Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Sampling Media$

David Laderman and Laurel Westrup

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199949311

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199949311.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.  Subscriber: null; date: 23 February 2020

All Work and No Play

All Work and No Play

Trailer Park, the Mash-Up, and Industrial Pedagogies

(p.184) (p.185) 13 All Work and No Play
Sampling Media

Jonathan Cohn

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at how the contemporary conception of the digital mash-up became both a recognizable and acceptable part of mainstream media through its early use as a pedagogical tool for commercial editors. One of the most widely known examples of this genre is Robert Ryang’s “Shining,” which used creative editing, a new voice-over, and a rather peppy Peter Gabriel song to transform Kubrick’s thriller into a feel-good father-son melodrama. Ryang’s mash-up was made for a contest held by the Association of Independent Creative Editors, which represents commercial editors. This chapter argues that it is this original context of commercial industrial pedagogy that made it possible for this piece and the mash-up genre as a whole to be hailed by a wider public interested in both its pedagogical and artistic potentials. In the process, the chapter challenges the oppositions that are often made between mainstream “professional” productions and “amateur” mash-ups.

Keywords:   Association of Independent Creative Editors (AICE), Robert Ryang, "Shining", mash-up, neoliberal, fair use, Trailer Park, Camp Kuleshov, media industries, production culture

While editing is a foundational part of commercial media production, Hollywood and its surrounding industries rarely value editors for their creative influence. In Hollywood, unlike directors, producers, screenwriters, and principal actors, editors are always expendable below-the-line workers, paid more for their physical labor than for their artistic vision. At the same time, ever-cheaper and easier-to-use digital tools have made editing-centric genres like the mash-up and other forms of textual appropriation, sampling, and remixing central practices of contemporary artistic expression. While many scholars, including Jonathan Gray, Chuck Tryon, and Lawrence Lessig, have focused on how these (re)editing practices function within the realms of unpaid amateur, fan, and artistic communities, the mash-up is also central to neoliberal commercial production cultures.1

In praising the mash-up for how it highlights the artistic aspects of editing, neoliberal media industries work to validate the creative influence of editing as a profession, even as this praise tends to focus on individual artistry over group success. While this focus on artistry allows individual editors to argue that they are irreplaceable, it also teaches the vast majority that they must constantly work for themselves on individualistic goals, as their jobs are always expendable in a global free market. Indeed, these neoliberal production cultures have played a formative role in the growth and mainstream acceptance of the mash-up genre through its early use as a pedagogical tool. As I will argue throughout this chapter, from 2005 to the present, the mash-up has played an important role in efforts to professionalize and highlight the creative role of editors who work on commercials. Throughout this period, digital technologies and neoliberal labor practices have continually threatened the amateur-professional divide for all media workers.

This case study focuses on Trailer Park, an annual trailer mash-up contest for assistant editors held by the Association of Independent Creative Editors (AICE). In 2005, the AICE represented over 600 commercial editors, who cut, according to their website, “more than 85% of all network television commercials edited in (p.186) the United States and Canada.” This trade group has chapters in eight cities across North America from Los Angeles to Toronto and works to maintain “a strong collective voice in the $5 billion advertising commercial industry.”2 By 2012, the AICE grew to also represent all modes of commercial postproduction, including CGI, design, and Adobe Aftereffects work. As the use of the C in AICE to stand for creative rather than commercial suggests, this organization works to legitimize commercial editing as a serious artistic profession worthy of respect not just for its extraordinary economic impact on media industries but also for its many aesthetic contributions. While normally considered a below-the-line occupation, which Vicki Mayer suggests is often associated with a lack of creative control and respect, commercial editors have here organized around their artistic role in the commercial process to assert that they should be considered a valuable profession that cannot be replaced by any amateur with a copy of iMovie.3 By declaring their creative role in the media production process, these editors make an argument for their indispensable status within a neoliberal economy that continues to devalue and deprofessionalize all forms of manual and below-the-line labor by too often arguing that this work lacks artistic agency.4

