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Interview: ‘How I Met Your Father’ Editor Russell Griffin

“How I Met Your Father” Season 2 is currently streaming on Hulu in the United States and on Disney+ in many countries including Canada and Australia. The first eleven episodes from Season 2 will be released on Disney+ in the United Kingdom and Ireland on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.

In “How I Met Your Father,” Hilary Duff stars as Sophie, who is telling her son the story of how she met his father, much like Josh Radnor (and Bob Saget’s) Ted Mosby did in the original series, How I Met Your Mother. The story starts in 2021, when Sophie and her close-knit group of friends are in the midst of figuring out who they are, what they want out of life, and how to fall in love in the age of dating apps and limitless options.

Francia Raisa, Tom Ainsley, Tien Tran, and Suraj Sharma also star in the series; Kim Cattrall, Daniel Augustin, Ashley Reyes, and Josh Peck recur.

The show is created by This Is Us producers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger. Alongside HIMYM creators/exec producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the original series director/exec producer Pam Fryman, and Adam Londy. Duff serves as a producer.

Recently, Disney Plus Informer had the opportunity to chat with Russell Griffin, ACE (American Cinema Editors), who is the editor for the second season of “How I Met Your Father.”  Read on for the full interview below.

You are the editor for the comedy series, “How I Met Your Father” which is streaming now on Hulu in the United States, and also on Disney+ in many countries.  I want to talk to you about your work on the show but was first wondering if you could tell us some of the other projects you have worked on in the past.

Of course. Yes, I have worked on a lot of different sitcoms.  I specialize in multi-camera sitcoms, which is what you think of when you think of an audience, shows like Friends, Mad About You, or those kinds of things.  Most recently, I was the editor and also directed a show called Family Reunion for Netflix.  I also did the Mad About You reboot. I’ve also done kid shows like Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, & Dawn for Nickelodeon, and more adult show like How I Met Your Father. I’m actually working on a new show that’s coming out for NBC right now which was created by Mike O’Malley.

For those that might not be familiar, what does your job as an editor entail and what are some of your responsibilities?

As the editor, your job is the first viewer of the audience.  You work with what they’ve given you from the stage…the director and the actors and the writers.  They’ll create the script. They’ll go down and they’ll shoot it, and then I get all of the video footage and look through all of the different takes, all of the different performances, and I assemble the first edit based upon what I think is the best takes and the best performance… what we’re trying to go for in terms of the comedy, in terms of the stories, and put all of that together…choose which angles we’re using, which takes we’re using, which performances we’re using…and putting it all together so that it creates the sitcom that you see.  And from that, we do many different edits of it.  I create the first whole edit of it, then I’ll work with the director to create the director’s cut.  And then in television, we end up working with the producers who are the writers of the show, and we create their preferences, tweak little things, and move things in and out. Then we’ll send it on to the studio or the network and they’ll give their final notes and then we shepherd it to be the final episode.  So as the editor, you take it from the beginning all the way through to the end.

How did you first become involved with “How I Met Your Father?”

Well, I was not on Season 1, but they called me on Season, 2. My friend Sue Federman was the editor on Season 1 and she was moving on to do a different job. So they called me up and asked me if I’d like to come on board, and I said, yes. I love the show and the How I Met Your Mother universe and the “How I Met Your Father” universe is its own entity, but yet still plays homage to that history, and I jumped at the chance. It was such a great opportunity.

Are you on set at any time during production?  How closely do you work with the directors during that time?

Oftentimes, as an editor, you’ll go down and you’ll watch the takes, and you’ll see the performances.  I also have a feed in my editing bay, which is the office that we call the edit bay.  I have a feed of the stage, so I can see the cameras and see what they’re shooting from my edit bay, and I can watch there as well.  At some point, they might call me down there, if it’s a visual effects shot or something that’s kind of complex.  But most of the time I’m there observing and making mental notes as to how I think the scenes are going to come together. If on the set, they have a preference like, I like Take 3, they’ll mark it in the notes that our Script Supervisor takes. I get it later and can see, Oh! The director likes Take 3, or the producer or the writers like Take 2. Or, they liked this character’s performance in this take and things like that.  I can take that feedback and create the first cut so that when they see it they go, Yes, that’s the take that we really loved on the stage. 

Did you watch How I Met Your Mother beforehand to edit the series in a similar fashion?

Yeah. I mean, it is a very unique style, because it jumps back temporarily.  Our show is set in 2050, with Kim Cattrall playing future Sophie, and then we jump back into the present day where Hilary Duff plays current Sophie. The style of which we tell the story really impacts the editing quite a bit in terms of we go back and forth, we jump to a different timeframe, from something that happened moments ago, and then coming back. So it’s a very fast-paced fun environment that we get to edit in.

You must be given lots of footage that you have to condense down to a certain runtime.  How much footage do you typically receive for a half hour episode?

You’re absolutely right, Michelle. We have quite a lot of stuff that we get, and the shooting ratio is usually about maybe 6 or 7 to one.  So we get a lot of footage, and we’re also using 4 cameras at the same time, in this type of environment. So you have quite a bit of footage that you have to trim down to 22 min or so, roughly. Since this show is streaming on Hulu, we’re not constricted to a certain exact time like if you are on a network that has commercials and things.  But we do have to get it to around, 22 and a half.

How long does it typically take to edit one episode?

From start to finish, I’d say it takes around 8 days but that’s the initial cut, and then we end up sending it to the director and working with the director and the producers.  So in total, usually about 8 or 9 working days to finish.

Sometimes for TV shows, the episodes are shot out of order.  Was that the case for “How I Met Your Father” and then you still have to tell a cohesive story?

Exactly. So. Yes, we did shoot quite a number of things out of sequence. Some of our guest stars that were a surprise…their schedules were complex and very busy. So we had to work around their schedules.  We had to shoot things out of order, and we even shot episodes out of order, just because of the availability of cast or certain large events that we had to go film out on the back lot. We adjust the shooting schedule, and then we edit, and then it airs in the order that we want it to air in.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Well, honestly, the most challenging aspect of this show is trying to choose which performances to use because they’re all fantastic.  These actors are so good. It’s hard to find which is the best performance because they’re all fantastic.

Is there a different technique or style used in editing for sitcoms rather than let’s say a drama or action project?

Yes.  Mostly it’s about pacing and comedic timing. If it’s a drama, you’re really focusing on harnessing the emotion of the drama, whereas in the comedy, you’re trying to get the timing just right, so that the audience laughs and understands the joke and is enthralled and engaged from the timing of the comedic moments.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity)

How I Met Your Father” aired its Season 2 mid-season finale with episode 11, and the series is currently on a mid-season break until episode 12 is released on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.  Season 2 will return to Disney+ on Hulu in the United States and in many countries, including Canada and Australia, on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, with additional episodes dropping each Tuesday through the 2-episode season finale on Tuesday, July 11th.

You can watch the trailer for the second season below.

Season 1 is available to stream now on Hulu in the United States and also on Disney+ in many countries including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

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