ACE Editors On Oscars Podcast
Cinema Junkie / March 3, 2018
The 90th Academy Awards are Sunday and one of the most misunderstood and least appreciated of the craft categories is film editing. So here is a trio of brilliant film editors to talk about their work on this year's Oscar-nominated films and to provide insights into just what film editors do.
Welcome back to another edition of PBS cinema Junkie podcast. I'm Beth Accomando. Film editors don't get enough love. I'm sure there are directors and actors who appreciate what an editor can do with film editing is one of the most misunderstood and least appreciated of the craft categories.
When an editor does their best work nobody noticed nobody should notice because like you said the editing is that element which can't even visibly string it all together.
It's easy to see what an actor does in a movie or what a cinematographer or a makeup artist contributes to a film but to the average filmgoer the editor is merely the person who lets a film run too long her fails to match a cut.
Yeah I mean I think a lot of people think that editing is sometimes as simple as cutting out the bad part or just doing what the director wants but an editor can significantly contribute to a film storytelling.
Take Elmo Williams work on high noon. He added repeated shots of clock's ticking down to the 12 o'clock hour and made the film play out in real time to add tension to the story. Some editors forum longtime partnerships with directors that result in stunning collaborations.
As with Martin Scorsese and his editor Thelma gunmaker I think that the fact that we collaborate so well that as I said it doesn't become a battle of egos and that's why we get along so well. He knows that I'm going to do the best for his movie. And that's the way we shape this raw material very much the way a sculptor takes a lump of clay and shape it into a portrait of someone. So I think people may not understand how. Raw the material is that comes to us and what we have to do to manipulate it and cut it to make it work.
I can't tell you how much joy it gave me to see Frances McDormand play a film editor in the Coen brothers screwball Valentine to Hollywood. Hail Caesar. Like. I say what you got married I put some music on.
We see her masterfully rack up film on a 35 millimeter upright move Viola slapping sound onto picture and running a scene for the studio head. It's not just a nod to that person who sits in a darkened room all the time but also recognition that from the beginning women were working as editors and proving their value to a production. Plus it points out the dangers of wearing a scarf on the job. LESHIN Wisconsin.
Since editing still seems to be something of a mystery to many even to some who work in the industry I'm going to talk with some brilliant editors about their work on this year's Oscar nominated films for this podcast. I'll speak with a trio of editors who were all nominated for this year's American Cinema Editors or Ace Eddy awards. The editors are Tatjana as Reagle for Tania Paul matchless for baby driver and Gregory Plotkin for get out. Ace has been celebrating the art and craft of editing since 1951. It recognizes that an editor can control the pace of a film and craft a performance. Editors can also begin working as soon as shooting starts and stee with a film all the way through post-production regal and matchless are also both up for editing Oscars this year. While Plotkin worked on the Oscar nominated get out all three discussed the challenges and rewards of editing in a new digital age and all three display innovation in dealing with narrative structure and storytelling and for matchless there was also innovation in the actual process of how baby driver was assembled. Whether you're a casual filmgoer who's just curious about what makes a well edited film or if you're a filmmaker who wants to learn more about the craft of editing these skilled artists will provide enlightenment about their profession. First up is Tatiana Reagle who spoke with me the day before she won the Emmy Award for Best edited feature film comedy. I began by asking her how she ended up in the rather unglamorous job of a film editor.
Not very many people know what editors do and I certainly didn't when I first started but when I got out of college I moved back to Los Angeles knew I wanted to get into movies. I just didn't know what I should do. So I sort of you know created this list of possible jobs in my head and went through and crossed off all the ones that I didn't think I would be appropriate for or interested in this kind of left me with a very short list of one which was editing and that kind of turned out to be a perfect combination of both sides of my brain very creative and yet very technical which suit in my personality and my father was a professor at UCLA when I was growing up and my mother was a schoolteacher and I grew up in L.A. and saw films being shot all around and I was fascinated by it and I loved going to movies. And then eventually when I wanted to try to find a job I was asking people you know friends of friends of my parents and stuff if they knew anybody and develop this list and finally got a job in quotes working for free in exchange for training on a very low budget feature film called River's Edge where they taught me you know I think dailies and code and log and all of the things that an apprentice an assistant editor does. And I just fell in love with the job.
Looking at your credits you had some directors early on that you worked under that would seem to give you a lot of interesting perspectives because you you worked on a film that Alan Rudolph directed that Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino. I mean these are all directors who their films feel very different in terms of kind of their narrative structure. So how was it working early on with directors like that.
Oh it was wonderful it was so fortunate not just the directors but the editors. When I was an assistant I got to witness remarkable relationships and wonderful collaborations between those directors and their editors which was a graduate film school class. To me the directors are amazing and I was very lucky someone some of that is just dumb luck and some of that is trying to search out the filmmakers that I really like and try to work with them. But yeah I mean for example Quentin Tarantino I worked with on three Quintan films with Sally manky his longtime editor and I just tried to be a sponge and watch and learn.
You mentioned Sally Menke. One thing that had always impressed me about editing is that from a very early time women were recognized editors early on in the industry and that seemed for me like growing up when I was a teenager it was neat to see women in those roles kind of being featured.
Yeah it's really interesting. There are a few and in there they're pretty you know famous relationships between directors and their female editors. Quint and Sally Martin Scorsese and Thelma. It's wonderful. I think it's a very very unique collaboration. I think it's something that's very important to have a director and an editor. They obviously have the same taste and sensibilities and yet have different histories that they come from and points of view that they can bring to the film sitting in the room with somebody who thinks exactly like you do. I just don't think you're going to get as good a story told. Whereas if you if the director and the editor have a real collaboration and use each other as sounding boards and build creatively on top of each other which happens when you think a little differently when you come from different backgrounds and you just end up with something so much more rich. And it's really fun.
Having said that there aren't that many women editors are union the motion picture editors guild I think is only around 23 percent female and understand many film schools now are really sort of 50 50 and something happens pretty early on in the process where I think women drop out of these careers either because of you know family or you know having children or whatever. But I think more so because of a lack of opportunity. And I think that's what's coming forward right now with with a lot of conversation that I think is slowly going to be very helpful.
Yeah I mean there's still it's still a minority but I just remember seeing editors like DeeDee Allen in fields that I wasn't seeing women cinematographers or that many women directors truly of all of all of the departments you know you know like that it's editing is definitely the best.
It's not equal yet but it's it's definitely better than cinematographers are composers. I mean name the last female composer. So it almost never happens. Yeah that's true. It's definitely a field that makes it a little easier.
It is something that I think most people going to film just watching don't really understand what it is. So is there one kind of misconception you'd like to address. Is there something that you get asked a lot like yeah that's not really what it is.
