In a recent company-wide message, Cutters Studios Founder/CEO Tim McGuire announced his retirement, expressing deep appreciation for his colleagues worldwide and immense pride for their combined achievements.
After beginning his career as an assistant editor and working his way up to the editor position, Tim made the leap to open his own shop. Cutters was born in 1980, and over the next 20 years, Tim edited countless award-winning campaigns as a key part of Chicago’s advertising community. In 2001, he moved into full-time management, facilitating the growth of the company’s Cutters Editorial, Another Country, Flavor, and Dictionary Films divisions.
Deeply respected as the heart and soul of the organization – whose vision, dedication, and commitment have been essential in establishing Cutters Studios at the top of the commercial production industry worldwide – in honor of his extraordinary legacy, the company’s leadership engaged him in this historic exit interview.
Q: Can you please describe Cutters at the very beginning?
TM: It was a very basic start to Cutters. After hearing that the company I worked for was closing, a decision had to be made. Do I look for a job or go out on my own? I spoke to several of my clients to gauge whether they’d support me if I opened my own shop, and it was a unanimous yes. I started to run some numbers, took a home equity loan, hired my assistant Reggie Phillips, and found a small two room office in the back of an old office building at 230 N. Michigan Ave. I rented a Kem and a Moviola from my old boss and boom, I was in business overnight! I had great support from producer Helmut Dorger and creatives Suzanne Emerson, Judith Werme, Julie Strom, Christie McMahon, and Dale Landsman.
Q: What was the first big project that made you think things might work out at Cutters?
TM: Two come to mind, the “I Wanna Pop” campaign for Shasta was a big industry success story, followed closely by Wheaties “What the Big Boys Eat.”
Let’s leap back in time to that Wheaties campaign!
Q: Can you share a few highlights from your experiences on the Shasta campaign?
TM: It was an opportunity to use editing that excited me with a fast-paced, unexpected editing style. Suzanne Emerson and Judith Werme, two great creatives that I loved working with for many different projects and clients, brought me onboard. Judith would walk into my edit room with a bag of music tracks from different music houses and tell me that the answer is in there, and then leave. I’d stay up all night listening to different tracks playing against footage I assembled until one clicked. A challenge, but so much fun!
Here’s a pop back in time for the Shasta spot…
Q: What other projects are especially memorable for you?
TM: Two others come to mind. The first is Michelob “Light Up The Night,” a fast-paced music montage campaign with beautiful footage. The other was a campaign for Discover Card, “It Pays To Discover.” In addition, I had such great experiences with so many campaigns I worked on. Budweiser, Busch Beer, McDonald’s, State Farm, Helene Curtis, and Maybelline, to name a few. Also, the variety of work that included dialogue, montage, non-scripted dialogue, beauty, sports, and causes.
Q: When you look over the Cutters Studios constellation now, what are you most proud of?
TM: Our culture and the drive to be the best. We have never stopped striving to improve our standing in the ad community. Our current ownership, management, and creative group are as strong as any in the industry, and will continue to push the company to new heights.
Q: You and Cutters were actively involved with the Association of Independent Commercial Editors (AICE), from the very beginning. Can you highlight your shared history?
TM: In the late 80’s, New York, Chicago, and LA editors got together at the NAB Show in Las Vegas to discuss the possible start of a national organization to represent the interests of commercial film editors. I was part of the group representing Chicago. We needed a strong organization for editors nationally with an executive director, an industry standard bid form, legal representation, and so much more.
I really enjoyed the negotiations and getting to know the owners and editors in other markets. Soon, most of the ad markets were represented by AICE… Toronto, Detroit, Minneapolis, San Francisco, just to name a few.
Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you, and/or Cutters?
TM: I’m relatively reserved, but competitive as hell. I hate to lose.
Also, the strength of the partnership and how we go about pursuing opportunities and solving problems is important to us all. In our meetings, there are different approaches bandied about, but when that’s over, all the owners always pull the rope in the same direction. We have always supported each other.
Q: What advice would you like to share with the next generation?
TM: Bring on people that are smarter than you who are experts within their own discipline, and then let them do their job. I’ve never been a micro-manager, maybe to a fault at times.
As an editor, I always looked at who was doing the best work and challenged myself to get better. The same for is true for the company; to be great you have to think great!
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