Young Guns 17: Mah Ferraz
By Brett McKenzie on Nov 04, 2019
Shining a light on the amazing class of Young Guns 17
What happens when you take a jury of 60+ respected creatives, more than 500 entries from all over the globe, and mix them all together for two months of serious consideration, debate and decision-making? Eventually you get the winners of Young Guns 17! This year, The One Club for Creativity is honoring a creatively diverse class of 28 winners, including animators, designers, photographers, illustrators, film directors and editors, all of whom came out of this process as true champions of their craft.
Ahead of the Young Guns 17 Ceremony + Party taking place on November 20, we are featuring the various superstars who will be taking the stage that evening.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Congratulations on being I believe the first film editor to win Young Guns! Now how did you first learn the competition?
I first heard about Young Guns when I had the pleasure of working with YG6 winner, Jessica Walsh, at Sagmeister & Walsh. I have always loved and respected the work done by Stefan Sagmeister(YG1) and Jessica, so to know they are both Young Guns is what first sparked my interest.
You're winning Young Guns on your first attempt. Considering this was all new to you, what made you decide to enter?
I never thought about entering until last year. A good friend of mine and work partner, director Geoff Levy, had been shortlisted before, entering mostly projects we've worked on together. That made me think I could do it, too! That same year, I had another shortlisted friend, art director/designer Alexandra Sobiecki, that encouraged me to enter the competition next time. And lastly, this year, I was nominated to enter by Working Not Working's co-founder/CEO, Justin Gignac (YG5), which was a pleasant surprise and the final push that made me do it. I thank each of them for their role in making this happen!
Which of the six projects that you entered is your favorite?
They are all special projects to me, but if I have to choose one, I think it would be Resistance: Rio's Different Face of Fashion. This project was directed by my dear friend, Geoff Levy, and shot in the favelas of my hometown- Rio de Janeiro. That alone makes this film close to my heart. Also, the film tells the stories of these models in the favela challenging beauty standards and fighting the social-economic barriers that are extremely prominent in Rio to this day. The theme of ‘Resistance’ is always a favorite of mine and the fact that I'm making it possible for these stories to be heard, is very special to me.
One of the highlights of entering Young Guns is the ability to submit personal projects alongside professional ones. I understand you took advantage of this...
Resistance and Escape Day were both personal projects. Personal/passion projects are my favorite types of work since there are no clients involved and I can have total editing freedom. There's always more room to be creative, which makes for beautiful and meaningful work.
What was it like to discover that you won YG17?
When I got the email that I won, I started shaking! I wasn't expecting it at all. I was already super thrilled to be on the finalist list. Being the only shortlisted editor among directors felt incredible and already a win. I called my mom in Brazil, that's the first thing I did.
How would you describe your creative style?
I can say I'm known for being experimental with mixed media, playing a lot with sound design and finding opportunities to be cutty and edgy. I have a lot of fun with that, but I don't like labeling myself in any aspect of my life, so I don't like stating a style. I'm constantly changing. I'm not great at following rules, so I often create my own in life and with my work. My style is to constantly challenge myself in what I do and who I am. I often choose a project because there's something about it that's new to me, that will make me think differently and then edit differently. I often feel the need to re-invent. Through always looking for "my next big challenge", I get to be more creative and get better as an editor and as a person.
What is your favorite tool when it comes to making what you do, something you’d feel naked without?
I'm generally not attached to anything in particular, but recently I received a gift from the photographer/director Driely Carter and it has become a very special and fun work tool. She gave me Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies ‘Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas’ set of cards. Each card has a challenge/advice written on it, that's "intended to help artists break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking". This “game” is great for me since all I seek in life and at work is to find ways to think differently and challenge my own ways. I'm a big fan of these cards now!
What do you do when you hit a creative wall — besides pulling out that deck of cards?
When I hit a creative wall I often go watch old classic movies. There's something about watching the classics that gives me peace and inspires me to move forward. I'm not sure if it's because that's a safe place for me and brings me back to when I was 13 or 14 years old watching those movies and being inspired by them then, or if it's because I feel creativity is some sort of mix of the old and the new, it's taking the history of you, and of what you do, and making something current and fresh out of that.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career?
I first was introduced to editing by leaning about Sergei Eisenstein and watching Battleship Potemkin so I should probably thank him for planting that seed. I don't have one famous influence since I get inspired by so many different people and styles and that keeps changing with time, but I do have people to thank in my career, who taught me a lot and believed in me from the start. Jessica Walsh helped me get my first visa after college and inspired me in a lot of ways for being a talented, young and successful woman. Everyone that endorsed my visa, including Young Guns winners Tim Goodman (YG7) and designer Zipeng Zhu (YG13). My dear friends, Producer, Molly Brunk; and John Skeffingson, EP at Artjail, that both helped me get my first job. Micah Scarpelli, Uppercut's owner/editor, for giving me my first job; and always being a big fan and a brother to me. Alvaro Del Val, editor at Wax, who is my forever mentor and friend. My mom for being my ultimate mentor in work and life; and for supporting my career choices in all ways possible. And lastly, my girlfriend for being patient with my crazy work life. I could not be so happy and fulfilled in my career if it wasn't for them.
You have a lot of Young Guns winners in your circles. Are there any others that you haven't mentioned that you admire?
Name a creative dream that you have yet to fulfill.
I want to keep working on projects that inspire me and help me outdo myself in all ways possible. I want more awards! This feeling of having your love for what you do and the effort that you put into your work recognized is just one of the best feelings in the world; and it fuels me to do bigger, greater things.
Any final thoughts for the Young Guns community?
I don't consider my work a job; I love what I do and my work is a huge part of who I am. I put a lot of myself into it, both time and care; so having the recognition for it, is the best feeling in the world. I'm incredibly honored to be a Young Guns winner. Being a foreigner and a woman, I worked very hard to get the opportunities I did and be able to work in the best industry in the world, so I'm very proud to have made it here and hope to inspire more talented young people to keep dreaming big. I can't wait for what's to come. This is just the beginning!
WORDS FROM THE JURY
“Mah's work is beautifully articulated and crafted drawing you into the narrative with purpose. There is a vibrant and contemporary direction to her work which is refreshing to see. She has a confident style which makes her work exceptional.”
Partner & Creative Director
“As an editor, Mah Ferraz has already created an ownable style to her storytelling. She really helps guide the stories in a thoughtful and unique way and you can really see her influence in all of her work. I can't wait to see how she evolves her craft in the future. ”
The Young Guns 17 Ceremony & Party takes place on Thursday, November 20 in New York City.