Calling All Actors: Joe Fulton Could Become Your New Best Friend
Chances are, you’ve never heard of Joe Fulton ’07. Except for the flash of his name in a television show’s ending credits, the Los Angeles-based picture editor would have it no other way.
“I don’t have any designs to be in front of the camera or to be famous,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to walk down the street and not have people shouting at you.”
Often the last one to view the cut of a TV episode, Fulton stitches together scenes and cuts others to develop a cohesive final product. He’s worked on some 25 productions, including “Will & Grace” (for which he was nominated for an Emmy in 2020), “Superior Donuts” and the current AMC metadrama “Kevin Can F**k Himself,” which stars “Schitt’s Creek” alum Annie Murphy and Eric Petersen ’03.
He believes the best picture editors do little to draw attention to themselves. “If I hit all of the right beats in guiding your brain and eyes, then you don’t really notice that cameras are changing. My job is to not be noticed. I think of it as sort of a big puzzle. How do I convey a story or message across in a way that makes sense and doesn’t confuse the viewer? There hasn’t been a day when I haven’t enjoyed it.”
As a freelancer, COVID-19 has forced Fulton to spend much of the last year working from home. He uses Avid Media Composer software to finesse shows to completion. He’s also branching out into film work, having recently finished editing an independent movie called “A Thousand Little Cuts,” about a psychiatrist engaged in a battle of wits with her patient. The film stars Marina Sirtis (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) and Rebecca Liddiard (of Canada’s “Frankie Drake Mysteries.”)
Fulton knew as an eighth-grader growing up in Janesville, Wis., that he wanted to get into show business. That’s when he shot home movies and marveled at the fact that he could film scenes out of sequence, but reorder them to maximum effect on his computer.
With fond memories of watching “I Love Lucy” reruns as a kid, Fulton enrolled at Bradley as a radio/TV major (now television arts). He believes his editing classes gave him the necessary building blocks to launch what has become a successful career.
“You need a good foundation for when you eventually get into an edition suite,” said Fulton. “Until then, you can still learn something new every day that will help you keep working.”
While sitcoms are stereotyped as all laughs, with no heart or message, Fulton hopes the film shows a “heaviness” in his skill set. The so-called Second Golden Age of Television has brought about countless new programs on a bevy of nascent platforms, but Fulton isn’t letting himself get comfortable.
“You’ve always got to be thinking about where the next job is coming from. Obviously, if there’s a season two and season three, hopefully, you’ll be asked back. But at the end of a series, you have to start thinking about sending out your résumé and making calls.”
But there is one truism working in his favor. In Hollywood, there’s always a second act.
— Andrew Faught