Closing out the last season of FX’s Atlanta with co-editor Isaac Hagy

Atlanta” Season 4 Poster.

Image source: FX Networks.

Donald Glover’s critically acclaimed Atlanta returned for a fourth and final season in which its main characters return home to Atlanta following a European tour. After achieving extreme success and fame abroad, the return home finds the crew considering what they want their futures to look like and weighing personal and professional aspects of their lives to determine what truly matters.

Co-editors Isaac Hagy and Kyle Reiter used Premiere Pro to bring Atlanta’s rich hip hop scene to life. We sat down with Hagy to chat about his experience on the show and his journey as an editor. s

Image source: FX Networks.

How and where did you first learn to edit?

My first experience editing was in a high school communications class. I attempted to make a short film. My teacher must have noticed how much I loved the process, because he gave me the keys to the classroom to stay late and use the school’s only iMac to edit the little projects I would shoot with friends.

How do you begin a project/set up your workspace?

I’ll often set up a new workspace with familiar tools that make me feel comfortable. I have a desk, chair, keyboard, tablet and candles that I take to every job, so I feel some sort of tactile consistency. I will then set up my Premiere project using a stock project that has my bins organized the way I prefer them.

“The best advice I can give is try to find your network of collaborators you trust and enjoy spending time with. This is how good art is created.”

- Isaac Hagy

What Adobe tools did you use on this project and why did you originally choose them?

We used Premiere Pro, which is always my non-linear editing (NLE) or computer-based video editing system of choice. Atlanta is a show that relies heavily on tone and atmosphere to tell its story and for me, Premiere’s extensive catalog of sound tools, including the Essential Sound panel, are a key part of my arsenal.

I love the fluid nature of the Premiere Pro timeline. It seems small, but it's so essential to me to have a timeline that moves and feels the way my brain works. Additionally, I find the effects panel to be extremely handy in creating temporary split screens and VFX that I can then use to communicate to our VFX department. The Productions feature in Premiere made it possible for us all to be in different locations but work in the same project.

Do you use as part of your workflow?

I have in the past for features and short form projects. It’s super useful in being able to communicate notes with markers and drawing, but honestly the most important thing to me is that it compresses the video quickly and in a quality that makes the work look good.

What’s your hidden gem/favorite workflow tip in Adobe Creative Cloud?

I am a big fan of the Essential Sound panel. Sound and music are a huge part of creating the tone of the show, and the Essential Sound panel allowed us to quickly and consistently clean up audio and place effects and music within the proper spaces.

The Productions feature has also been absolutely invaluable in collaborating with assistants and my co-editor Kyle Reiter. We actually co-edited episodes this season (rather than each taking our own), which would have never been possible without Productions.

Who is your creative inspiration and why?

These days, the most important thing for me is to be able to create moments of rest and silence. With phones and the internet, everything moves so fast, that I find I do my best thinking when I am away from my computer, especially on long walks and bike rides.

What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to face in your career and how did you overcome it? What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers or content creators?

One obstacle I feel like creators constantly face is getting people in positions of money or power to trust them. When I was starting out, I found that producers only wanted to hire collaborators who had done exactly what they were looking for before. Before Atlanta, I was told I couldn’t edit TV because I had never done TV before. After Atlanta, I was told I couldn’t edit hour long TV, because I had only done half an hour. Then I was told I couldn’t edit features. The challenge was getting people to take a chance on you.

For me the solution has always been to base my career choices on who I want to work with and not what I feel like I should be working on. The best advice I can give is try to find your network of collaborators you trust and enjoy spending time with. This is how good art is created.

What’s your favorite thing about your workspace and why?

My favorite thing about my workplace is using soft, warm light. I know editors like to be in caves, but I feel edgy and depressed without some sort of organic lighting, even if it's just a candle or a salt rock lamp. It’s all about the good vibes.

All episodes of Season 4 of Atlanta are streaming on FXNow and Hulu.