It takes a sharp eye, an imaginative mind and innate rhythm combined with a keen sense of timing and technological savvy to be a successful film editor, all traits Hilmer Graham has cultivated throughout his life and in his work.
"I've always been a film enthusiast, since a very early age," says Hilmer, who admits he's probably viewed and analyzed at least 2,000 films over the years. "I feel that my instinctual understanding of story structure and narrative as well as aesthetics make an ideal formula for the intricate yet creative work I do."
Hilmer's clients would surely agree. His impressive project roster has ranged from commercial spots for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Virgin Atlantic, Dish Network and Las Vegas Tourism (What Happened Here Stays Here campaign) to work on short films, promos, music videos, and TLC's popular Repomen: Stealing for a Living hosted by The Soprano's Vincent Pastore. Hilmer also did promos for The Learning Channel (TLC) and American Movie Classics (AMC), as well as a music video for Lisa Roxanne's single Get the Hook Up produced by Lenny Kravitz.
A native New Yorker, Hilmer was born with a creative spoon in hand thanks to the inspiration of his mother - an artist and a dancer - and his father Ronny Graham - a comedian, musician, and film writer famed for his work with Mel Brooks. "Much of my early inspiration came from my dad", Hilmer admits. "He played a wicked Jazz piano, composed 5 songs a day, acted on stage and television and was a regular script writer on the TV series Mash. The real question is 'what couldn't he do'?" Hilmer began writing and playing piano at the age of seven, and by the time he turned 13 had made two short films, composed over 15 songs and written four screenplays - one of which was considered for an ABC After School Special.
By the time he went to college, Hilmer knew exactly where his life path would lead. He earned a BA in Music at Hunter College with a minor in Film and later went on to claim a degree in Advanced Recording Engineering at Full Sail Academy. All while launching his own NYC recording studio. But his love for film could not be contained. So after two years, Hilmer closed his studio doors and redirected all his energies towards achieving that goal.
"Having developed a strong understanding of technology, it made sense for me to capitalize on my computer knowledge as the key to gaining a film education" he points out. His subsequent posts as senior tech support at a major law firm and as a senior business analyst at Vivendi/Universal (consulting record labels on internal web application designs), served the dual purpose of financing his three years of Film/Directing studies at NYU while training him in the essential technology skills required to excel as an Editor. During this time, Hilmer also studied acting, performed on stage and produced The Mirror, an award winning short film, to further round out his portfolio of talents.
"I now realize that all my experiences over the years have led me towards this one path of becoming an Editor... from the first time my father walked me across the 20th Century Fox studio lot to the first time I put my fingers on the keys of a piano. Music gave me the rhythm and timing, writing the understanding of story and structure, acting the ability to identify and exploit good performances, and technology the skills to get past the real-world challenges and focus on the work. Still, I think my obsessive film watching and general love for the medium prepared me best of all. Some people are film watchers; other people absorb. I'm most definitely an absorber, a sponge of sorts. It's simply within me."