To further the belief that there is more to professional editing than technical proficiency in FinalCut Pro or Avid, the AICE organizes a number of yearly events, including Trailer Park, to celebrate the “art and craft of editing.”5 Started by Kathryn Hempel, an editor-partner at Cutter’s, a high-end commercial editing house in Chicago, Trailer Park was set up primarily to foster a “grassroots involvement and awareness of AICE.”6 While Trailer Park started as a local contest in Chicago, where assistants would compete to create a new serious trailer for any of the films that were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar that year, by 2005 it had gone national. Every AICE chapter began holding its own Trailer Park contests. Along with this expansion, the New York AICE board transformed the contest by asking editors to create a trailer that placed the film within an entirely different genre. For the landmark 2005 Chicago contest, the assistants were asked to create a trailer for Super Size Me (2004), West Side Story (1961), Titanic (1997), Red River (1948), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Parent Trap (1961), or The Shining (1980).

Contestants were not allowed to change or add any visuals but could remix dialogue, and/or add a voice-over and a new soundtrack. In essence, they were asked to make a mash-up—a genre defined not simply by its content or medium, but rather by its producer’s mixing together two or more audiovisual materials. In this case, their materials consisted of one film and any number of audio samples. As the source material for mash-ups often comes from popular copyrighted materials, this genre is usually associated by both journalists and scholars alike with amateur and fan productions. As Henry Jenkins argues, these mash-up-creating fans “often appear to be frighteningly ‘out of control,’ undisciplined, and unrepentant, rogue readers.... Like rebellious children, fans refuse to read by the rules imposed upon them by the schoolmasters.”7 Fans’ use of these materials has also led to a rather (p.187) extreme polarity of views on the genre, as some argue that mash-ups are entirely original artistic creations, and others (particularly lawyers for Hollywood studios) see them merely as a form of piracy and plagiarism.

Usually framed as a challenge to Hollywood, the mash-up is often discussed as a transgressive art form that does not easily exist within the current bounds of copyright law and the economics of global Hollywood. For example, Eli Horwatt has argued that these digital practices are a continuation of earlier experimental found footage filmmaking by challenging “traditional conceptions of authorship, ownership and copyright through examinations of media representation and repression” while also often critically examining popular culture.8 Lessig and many others argue that mash-ups and remixes are not in competition with, but are rather complementary to, Hollywood and other media economies. Yet, Lessig also suggests that the current “copyright wars” have criminalized many contemporary artistic trends and caused a great deal of collateral damage that has killed “the most interesting, the very best of what these new technologies make possible.”9 Indeed, few other contemporary genres are as central to contemporary debates around fair use and Internet freedoms as the mash-up. The process of making a mash-up is necessarily “transformative” and thus protected under American Fair Use laws. And yet, this has never stopped lawyers from sending cease and desist letters to mash-up producers and disseminators. Mash-ups and other forms of appropriation and outright piracy have also led to congressional efforts like SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA to gut Fair Use laws and make it easier for commercial enterprises to “protect” their copyrighted materials and trademarks.10

Discourses around the relationship between major studios and mash-up creators is often reminiscent of the enmity that once existed between the old economies of film and the new economies of television in the 1950s. As Chris Anderson has rightly argued, this enmity was perhaps never as widespread or intense as originally reported, as the interests of television and film executives often overlapped.11 There was more often than not a great deal of cooperation between them. I would argue that focusing on the place of the mash-up within mainstream production cultures will add nuance to current debates that pitch the creators of original source materials against those who seek to transform and complicate them. In the process, I challenge the binary oppositions that are often made between mainstream “professional” productions and “amateur” mash-ups.

Hundreds of books, including J. Jeffrey Hanson’s Mashups: Strategies for the Modern Enterprise and Kevin Roebuck’s Mashups: High-Impact Strategies, treat the mash-up not as a form of plagiarism or piracy, but rather as a source of commercial value and a blueprint for corporate enterprises. Others, like Holly Cefrey’s Career Building through Music, Video and Software Mashups and Ian Sanders and David Sloly’s Mash-Up!: How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Earn More Money and Be Happier, treat the mash-up as a genre that can help amateurs perfect their editing skills and prepare them for possible jobs in a plethora of (p.188) transmedia industries. This strategy of taking two popular but disparate things and mashing them together has long been a source of artistic inspiration for Hollywood. While Todd Gitlin and many others have derisively referred to these and similar practices in the context of television programming as a sign of the “cultural exhaustion” of late capitalism, others like Brad Haseman call this cultural trend a “creativity which expands possibilities for meaning through the use of fragmentation, appropriation, and intertextuality.”12 This argument sets up a false binary between Hollywood and experimental filmmaking practices that the mash-up itself belies. As the mash-up is held up simultaneously as a blueprint for commercial value and as a site of avant-garde artistry, it signifies the uneasy connections between these two spheres of influence rather than their outright incommensurability.