Yeah I mean I think a lot of people think that editing is sometimes as simple as cutting out the bad parts or doing what the director wants. I mean I get the material that they've shot. I work as they're shooting and I get the material the next day and I watch the dailies and I go through and pick performances. I pick the angles that are used and I assemble the scene you know from a storytelling perspective. So I have to have an understanding of that I have to have an understanding of performance of camera of all of that and I want to find the takes and the scenes that are emotionally real to me and assemble them and then I start working with the director when they're done shooting and we go through all of that. But the editor has a tremendous amount of influence on what the movie is. There are times where I can take a line reading from one take and put it with the visual of another take. Sometimes I only use a word from another take and put it in I can manipulate time by expanding or contracting giving more pause between dialogue to give something gravity or speeding something up to give something tension. That's really what it is it's like I've sometimes described it like if you're sitting at a dinner table and there are a number of conversations going on at that dinner table if you really try to pay attention to where your eyes go you know you don't know exactly when somebody is going to start talking somebody starts talking and then your eyes move to them. Sometimes you're looking at the other end of the table and you see two or three people having their conversation. Sometimes you see what's happening underneath the table maybe somebody is playing footsie or whatever or you watch somebody above you know reach for the salt shaker and do that if you imagine those are all different camera angles that are telling the story of your experience at that dinner.
And everybody from every different angle has a different experience and that's what editing is it's like it's where your eyes go to tell that story.
And I think people don't quite understand the idea of pacing in the sense of you know they're very conscious of some action scene that's cut fast or getting impatient with a film that goes on too long. But I don't think they appreciate when an editor chooses not to cut or let something play out and that that's as much an editing choice as cutting fast or something.
Absolutely. And that's always the test. I mean we screen it for people and try to see what works.
There's for example there's a sequence in AI Tanya that I love for that exact thing for when not to cut which is there's a scene between Tonya Harding and her mother Marcel Xaver.
They're sitting at the table and it escalates into an argument very quickly and her mother is very mad and starts grabbing stuff off the table and just heaving it across the room at Tonja towards China. And I said when I'm talking to you I say you.
And eventually one of those things that she picks up is a knife and throws it at her and the whole audience gasoline.
It's so unexpected and the characters don't even expect it. You know they're they're both shocked that it happened and then then there's just holding and holding and holding that creates this tension where you don't know as the audience member and honestly the characters you feel like they don't even know what the other person is going to do next and you cut back and forth between that slowly expanding this time just to the point where I like to describe just before it breaks. And you're just creating more and more tension and then the way that is that tension is eventually released is by a cut to a scene that happens to be very very funny line.
Oh please show me a family that doesn't have ups and downs and it is such a tense unexpected brutal scene that you're watching and then it just gets broken in this wonderful way by this humorous moment that is it's a release and let you move on.
And that is something that's created an entity I Tonya's the film that you've been nominated for an ACE Award for talk about the particular relationship you had with the director Craig Gillespie who you've worked with before to talk about on this particular film like what was the dynamic in terms of the script the director and kind of how your work played out in it.
It's very nice because I've actually worked with Craig Gillespie now off and on for the last 10 years. We've done five features together and one pilot and it is a real luxury to work with a director that you know. You know it's always scary because you're if you if you worked with a director before because you're presenting your work to them and you don't have a relationship in a trust and a shorthand to understand exactly what they're going for and vice versa. So working with Greg was just an absolute thrill it always is. I we we understand each other very well.
We have the same sensibility the same sense of humor and yet we come to it from very different places and can really build and add to the movie.
I Tonya's a film that really plays with the narrative structure for a film like this. How much of it is that kind of jumping around and changing kind of perspectives built into the script and how much of that comes about during the editing process.
Yeah that's an interesting question. It's a little hard to describe the script was fantastic and absolutely had a lot of that built in what was really added in post and sort of worked with is that there are these interview sequences you know originally Jeffrey Tiny's wanted to take out non-secure take her out and I was the one who popped out and said there are other ways to deceive people.
So you're welcome. I mean at 27 I was the most hated man in America.
Maybe the world with a mustache. I still.
Can't apologize enough for my name was ever like if you bash someone a kneecap you Gillooly them. That was I was called up.
Their interview sequences. There is voiceover And then there are situations where the actors sort of turn and break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. All of that was scripted as just on camera interview. And so we then had to work and weave this material in and out of the scenes by switching some of it from on camera to voiceover And in these certain situations to breaking the fourth wall which is just a very delicate little dance to go through and figure out exactly what that's supposed to be in the correct way to convey what is a very emotional and tragic story for many many of the parties concerned and also ridiculously absurd and funny story.
Working with a director that you know just makes it that much easier because I knew what he was going to be going for based on other films that we've done.
The film feels really fresh in terms of how the story plays out. Did you feel that you were that you were finding new challenges on this film that you hadn't had other films.
Yeah we would laugh about it a lot actually because we felt like we we had this license to sort of break every rule of filmmaking. We did a little bit of everything. I mean there are different formats used their different framings use their split screens there's jumping around and there's a voiceover I mean it's just all sorts of stuff and so it really allowed us to try anything that we could come up with that oddly worked somehow and didn't feel like we were we were doing something not organic with the movie because there were just so many different elements and it was it was fun. I mean surprisingly surprisingly fun to do without being constricted by oh you know it's a little weird to use a splitscreen here because we've never done it before. It just it just worked.
Give them a film critic. I got a screener early on because we had critics voting and I looked down as like I don't know if a story about Tonya Harding is like really what I want to see and I pop that in and I have to say within seconds like it had me hooked.
Well you know that's the exact same feeling I had when Craig called me and said Hey I just got this script that I might be directing about Tonya Harding. I had that I had that exact same sort of I had a deflation. Like really that's what you want to do next. Why. And then I read the script and I immediately also I was like oh I said this is not at all what I expect it to be. And I think that's one of the most unique things about this film is that a lot of people have and it's sort of the point of the film to a lot of people have a very preconceived notion of Tonya Harding.
Generally people either love tanyard or not big fans just like people either love America or they're not big fans.
Tanya was totally American because of what we've been told what we were told 25 years ago by the media and that story and what we remember over the course of the last 25 years there's a line in the movie that one of the characters says. Yeah a lot of people thought Tanya hit Nancy herself. And I remember when I read that line I was like I thought this is the case it's not the case but you know you just misremember history. And I think that this is one of the really unique things about this film is that you know it is not it's not trying to solve a mystery it's not trying to tell you that something that you've thought is wrong. It's not trying to absolve anybody or whitewash anything that that happened. It's just trying to give you a little bit more perspective about who these people were as people. Three dimension dimensionality of who they are rather than who we were told to think they are. And I think it just makes it makes it more fair. People's impression of me.
And I'm a real person. You know why.
I never apologize for growing up poor being a redneck which is what I am. You know in a sport where the friggin judges want you to be this old timey version of what a woman supposed to be being the first U.S. woman to land a triple axle.
