This week, we spotlight Bernie Thrasher, a treasured VT Marketing alumnus who now serves as a Trailer Editor at TRANSIT! Recently, Bernie has cut trailers for Old Dads, Spies in Disguise, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Throughout our interview, Bernie shared his path to entertainment, highlighting the unique edge a Marketing degree provides in entertainment, and emphasizing the importance of trusting the process while pursuing your dream job.

Did you always know you wanted to work in entertainment, and when did you become interested in trailer editing as a career?

Basically, yes. I loved movies growing up and every kid who loves movies wants to be a director when they get older. I did a year of film school at Arizona State, and in that year, we met a lot of professionals. All of them, unilaterally, said: “Nobody cares about your degree here in Hollywood and it has nothing to do with anything.” I thought, ‘Okay. I'm spending a lot of money on the thing that nobody cares about.’ So, I sat back and thought about interesting avenues into the entertainment industry. I thought I should get a business degree and worm my way in from that angle. Originally, I thought I would be an on-set accountant. Meanwhile, I was working on a show called Trailer Treasure. It was like trailer review YouTube before YouTube. I always liked trailers, but that's what made me really fall in love with trailers. I continued to do the show when I went to Virginia Tech, and my best friend and I ran the TV station at Tech. Then, it was my senior year, right before my ESPN internship, which was going to take my whole fall semester. I was on campus with my then girlfriend, now wife talking about the future, and she said “You should do movie trailers. You love movie trailers!” I was like, “That's not a job.” And she was like “Google it!” That was when I first thought, ‘I have to do this.  I'm moving to LA and I’m going to do trailers.’ Then, I had my ESPN internship and finished up school. I took another internship to pad my resume and my plan was to move to LA and just see what happened. I applied to a bunch of jobs, and I happened to get a one-year [Marketing Associate and Production Specialist] fellowship at Google. That was my path to [entertainment].

Would you say that having a marketing degree diversifies your work from an editor with a strictly media or film-focused background?

Definitely. I work in creative, and you can come to it any way you want to. A lot of editors are super-talented film school kids who know genre really well. They know when they're cutting a horror trailer and what makes horror amazing because they know it on a technical level. My ability to get jobs in the industry is a bit easier because of my marketing degree in the sense that I'm able to mentally process what we're doing as movie trailer creatives and TV/film advertising creatives from a marketing perspective, and I can speak to it on a business educational level. In terms of the larger path of creative advertising, film, and film marketing, it's all under the larger umbrella of film marketing.

For example, If I wanted to transition to the client side and be on a marketing team dealing with the holistic process of marketing a film, which is print, data analytics, and A/V, that's where the marketing degree would be even more handy. It would be directly applicable, and that's something every other person in the trailer world thinks about doing.

What does your day-to-day life look like as a trailer editor?

In general, my day-to-day is watching a new movie or TV show and breaking it down to see what will fit in a campaign or trailer. I'm going through music selects and figuring out the right music cue or song for a campaign. That’s a really big part of it.

I spend so much of my day on Spotify, looking for a song that might be an interesting way to thematically emblematize a campaign. Music is a really big part of it. The other portion of it is putting together cuts – it's essentially client service. The client gives you notes, you address the notes, you send them to the client, they give you notes, and you go back and forth for 10-30 versions on a TV commercial spot or 50-150 versions on a trailer. The basic three things I'm doing are watching and breaking down trailers, searching for music, and doing a raw editorial on the actual trailers and TV spots. It’s usually a 50/50 mix of either cutting TV commercials or cutting [movie] trailers.

How do you keep your composure when you're actively accomplishing your dreams?

I obsessively practice and get to a point where I can be good at something, probably too much. I hit a repetition point where I can calm myself down and remember that I know how to do this. Every single trailer editor I've talked to tells me the same thing: you start every trailer staring at a blank timeline thinking, ‘This is it. This is the trailer where they figure out that I'm a fraud and I don't know what I'm doing.’ That anxiety is there every single time. Writers talk about how the blank page is the scariest thing. It's the same thing with a blank timeline. So, I'm really good at reminding myself that it's a process and that most trailers take about a week or two to cut. You do this, you do that, and then you spend a day freaking out and thinking, ‘I don't know what I'm doing.’ I remind myself that's all part of the process. Trusting that the process works is the way I'm able to do this job that I very much consider to be my dream job. I don't feel overwhelmed. It's a mixture of: I really worked hard to get here; I'm confident in my skills, and I trust the process.

How do you go about being satisfied with turning in a project at the deadline?                    

With enough experience, it's a feeling of liking what you've done. There's this beautiful analogy that got me through some really hard times. My former boss at my first company told me the reason that people go into creative fields is because they have an affinity for something, but it takes a long time to get good at something. The reason why most people quit those creative things is because there's a dissonance between knowing what good looks like and knowing that what you're doing is not good. I always knew when a trailer was good. I knew when a cut was fun, and I knew when something was not good and I was just turning it in because it was 3:00 and it had to go out the door. You get to a point where you know what good is. Most editors know when it clicks in their brain. You're rewatching your spot or your trailer and you think ‘I like this. This is good.’ Nothing is a one-person show. You cut something and send it to your producer, and you work back and forth on it until you're both happy with it. Then, you send it to a creative director who's bigger picture proofing it. So, the anxiety also goes away when you trust your team and when you trust that they won’t judge you too much. It's hard to present anything that comes from you. You have to trust your team and remove your ego. A lot of stuff that I do doesn't get picked. When you don't get picked, it doesn't mean your trailer is not good. It usually means somebody took it in a different direction or thought of a music cue that you didn't think of.

What is next for you?

Longer term, I was always curious about the client side: working for a studio or a streamer. I'm getting closer to that day, but I don't know if it's one year or five years in the future. In general, this really is my dream job and it's a job I did not think I could have. Film marketing has always been such a cool concept to me, and I still get giddy just thinking about the fact that that's what I get to do.

Do you have any advice for students looking to get into the film or entertainment industry postgraduation?

The biggest piece of advice I have is what I was alluding to earlier: the dissonance between having an affinity and knowing that you're not there. You are going to have that moment, and you need to be able to push through it and tell yourself it's part of the process. Part of the process is wanting to get to the mountaintop, being miserable that you're not good enough, and working through it. Everybody goes through it to differing lengths.                                                                                      

It's not impossible to break into the world of trailers, there are a lot of entry-level jobs. I got a job, built a bankroll, and lived under my means for a year and a half. When getting into the actual industry, my recommendation is to interview low-level studio people at trailer companies. When I first got to LA, I constantly just asked people to talk to me, because I knew that eventually somebody was going to need a runner, PA, assistant editor, or an assistant. There's a website called the Golden Trailer Awards that lists trailer agencies to network with. For people of color, there's an initiative called Creative Coalition of Color. It's a job board for people of color to get into the industry. One of the big barriers is that traditionally marginalized people can't afford to take unpaid internships, so it shows paid internships and paid low-level jobs. It’s a good foot-in-the-door website. Those are two good places to start.

I'm very passion-driven in terms of my career. I'm on ‘Team Do Your Passion,’ provided your passion is going to pay you. For me personally, [following my passion] has always filled my cup, and it's what pushes me through the hard parts.

Go where the industry is – that’s also really big. If you want to be in finance, go to New York or San Francisco. If you want to be in tech, go to Austin. Entertainment is in LA. I know it's an expensive city, but there are ways around how expensive LA is and the opportunities for growth are here. Go where the growth is going to be easiest, and where you'll have the most opportunities to learn and figure out how you fit in.