As part of the 'Rogue One' team, this CCM grad spent long days and nights in the editing room

As part of the 'Rogue One' team, this CCM grad spent long days and nights in the editing room
Posted at 7:00 AM, Jan 23, 2017

CINCINNATI -- A graduate of University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is hoping "Rogue One" will launch his career into hyperdrive.

Nicholas Lipari, who earned his bachelor's of fine arts degree from CCM in 2012, was an assistant editor on the latest "Star Wars" installment. Working in post-production, Lipari helped piece together the story that explains how the Rebel Alliance captured the plans for the Death Star.

"I'll never look at 'Star Wars' the same ever again," Lipari said. "'Rogue One,' I've seen that, like, 500 times. It becomes a life experience, not just a movie."

The experience included long days and nights in the editing room, but also trips to San Francisco and time spent on Skywalker Ranch, the workplace of "Star Wars" creator George Lucas.

In his role as assistant editor, Lipari did everything from hands-on editing to researching -- "Anything the editor needs, I'm on it" -- so he can't point to a single scene or moment in "Rogue One" as an example of his work.

"There are so many people involved, you're just part of a team," Lipari said.

The 26-year-old Akron native began his journey to the "Rogue One" editing team four years ago, when he landed in Los Angeles thanks to an unpaid internship with Hallmark Media, where he was creating online content. Within just two weeks, Lipari had negotiated his way into a paid, short-term position thanks to his technical abilities, skills he honed while attending CCM.

Lipari received several awards for his college-era work, including recognition from the National Broadcasting Society for his work on the opening sequence of a student-produced film, "Last Night in Town."

"I was always making my own stuff on the side," Lipari said. "I just wanted to make (stuff)."

Next up in Los Angeles was a post-production assistant job that expanded his network and helped him as he shifted into freelancing.

"I lived a very, very, very cautious life for, like, a year and a half," Lipari said. "I was extremely choosy about the projects I picked, to protect my resume. It made it hard financially."

But Lipari's pickiness paid off. After working on commercials and documentaries for Ridley Scott Productions, he got into the assistant editors' union, which expanded his network of connections and landed him a union job as first assistant editor on a studio film, "Jem and the Holograms."

That job helped him find work on the live-action version of "The Jungle Book." And that led to "Rogue One."

"It became a domino effect," Lipari said. "Now, it's taking time to let things roll in."

Lipari isn't sure what his next big project will be, but he's hopeful "Rogue One" will open up doors to new, interesting work.

"Because you have that on your resume, people will talk to you now," Lipari said. "... And I want to work with people I enjoy and don't mind going into the grind with."