Cutters’ Tom Pastorelle shapes his clients’ visions

WHO HE IS: Tom Pastorelle, a senior editor at Cutters Editorial where he’s worked since 1993.

HOW HE VIEWS HIS JOB: As an editor for high-profile clients like Nike, Wrangler, McDonald’s and Michelob Ultra, he says, “It’s great to take all the parts of a project, from agency concept through processing of the film, and turn them into something more fully realized.”

PROS: “Working with great and interesting people, at Cutters and among our agency clients.” He’s also fond of the climate control in his edit suite.

CONS: The sales element. “In film school, editing meant spending untold hours hunched over a Steenbeck 16mm flatbed. At that time I never could have predicted that so much of my job would revolve around sales calls.”

KEY TO SUCCESSS: “Striking the balance between giving the agency what it wants and allowing for my vision. It’s so important to let the creatives know that you want to work with them, not against them.”

ON THE SIDE: He edits film shorts, music videos, feature-length films and independent projects for music houses, production companies, and friends of friends. “It’s always refreshing to step out of the world of 30-second spots and into the totally different discipline of a longer format, when the overall length can be anything it needs to be.”

BACKSTORY: In 1986 while majoring in chemical engineering at Northern Illinois, Tom took a course in film appreciation and fell in love with what he saw. The next year he transferred to Columbia College, and worked as a camera assistant intern on “Prelude to a Kiss,” “Mo’ Money” and “Home Alone 2.” “I might have been a cameraman by now.”

But preferring the art of editing, after graduating in 1991 he got a graveyard shift job at Mediatech (now DG Systems) dubbing tapes and uplinking TV shows. Cutters hired him in 1993 as a tape operator, promoting him eight months later to assistant editor and to editor in 1997.

BIG BREAKS: The first?when Cutters’ general manager John McGrath hired him. The second?when client Phil Smith of Laughlin Constable gave him the chance to edit a Wolverine Boots spot. “It was an awesome opportunity to work with 25,000 feet of 16mm film, all non-scripted with non-actors. It was a huge challenge and I’m very thankful to Phil for his trust in me.”

WORDS OF WISDOM: The old clich? is true?”Edits are never finished, just abandoned.”

HIS ULTIMATE GOAL: Originally it was to write and direct a feature. As dreams so often do, Pastorelle’s has evolved.

“The older I get, the more I realize that my strength is in helping shape other peoples’ visions with a critical eye.”

Tom Pastorelle can be reached at 312/644-2500, or email,