These problematic relationships between remix culture, mash-ups, and Hollywood—between amateurs and professionals—are present in Trailer Park. Hempel designed this contest as a chance for assistants to show off not only their editing skills but also their knowledge of the history of cinematic genres and the extremely standardized formulas that are used to sell them.13 Ironically, Trailer Park also acts as a way to educate and test these new assistants on what proper practices and artistry consist of in this profession and how to set oneself apart within a genre that is largely associated with amateurs. As commercial editor Steve Stein explained in a press release, “The light very rarely shines on an EDL [Edit Decision List] dub or posting. This gave the assistants an opportunity to show off their mad skills.”14 As such, this became a way for assistants in this much maligned field to gain a sense of pride in their creative abilities and to start thinking of their work as a meaningful profession rather than as a steppingstone on the way to feature-length film production.

While Trailer Park contestants often use editing to expose and make fun of conventions, they do so not to disrupt or destroy genre, but rather to show its usefulness and centrality in all professional editing practices. As Lisa Kernan has argued, trailers appeal to audiences through a focus on genre because “genre films are at once ‘more of what you know and love,’ and ‘all new and different.’”15 Since Trailer Park’s inception, contestants have made hundreds of mash-up trailers, including a zombie horror version of West Side Story, a slapstick comedy version of Ghandi (1982), a cancer melodrama cut out of Cabin Fever (2002), a gay priest love story version of The Exorcist (1973), and a Bollywood version of Cocktail (1988) (which helped to spawn a feature-length Bollywood film). In 2004, Kevin Halleran won the New York chapter contest for turning The Sound of Music (1965) into a thriller. In an interview, Halleran described how his use of slow-motion and classic horror music in creating “The Sound of Music meets Village of the Damned” helped to illustrate “the power of editing” and showcase his work.16 The goal of this contest is not to see who can create the most original trailer or genre, but rather to show who can make a trailer that most convincingly fits into the form of a preexisting genre.

(p.189) As a result, Trailer Park grades apprentice editors on how well they can manufacture a generic product—a central skill of any commercial editor. Halleran himself suggested that the trailer form generally relies heavily on a whole bevy of clichés that are capable of presenting as much culturally shared information as possible within a short period of time; his trailer includes such clichés as slow motion, a script that began with the phrase “In a world where,” and images of “a land of innocence,” a “woman of faith,” and “unholy evil for children” that are all present in countless other trailers. Halleran argued that making a spoof trailer is no different from making a real one, as in both cases the job of the editor is to throw “as much in there as you can, even if it doesn’t really make sense in the context of the film, it makes sense in the context of the trailer itself.” Halleran and other commercial editors think of all trailers as their “own little world, apart from the film,” regardless of whether they are supposed to be an accurate representation of the film’s genre and narrative.17 Jonathan Gray refers to this relationship as paratextual, as these trailers are always linked to the original footage they are cut from, yet they also have their own independent value. As Gray argues, paratexts, like all mash-ups, “are not simply add-ons, spinoffs, and also-rans: they create texts, they manage them, and they fill them with many of the meanings that we associate with them.”18 When making any trailer, these editors always use premade footage destined for other purposes and therefore think of their work in terms of sampling, remixing, and mash-ups. Rather than employing a completely different skill set, Trailer Park tests these assistant editors on tasks and abilities that they use every day. All the while, Hempel and the other progenitors of Trailer Park stress that blending and copying genres is a form of artistry that commercial editors and assistants should be praised for.

