want.
  • Why it’s important to consider the cost of taking a job rather than what it pays you.
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Guest Bio:

FARREL LEVY

Farrel Jane Levy ACE was trained as an artist at Cooper Union. She has made a career as a film and television editor. She got her editing break on “Dirty Dancing.” She worked all 12 seasons on the multiple Emmy award winning television show, “NYPD Blue” where she was able to learn from television legends Steven Bochco and David Milch. She became NYPD Blue’s supervising editor and she helped create its distinctive editing style. Farrel was also given the opportunity to direct 3 episodes. She then went on to edit “Criminal Minds” for several seasons. Pilots she edited include “Brooklyn South” and “Blind Justice” for Milch and for Bochco; “Melrose Place,” “The Defenders,” and “The Unit” with Academy award winning director, David Guggenheim, and writers Shawn Ryan and David Mamet; and “Person of Interest” written by Jonathan Nolan. She worked on fan fave “Damages,” and edited all 5 seasons on another fan fave, “Nashville.” From there worked on the Netflix show, “The Society.” Features she has edited include “Across the Tracks,” starring a young Brad Pitt, “Ernest Goes to Jail,” “Confessions of a Sexist Pig,” and “Primal Fear,” and “Evan’s Crime.”

Farrel taught editing at The American Film Institute for over 20 years. In addition, Farrel is a founder and the lead editor of Look What SHE Did!, an organization with the mission of inspiring women and girls to greatness by bringing to light stories of remarkable women who changed the world. Look What SHE Did! creates short films and events featuring female storytellers celebrating women who inspire them. She is a member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, where she is active on the Women’s Committee, the Director’s Guild and the American Cinema Editors. She is the mother of two daughters who never cease to make her proud.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared by Debby Germino and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

172 episodes