Ten-time Emmy winner, Anthony J. Cortese brings to DEFINITION 6 over thirty years of experience telling unique stories on TV.
He is currently working on his fifth Super Bowl Broadcast, for which he will be cutting several pieces. The spots will be viewed by well over 110-million people during the game. Talk about high-profile!
He has worked with and directed talent including; Jesse Eisenberg, Ving Rhames, Ron Howard, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Peyton Manning, and John Malkovich, to name a few.
A native of Long Island, he now lives in New Jersey with his wife Maria, daughter Isabel, and a dog named T-Bone. Anthony is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is powerless to refuse a good slice of pie.
Tell me about your background before you came to Definition 6.
I started out editing weddings and bar mitzvahs! During most of high school and college, I worked in a deli and there was this wedding videographer that had a studio across the street. He was kinda shady but, he knew what I was studying and offered me a gig. That job taught me so much about patience and the ability to look for new ways to tell the same basic story. Over and over. And over. I eventually landed a job as an in-house editor at a big ad agency (DMB&B, now Publicis) in NY and I spent seven (mostly great) years there working with some amazing people that I love dearly to this day. That’s where I really learned the business. It’s also where I made the switch from tape editing on these giant rigs that took up a whole room to non-linear editing, which was a total game-changer in every way imaginable.
Who have been your strongest creative influences?
When I was 9 or 10, my uncle took me to see the Buster Keaton silent classic “The General” at an old movie house in Huntington, Long Island. If you’ve never seen the film, it is a masterpiece. The physical comedy is off the charts. But the film was also accompanied by a live pianist at this screening, which was incredible to me. What I saw that night opened my mind to the notion that sound, and music in particular, is every bit a character as the ones the actors portray onscreen.
I also draw a great deal from people like Bill Murray. Bruce Springsteen. Martin Scorsese. That’s my Holy Trinity right there.
What led you to your career?
Growing up, I dreamed about being an actor or performing in some way. I think my parents would have supported whatever I wanted to pursue, but it became evident as I got older that there were people far more gifted than me that should be doing that sort of thing. So, I decided to pivot to a role in production. I originally studied radio at NYU, and one day I sat in on the edit for a friend’s film that I had been working on the sound design for. There were like seven of us cramped in this tiny little closet for 15 hours, I and thought, “well… THIS seems fun!”
How would your coworkers describe you?
Dominant at the dartboard, a silly drunk, and generally a pain in the ass.
What is your favorite project that you worked on?
I know you want me to say Malkovich (the 2017 AFC Championship Tease that won a bajillion awards). If I had a greatest hit, that would probably be it. And, yeah, it WAS a blast to work on, from shoot to edit. But, about eight years ago, I worked on a six-part web-series called “The Walker” (written by Rightor Doyle, it starred Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, and Betty Gilpin and a whole slew of mind-blowing talent who came in and gave these amazing performances because Rightor literally knows EVERYONE). On the surface, it was a bit of light fare that came and went on Refinery29 as featured content. But, what I loved about it was that I had near-complete creative control over every aspect of post and I got a chance to really help develop characters and shape the story and episode arcs in my edit. Almost nothing made it out of the edit process as it was scripted. I’ve never felt more like a storyteller than I did during that project. It was a total blast, and not something I get a whole lot of opportunity to do very often.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
I love collaboration. I think it’s one of the great gifts that this career has given me. Honestly, I tend to work pretty quickly on super-tight deadlines and don’t always have the luxury of getting to collaborate the way I’d like to. But when I do, the ability to constantly improve my craft by watching how others approach a creative problem is incredibly fulfilling to me. So, maybe I am most proud of the fact that I had the brains to give up on acting and follow a career path that I love and have an apparent aptitude for, that lets me do that, too.
What would be your dream project to work on?
Thelma Schoonmaker breaks her editing hand and Marty calls me up from the bullpen.