The Process: Matthew Jeon, Full Size Run

In which an artist discusses making a particular work

The Process: Matthew Jeon, Full Size Run

In which an artist discusses making a particular work

The Process: Matthew Jeon, Full Size Run

Ali Raz
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Hyperlinked spectatorship. A video that embeds its own reaction video. Viewing experiences designed to mirror the editing process: an exercise in managing large amounts of information. These are the hallmarks not of a work of experimental video art, as one might assume, but of every episode of Full Size Run (FSR), a talk show about sneaker culture put out weekly by Sole Collector, Complex’s footwear vertical. Matthew Jeon, the “sole editor” of these videos, cuts episodes with a sense of play so electric and alive that it’s easy to understand why fans refer to him, with awestruck capitalization, as The Editor, and also as the show’s fourth host. The show’s three on-screen hostsrapper and sneaker aficionado Trinidad Jame$ and Complex editors Brendan Dunne and Matt Weltyare undeniably witty, quick, and astute interviewers, yet what sets FSR apart from any other talk show is its idiosyncratic editing: chunky captions that offer cheeky in-video commentary; a library of running jokes that link episodes in a dizzying loop, epitomizing gleeful information overload. Jeon has evolved an editorial vocabulary that radically reimagines the role of editing in cinematic craftand in the process has somehow ported experimental aesthetics onto what is otherwise a straightforward talk show.

Jeon’s background illuminates some of these weird affinities. After studying film, animation, and video at Rhode Island School of Design (at the same time as I was plugging away at the other school on College Hill in Providence, the two of us never crossing pathsanother weird affinity), he worked in editing positions at various agencies before joining the FSR crew in 2018. In addition to working on the show, Jeon retains an interest in animation as well as in music videos. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. I do not live in Brooklyn. We conducted this interview over a shared Google Doc, a process that felt like texting with a very intelligent friend. Matt was thoughtful, kind, and generously forthcoming as we talked about the bizarre eleventh episode of FSR’s third season, “Rich the Kid Makes Emergency Call to the Sneaker Plug.” Rapper Rich the Kid spends the episode’s twenty-five-minute run time blissed-out, either outright ignoring the hosts’ questions or mumbling incoherent nonanswers. Sole Collector’s website calls this installment “the wildest episode of Full Size Run yet”—that it can be regarded in this way is a testament to Jeon’s wit, humor, and sense of play. Hitchcock called a properly visual cinema “pure cinema”; we might call this episode an anti–talk show with an anti-interviewee that comes to life in the cut, an instance of video editing raised to a pitch where it becomes “pure edit.”

Ali Raz

THE BELIEVER: Each episode of Full Size Run features a short segment, filmed via the show’s “Sneaker Cam,” that offers close-ups of the details of the shoes the hosts and guest(s) are wearing. Let’s do that here but with your workstation instead of footwear. What editing software and equipment do you use, and what does your editing space look like?

MATTHEW JEON: I edit primarily on Adobe Premiere Pro, which is pretty much the standard in our office. Before the pandemic hit, I had been using the computers in the office, but for the last year and a half, I was, luckily, able to edit from home full-time. (I took out a MacBook Pro from the office to set up at my place.) Thanks to that, I’ve been able to edit a lot more comfortably in my home office. My workstation is pretty basic-looking. I do have it situated right next to my record player, though, so it’s nice to just leave music running all day while I work through the edit.

BLVR: Do you ever get distracted while working on the show?

MJ: I definitely get distracted! Especially when working on edits that run over thirty minutes; it’s almost impossible not to. I’m a bit type A about my workflow. I take a twenty-
minute timed break every few hours just to stretch and give my mind a break—sometimes you just gotta force yourself to relax! I tend to look for new music or browse Twitter and Instagram, things that are pretty easy to jump in and out of. 

BLVR: The episode is dominated by Rich’s bizarre non sequiturs and prolonged silences; the tone of the episode—stoner comedy, simultaneously void of content and full of it—is carried almost entirely by the editing: that is, by you. What tone were you going for?

MJ: Once we saw what was happening during the shoot, we had to make a decision about how to approach this episode from an editing standpoint, whether or not to play into how awkward it was or try our best to clean it up and make it run somewhat smoothly. There were definitely conversations about maybe reshooting or looking for another guest, but I thought this could potentially be one of our funnier, more bizarre episodes if we really leaned into the awkwardness of Rich’s nonanswers. I saw it almost as a challenge to see if it was actually possible to make something like that entertaining, or at least watchable.

BLVR: It’s good to hear a little more about how collaboration works behind the scenes at FSR, because another thing I was wondering about was the level of freedom you have, as the editor (or “The Editor,” as you’re called), to inflect and interpret scenes and insert humor as you wish. How does that typically play out?

