Odell: The first lady of post wins the Mann

Flashcut general manager Mary Beth Odell is being honoured with the Bob Mann Post Production Award at the 2004 Bessies.

Flashcut general manager Mary Beth Odell is being honoured with the Bob Mann Post Production Award at the 2004 Bessies.

Named for the late editor formerly with The Partners’ Film Company, the Mann Award is presented to an individual who exemplifies continued commitment and dedication to the field of post-production.

Odell, a proud advocate of the Canadian post industry, has nurtured and developed many of the country’s top editors, and has seen two Flashcutters – Mick Griffin and Bob Kennedy – win the award in recent years. Odell becomes the first woman to be recognized with the Mann.

Panic & Bob’s David Baxter, this year’s chair of the Bob Mann Award committee, says that although there were a number of qualified nominations brought to the table, the decision to honor Odell was easy.

‘She epitomizes all of the qualities we’re looking for,’ says Baxter. ‘She’s been involved with this business for a long time and done a lot for the industry in general. She’s a great lady. Respect is a big factor in this too, and everybody in the industry respects Mary Beth. She’s earned it.’

Originally from Chicago, Odell helped to found Flashcut with husband Norm Odell and others. She believes that some of their shop’s enduring success is due to its ability to stay ahead of the pack from an equipment perspective. She adds, however, that having the right software on the right machines only helps if you know how to use it.

‘Just because anybody can own a pencil doesn’t mean that anybody can be a great writer,’ says Odell. ‘[Cutting] is only part of the craft of editing. It’s about telling a story and moving you though it.’

With such names as Norm Odell, Kennedy, Griffin, Brian Noon, Tim Kirkwood and Chris Parkins currently cutting at the post house, it’s safe to say Flashcut has chosen its editors wisely. Flashcut gets a lot of return business (Taxi with its Telus work, for one), and GM Odell says it’s largely because her editors are encouraged to test their limits and find ways to succeed.

‘Our mantra and constant has always been to do the absolute best you can and to push things as far as you can,’ she says. ‘I’ve always thought that if you concentrate on being the best at your craft…you will always be sought after.’

Being successful in post, she says, is about relationships too. How you respect those relationships can make or break a service provider in advertising.

‘I’m a firm believer in business karma,’ says Odell. ‘Business is life, so what you put out there you will get back. You may not get it next week, but you will get it. It’s about how you treat people. It’s how you treat clients.’

Having monitored the changes in post over the years, Odell feels she has a unique perspective on the business. She says one of the biggest issues facing the post sector right now is ‘manufactured mistrust’ and she has become increasingly frustrated with the practice of cost cutting during the production process. She worries that advertisers are not aware that when they cut a spot’s post budget it compromises the ad’s quality. Moreover, when a time-strapped director announces on set ‘We’ll do it in post,’ advertisers tend to believe it’s just that easy, even after the post budget has been slashed.

‘The costs of running a top-notch post-production company over the years have escalated tremendously and I don’t think some advertisers realize the capital that is actually required,’ Odell says. Given the current rate of change, she adds, once new editing gear is purchased, by the time it is paid off, new innovations have taken place in the market. With agencies demanding the latest and greatest, while trying to cut financial corners for their clients, the funds allotted for post are not always realistic given the constant equipment upgrades all shops have to deal with.

‘That is a reality of post-production,’ she says. ‘Clients want everything cheaper and at the same time the freedom to do what they want to do.’

Still, Odell says she loves her job and the art of post. If there is anything to be said about good business karma, Odell is getting it back now as the recipient of this year’s Mann Award. She says she looks forward to further challenges and joy from her job.

‘The great thing about post-production is that in our business we face new challenges on a daily basis, so the longer you stay in it the better you get,’ she says. ‘It never gets boring and it never gets stale. You can never afford to get stale.’

Craft Award: Editing

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Advertiser: Nova Scotia Office of

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Agency: Extreme Group

Production House: Spank Films

Editor: Matthew Kett