As a tool for the professionalization of commercial editing, AICE arguably gains more from Trailer Park than any of the contestants. David Hesmondhalgh and others who study interns and below-the-line workers argue that rebranding a trade into an artistic profession often results in assistants and lower-level employees becoming happier to work longer hours for less money, as the potential to eventually make a fortune and the chance to make something artistic becomes payment enough.19 While Trailer Park gives assistants a chance to prove themselves and thereby move up the ladder at an expedited rate, it also causes these largely low-paid employees to spend a great deal of their unpaid free time on these projects that are designed to make them better at their jobs. Furthermore, contests like Trailer Park often generate a great deal of creative work for companies at very little or no cost. The prize for the 2005 contest, a trophy of a minitrailer that the winner could keep for only one year and a copy of Avid Express Pro HD, make this impetus visible. This prize encourages assistants to think of working and educating themselves at home during their free time as a privilege rather than as a form of exploitation. As the AICE advertised in a press release, the contest gives them confidence that they can brainstorm around a problem and try to figure it out and that they can work through the brief to come up with a solution. This is a daunting task, what we’re asking them (p.190) to do—it would bring a lot of veteran editors to their knees. We’re basically asking them to pick apart a movie and turn it into something it is not. And they have to do that on top of what is already a full workload.20

While these contestants potentially learn important skills in the process, this macho discourse and the demand that they do this work in addition to their full workload suggest that the contest is also exploitative. Media and entertainment industries expect workers to do more than what they are paid for to excel. As Mark Deuze has argued, media work has become increasingly precarious, partly as a result of these neoliberal practices that destabilize the difference between work and free time.21 Ironically, these same practices also threaten to deprofessionalize all media work, as labor practices like contests and flexible, individualized, and contingent working arrangements overlap with those of unpaid amateurs.

Most important, the AICE gains a great deal of prominence through Trailer Park and the free advertising it generates. If you have heard of the AICE at all, it is almost certainly because of Trailer Park and Robert Ryang’s “Shining” trailer, which won the New York chapter contest in 2005. Ryang’s trailer turns The Shining into a father-son coming-of-age melodrama—what the New York Times called a “saccharine comedy.”22 The trailer uses a new voice-over to describe Jack Torrance not as a crazed psychopath, but rather as a “writer looking for inspiration” who “just can’t finish his book.” Instead of reveling in Jack’s slow homicidal breakdown, “Shining” depicts a hopeful and lighthearted coming-of-age story centered on the burgeoning relationship between Jack and his young son, Danny. A wide variety of digital editing techniques like vertical and horizontal wipes and a new soundtrack featuring Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” are used to transform ominous (if not outright terrifying) images and scenes from the original film into lighthearted and comedic moments illustrating the bonding between an overworked father and his underappreciated family.

Ryang was primarily interested in taking what he considered to be “the most extreme movie” of the group and making “it go to the other extreme. I mean, The Shining not only qualifies as the most extreme of the six but probably as one of the most extreme movies of all-time.”23 His transformation of this “extreme” movie echoes Vivian Sobchack’s insight that horror and family melodrama are not simply opposites, but are rather two sides of the same coin. Sobchack argues that both genres tend to focus on the “limits of the ‘real’ family as it has been constructed in patriarchal culture” and converge around efforts to preserve the innocence and safety of the child.24 Sobchack discusses this thematic parity through the figure of the father, who in both horror and melodrama often exhibits (in opposing ratios) a mix of “patriarchal fury” and the traits of a “nurturant ‘good father.’”25 Ryang displays this relationship between these genres through a continued focus on the father-son dynamic and the transformation of Torrance’s psychosis into unconditional love. By illustrating this generic convergence, Ryang specifically makes a case for the central status both of editing to the construction of genre and of editors in the new economies of Hollywood.


                      All Work and No PlayTrailer Park, the Mash-Up, and Industrial Pedagogies

Figure 13.1 Family transformed. Frame grab from Ryang’s “Shining.”