MJ: It’ll help to start from the very beginning. When FSR first started, our episodes had almost no “editor’s commentary,” or whatever people see the yellow text as, because we were still trying to figure out the direction of this program and what a “sneaker talk show” would look like. It was honestly pretty dry, listening to two guys talking about sneaker news for almost thirty minutes. I would try to clean up and correct flubs from the hosts, but there were times when I couldn’t help myself and would poke fun and highlight those moments with text or a zoom-in on their faces. Once people started seeing that, both in our team and in our audience, it just made the show itself feel a bit lighter and a bit more like a real conversation than something that was so cleanly edited. I think that’s where the editing really started to develop into its own thing, or character, or whatever people have called it over the years. In a way, I’m glad the show has evolved to where comedy is such a big factor; I think it helps keep things fresh for both myself and the audience.

BLVR: You gesture to the various ways other people have interpreted the yellow text. What terms do you think of it in? That is, if it’s not the editor’s commentary or a character, what is it?

MJ: From the start, I have always pictured the yellow text as my own voice on the show. A lot of the comments tend to be my actual reactions to or thoughts on whatever they’re talking about. I love being able to point out mistakes or contradictions made by either the hosts or the guests on the show, almost like teasing them, in a sense. But at the same time, I think I want the yellow text to serve more as a general voice of reason or maybe a voice for things that the audience themselves might be thinking; I never use “I” in any of the comments for that specific reason. 

BLVR: Your editing style on FSR is often maximalist—emphatic music and those yellow captions. So it’s striking when you choose not to editorialize or accentuate something. For example, when Rich the Kid is talking about his admiration for Virgil Abloh, you edit the moment with a lighter touch—no jokes, no sound effects. Why did you decide to hold back for that moment?

MJ: Over time, I’ve found there’s a pretty fine balance between popping off a joke every few seconds to make the situation feel lighthearted and making it seem like I’m mocking a genuine sentiment from a guest or host. When things start to feel slow, it’s always appropriate to try to add something of my own to the edit, but I try to hold back whenever people talk a bit more personally about a topic. I never want to seem like I’m belittling or mocking something other people care about. 

BLVR: You manage that very effectively here. The Abloh moment is arresting to me for the way Rich suddenly feels sincere and earnest after the incoherence of the rest of the episode.

MJ: Right. It was one of the few times when he noticeably answered earnestly, and after fifteen minutes straight of poking fun at him, it definitely felt right to hold back there. Whenever guests get into their personal history or things they’ve done with their platform to help others, it’s hard for me to think of any sort of comment or joke that doesn’t feel unnecessary or overly cynical.

BLVR: Ms. Guthrie, a fictional version of a previous guest’s schoolteacher, makes a cameo in the episode—that character is one of many running jokes whose appearance in episodes is almost purely a function of the editing. Is there input from other members of the crew—producers, for instance—on the upkeep of this reservoir of inside jokes, or do you have full control over it? How do you decide what moments to incorporate as running jokes?

MJ: I actually have a little folder where I save any sort of moment that I think has potential to be a running bit—I learned early on that it’s not fun to go through hours and hours of footage to find one sound bite to bring back. It’s a lot better to try and predict those moments. It’s pretty awesome that, over the years, Brendan, Welty, and I almost feel in sync with the comedy of the show, so they’ve also gotten better at trying to create those moments in person in the hope that I can make something out of it. We have an almost ridiculous number of callbacks and running bits—I’d be surprised if people were catching them all the time. Sometimes it feels like we’re broadcasting inside jokes between the team.

BLVR: What goes into your deciding that a moment has joke potential? Is it a function of intuition, or are there certain qualities you’re curating?

MJ: A lot of the joy in editing is being able to almost fake a response to something. I feel if there’s potential to use (or misuse, really) a general-sounding sound bite, I go for it. It makes me laugh. There’s a clip of Brendan saying, “That’s America, baby,” that I insert into an episode anytime someone talks about capitalism or current events. And I ultimately go for whatever makes me laugh personally rather than what I think people would find funny. Growing up on the early-2000s internet, I feel I have a bizarre sense of humor. Over the years, having people really respond to that through the editing has taught me that I should keep trusting that.

BLVR: What do you mean by “fake” a response?

MJ: Being able to create a moment that didn’t technically happen is something I’ve always found interesting with editing. There are times when someone’s saying something and there isn’t much reaction from the hosts. I always found it hilarious that I could cut out a face that Welty made later in the episode and place it earlier. It’s technically not a real moment, but it helps serve the narrative of the joke sometimes, which is worth it to me.

BLVR: You also pepper this episode with small moments of unexpected humor, for example, when you add a sparkly effect to a stray lock of Dunne’s hair. How do you navigate the lines between distraction and attention, editing and not? 

MJ: Funnily enough, there are loads of times when I’m going overboard and distracting the audience from what’s going on in the actual interview. I think we like to see it as a way to add some sort of replay-ability and interactivity with the audience. The hard-core fans will make sure to catch every line of text even if it’s only on-screen for half a second. It’s like we’re trying to densely pack the episode with as much as we possibly can and reward whoever is willing to pay attention to both sides of the episode—the actual interview and whatever the hell is going on in the editing. I love seeing comments where people say they’re immediately rewatching the episode after it airs just to catch everything again. But it’s not like there aren’t people who absolutely hate the editing, haha.