Everybody going into that movie feels differently when they come out than they thought they would feel. That doesn't mean it's changing your opinion. You just feel very differently.
Well what I thought worked so well is the fact that you're dealing with a story that's kind of this tabloid headline and this story that you remember mostly through a lot of quick media cuts and things like that and the format that's chosen to tell it kind of emphasizes all those kind of elements. It's like the style of telling the story perfectly matches kind of the content of it.
It does yeah. And that was a really unique tactic that the writer took. He watched the 30 for 30 documentary about Tonya Harding and just thought it was such a fascinating story and decided to find her and interview her. And so he he did. And then he decided to do the same with her ex husband Jeff Gillooly and interviewed him and they had as it says on the very front part of the movie wildly contradictory stories and that when when that when he was sitting there listening to Jeff after hearing Tanya he was like Oh my goodness this is this is exactly how I have to tell this story. And it works so well. You know you not only have them but you have other characters telling their points of view and it just makes it extremely unique and quite fresh and unexpected.
Looking at your credits you have a mix of films where there are some films that are kind of action in horror. You've worked on Fright Night but then also kind of small indie films like The Way Way Back where it's more about character and dialogue. What are the different challenges in working in those kind of different films.
I really enjoy working on different types of films. It keeps my job very very interesting. I think that editors like actors or writers or directors or anybody can very quickly become typecast as a particular type. Oh that's the horror a person that's the action person you whatever and then the comedy guy you know whatever you can get stuck having only those opportunities to work on and not being able to break out of that. I've tried to sort of actively as much as anyone can control one's own career try to shake that up as much as I can and work on different kinds of films mostly also just because I like different kinds of films. I go to all all different kinds and it's interesting how I want to work on the same movie over and over again. They're very different you know a small little indie is a very different experience than a big studio movie. Neither is better or worse they're just very different. You know in a big studio movie that many many people more people involved in you know you sort of have to please a big team of people because they're going for a specific thing whereas on an indie film like The Way Way Back and certainly I Tanya was this way it was very much an independent film. We are left much more alone and really get to make it really becomes kind of more of a filmmakers thing. It is a film that the director wanted to make or at least much more close to that. And it's it's wonderful. It's really really wonderful and refreshing. It's oftentimes a lot more difficult because the schedules are much shorter and the budgets are much smaller and you have a lot of a lot of constraints that way but it's very unique and wonderful and gratifying way of storytelling.
What is it about editing that you personally just find are the most attractive to you. What is it about the job that kind of hits like this is exactly why I love doing it.
It's very challenging and it's really rewarding and it's it's one of the few positions you know besides directing the movie yourself where you get to have such an impact on the movie on the set. There are 100 plus people all grasping at the director for their attention and getting answers in this and that and you have the time schedule constraints and everything and you're you're just frantically trying to get everything done when they in post-production. You know after it's shot you're sitting there in a room with the director just the two of you for the next six to nine months together and it's a very very intimate collaborative way of working where you get to really be precise and try and experiment and and be very vulnerable and about the material and try things in a safe space and really create and make a movie. That's what editing is. It's a lot like writing. People have often described it as the you know the third draft the third right rewrite of the script and you don't know what that's going to be until you're actually in there working on it. The movie that is made is often and usually very different than the than the movie that is intended or thought would be made and almost always for the better. It's always very very fun to get to know the movie. You know you don't know what it is it's like being pregnant you know you know and love your child. And then when you actually are actually born you get to actually meet them and find out what their personality is. And it's the same with that movie.
And Tony in particular do you remember any particularly challenging sequences or any ones where like you went one direction and then just completely had to kind of revisit it and go a different way.
Sure yeah there were. Well there were many challenging sequences and that was a very fun part of this particular movie is that there are all kinds of different things that are the skating sequences which are just great fun and tremendous personality in each and every one of them and then there are you know dialogue sequences which are really fun and you sit and you work with the pacing and the performance and you can change anything from a line reading to a little eye movement which can change the mood. You know the the the message of the scene I think the most challenging thing in this film overall was trying to trying to work that tone you know because it's a very it's a pretty harsh movie in certain ways with the with the domestic violence and stuff and it's difficult it can be a really brutal brutal honest film in that way also juxtaposed with this absolute absurdity of the of the story and quite comical and funny. And it's a hard it's a hard dance to go back and forth between that appropriately with respect and good storytelling. So doing that and working with the interviews and the voiceover and breaking the fourth wall and stuff like that was took time and practice and screening it for people to make sure that we had all of the right elements in there.
Well you mentioned tone and that's what you guys nailed it was such a you mentioned dance in tone and it was such this like tight wire tightrope act where going a little too much this way would have been wrong and a little too much the outway would have been wrong. But you you guys pulled it off. I mean that's what was so impressive about the film is that you found yourself laughing and then being aghast and then you know and then having compassion for her.
Tonya Harding which you know I don't think anybody thought that they would be able to have you know going into it. Yeah it's interesting you know the same thing happened with the first film that I did with Craig Lars And The Real Girl where we used to literally say if we'd gone five degrees left or right we would have ended up with a disastrous situation. And it's exactly the same with this film. It is a dance it's a very very delicate dance. I think it works well.
Is it difficult as an editor in the sense of that tone is so hard to get. And I think the editing played a key role in getting it. And yet part of your job is to be invisible almost it's like if people notice what you're doing maybe so you're almost working to make your work not visible to the public. Absolutely.
I mean you can do that quite literally by you know in some of the skating sequences we are switching back and forth from Margot Robbie who absolutely knows how to skate but is not a professional Olympian skater. We have to switch seamlessly back and forth from her to our double who who is a professional skater you know without seeing that.
But you do that yeah you do that with every scene. If you're if you're paying attention to the editing too much it's often because the story isn't gripping in some way you or you're confused or or bored or whatever and you start to watch other things. I mean it is supposed to be invisible for the most part. Certainly there are some films that are flashier than others but it's supposed to be you know you always always always want to cut for emotion. And if you can keep that emotional thread going through the whole scene or film then what people.
The literal cuts people aren't really paying attention to and who are the editors that you admire or who you feel have influenced you.
Oh my goodness there's so many. Well obviously Sally manky with whom I worked for years I thought she was just phenomenal. Really a great DDE owling of course. Martin Scorsese's editors Alma Schumacher. Amazing. There's so many. I happened to have just mentioned female editors but there are so so many marvelous. Let's see who else Hal Ashby used to be an editor before he became a director and I think his films are very influenced by that. Dylan Titchener you know Michael Tronic who's just fantastic and you know everybody brings something to the films that they work on their own sensibilities and perspectives. And there's so many really wonderful editors and if you're lucky enough to have great material to work on some bad movies or a bad movie can be really well edited because you have no idea how bad it may have been or there are good films out there that probably you know with a certain editor's worth weren't that great and had to be reworked by others. It's a tough thing. We never know what the material is that we have to work with. So it's a hard thing to judge.
