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Alumni Profile: Scott Reuther, '98

Alumni Profile: Scott Reuther, '98

Posted: October 31, 2018

When Scott Reuther, '98, walked onstage at the Emmys to accept the award for Best Editing he nearly forgot everything he had planned to say.

“As cliché as it sounds it was just a surreal moment, and I was almost speechless,” said Reuther, whose team received a 2018 Emmy for the Netflix series Queer Eye.

Reuther was the supervising editor for the reboot of Bravo’s 2003 Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The original series showcased five gay men (the "Fab Five") giving a straight man advice on fashion, grooming, interior design, food, and culture. The reboot had the same premise: the Fab Five surprise an unsuspecting subject with a complete makeover.

“The original Queer Eye had a snarky tone," Reuther said. "It was shot in New York and much more of a makeover show.”

He realized almost immediately that the new Queer Eye had to take a different tack.

“We had a lot of freedom when it came to the editing—with the music, the style, the pacing, and the tone," he said. "It’s Netflix, so we knew we could push the boundaries when it came to conversations." 

The new filming location of Atlanta and surrounding rural Georgia was also a departure from the original. According to Reuther, Queer Eye season one and two were shot over eight months.

“I watched the footage and saw how sincere and earnest the Fab Five were," he said. "It was almost impossible not to make the episodes emotional. We learned that these stories were not about makeovers; they were about transformations.

Reuther estimates that for every one-hour episode of Queer Eye the team starts with about 100 hours of footage.

“As an editor, the hardest part is picking the most poignant moments from volumes of footage," he said. "A bulk of the work is about connecting sincere moments between characters into a story that aligns with the director’s vision,” he said.

Reuther feels the Queer Eye reboot has significance in today’s climate.

“Although we weren’t making an outward political statement, we live in a country where politicians are always telling us what to think and how to behave,” Reuther said. “The best quality of the Fab Five is that they know how to listen and to find common ground with people who are different from them.”

From Video Library to Netflix Studio

“I had a friend from Buffalo State whose brother was looking for a roommate in New York City,” Reuther said. Just weeks after graduating with a broadcasting degree, Reuther moved from his native Tonawanda to New York and accepted a job in the MTV Video Library.

“It was as boring as it sounds,” he said. “Basically, I spent my days in a warehouse organizing everything video-related in MTV history.”

Reuther eventually worked his way out of the library became a producer for MTV News and Docs.

“The network started to place a stronger emphasis on reality programming in the late 1990s and early 2000s," said Reuther who traveled around the country producing shows like True Life and My Super Sweet 16. "It was during this time Total Request Live (TRL) was just taking off.”

Reuther said his favorite part of the job was the storytelling, and he was hungry for more.

“During my 13 years at MTV, I discovered my love for the docu-series format,” he said.

Reuther said the distinction between reality and documentary TV is that the latter follows real lives without all of the “bells and whistles.”

“Reality TV typically involves setting up situations for the entertainment of the viewer,” he said. “Whereas the docu-series format is about presenting real people, real interactions, and real struggles with as little intrusion from the cameras as possible.”

Reuther left MTV/Viacom in 2011 to focus on docu-series work. He was supervising editor for Killing Fields, the Discovery Channel’s first true-crime series about the unsolved murder of a Louisiana State student. He then worked on Discovery’s Clash of the Ozarks, a six-part series about a 100-year territorial conflict between two families in the mountain region of Arkansas. He has also been an editor for Long Island Medium (TLC), The Real Housewives of New Jersey (Bravo), and Tiny House Nation (FYI Network),

His advice to aspiring editors is simple.

“If you have a passion, don’t give up on it,” he said. “Of course there were days I got homesick. I missed my family. I missed my friends. I missed Lake Erie and the Niagara River. I missed proper chicken wings. But it’s about taking it one day at a time and embracing opportunities as they come.”

What’s next for Reuther? He said he plans to continue to find work on docu-series. He doesn’t have a particular genre he’s drawn to, as long as he feels a connection with the characters and the end result.

“Shows like Queer Eye are few and far between,” he said. “The real world isn’t scripted, but people are natural storytellers. Our most fundamental role is to help tell their stories.”

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