As a lead assistant editor in New York City, Lizzie Kunkle ’14 is working on fascinating projects like “Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” for Netflix.
It started when Kunkle got her first video camera in the 8th grade from her dad John, a member of the Denison Class of ’85. She knew right then film was what she wanted to pursue, not just as a hobby, but as a career. She quickly dove into the intricacies of editing film, learning the ins and outs of complex editing software all on her own.
Denison was where she learned editing isn’t a one-woman job.
“I always thought there was one person responsible for the edit — the editor. But there isn’t, there are directors and producers and an entire team of people who determine the direction of a story,” she says.
It was also a Denison connection who offered her first big break into the industry. Fellow cinema graduate Phil McIntyre ‘93 owned his own production company in Greenwich, Connecticut. Kunkle won his exclusive Denison internship, then moved to New York to pursue an editing career.
“Phil reached out to everyone he knew and I got an internship immediately. By the time I graduated, I had a job in New York working for a company that does Super Bowl commercials.”
Kunkle quickly rose through the ranks, from work as night assistant editor, to second assistant editor, to lead assistant editor — at a pace that’s uncommon for the industry. Now Kunkle has an impressive resume of projects, including her role as lead assistant editor on Netflix’s Bobby Kennedy for President and Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.
“I know pretty much every piece of archival footage in the Ted Bundy series. I logged all of it, I markered it.”
The Ted Bundy Tapes has sparked significant conversation, both in the industry and in homes across America. The four-part docuseries draws from 100 hours of taped interviews that were conducted while Bundy was on death row. Kunkle knows that footage better than anyone.
“I know pretty much every piece of archival footage in the Ted Bundy series. I logged all of it, I markered it. Everything that went to the editor went through me first.”
Kunkle was responsible for the entire workflow of the project. She prepared everything for the editor — which means setting up the project file, labeling every clip, compiling all of the footage, exporting edits — all so the editor can just sit down and cut. Kunkle also managed all aspects of post-production, interfacing with the president of her company and sending cuts to Netflix, a role usually handled by a dedicated post-production manager.
After all of her hard work, and being sworn to secrecy until the trailer for the series released, she is amazed at the public reaction. While some see the documentary as controversial, glorifying the life of a serial killer, others are enthralled by this unseen side of Bundy.
“You never know how people will respond. But it’s really cool to say I was part of something everyone has heard of.”
“I’ve worked really hard to sell myself and my skill set in every interview. They’ll ask me if I can do something I’ve never done before and I always say yes. And every time, I’ve proven myself after I get the job.”