That's why I feel so bad for editors because I feel like I were I fell in love with editing because my uncle let me cut a TV commercial once because that was his business and I was like man putting this thing together was so much fun. And then I started to appreciate it more. Going to movies and seeing you know trying to examine what the craft was. But I've always felt like I only hear people talk about editing. Usually when they go like that film was too long should have been around yeah.
And sometimes that's not what you say.
In fact often it's the director who is who is just quite attached to something and sometimes we're just sitting there.
Why is it so clear if you can pick you know a couple films or three films to recommend to people as examples of like heroes watch these films and you're going to learn something about the craft. Are there any that you would point to.
Yes I would. Let's see. Well Harold Imaad I think it's just fantastic I think that's another film that is has this crazy tone that is that is wonderful. It's dealing with some very serious subjects and a very funny and peculiar way. All that Jazz is a really interesting movie editorially. Apocalypse Now fantastic the Godfather. Oh my gosh I could go on and on. You know if if people are curious about it I would just try to find find the films that you know that's that those lifts that are floating all over the Internet of the top 10 20 movies and study them watch them a couple of times and if somebody is wanting to appreciate editing more just from filmgoers point of view you know the Oscars are coming up.
People are always going like you know why did that person get nominated and the person didn't. If somebody wants to go into a film just to kind of focus on editing and think about it what should they kind of go into a film and focus on you know as a second viewing saying like all right I'm going to look at this film and see how it's cut. What should I be paying attention to.
You know I think a lot of people when you mentioned earlier that people complain that films are too long. You know if you really want to study it try to try to figure out what you would take out and what would happen to the movie if you did take it out. Is it still going to tell the story. Well is it going to. Is it going to convey everything that you wanted to convey or are all of a sudden you know if you have a lot of times we have screenings and people make these somewhat flippant comments like Oh you could take 20 minutes out of that and I was like really here for 20 minutes that's a long time. If you actually sit with a with a stopwatch that's a long time and there's a lot of information if you start hacking out 20 minutes of a movie that you won't get. So it's that's the challenge. It's like really what you need it. Same thing is true with you know if you're writing a paper you know you go through and you if you are trying to make that as efficient as you possibly can using as few words as possible but still conveying the emotion and story. How do you do that. It's it's an exercise.
Well I was interviewing the director from bone tomahawk and he which I love that film. And he said he had some people criticizing it and saying like well you know you should cut it down there's like all these scenes that really don't have to do with the story and they point to this one scene that seems kind of inconsequential it's where the two characters talk about how do you read a book in a bathtub. And you. And his point was he says you know that might not have to do with moving the specific plot forward but it's lining the characters in a way that you need to know otherwise other things are going to play wrong if you don't. Exactly.
Exactly. That's that's precisely it. And things may go on on the surface may appear extraneous in some way but if you really start to analyze it and see what's what's in that scene from a character perspective or a story perspective it all becomes pretty crucial or should be a if it's not. If it's not advancing the story or the character there's a very good chance that perhaps it should you know get trimmed out and that's the process that you go through to find that sweet spot of you know giving yourself time. You want to have some breathing moments in the movie to just sit and ponder for a second before you get thrust into the next scene. But you also can't do that with every scene.
And do you have any advice to people who are thinking of going into editing. Is there anything that you would suggest they do or don't do.
Yeah I would suggest that they cut. Honestly I think I think it's a lot like painting or dancing or playing a musical instrument. It takes practice. You have to you have to come up against those those challenges and those problems and work your way out of the maze and solve them in some way. So cut everything that you can do work on anything and everything and practice you know whatever that the 10000 hours to become an expert you know you really need that and just practice practice practice and find the films that you like study them and try to understand why and listen to other editors. Describe how and why they do things. If you are fortunate enough to actually get into the business and start working in the business. Talk to editors about how how they did it and why sit in the room with them when they're editing a scene and have them explain why they're making those choices. That was what I got to do. I got to I got to sit in those rooms and listen as a fly on the wall to an editor and a director going through their creative process and it was invaluable.
And can you learn something from watching a badly cut film.
Yes you can if you can tolerate it. Yeah you can't because you start to watch you start. You start to feel intuitively. This is not where I want to be. I don't need to be I am too far from the character I'm too close from the character I already understand this information. This is redundant. This is unclear. This is monotonous. You know whatever it is you have to just sort of really pay attention to each and every moment every single line. I mean we will sit and analyze every single line. Maybe it's the same line line.
But you said with a slightly different grammatical flair or a slightly different tonal flair. Each one means something completely different. Is it more important to see the person say their line or is it more important to see the reaction of that line. Somebody listening to that line does tell two very different stories.
Well it's interesting because sometimes I also serve on selection committees for films and for student films and sometimes people will complain also like well you know they didn't match cut that or something. And when I had the chance to interview Thelma Schoon mockers her point was she said you know matching a card is the least important thing to me. It's like I need to match the emotion or I need to match them up formally.
She says she's 100 percent right. And I have watched her films myself many many times and realized that's what exactly what she goes for always. And it's amazing when you really sit and watch you know not just her stuff but but but a lot of people's work matching is the least important. If you if you are moving on a through line with emotion story and then is at the very last. You know but it's always emotion emotion emotion and story and continuity.
Yeah I noticed that. I recognize badly matched cuts only when the film is bad and it's like there's nothing it's like I'm not interested in the story I'm not interested in the actors I'm not interested in the character.
Oh his arms in a different place and they're here as well.
It's like you're suddenly there there's one scene and I Tanya that there to actually two moments and I Tanya that have just there's one scene that has just tremendous mismatches and almost nobody sees it certainly not the first or second time going through. And I always laugh at that when I pointed out to people to my assistants and stuff like oh my god that's amazing. There's another that has a big continuity error.
I'm challenging people. Oh gosh don't look for it. You know with with a set issue that we didn't see for ages for months and months and all of a sudden the director and I looked each other were like hey wait a minute.
And were like Oh well see who sees that when you know it's so difficult to have that. It's impossible you know things are shot you know hours days sometimes weeks apart from each other. You're always rushing to get through stuff and then the actors themselves are in emotional moments and it's very hard to to do things the exact same way all the time physically as well as emotionally trust me. People always always think that when you asked earlier about a misconception about editing they think that we don't see the whole say things that they've discovered the mismatches. Trust me we know all of them. We know all of them. It's it's sometimes a choice sometimes we have no choice but to use that material and sometimes it's just like you know what. That's not the important thing we just kind of move we've got to keep this emotion going.
Well I want to thank you very much for taking some time and for your work on Tanya which was brilliant.
Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoy the movie. I really hope people give it a shot. It's not what you expect at all. I think people are always quite pleasantly surprised. It's it's a tough one but it's it's important one I think and I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Well I think with stories like this where the story content itself can be kind of gruelling because it deals with abuse and things like that. But the filmmaking is so exhilarating that it kind of counterbalances whatever kind of down you might feel from the story itself.
Yeah I agree I agree wholeheartedly.
That was film editor Tatiana Riegle who received an Oscar nomination for her work on Tonya. Next up is one half of the editing team for Edgar Wright's revved up baby driver Paul matchless matchless recalls that his interest in editing dates back to when he was very young.
You would have to go right back actually to when I was about five or six. My father was a producer and a copywriter for an advertising agency in Melbourne Australia which is where I'm originally from. And when I was about five he basically brought me along I guess it must have been school holidays to witness and edit that he was doing for a commercial. I seem to recall that I basically sort of wandered into the machine room and I was confronted with the size of these for the time because we're talking probably sort of mid to late 70s huge videotape machines about three times taller than me and belching out sort of noises and sounds and I was it was a complete epiphany for me. It went along the lines of I'm not quite sure what's going on here but I want to be a part of it. But alongside that which was more like the technical side of wanting to be in the business there was just the side of once again my father because he was interested in you know the Golden Age of Hollywood and so I grew up watching a lot of movies from the 30s and 40s and then I'm old enough I hate to say to them of being Ignacy the first Star Wars when it was when it was out and I remember the excitement of being in that environment and witnessing that and it was just a general move to the fascination of how it was put together that grew over my school years. Basically I'd got into a university degree but just before that started I did weeks work experience at a television station in Melbourne and they offered me a job off the back of that. You know I was just on the studio floor you know doing props and cable bashing but it was and so I sort of deferred the university and which I'm still doing now just in case the career backfires and sort of basically went up the ladder very slowly into a tape library assistant editing and then editing but I always found that process fascinating and that's sort of how I how I learnt by teaching myself and really just watching tons and tons and tons of movies.
Was my education really and when you started editing what was it about the actual craft of editing that appealed to you or that satisfied you. From a creative point of view.
Oh I think so the storytelling aspect of it and I found that it was fascinating that editing really played such a large part in you know I wouldn't say manipulation that sounds like quite a strong word but in terms of moving the audience or the viewer to where the director wanted to take them to as in being a musician myself my other little hobby was was learning the piano when I was a kid and then playing in a few bands back at home as I was getting older. So I was very aware of timing and I was very aware of cutting rhythms and and timing and realising how a few frames either side could make all the difference and I found that kind of stuff the minutiae of the detail of it fascinating. And it was always an area that I wanted to pursue. People think Oh surely you want to go and be sort of a director and that's the big the big no no no no no. I'd like the behind the scenes stuff and then my luck said I went from a more technical editing background to sort of pure pure editing but I loved the sort of combination of what you went through to actually put a scene together to tell a story and to have that kind of in a moment in your head where you knew the cast had to be and it was one of those things once again that it's just it's a feel thing and I seem to have muddled through reasonably well because of these are still being asked back to do these kind of things but I think that was that was it. It's what editing brings to the overall you know the final product and of course it isn't just the editing. You're also responsible potentially for helping out in the sound makes the grade the VFX reviews and it's and it's obvious in Integra all part and you know as that grew when I made the switch from editing television programs to feature films you know I really felt the opportunity was there too to sort of stretch my wings and fly myself to the fullest to try and realise these fantastic ideas which of course coincided with meeting someone like Ed Garland which was completely by coincidence as most of the fantastic things are right place right time and that really really pushed me forward in the ways that I probably never would have expected.
It's part of the appeal for you as an editor also the fact that as an editor you can experiment kind of endlessly and experiment kind of in private so that you can take wild chances and do things that if they fail nobody else really has to know. But if they were like yay.
Oh absolutely. And I think it is all full of serendipity happy accidents which which I love as part of the editing process because you know you as you as you observe the rushes you know you start to think OK I can see how the directive kind of designed the shots if that's okay that's the establish and you sort of move on and you sort of realize what the vision is of the scene construction but then you're absolutely right at that point you can sort of go well what if I try and start things a little bit differently what if that isn't the first shot. And you as you say can keep endlessly tinkering. And there's no such thing as just a bad edit because even in bad at it you learn things from it and so. So everything that you do it just gets you a little bit more information as to you know how you feel you could shape the scene and it's actually fantastic when you actually offer up when a director comes in and you show them the symbol and actually you sort of surprise them in a way that maybe they weren't immediately thinking you know because in their heads the scene went this way and the scene almost goes that way. But there's a few little surprises which actually is one of the the joys of having the time to go through everything to find all the little bits and bobs and certainly I would I would recommend definitely that as an editor you watch through all takes.
Not even just circled ones because it's there's so many little moments that are worth jotting down and worth remembering and things you can steal and put somewhere else in the thing you know the amount of tinkering playing an option and offering up three or four different versions of the scene to tell the same story in a slightly different way can be endlessly satisfying.
You mention that you got to meet Edgar Wright early on in his career.
You started working with him on specced his show talking about editing on space because that show I have to say if I had to only pick one show to bring with me to a desert island it would be that because it is endlessly enjoyable and every time you watch it you find something new.
Oh absolutely absolutely. And of course now it's a wonderful sort of time capsule of what life is like in London particularly in sort of the late the late 90s and the turn of the turn of the century which actually almost sounds like an archaic term now but it's I guess it's absolutely true.
And of course you know space with space was an interesting show in terms of you know Sydney for Edgar and of having written the series with Simon Pegg and Jessica Stephenson as she was I think part of it as well was them kind of thinking where we've got this deal to do the show on a mainstream terrestrial British television channel. After this no one will ask us to do anything ever again after this because it's just going to be so mad so wacky will never get us back to do anything.
So let's try and throw in everything we've ever wanted to include in a series. So if it was like flashbacks or flash forward the little asides or shift to little you know visual cutaways or whatever made references to feature films Bundeena is everything that transpired in those three films. I mean everything can be achieved since the actions of one very minor character. Who. The gunner on the stand at the beginning in the first film.
How come. Well because if the gunner had shot the pilot to see three people on our tour and they wouldn't have got to talk to him they wouldn't. Luke Luke wouldn't Ben. They wouldn't I'm at home and surely they wouldn't the rescue Princess Leia none of it would have happened.
Everything was thrown in and I think really you can see space of the beginnings of where Edgar's craft the director really sort of came into its own and there are some stylistic things there which you know he still is still full of calls upon occasionally today the way that works. Chris Dickens the first series and at that stage in my career I was an online editor so I was running a machine made by discrete logic called smoke which was a finishing tool and additionally came in as a client you analyse gold right. Starting Monday you were working with this young guy Edgar Wright he's got the show and we think it's perfect for the machine you're working on so you're going to start work with him.
