Her clients rave about working with Editor Tina Mintus. So does her staff. What's her secret? Only her hairdresser (and her EP) knows for sure.*comment*
There's something about KYLE Edit that's just plain infectious. There had to be-because when you talk to people, both staffers and clients, the same terms keep coming up, the same concepts, the same emotional reactions.
"I love working there."
"You're so well taken care of."
"It feels like family."
"It's such a happy place."
In the often jaded, high pressure world of commercial post production, KYLE seems like some oasis of calm and good vibrations, a cup of chamomile with honey served up on a blustery day. Lots of this stems from the company's founder and guiding light, Editor Tina Mintus. She opened the studio in early 2011, assembling a hand-picked team of editors, artists and support staff, all housed in a cozy warren of offices down in the Meatpacking District in New York, overlooking the High Line.
The company handles all sorts of jobs, but Mintus is known for her fashion and beauty work, particularly on Garnier, which she's cut for the last three years, as well as for Revlon, L'Oreal, St. Ives, JC Penney and numerous other apparel, beauty and personal care brands.
Mintus' own story is a bit of a charmer. Originally from Toronto, she came to New York for a summer to hang out with people she met while living for a year in Paris as an au pair. She's never been to film school, and basically dropped out to go and experience life. "Structure wasn't for me," she says. "I'm a worker bee. I wanted to get out there and just do it."
While in New York she passed the time playing chess in Washington Square Park, which is where she met some folks who worked for the editor Vito DeSario. They urged her to check the place out, so she called and called and called until DeSario finally took the time to meet her. He hired her on the spot.
She went on to spend 14 years with DeSario, first at his Vito DeSario Editing, then at his successor shop, Version 2, quickly working her way up from assistant to full-time editor. The place seems to have served as her home base, her trade school and her social circle all rolled up into one; from there she not only learned the post business and made lasting professional and personal relationships that endure to this day, it's also where she learned how to be an editor, how to work with fashion and beauty and how to shape a story.
And it's where she first flexed the work ethic and sense of persistence that's helped propel her to where she is today. Linda Rafoss, now a partner at Driver, the outsourced agency production service, was EP at Version 2 for many years. She likes to say that she raised Mintus, and watched as she developed as an editor.
"She had a unique style, and took anything that we gave her to do one hundred percent farther than what was expected," says Rafoss, who still cuts with Mintus on a regular basis.
When DeSario shuttered V2 in 2008, Mintus – by then well-established with a loyal client following - went to Cut + Run, her first job working anywhere else. The idea of starting her own company was in the back of her mind, she recalls, but she was reluctant to jump straight from V2 into her own gig. "I wanted a stronger point of reference," she recalls, "a chance to see how things were done at other places."
The Cut + Run folks were extremely supportive of her plans, she adds, and the experience served as a great stepping stone. But by then she was already putting the puzzle pieces together to form KYLE.
One element was finding the right EP, which she's done with Sharon Lew. The veteran production company EP has worked across the industry spectrum, handling management and sales for everything from live action shops to effects houses and post studios. Today the pair work closely, with Lew focusing on marketing and growing the business while Mintus focuses on her editorial clients.
"Everything about this place was the result of a well thought out concept," says Lew. "Tina knew what she wanted to do that was different and distinctive, and that's the vision she's pursued here. Whether it's the workflow or the design or our approach to client service or how we like to treat people, they're all carefully considered decisions."
In addition to Mintus, KYLE consists of Creative Director Michael McKenna, who's worked with Mintus for a decade, going back to their V2 days; Editor Nate Taylor and William Zitser; Business Manager Jackie Sparks, another longtime companion; and a small, loyal team of support people.
Mintus says that a big element of KYLE is the team, and she's proud of the fact that it represents not just employees and co-workers but friends. "In some cases these are people I've worked with for years," she says, "and they were people I felt were the best at their positions. When I started thinking about launching KYLE, I made a list of everyone I wanted to work here-it was my dream team. And everyone said yes. We all have each other's backs, and we feel like family."
McKenna's been with Mintus the longest, coming over from her days at Version 2. His background encompasses a bit of everything in terms of design, visual effects, compositing and finishing, which helps out with the structure of the studio. "We have the capabilities of a larger house," he says, "which helps out with our rough cuts, since we take them almost all the way to final finishing." That's an especially important aspect of fashion and beauty work, he adds, where clients need to see things as close to done as possible.
Zitser met Mintus through a mutual friend at Nice Shoes; at the time he was editing at jumP, where he had progressed from assistant to full-time editor. A native of Venezuela, he studied architecture before moving to the US to study film production in Florida. He came to New York and found his way into the commercial industry by way of documentaries.
Taylor is among the most recent additions, joining this past summer from Crew Cuts. He says the biggest difference between his former roost and KYLE is the scale-there were 13 edit rooms at Crew Cuts, and scads of assistants. "It was always blazing," he says. "But here, we're like a family, it's very intimate. Everyone's involved with everything, you know what they're working on and who's coming and going. So we can contribute and collaborate, and the feeling is very personal. There's also a great energy in the neighborhood, too."
KYLE also represents Editor Cass Vanini, a freelance talent who's not on the studio's full-time roster. Mintus says that together they form a complementary group of talents who give the company a wide range of styles and specialties that extend beyond the fashion and beauty sphere.
One of the things that informed Mintus' vision of KYLE was to not only keep it small and intimate, but to keep it focused primarily on creative editorial. She has launched in an era when editorial houses seem to all feel as though they need to offer almost everything from color correction to Flame, Smoke, finishing, even audio post. This wasn't where she wanted KYLE to go.
