On September 14, 2020, first-time Creative Arts Emmy nominee Daniel McDonald MFA ’17 earned a coveted trophy for Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program for Netflix’s docuseries Cheer, which followed cheerleaders of Navarro College in Texas as they prepare for a national competition—the biggest moment of their lives.
As an editor on the series, McDonald was responsible for piecing together the pivotal climax of its final episode, which was the ep submitted for Emmy consideration. “The ’Daytona’ sequence, as we called it, showcases the cheer team’s big competition,” he says. The production crew was not allowed to film it, so they asked parents, participants, and friends of the cheerleaders to film as much as they could using their own mobile phones and cameras. McDonald then stitched together the 25-minute sequence from these disparate sources and used social media clips from SnapChat and Instagram to round it out. ”It is by the far the most challenging thing I’ve been asked to edit, but I’m proud of how it ended up—sort of a Cloverfield-meets-Bring It On found-footage action sequence,” he says.