He and I got along incredibly well we both realised we had the same sort of really positive you know OCD kind of attitude about sort of taking the time to get things right when the time came for the second series. I had gone freelance because that's when the point that I crossed over from doing online editing which is more technically based to pure editing and I really wanted to make that leap to the kind of editing which is exactly which ended up on really what I'm doing now.
So one of my very first gigs is sort of a freelance sort of online editor The is with very little CVRD my name in that regard was when Hagar called me up and said For the second series Chris Dickens couldn't complete the edit would I be interested. And of course I said yes and then dove headfirst into a much more intense method of working with Edgar because it's so much more full on than an online editing and it was an incredible learning experience. And I loved that and then I spent the next the best part of the next ten years working on a lot of British sitcoms and a few music shows and dramas. While Christic came back to cut Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. But then by the time Scott Pilgrim came along I once again got a phone call from Edgar to join him on that and have basically been with him ever since.
Before we talk about baby driver because that's the current film that you've worked on I want to talk a little bit more about you working with Edgar on comedy.
Can you give a little insight into kind of the approach the two of you took in editing the comedy because so much humor in the film is really in cuts in the timing of those cuts. I mean if you cut them differently you're not going to get a laugh if it holds like a bit too long or something.
Oh absolutely absolutely and I would say I would say an influence. Ironically both of us even though it came from two separate directions was the Coen brothers funnily enough I know Aengus says one of his most favorite films ever is raising arizona.
Alongside that I spent many years just watching the way the way they cut for story and for comedy. I mean you know the only the only way I can really kind of describe some of their editing is delicious because it really it really tickled for me the senses in in that way I mean in terms of timing in terms of just how how clever their approach to holding things for just the right length. I mean you can watch their films and it's a real education in cutting for for comedy and not that of course in any way we what we were lifting the Coen brothers but Iris I remember thinking it would be great given the opportunity and of course you know Edgar loves doing comedy as well and you know timing is such a big part of that that you know that that is worked into the.
That is worked into the script into the way the shots were set up and of course ultimately into the editing but then you see that that kind of develops out of the kind of sixth sense that happens when you work with the same director over a period of years and to just be able to combine you know his ideas with you know your traditions which will obviously be the timing that you bring to the cuts and the gyrations and just looking for those things and it really makes one frame really does make all the difference in those moments. And I know because I've I've experimented and it really is you know sometimes the funniest way is is all down to a frame or two that the joy of it and of course an audience really isn't aware of why they're laughing sometimes. But but of course it could be down to the dialogue it could be down to the acting and the performances. But sometimes the cast can get a good laugh as well. And that's always lovely to realize that you can actually make a company a contribution to you know people enjoyment of a film you know as much as a good witty line of dialogue for baby driver I noticed that recently Edgar Wright had posted an image like the front page for his dress.
One draft of the script for baby driver where he was giving very clear instructions about how you need to hear the music because that was important to the pacing and so on a film like that kind of talk a little bit about the interplay between what's scripted what gets shot what the director wants and then where the editor comes into play and all of that well you see baby driver is probably the ultimate expression of that kind of combination of sort of music action comedy drama.
And that's something that Eggar had basically set out from from the very beginning. I mean he wrote the script with those particular songs.
In mind when we were originally sent the scripts we were actually censored as an iPad app.
So you would see you know you could read the script on the on the screen but occasionally there was a little icon which came up on the page. When you pressed it you would hear the song. Sung and then read the scene.
And of course that helps give you a first idea of how the two are going to sort of mesh together and then basically prior to shooting the entire film was storyboarded and animatics. So all the big action scenes there was basically an animatic scene for each of those which was done with Ed and a chap called Evan Schiff in Los Angeles. And then when I came on board and I was invited to go and join the crew in Atlanta we basically filled in the remaining gaps and with all of that you know with the music which we had got pleade before we'd shot a frame. So we spent all the money upfront make sure the music was good to go because we would've hated to have shot put it together.
Only then to find out we couldn't use the track and then actually of the filming itself we sort of had this quite complicated system where we would be feeding music into wigs and the actors would wear so they could hear music.
So they knew how to sort of work in timing in rhythm. Edgar had a feed of music and dialogue in his headphones. And of course as you may know I was invited to join and go on set to do the on set editing and then my role in that regard was to make sure. Everything fit because unlike a conventional film where you would cut a scene make short work and then you would add the music afterwards to fit the scene. The music was there. It was pre-determined. You couldn't just extend a song by four seconds.
Just to make a SCIAF work. You know you had to make sure the shots worked for the edit and the edit subsequently working for the shot.
So I was actually out there on the frontlines with the crew and it was actually quite a fascinating mix of production and post-production because both those elements had to be satisfied at the same time because we didn't want to get back to the United Kingdom where we did all the post production once we left Atlanta to find things didn't work. So my job on set was to make sure that not not all work perfectly. You didn't have to as I was really sort of doing a glorified assembling it. But we could make sure that rhythmically musically in terms of acting in terms of camera moves in terms of gyrations of shots everything fitting you know so we knew we could leave Atlanta with a good a good initial cut of the film in the can for people who are not familiar with editing.
This is not a typical thing. Absolutely not.
Editing is done in a completely separate environment and in fact a lot of editors don't like to see what's going on on set. They're not interested in how the shot was constructed. They just want to see the world of the film through their monitor. So anything else is a distraction to them and that of course is an incredibly valid way of working. But suddenly your crew. Doing crew hours youre involved in night shoots so you might be dragging a little at a trolley through mud and in rain and all kinds of environments and it's a very very different sort of lifestyle for an editor you know and actually a very enjoyable one because you realize that not a lot of cast and crew understand what editing is you know for a lot of them. The director direct costs and a year later they'll attend the premiere. But to actually find that there's someone on set who's actually putting the shots together and then at the end of the day you know you can review what you've shot. And there it is sort of caught all the various setups and it's to music and fairly tight.
And people looked at him with genuine amazement because it literally is that kind of magic art of editing you know people understand what a what a good sound mix is and what a good visual effect is but editing is a slightly less tangible kind of concept for people to sort of get their heads around. So we just watch watch and see the shots that they've worked on over the course of the last you know 10 to 12 hours running in sequence and running in the kind of way that I would expect to see up on up on the big screen. It sort of elicits a kind of wonder and amazement in these people what I said is it's kind of take for granted you realize that it's you know a lot of people still think of it as as magic and and and sort of it is magic to an extent.
Really what you're capable of doing with it now on a film like this where it is very precisely laid out in advance. Do you still feel you have a lot of creative input.
