Ted Winterburn

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I don’t feel the need for legacy. I learned that the joy was in the doing of it.
— Ted Winterburn

Into the Night is dedicated to the extraordinary life and work of Ted Winterburn, my dear friend, collaborator and inspiration for over twenty years. 

Ted’s gift for storytelling resonated throughout the editing process, and he matched my research efforts with explorations of his own. Unlike many editors he was involved in the conceptualization of films: pre-interviewing potential sources, reading primary texts, and helping to shape the final narrative in a unique way.

Prior to working with me, he had a  very successful career on many PBS documentaries and television series including The American SportsmanPortrait of AmericaExpedition Earth and Global Extremes, Frontline.

Our  first collaboration was an exploration of one Ted’s most admired artists, the photographer Richard Avedon. For both of us,  Avedon wasn’t only a supremely gifted narrative and fashion photographer, he was at heart a storyteller, which is something both of us tried to capture in the film. Avedon’s unique gifts were a perfect fit for Ted’s editing abilities. He managed to spotlight the story at the heart of each iconic photograph. Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light was featured in the acclaimed American Masters series on PBS.

From that portrait of a single iconic artist, Ted and I  moved on to a film with epic sweep: The Millennial Pope, a three-hour portrait of John Paul II, a man whose life intersected with every major event in the 20th century (broadcast on PBS Frontline) .

Other films include Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, a PBS special exploring the spiritual aftershocks of the 9/11 tragedy: how belief was deepened, transformed or destroyed in the wake of this horrific event. The film was shown annually with an introduction by Bill Moyers for an entire decade of commemoration.

Among the works we created together over two decades includes: the four-hour PBS/Frontline series The Mormons (with American Experience), which spanned the history of the Mormon Church, with travels to outposts in Africa, South America and throughout the United States. A three-hour PBS series, Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time To Hate, explored the complexities and contradictions of forgiveness in the personal and the political realm. Ted was also an active collaborator on Into The Night: Portraits of Life and Death. Despite being diagnosed with an advanced stage of prostate cancer, Ted was, as usual, involved in the preliminary research, and then selflessly reviewed the footage, discussing overarching themes throughout the production. He had hoped to complete the film, but passed away before editing began. 

While Ted enjoyed the awards and press attention our work received, he was far more interested in the joy of doing it. As our work experience deepened, so did our friendship. I came to know Ted as valuable source of insight about life as well as work. He was graced with rare humor and wit, and possessed a singular quality of 'merriment.'  Our sessions in the edit suite were punctuated not only by soulful conversations about deep existential questions, but also by uproarious laughter as we watched the human comedy pass by on the monitor.

Ted was a dedicated father, a loyal husband and a cherished friend. He was also an inspiring mentor to many rising in the editing profession, and was revered by his colleagues. 

– Helen Whitney, Director, Into the Night

I don’t know anyone who took as much joy from his work as Ted. He complained endlessly and hilariously about his trials in the edit room but it was obvious he loved every minute of it. His editing was always about the story, never calling attention to itself. His best work, from sports and adventure specials to deep delves into spiritual questions, has a genuineness and empathy; a reflection of his own humanity.
— Kris Liem, Editor, Into the Night