Local filmmaker nominated for Emmy Award
By Doris Christelis, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury native Ken Yankee likes to tell stories. But unlike most of us, the stories he tells are seen and heard by millions of viewers nationwide. Yankee’s creative eye has earned him an Emmy Award nomination this year in the category of Outstanding Picture Editing for Short Form Segments and Variety Specials. This is his third Emmy nomination.
Yankee’s nomination was for a special episode of “Extreme Makeover Home Edition — Rise and Honor: A Veterans Day Special” that benefited six veteran-serving organizations.
“Since it aired it has raised over a million dollars to help veterans in need. It was an honor to work on this episode that gave back to the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country,” explained Yankee.
Yankee, a 1992 graduate of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School and Fitchburg State University, got started in his career in college when, he said, he and a group of friends created numerous short films and documentaries, rotating the roles of director, producer, camera, editing, etc.
“I found that I really enjoyed the editing and post-process more than anything else and gravitated toward that,” he said.
After graduating, Yankee moved to Los Angeles for an internship at a post-production house that cut movie trailers and promos for numerous television networks.
“Within my first couple of weeks there I was cutting a trailer for New Line Cinemas, ‘A Man Apart’ starring Vin Diesel. It was a great opportunity and I was very lucky to get into a place that basically gave me the chance to dive in and either sink or swim.”
And swim he did. He was hired full-time and was soon working for numerous studios and networks including Disney Channel, Food Network, Fine Living, and many others.
“If you like puzzles, this is the job for you,” Yankee said. “Much of my time in reality show editing is spent figuring out the show as I go along. It may take several hours searching through everything that was shot just to find one moment that sets up a particular scene, that evokes a certain emotion, or just helps the story make sense.”
”Editing,” he said, “is odd in that when you do something well, no one really notices. When something is edited poorly, everyone can tell.”
Yankee’s previous two nominations were for his work editing “The Tyra Banks Show.” Despite those nominations, his proudest work, he said, was for his work on an MTV show called “If You Really Knew Me” for which he won an American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Award for Best Edited Reality Series last year.
“This was a documentary-style show about the Challenge Day program which goes to different high schools throughout the country, breaks downs cliques and stereotypes, and tries to unite the students. The concept is that if everyone just took a few minutes to get to know the jocks, the freaks, the Goths, or the brains, etc., they’d find that underneath the surface they have almost everything in common. Like in ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’ the emotions these kids shared with each other were real and it was moving to see that this program could change these kids’ lives.”
Yankee credits his grandfather for inspiring him to pursue a career in film.
“My grandfather, Frank Brown, started Brown’s TV in Northborough. It was because of my working at his video store that I had the opportunity to watch so many films – from the classics to some of the worst B movies out there. This helped pique my love of films and my curiosity about the filmmaking process.”
His advice for up and coming film editors?
“Learn everything you can about the technical side of editing. Purchase a home editing system. Be aware that editing is made up of not only technical skills — the art of storytelling and pacing are critical. Try to work on as many projects as you can that interest you, even if this involves low or no pay. Many of the short films and features I have worked on were low/no budget and they were some of the best experiences I have had cutting.”
His mother, Paula Yankee, who still lives in Shrewsbury, could not be more proud of her son.
“Ken has shown all of us that if you want to do something badly enough and you work hard you can accomplish anything,” she said. “He has followed his dream and we are so happy and excited for him.”
Yankee remains busy in Hollywood. He just wrapped his third season on A&E’s series “Beyond Scared Straight,” along with a new series for TLC called “Rock Bottom Rescue” airing soon, and is currently working on the syndicated daytime series “The Doctors” which returned for its fifth season Sept. 10.
The 64th Primetime Emmys will air on ABC Sunday, Sept. 23.
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