Samantha Diamond has been working tirelessly in the television for the past 10 years editing competition reality shows including MasterChef and MasterChef Junior. This year, Diamond finally earned her first Emmy nomination for Fox’s LEGO Masters. In her interview with Awards Daily, Diamond discusses the highlights, trials and tribulations of editing LEGO Masters, earning her first Emmy nomination, and why we parents had no clue why she was so excited on Emmy nomination morning.
Awards Daily: You just received your first Emmy nominated for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured Reality or Competition Program for LEGO Masters, how are you feeling about that?
Samantha Diamond: It’s exciting! I actually didn’t know this was happening on that specific day since I was in the middle of a cross-country road trip with my family, so time had lost all meaning. I honestly had no clue what day it was. I started receiving texts from people and it was like ‘That’s my name! This is cool!’ I find this very exciting, and my husband who works in production was also really excited. But we’re all sitting in the middle of nowhere on a lake in the middle of Wisconsin and my parents were like ‘What’s going on? What’s an Emmy?’
AD: Take me through the editing process on LEGO Masters. I can’t imagine it being easy having multiple contestants building these masterpieces for hours on end.
SD: Someone called me from Endemol and said we have a couple of shows coming up, and I said ‘I want all in on LEGO Masters!’ People really shy away from first season shows because they can be a real horror! There’s so many cooks in the kitchen everyone wants it to be a hit, and of course Fox coming off of The Masked Singer, they wanted another competition show to be great. I feel like we had a lot of pressure to make this thing great, like how can you screw up LEGO? You have to be an idiot to do so! Everyone loves LEGO and we got Will Arnett, and he’s amazing! So I feel like we had a lot of pressure and because of that, there were a lot of people that were like “don’t mess this up!” This should feel like any another show because you have the time competition that’s timed and you have to edit it down, but this was just on a whole different level! Again, it’s like 15 hours of footage sometimes. Obviously, they didn’t film for 15 hours constantly, spoiler alert!
AD: Oh really? See, I wouldn’t have known that!
SD: You’ll see jumps in the build, sometimes you’ll see that. There were time lapses, but truly we had the most ridiculous amount of footage that normally you wouldn’t have. Then, you have to figure out what;s important to who, because everyone has a different opinion. I may think its important to include that team having an argument at that moment and someone else can think it’s not important at all. You may think one team is going to win that particular competition, so you want to include them as much as possible. So it’s really about scaling down what and who you think is most important to the narrative at a given time.
Of course, we couldn’t please everyone despite having all the footage we had. People will complain there’s too much Will, or not enough LEGO – we just didn’t have the time with only 42 minutes to work with. We have Story Producers who very much help narrow down what we should include. Oftentimes we had to change things are 100 times to make people happy, or sometimes nobody was happen with the way things would be at the end, and maybe that’s the compromise! Honestly, LEGO Masters was one of the harder shows that I’ve taken on because the sheer amount of content.
AD: Did it get easier as the season went on as contestants were being sent home, making it easier to include the footage you wanted to incorporate into the series?
SD: Yes! At the end of the day, you have the same amount of cameras you had day one so when you have 10 teams and all those cameras have to go and shoot all of the different teams, you’re going to have a considerable amount of the day when all the teams aren’t going to be shot. What if something great happens and we don’t get in on camera? That would be a nightmare! Obviously, as less competitors are there, you have more cameras on them, so hopefully things aren’t missing. Their mics are always on though! So you always hear what’s going on, but if the cameras aren’t on them because we didn’t think it was important, we can’t use the footage. You can’t be everywhere all the time.
The semi-finals and the finals were hard because it was 24 hours, but we had a wealth of material to use. Will Arnett was also just so hysterical all the time, so we wanted to use as much of him as possible. Honestly, I wasn’t the biggest Will Arnett going into this, just because I wasn’t familiar with that most of his work, but that totally changed while I was working on LEGO Masters. Day one, I was like ‘He’s amazing!’ You genuinely felt he was having a great time working on the show, which made it easier.
AD: It looked like Will Arnett was having the time of his life doing this. It didn’t seem like a job to him, he was just hanging out watching people build LEGO and he loved it!
SD: One thing we don’t normally get on a competition reality show is time. On MasterChef, competitors have 45 minutes to make a souffle and everyone’s hair is on fire! When Gordon Ramsay tries and talk to them they’re like ‘I’m trying to get this plate done, I can’t talk!’ On LEGO Masters, we had the luxury of time. Will would be with the competitors, sometimes for 15-20 minutes just talking because you have 15 hours to build. What else are you going to do? So we’d get these great little stories and moments from people. We weren’t trying to do a bit with people, it happened naturally.
AD: My favorite moment of Will interacting with competitors was when Nestor told Will he was missing his wife and Will just whipped out his cell phone and they called her together. That was an amazing moment to get on camera!
SD: It gives me goosebumps thinking about it again! So many of those moments happened throughout the shoot but we didn’t have time to show them. We have to follow the people who are going to win and the people who are going to lose, so unfortunately the people in the middle sometimes get left out.