"I knew I didn't want a huge shop that does everything," she says, particularly one that did a lot of things but none of them exceptionally well. Rather, she wanted a shop "where we cut, design and create great spots, and that's what we have."
Finding her niche in fashion and beauty work, much like the story of how she ended up with DeSario, is one of persistence and payoff. Back in her V2 days she spent a considerable amount of time doing rips for new business pitches for the New York office of Deutsch. When the shop landed Revlon, Creative Director Kathy Delaney turned to her to cut their first work for the brand. It was a breakthrough, both in terms of the campaign, which featured actress Halle Berry, and for Mintus as an editor. "I was still an up and coming editor, and they gave me six huge spots," she says. "My entire career took off from that."
As an editor, does she take a different approach to F&B than she does to other kinds of spots in different categories? "Absolutely," Mintus says. "There are so many different concentrations on a beauty or beauty product spot. There has to be an engaging, convincing (yet gorgeous) model, usually- plus the product has to be equally as engaging. It's combining the two that's the challenge."
Those who've worked with Mintus say she's always been up to the challenge-any challenge. DeSario recalls she "had this look that said 'Trust me, try me, give me a shot and I'll never let you down.' She taught herself the Avid and very quickly made herself indispensable to me and all of our editors."
As she grew to be an editor on her own, things just blossomed. "Clients loved her," DeSario says. "She had this contagious exuberance, and surrounded herself with people who were like that. They all love what they do and are willing to give you more than you're expecting. I'm very proud of her; she's been my biggest success story."
Rosalind Yale, VP, Executive Producer at Publicis, where she works on Garnier, has collaborated with Mintus for years. Her first experience with her was on a L'Oreal job where the agency had been handed some footage shot by its Paris office and had to turn it into a spot. "It had to be re-cut and the concept had to be shaped, and Tina took it and literally made something out of nothing," says Yale. "She added stock footage and graphics and 2D and 3D elements, and it turned out to be a huge hit."
Mintus has cut the Garnier work for the last three years, and Yale says that her talents show. "She thinks outside the box, she's never limited by what's on the page, she has great experience and a great aesthetic," she comments. To her, Mintus has all the skills that you need to succeed as a fashion and beauty editor. "She has the eye, and also an understanding of what is 'beautiful' in terms of the category," she says. "What's a good hair shot? And how long should it play out? There's a certain aesthetic to it that Tina understands.
"And you have to be patient, and Tina is," she continues. "Beauty work is very subjective, and you need to show clients lots of options before you get everyone on board. So you have to be organized. You also need to anticipate all the other elements that are going to go into the final spot-the CG, the graphics, the demos, the effects. So your editor has to keep a big picture in view. Tina comes to this with a very human point of view; she knows how to bring life to the spot, and doesn't work in a traditional fashion and beauty way."
Yale credits Mintus' partnership with McKenna for much of their success. "He's a very valuable part of the equation," she says, citing the way the two work closely together.
Jill Rothman, EVP, Executive Producer at Arnold in New York, has worked with Mintus on St. Ives and Unilever's Simple brand, as well as on spots for Hershey's Bliss chocolate. She says the editor "has an amazing ability to take a lot of footage and turn it into an engaging story. And that applies to her work in every category," she adds. "In beauty work, she's just telling that story in a more alluring way."
Mintus possesses a "great sense for music, a great sense for visuals and a real eye for detail," Rothman continues. "They all combine to make her a strong storyteller." She's also impressed with her technical chops, which often show themselves in unseen ways. "It's usually reflected in things you wouldn't notice," she says, "as Tina anticipates what you need and often fixes problems before you even see them."
So how much of KYLE is a reflection of Mintus' personal taste and style? "Pretty much everything," Mintus says. "I love beautiful things, I love art, I love good food and I love really, really comfortable couches!"
About working there, Yale agrees that KYLE is perfect reflection of Mintus' character. "Everyone's happy to be there and happy to have the opportunity to work with you," she says. "Nothing is ever a problem; they're all about solutions. And Tina knows lots of people who are under the radar, so she brings in all these new, unexpected creative resources. The place has a very positive vibe."
Yale reminds us that keeping this up is no small task, especially in light of what agency producers working in the fashion and beauty space have to contend with. "This is not easy work," she says. "We've very demanding, and we change our minds all the time."
"Working with Tina is an absolute joy," adds Rothman. "She makes everyone feel at ease because she exudes confidence. We always feel very well taken care of when we're there. Everyone works togehter; they all contribute, and it's a very integrated approach. On top of that, they make it fun relaxed. I think a lot of it stems from Tina; she brings it all together."
The studio, adds Driver's Rafoss, is "everything that Tina is-it's warm, hip and full of people who have great taste. And because it's small, it feels like you're in Tina's home. When you're there, you're really taken care of."
The studio has recently taken a big step in applying for and being granted both woman-owned and minority-owned certification. "It's a huge source of pride for us," says Lew, "and we hope it translates into business," but both women say they're not sure what its impact will be.
Mintus' goals for KYLE, meanwhile, remain the same as they've always been when she first dreamed about having her own place years ago. "I want a shop that does great work, one that I'm proud of. I wanted to own a shop that people come into and feel comfortable and happy, and where people leave feeling much the same way – and that applies to both our clients and our staff. I've always felt that people should love what they do. I'm lucky enough to feel that way, and if we can maintain that sense of love and purpose every day, and keep clients walking in the door, then we'll have done quite a lot. And right now, I think we're doing just that."
Chapter 1: KYLE Edit... Chapter 2: GreatGuns... Chapter 3: Sonzero... Chapter 4: Showcase...