Oh yes I mean certainly you know in terms of the action scenes a lot of that has to be planned out and you can't really just go to a location plunk down a camera right. How are we going to do this. That has to be thought of and planned and you've got a second unit crew as well who is also contributing shots and stunt drivers and these camera angles were all worked out beforehand. So for for a major scene like that very very little is is given that chance. I mean having said that again they cover a particular shot with three or four cameras and in fact on one on one set up I think we had nine cameras. You have the shot of the action that's required. You don't necessarily have to use the original camera. You might find that one of the other options. Tell the story better so you know. Yes absolutely. You still have you know the the the leeway to try out try out all the options. And like any like any good at it and certainly for the dialogue scenes and baby driver you know a lot of that with the slightly more traditional way. And of course you would have a lot of a lot of flexibility in being able to tell the story I mean my put my personal favorite scene in baby drivers actually just after the tequila track in the warehouse.
And there will all decamped back to the diner and it's based just sort of Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm and Eva Gonzalez and they just basically do a four way round the table. But it's so riveting coming from way off. He was. Talking. Me Because.
He started people would say shit like work hard play hard too hard. You rack up debt. But it didn't make a white man. Let's. Get into a little trouble maybe Yucatán caught in the cookie jar. Maybe you leave them off to the desert maybe with your favorite letdowns from Tom. Maybe you disappear into work consisted of three things money sex drugs. And X. Plus. It has. I'll look at. You guys just think it's a trip. Either way if you are Wall Street. You'll be a fucking crook than I could ever be.
Go ahead and speak for us. Think you know us. You don't. Think you the last word in. The. Pushed me when I tell you you don't want to see my body. You haven't seen him. He is. He's. First.
And that was one of my favorite scenes to cut.
Just because you know I believe you can maintain a level of tension in a straight quitely performed dialogue thing than you can with some other kind of major action scenes. That's why I think the film works so well the a heartbeat of the film exists through all the dynamics the quiet dialogue scenes as well as the big action scenes.
Well that was great because you do get the sense that there's unrest amongst the group and the way it's cut with just like some of the beats where you're just seeing a reaction or something kind of builds that tension of somebody going to fly off the handle here.
Absolutely. Absolutely and that's and I think that's the thing you never know who's really going to crack next. And that's that's all there and there are so many fantastic will. And that's and that's what what you will offer up a lot of coverage and he will allow the actors to kind of improvise and offer up their own little things.
And that's why it's worth going through all the footage that you're given because you know the actors understand the characters as well and there's so much little stuff and said zing little looks for little glances. You just never know who's just going to flip out first. And that's it.
It's great to always keep that undercurrent going even along what feels like a regular dialogue scene. You can you can do it in sound design so you can have you know low frequency rumbles going on that you may not necessarily notice sounds that sometimes I'm fond of saying Felfe but not heard you know and you wonder why you're sort of got this little knot in your stomach. But there are these frequencies out there just helping to sort of keep the tension going so you can do it in the soundscape or you can just hold on a character a little bit too long in the way that you know sometimes people get uncomfortable when you kind of stare a person for a little bit too long and you know there's that kind of why the looking at me first for such a long time you can do that in letters you know just slightly overplay the edit for a little bit longer than you normally would. And then that induces tension as well. And so it's all those wonderful little tricks and tips to sort of keep an audience on the edge of their seat in the quietest passages as well as the loudest ones for most people going to a film just in a small theatre or something.
I think editing is still something of a mystery in part because good editing is something that should be invisible on a certain level. Is there some misconception out there or is there something that you'd want to address to tell like that average person say like hey look at this. This is what good editing is about. This is what you know can help you understand what good editing.
Well yes I mean to little sort of catchphrases that I probably only use when people ask me questions like that.
I've often said that you know when and when and when an editor does their best work nobody notices and nobody should notice because like I said the editing is that element which which kind of invisibly strings it all together and people shouldn't realise that every set up every shot is done effectively individually and pasted together because if if it flows if there's good dialogue going and if people are taken in by the story you forget about the editing but of course it's the editing that's pushing the whole thing forward and driving the whole thing so you shouldn't you shouldn't be thinking about it because the other thing that I'm saying in terms of what editing is meant to do is that the art is meant to conceal the art along the lines of the first curch first catch phrase which is why I tend to over use them you know they edit it is invisible when you when you ask people about the editing they won't necessarily tell you what was good about it but if the point was to make you cry it was a weepie and you end up crying or it's a comedy and you're laughing then. Well it must have worked because it succeeded in its in its task. Now you look at something like baby driver and I guess that's what you could probably call capitally editing you know big E editing. Of course that has people noticed that and it's there in a lot of reviews the editing has been constantly mentioned in initial reviews and of course here we are with a few small nominations. Look forward to because of the editing and of course it's something like that which which in this instance we brought a sort of a unique approach to casting and it's something people have noticed in this instance but still not noticed in a way that it's over the enjoyment of the film. You can't really say all the editing room in the film in this instance you know the editing was as much a part of the character in the film as any other part of you know the directing the acting the story the music and so you watched the beginning in Sydney in the first bell bottom the opening chase scene as well as being an entertaining piece of work you're sort of also as an editor setting out your stole to the viewer thing this is what you are going to expect to see. This is how the film is going to work. So you're going to see how things fall in sync and there's a rhythm to it and the interlocking action and dialogue and music and casting and it's all kind of happening together. But government lawyers and gentlemen right now talking about. Of.
A primer in the beginning. You know as well as being exhilarating chase like say it's almost teaching the audience a little bit. This is how we're going to sort of bring you this this film.
And of course you know people have enjoyed the film as a film and have and have been kind enough to to highlight the editing and certainly in a film like baby driver. Yeah the editing is a major part of what made the film the success that it was.
Well it's like teaching you a language it's like that first scene teaches you the film language for this particular movie.
Absolutely it does for sure. I think actually initially even when we were premiering it at South by Southwest there was a little bit of uncertainty as will people get hurt.
Will people understand what we're showing them but actually after the reaction to that first screening it was tremendous. And we knew from in fact from that first moment when they burst into applause just as the title sequence started the Harlem Shuffle as bell bottoms finished. We sort of we kind of looked at them and said Yep they've got it. We are going to have a problem with this. And that was a wonderful feeling to know that basically you know he was vindicated in terms in terms of sort of pushing his idea across and saying no this is going to work and it's going to be great. And it absolutely was and on this film.
You coedited with Jonathan ammos what's working in tandem with another editor like on a feature.
So in terms of working with John Amos on this I mean his brilliance in this is actually the action sequences. He didn't join us until we came back to the United Kingdom. So basically my task was to go out to Atlanta for six months and effectively assemble the whole film.