While making “Shining,” Ryang worked as an assistant editor at PS260, a New York City commercial postproduction house. After winning the contest, Ryang stored his trailer on a hidden URL on the PS260 website. He told a few friends how to view the trailer, and one of them posted it on his rarely read (and now defunct) blog, theTatteredCoat.com. Soon thereafter, it went viral, crashed the PS260 website, and became one of the first mash-ups to gain mainstream prominence and coverage by a wide range of news and entertainment outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR. As of 2012, many websites, including Wikipedia, present Ryang’s “Shining” as the formative example of this genre. As Horwatt suggests, Ryang not only popularized the mash-up but also instigated the creation of a new subgenre known as trailer mash-ups or recut trailers, of which there are now hundreds if not thousands of examples.26 There are also several popular websites including TheTrailerMash.com devoted to cataloging and popularizing these mash-up trailers. The vast majority of examples on these websites come directly from Trailer Park contests and members of the AICE.

Yet, even though “Shining” went viral and quickly became a major source of publicity for the AICE and PS260, it was created solely for the members of the AICE New York chapter who attended Trailer Park that year. As such, “Shining” functions as a problematic example of what John Caldwell calls an “Embedded Deep Text”—a (p.192) text created at least in part for a production community that speaks to the issues and discourses that are central to their culture.27 According to Caldwell, intraindustry contests are important and problematic sites for the creation of these deep texts, as people create “a tremendous amount of ‘free’ creative product on-the-cheap” through them.28 This is certainly true of Trailer Park, which generated many free mash-ups that the AICE and individual commercial companies exploited for profit. At the same time, Trailer Park acts as an important liminal space where people from across an industry can get together, discuss their individual experiences, and become part of a larger community.

It is important to view “Shining” as a deep text that illustrates the too often overlooked connections between the commercial advertising community of the AICE and remix culture more generally. Caldwell breaks these deep texts into three relatively fluid types, ranging from the “fully embedded deep texts” that are made specifically for a particular insular group like a company or a guild, those “semi-embedded texts” that are made by one group and shown to another, and those “publicly disclosed deep texts” that are made by a production group explicitly for the public at large.29 I am here interested in Ryang’s trailer specifically because each community that came into contact with it imagined its intended effect in different ways; as the imagined effects changed, so did the meaning of the text and the mash-up genre it helped to popularize. Made for an intraguild event, it was originally viewed by an audience of AICE assistants and producers across the entire commercial industry. Furthermore, it gained its prominence with the public at large—who in many cases would not have connected it to any particular production history at all. For each group and within each context, the relationship between Ryang’s “Shining” trailer, commercial production, and media pedagogy was read in a variety of oppositional ways. In the process, “Shining” displays the centrality of the mash-up to the currently vexed interconnections between amateur and professional aesthetics and modes of production.

Created as a fully embedded deep text for the purpose of engaging a community of assistant commercial editors, Ryang’s “Shining” is full of inside jokes that playfully make fun of Hollywood genre conventions and the tricks of commercial editing. Ryang used Peter Gabriel’s uplifting “Solsbury Hill” specifically because of its status as a film trailer convention used “in a million feel-good, heartwarming trailers.”30 To prepare, he also watched “a lot of Sandra Bullock and Kate Hudson vehicles” to figure out the formula for movies that “start off with a wacky scenario and...always end on a really heartwarming high note.”31 By setting these conventions in the context of a landmark horror film, Ryang shows the artificial nature of these romantic comedy tropes primarily to imitate and learn from them. This type of purposefully misleading editing is a central skill of commercial editors: “An editor often has to take shots—outtakes, reactions, facial reactions—and repurpose them into a new context if the coverage isn’t there or to improve what was intended.”32 These references to the skills and experiential knowledge of commercial editing (p.193) help make “Shining” a text that the AICE assistant community could gather around and celebrate as a model for commercial artistry and ingenuity.

