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Other NYC: Not Just Another Edit House



Company president Luis Moreno and co-founders David Johnston and Troy Mercury tell LBB why mentorship, inclusivity, and passion are at the heart of Other NYC

Other NYC: Not Just Another Edit House

“We’d been thinking, probably since 2018 or so, about what the perfect post-production company might look like…”

It doesn’t take long speaking to Luis Moreno, David Johnston, and Troy Mercury to understand that these are three people who have made a habit of converting thoughts into actions. 

In early 2020, the trio set up Other NYC, a creative editorial boutique in the heart of New York’s Chinatown. Although the company was established before Covid-19, its positive and future-facing ethos has served Other NYC well in adapting to the challenges of the past twelve months. “You’ve had to be thinking in terms of culture and tech being intertwined for a long time now”, says Luis. “We thought it was clear the direction things were heading in, and the only surprise thrown up by the pandemic is how quickly the world has arrived there”.

To go behind the scenes of an edit house which prioritises diversity, openness, and social progress, LBB spoke to Luis Moreno, David Johnston, and Troy Mercury. 

Mentoring Culture 

Before launching Other NYC, Luis, David, and Troy struck up a strong working relationship as editors and colleagues at another post house. “Both David and myself, we kind of view Luis as our mentor, the guy who taught us everything we know,” says Troy.

“We had all been working together for a little while,” explains David, “and so one of the great things about Other NYC is this idea of a reboot - for us, creatively speaking - but also a chance to look afresh at habits and cultures that we could improve upon. That can come down to the technology we use, our own internal philosophy, and even the kinds of clients we look to work with."

For Other NYC, the door is open to a wider range of clients than at any point in its founders’ careers thus far. “One of the most exciting things about starting up Other NYC is the opportunity to work with an exciting variety of clients,” says Luis. “We want to be working across different kinds of projects, maybe with clients who have smaller budgets, just different ideas we can open ourselves up to."

Above: David Johnston helped film the 2020 Fall line video for Monse, an up and coming fashion house based in New York

As well as implementing fresh ideas, however, that starting point of mentorship is a theme which Luis, David, and Troy are keen to weave into the fabric of Other NYC. “We didn't want to create a kind of mercenary scenario where you just have a set of hired guns coming in on a project-by-project basis,” says Troy. “I don't think that was appealing for any of us. And so yeah, I was excited by this idea of starting a new thing and passing on the same stuff that Luis had been teaching me and David.”

For Troy and David, that perspective has come about from a journey through the industry that started at the grassroots. “I had worked in just about every capacity in this industry; client service, assistant producer, apprentice editor, before I got my break and Luis trusted me enough to put me in a room with clients as an editor.

“Yeah, we’ve both come up through the ranks as it were,” adds David. “It helps keep you grounded, and we definitely get a buzz out of passing on what we’re learned through Other NYC."

Diverse DNA

One of the passions which has underpinned Other NYC’s purpose as a company has been striving for greater levels of diversity and inclusion. “It’s one of the things I really want to put at the heart of the company,” explains Luis, “that the president of the company is a gay, Latino person, and we understand that to push creativity forward you need that mix of voices and perspectives. We value it, and it’s front and center of our philosophy."

It’s an issue which has had an impact, too, on Troy and David. “One of my earliest memories in the industry,” recalls Troy, “is heading out to the National Association of Broadcasters conference. I was very green at the time and I was just there with my notepad, trying to make connections and remember people's names. But it immediately struck me that on every panel - and I mean every panel - the seats were exclusively taken up by white men. It was just crazy to me that we were in an industry whose whole purpose was to speak to people - but we didn’t even hear a voice from half of the world’s population! It made me very conscious of the underrepresentation of women and people of color in our industry. And this was back in 2008."

For Other NYC, however, there’s an opportunity to reap the rewards of building inclusion and diversity into the company’s DNA. “One of the things that excites me about this issue in terms of our business here”, says David, “is that we’re seeing the barrier of entry in our industry at the lowest point it ever has been. Anyone with a smartphone can learn to edit, and that’s great. You no longer need to have these crazy expensive and huge pieces of kit in order to get started, and that’s a fantastic thing when it comes to hearing from people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds."

“The goal is to harness that diversity for the sake of creativity and improving the work we do,” says Luis. “Diversity is the lifeblood of creativity, it shows us the world through different eyes and that’s essential to what we offer”.

Above: Troy Mercury cut a film for Bloomberg Green, a branch of the Bloomberg group focused on climate news, featuring Christiana Figueres - the main architect of the Paris climate agreement. 

Adapting To Covid 

It was only a few months after Other NYC was formed that the world was thrown into a state of shock by the Coronavirus pandemic. “I can’t pretend it hasn’t made any difference at all,” says Luis. “We haven’t been able to invite people to our wonderful office, for one thing!”

As the remote working revolution swiftly engulfed the professional world, studios like Other NYC were set to the challenge of adapting to a radically different landscape in a short space of time. “I think we’ve done brilliantly, running at full capacity having decided at 3pm one Friday early last year that we were just going to become a remote company for the time being,” recalls David. “But I hear a lot of people talk about how much better remote working is, and that we might be seeing the death of the office. I’m not sure I buy that."

Striking a note of agreement, Troy reflects on what has been missing from the past year. “I think this process has reaffirmed my belief that working in the same room as your colleagues and clients is - in some cases - always going to be the most optimal situation”, he notes. “When you’re together in an office there’s a communal experience, a kind of togetherness that I really want to be part of our culture at Other NYC. It’s been fine, we can work remotely, but I’m eagerly awaiting the day we can have this conversation around our kitchen."

“I’d say there are definitely some things we’d like to hold on to from this period of time, though,” suggests Luis. “For one thing, I think we’ve all developed our collaborative skills a lot. We find ourselves working now as a hive, each person being able to lean in and provide help no matter the task. I like that - we all understand each others’ roles a lot better and it helps with communication. Everyone at Other NYC has expertise worth sharing, so it’s energising to see it happen."

The Next Steps

As Other NYC approaches the halfway point of its second year on the market, its founders have developed a holistic vision for where they want to be at the end of it. “One thing I can say with certainty is that I want to be back in the office with our team”, says Troy. “I mean, really, this is the best office I’ve ever worked in. My last one was above a Chipotle - not that I’m super against Chipotle or anything! Where we are now, though, is a fresh new space in a great area. It all adds up to this feeling of a new take on post production.” 

Nodding in agreement, Luis reflects on the immediate future. “I don’t want to set a really strict target or deadline for us”, he explains, “but personally I’d love for us to be growing and branching out - with maybe some of the younger crowd teaching us their tricks - into different parts of the post production world. I’d love to do more CGI work and dip our toes into some episodic work, for example."

If there’s one thing to be taken from Other NYC’s story so far, it’s the power of graceful adaptation. With that in mind, there’s perhaps no telling where the studio will go next - only that it’s going to be an adventure. 

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Other NYC, Tue, 23 Mar 2021 15:50:00 GMT