BLVR: So it’s sort of like a mechanism to reward attentive viewing, like an Easter egg in a video game.

MJ: Yeah, that’s a cool way to look at it. There are moments when I intentionally flash something for a frame of the video, expecting 99 percent of people to miss it. But I always liked stuff like that in shows I watched.

BLVR: I’ve been struck by how your editing style really jam-packs the video with information, much like the editing process is an exercise in managing a large amount of information. It’s like you’re putting the viewer in the position of the editor by rewarding hyper-attention. 

MJ: Right, and that’s one of the things that’s always shocked me to this day—how many people are actually willing to be that hyper-attentive to every episode. I try to strike a balance by not using too much text when the hosts or guests are dropping a bunch of technical jargon about shoes and sneaker news; it’d be impossible to focus on either. I think having those little comments come during any sort of downtime in the actual interview gives the sense of “don’t blink or you’ll miss something.”

BLVR: Who/what are your editing heroes or influences?

MJ: I feel my influences come from pretty random places. I tend to get the most enjoyment out of watching terrible things. I grew up on early-2000s internet humor and I feel that that sort of self-deprecating, self-aware, and hyperactive sense of humor rubbed off on me in the right ways. I don’t usually enjoy comedy movies, per se, but I’ve always enjoyed shows like Arrested Development (the absolute best when it comes to running gags), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. That sort of “asshole humor” never gets old for me. 

BLVR: Do you see the internet or social media content (TikTok, Instagram reels) as having an effect on editing styles? 

MJ: Definitely—for better or for worse, depending on whom you ask. Needing to cut down a full video for a sixty-second teaser on Instagram isn’t exactly a new practice, but it’s effective for a reason. Packing as much as you can into those sixty seconds to make sure your post doesn’t just get scrolled past by a bored viewer is a lot to consider when editing. I’m not personally on TikTok, but I’ve seen some funny stuff here and there; the idea of having more control of the actual video editing (in comparison to other apps) and of using that to either make your own content or respond to another video directly is a pretty interesting idea.

BLVR: One of the most compelling aspects of your work is the embrace of what would usually be thought of as “bad editing”: that is, editing that draws attention to itself instead of being invisible. For example, you deliberately leave in a moment when Rich the Kid burps or Welty starts to say “balls” instead of “ankle.” How did you come to develop your particular editing aesthetic?

MJ: I’ve always loved the idea of keeping in bad takes or flubs—they never fail to make me laugh. And I’m glad it’s become somewhat of a trend with modern-day bloggers or content creators. It almost makes you feel more relaxed and like you’re sitting on the couch with them rather than watching a super-polished product. I think the “bad editing” is what separates FSR from the rest of the Complex shows, and why I feel the FSR fan base is one of our most dedicated ones. There’s more of a “shooting the shit” quality than our other shows have. And it never gets old to make fun of our own hosts. I love how divided this episode is in our fan base: some people think it’s our worst episode and some people think it’s the best. It’s definitely one of my favorites, though.

BLVR: What about it makes it one of your favorites?

MJ: It’s my favorite because I feel like this was the only episode where I was told to just go 150 percent with the weirdness and to do whatever I wanted. I get that people were disappointed with the actual interview portion itself, but I don’t think I’ve had more fun editing an episode and laughing at the computer like a crazy person. Watching that episode still makes me laugh to this day. I actually remember we cut just one joke, where I made it seem like he fell asleep on the couch for a few minutes. I think we thought that might be going a little too far with how much we had poked fun at him.

BLVR: Hitchcock famously described a properly visual cinema (that is, one that tells its story solely through the power of its images) as “pure cinema.” Do you think one could take an analogous position on editing? That is, could there be a cinema that was “pure edit”? What might that cinema look like?

MJ: I think it’s tough to imagine something as a “pure edit” because of how much editing inherently relies on visuals, the juxtaposition of different images, et cetera. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. There are plenty of films where the editing is just as much its own character as the rest of the elements, but to me that’s still directing, in a sense. The idea of a “pure edit” is closer to an interactive sort of thing: something where viewers can be involved and actively steer the direction. The closest analogy I can think of is to something like Wikipedia, something where anyone is able to add input—it’s constantly evolving as more people get involved and build on whatever the person before them added. It’s a pure edit in the sense that it keeps editing/changing/growing itself based on… well, itself. This is all speaking in extremely abstract terms, of course. Probably not too practical in the long run.

BLVR: Did Rich the Kid ever get back to you about the episode?

MJ: We never heard from him about the episode, but “Grams,” his friend-manager whom he calls in the episode, actually reached out to me saying he loved it and thought it was one of the funniest things he’d seen. So that was enough for me. 

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