While Trailer Park is an intratrade association event, the contestants come from a variety of different companies, making it important to also read “Shining” as a semiembedded deep text that facilitates intergroup relations. Patty Zimmerman, William Handley, and Tryon have all observed that these mash-ups often function as a calling card for individual companies and their professional artistic skills to potential clients, competitors, and the general public.33 PS260 and the AICE received a great deal of free publicity from the success of Ryang’s work, both with the public at large and with other entertainment companies and industries. For Ryang, “Shining” opened many doors, resulting in calls from Hollywood executives. Although he received many offers, he ended up staying at PS260, where he quickly became a full editor. The popularity of “Shining” also resulted in a general increase in the number of commercials that relied on a mash-up aesthetic across the field. Many of these jobs went directly to Ryang, including a tourism commercial for New York directed by Spike Lee that featured footage from King Kong (1993) and a number of mash-ups for the Independent Spirit Awards that never aired for legal reasons.34 As a result of “Shining,” Ryang became an editor-auteur, valued as much for his creative vision and talent as for his ease with Final Cut Pro.35

Once his trailer went viral, becoming a publicly disclosed (if not intentionally) deep text, it brought attention to the wider mash-up genre and helped to rapidly increase the number of trailer mash-ups that were produced and distributed by both amateurs and professionals alike. This movement was strengthened by the backlog of already available Trailer Park related mash-ups, many of which were quickly posted online to sites like YouTube to cash in on Ryang’s sudden success. While some of the news reports on “Shining” reference its status as a production made within a commercial environment, this history was just as often left out. Chris Franklin, the editor-owner of Big Sky Editorial, remarked that “companies would spend 50–100 million dollars for the kind of exposure that this kid got with a fifty dollar entrance fee...this is what commercial companies try to do all the time, get this kind of exposure, but rarely does it happen. People on the Internet can spot when something has commercial pressure behind it a mile away.”36 For those viewers who did not know of Trailer Park, there is almost nothing in “Shining” to link it back to this contest. While there is an end-title with Ryang’s PS260 e-mail address, this could easily be misconstrued as a New York Public School address, making Ryang appear to be a student with a natural gift for editing rather than a professional who had gone through a great deal of training. Without this background knowledge, “Shining” can appear to be much more pointedly subversive of the distortions and clichés of Hollywood and commercial editing practices, especially in the way that it transgresses popular genres. While the satiric and subversive aspects in Ryang’s piece were always present and noted by a variety of viewers and scholars like Horwatt, they are necessarily complicated and dampened if you know that it (p.194) was actually made by someone working within the commercial industry who practiced these same techniques on a daily basis. Indeed, knowing that Ryang was not a fan who made this trailer simply as a labor of love (though he did enjoy the process), but rather a professional who made it over the course of two weeks during his nights and weekends as a way to excel at his job suggests that while it may appear to be subversive, it is also symptomatic of the exploitation of low-paid workers in neoliberal media industries.37

Narratives that frame mash-ups as creations purely of a fan’s dedication to a text run rampant throughout both popular and academic discourse. While Horwatt praises mash-ups for their potential to inspire critical, subversive thoughts in the minds of Ryang’s “young disciples,” Gray singles out this genre specifically because it is created by those who are traditionally viewers rather than producers of media.38 In Show Sold Separately, while Gray points out that “Shining” originated at PS260, he suggests that it was made by a group of staffers who “set themselves the task of changing a famous film’s genre by weaving together existing footage to create a new trailer.”39 This introduction suggests that the workers made the trailer as a group for no specific reason other than fun, when in reality it was made for a competition in which the staffers were pitted against each other. This misstatement is small, but it both obscures any criticism one might have surrounding the economic role Trailer Park plays in the mistreatment of low-level advertising workers and helps strengthen Gray’s later arguments that the mash-up is primarily a genre created by amateurs and fans outside of media industries.

By primarily recognizing amateurs as the producers of mash-ups, the centrality of the problematic neoliberal economics of contemporary media industries to the mash-up’s growth and popularity goes unnoticed. In Reinventing Cinema, a study of how digital technologies have influenced cinema, Tryon presents almost no production history of “Shining” and focuses instead on its reception after it went viral. He describes Ryang primarily as a fan of The Shining whose work was discovered not because of his ties to the AICE production culture, but rather because of communities on YouTube and other video-sharing sites. In the process, Tryon uses “Shining” as an example of how the World Wide Web has created a “shift in the relationship between fans and filmmakers, between producers and consumers.”40 While I agree with Tryon that “Shining” (and many other mash-up trailers) are useful for debating whether consumers are becoming more empowered “at the expense of the movie studios” and whether digital media is blurring the lines between content producers and consumers, these debates are very different if one thinks of Ryang not just as a consumer of media but also as a professional editor. This is especially problematic as “Shining” is not a special case; many of the most popular mash-up trailers on YouTube were posted by other contestants of Trailer Park and their individual companies. By suggesting that Ryang is primarily a fan, Tryon is able to present “Shining” and other mash-up trailers as a form of “vernacular textual analysis” that allows fans to reinterpret the original film and critically respond to Hollywood (p.195) advertising clichés. Trailer Park complicates this analysis as these contestants are not primarily or necessarily “fans” (though they may indeed love the films they are recutting) and the goal of the contest is not to mock or critique the tropes of marketing, but to replicate them in effective ways.

While both Tryon and Horwatt argue that mash-ups are the product of critical (and at times outright subversive) thinking, their focus on fans and viewers rather than traditional producers undercuts the politically and economically transgressive potential of the genre. Horwatt suggests that while fan art and these mash-ups in particular have the potential to be politically subversive, “like the Soviet re-editors and political remixers, trailer remixes tend to imitate rather than disrupt the grammar of commercial cinema.”41 As these trailer remixes (or mash-ups) are often viewed as a form of imitation rather than transformation and thus are not necessarily covered by Fair Use laws, both Ryang and Halleran were repeatedly asked questions about the legality of their work and whether they had received any calls from Hollywood lawyers.42 Neither had, and while this is likely due in part to the fact that both trailers are quite transformative of their original texts, they both felt that the primary reason they had not been harassed was because they had not tried to make money off their trailers and Hollywood therefore considered their works to be nonthreatening fan art.

In 2010, ironically as a result of a trademark dispute, the AICE renamed their contest “Camp Kuleshov” in honor of one of the founders of Soviet Montage. Kuleshov’s most important work, as Franklin put it, focused on “the power of juxtaposed images to radically alter the audience’s emotional response to the film.”43 As Kernan has argued, the “Kuleshov Effect” structures the editing schemes of most trailers “as the trailer trades heavily in boundaries, edges and the spaces between where meaning happens.”44 The contest’s renaming reinforces the AICE’s pedagogical mission to show and celebrate the Creative side of commercial editing to assistant editors and the public alike. Even as Camp Kuleshov exploits workers by asking them to work for no money, it also continues to act as an anchor for the larger postproduction community and culture; in a press release, Hempel announced, “I would love for the festival to stay fun, inclusive and supportive of all the assistants as well as the editors, producers, librarians, receptionists, accountants—in short, all the women and men of post [production], younger and older, who work so hard in this crazy industry.”45 The mash-up, a genre often associated with fans and amateurs, is in this formative case central to the creation and growth of a production community that is working to become recognized for its creativity and professionalism.

While the mash-up genre is often placed in an uneasy opposition to commercial production and American and international copyright laws, it is quite ironic that it became popular as a result of a contest created by and for professionals to educate and showcase the skills of assistants. Ryang’s “Shining” was certainly not the first mash-up, and it is arguably not the best. I contend that it instead became (p.196)

                      All Work and No PlayTrailer Park, the Mash-Up, and Industrial Pedagogies

Figure 13.2 Romance/terror. Frame grab from Ryang’s “Shining.”

popular and was reported on by respected mainstream news outlets in part because it fits nicely into the narrative that the AICE and all media industries prefer: Even with all of the cheap technology and amateur cinephiles out there, Hollywood and commercial filmmaking are still relevant because they employ and educate the best and most creative workers like Ryang. During this transitional moment, amateurs with their cheap digital creations continually challenge the exalted status of professional productions. Yet Trailer Park offers a counterexample of how digital creativity is often exploited by neoliberal ideologies and economic structures designed to support the status quo. While the popularity of “Shining” suggests to some that a new and more egalitarian economic model for media creation is on the horizon, its mode of production illustrates the ties that bind these new creations to neoliberal economies and forms of control.

I would like to thank John Caldwell and Jaimie Baron for their notes on earlier versions of this piece. And thank you very much to Laurel Westrup and David Laderman for their excellent editing advice.



(1) . See Jonathan Gray, Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts (New York: New York University Press, 2010; Chuck Tryon, Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the Age of Media Convergence (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009); (p.197) and Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (New York: Penguin Press, 2008).

(2) . Association of Independent Creative Editors, “About AICE,” www.aice.org/?section=about/about_aice/.

(4) . Ibid., 5.

(5) . Association of Independent Creative Editors, “AICE Officially Adopts ‘Camp Kuleshov’ for All Trailer-Editing Competitions for Assistant Editors” (New York: AICE, 2010).

(6) . Kathryn Hempel, “Trailer Park,” www.aice.org.

(7) . Henry Jenkins, Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 39.

(8) . Eli Horwatt, “A Taxonomy of Digital Video Remixing: Contemporary Found Footage Practice on the Internet,” in Cultural Borrowings: Appropriation, Reworking, Transformation (a Scope E-Book), ed. Iain Robert Smith (Nottingham: Scope: An Online Journal of Film and Television, 2009), 76.

(9) . Lessig, Remix, 18.

(10) . For more on these proposed laws and their relationship to fair use provisions and remix culture, please see many of the articles in Kembrew McLeod and Rudolf E. Kuenzli, eds., Cutting across Media: Appropriation Art, Interventionist Collage, and Copyright Law (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2011).

(11) . See Christopher Anderson, Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994).

(12) . Brad Haseman, “Creative Practices,” in Creative Industries, ed. John Hartley (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005), 165.

(13) . Kathryn Hempel, “Hempel Personal Interview” (January 8, 2006).

(14) . Editors, “AICE Officially Adopts ‘Camp Kuleshov’” (EDL-edit decision list, the process of logging shots and listing, either by hand or via software, the exact order of shots to use), www.aice.org/downloads/press_releases/2010/AICE%20Kuleshov%20Announce%20Version%205.pdf.

(16) . Wild (Child), “Press Release: AICE Honors Wild (Child) Assistant Editor Kevin Halleran,” ed. DigitalVideoEditing.com (New York, February 20, 2004).

(17) . Ibid.

(18) . Gray, Show Sold Separately, 6.

(19) . See David Hesmondhalgh and Sarah Baker, Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries (Abingdon: Oxon; New York: Routledge, 2010).

(20) . Editors, “AICE Officially Adopts ‘Camp Kuleshov.’”

(21) . Mark Deuze, Media Work (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2007), 2.

(22) . David M. Halbfinger, “His ‘Secret’ Movie Trailer Is No Secret Anymore,” New York Times, September 30, 2005.

(23) . Danny Munso, “The Cutting Edge: Turning Stanley Kubrick’s Horror Classic into a Romantic Comedy, Shining’s Rob Ryang,” Creative Screenwriting, September 7, 2005.

(25) . Ibid.

(26) . Horwatt, “Taxonomy,” 82. Horwatt makes a distinction between recut trailers, which feature footage from only one film, and mash-up trailers, which combine footage from at least two films. While Ryang’s “Shining” features footage from only The Shining, it includes sound from a variety of sources.

(28) . Ibid.

(29) . Ibid., 202–203.

(30) . Munso, “The Cutting Edge.”

(31) . Ibid.

(32) . Robert Ryang, February 6, 2012.

(34) . Ryang.

(35) . Ibid.

(36) . Editors, “AICE Officially Adopts ‘Camp Kuleshov.’”

(37) . Ryang.

(38) . Horwatt, “Taxonomy,” 82.

(39) . Gray, Show Sold Separately, 63. Tryon, Reinventing Cinema, 152.

(40) . Tryon, Reinventing Cinema, 150.

(41) . Horwatt, “Taxonomy,” 77.

(42) . See Munso, “The Cutting Edge”; Bob Garfield, “Twisted Trails,” On the Media, WYNC Radio, February 27, 2004; and Matthew Gold, “An Interview with Robert Ryang, Creator of the Recut Shining Trailer,” in The Tattered Coat (October 10, 2005).

(43) . Editors, “AICE Officially Adopts ‘Camp Kuleshov.’”

(44) . Kernan, Coming Attractions, 45.

(45) . Editors, “AICE Officially Adopts ‘Camp Kuleshov.’”