And then John came on board and his specific task was basically he and Edgar would actually take all the action scenes. The Brighton Rock bell bottoms and the hocus pocus track the the foot running theme to the shopping mall and they would do a tremendous pass on that and punch that up you know two men disagree with satisfaction in terms of how those things ended up. My specific role having then come back to New England was actually then to go through the rest of the film with Edgar and basically go through all the reels cut the dialogue check the overall arc of the film but then we would still check each other's work. You know I'd be invited into their homes we've just in the past and bell bottoms. What do you think. I'd give notes and then once Edgard I would finish one of the reels. You know we'd watch them as a trio and then we'd all kind of get further notes and things. So John in this instance really came on board to do what he does best.
I mean he's a very capable and very right of course but he's really good at that action saying I want to go back to Scott Pilgrim briefly because I loved that movie and I was kind of sad that it didn't catch on with a larger audience.
But the editing in that was so clever and again it had to be editing that started in the scripts phase but the editing in that seemed so smart and so fresh and just like moving the story forward in this energetic and just original way working on that like Well that was that was incredible because I don't I don't think anything like Scott Pilgrim happened before or indeed since I wouldn't necessarily say it was ahead of its time it sort of came out and slightly disappeared into the cracks of that kind of period in the year of 2010.
I think when it was released however obviously I'm very pleased to say that that film you know has a life of its own and it just hung around and never quite went went away and is now being rediscovered by a lot of people and slowly grew into. I mean you don't you don't fit a bank thinking I'm going to be making a very expensive cult film. You actually want a film that you would like the film to you know make a tiny little profit which of course wasn't initially the case when Scott Pilgrim came out but I think because of the story and the combination of the comic act the comic business like the onscreen animation certainly the editing and all those elements it's hung around and it's very gratifying to make two to actually be part of a film that has that kind of longevity to it. So while at the time we may have thought well maybe but I don't know did we boob on Scott Pilgrim and wanted people sort of get into it. It found it found its audience. I mean it's made its money back certainly and it's still you know people still coming up and saying how incredible Scott Pilgrim was and how wonderful for a film to still have that that feedback and reaction with an audience almost almost ten years after its initial release.
Well I think all of Edgar's films the thing that's so great is that you can go back and watch them and find new things. And part of what's fun too is that his references is like pop culture references to other movies are not always so overt as well. Here's the line that we're repeating from a film that you may have liked or you know here's a costume referencing but it can be the framing of the shot or young adult and that takes you more time to go back and find.
Oh absolutely and I think that's that's the beauty of Vergas films is kind of like the watcher ability in the real watch ability. I mean you know we were he was very very pleasing to hear and you would say hey I've heard you know I'm glad I'm getting tweets saying hey this is my fourth fifth sixth time you know going to see baby driver because I didn't realize this when I watched it first.
And in fact actually that's that's that's very pleasing. Very satisfying because what we want to do is we didn't want them necessarily make a film that was saying oh look how clever clever we can be. You know if you just wanted to watch it as an entertaining you know comedy heist film with some action and some sort of little scary moments in there then great. And if you just saw it way that I enjoyed it on that level fantastic. But actually if you do want to really watch it you'll just realize the like like a clock mechanism there are so many things interlocking on so many different levels whether it is the editing or does the music or is the the way actors just even move props around how they kind of locked in and the timing of cuts and lots of little things if you want to take the time. They're all there to be discovered. We did kind of we didn't hide them and say no we're not going to you know we're not going to show you how we did it. They're actually all there we sort of invited the audience to to share in how we that we put that together. But if she didn't want to you didn't have to and it didn't detract from your enjoyment of the film. And in that you know there's always that thing where people go Hey I watched baby drop for the fifth time. I never realized what happened here was a callback to what happened an hour earlier or this thing meant that. It's wonderful. You know that you know a little bit like the Russian the Russian A you could always open open something up and it's something else inside there.
And you open that up and there's something else inside there and to sort of witness witness that some sort of taking place and people people just really enjoying the making of without sort of you don't have to tear the film apart you can just view it and then sort of see all these layers get revealed to you over time.
And did he give you kind of a screening list of films that he thought you should watch before editing this.
Oh absolutely I mean Edgar Edgar does does make you know he makes it all kind of taste the real way he will sort of say you know this sequence I sort of had this in mind.
And in fact we've done that for actually almost all of NGas films. We kind of do a mood reel just to give you an idea of where what's going on in Edgar's head where he's kind of coming from. And alongside that there is a little film that he makes up about you know 40 or 50 movies ranging from you know even like the 1930s Busby Busby Berkeley musicals to stuff from the present day. He says this was sort of what I was thinking or I watch this and thought that's a really good idea. So I have a little look at this and look at these little elements from each film and we're going to pull all together. That's what I'm sort of thinking of the baby driver. So that's always fun in the beginning to sort of watch all of that cash how are we going to take all these things and make something new out of all these out of all these elements. But of course you do. And it works. And actually if you think about it now I'm thinking about it almost goes back to space. It's like well what if you wanted to put all your favorite things that are relevant into one into one films and all these little ideas sort of have a little a little life and there may be tiny little quotes or references all very subtle but they're kind of there to be once again to kind of be discovered.
And for baby driver do you remember any particular films that he suggested you watch that you really felt kind of helped you find the mood or the tone or something.
Oh well I know I know he was a big fan of Walter Hill. The driver and certainly movies like French Connection and various things like that were were big influences I mean there were films across a number of a number of genres. I mean the Sugarland Express was one because that had some elements of the you know a young couple fleeing the police and various elements like that. So you just look at all these things and watch them one after another. It made for a very interesting montage of films and you would sort of maybe get a bit nostalgic about it but actually you would think Oh right OK. So there's just an element of that that chase sequence or the way that heist was constructed. And say they were all kind of blended in together.
But actually you know Don Edgar is kind of unique style for people who want to learn a little more about editing or appreciate it a little more. Could you recommend a couple of films that you felt either influenced you or that they could go in with kind of this conscious sense of like I want to go in and watch this film and try to appreciate what the craft of editing is about.
Can you recommend a couple of films and a couple of things that they might look for while they're watching.
Well certainly I would be it would be remiss of me if I didn't mention at least one Coen brothers film and funny enough it's one that initially didn't. Didn't do that well and that's the hudsucker proxy which I think came out in the early 90s. For me there are some of the most my most I use the term again delicious. EDIT For me in some in modern filmmaking some of the sequences that rely on editing to get the little montage or moments where the hula hoop is created in the mix of music and you know camera shot you know even just sort of various frame rates but then all knitted together with editing. You know I'm sort of sometimes drooling just the sheer overwhelming joy of how that is put together a complete opposite would be in fact one of my favorite films ever which is Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon which is an interesting one that came out between a Clockwork Orange and the shining. You couldn't get a more office style of filmmaking editing between say the hudsucker proxy and Barry Lyndon and Barry Lyndon is for me. I mean it's over three hours long. The editing is low. It's stately it's mannered but it's never boring for me. It holds the attention. It's just as riveting as the hudsucker proxy. Just to give you two extremes there and I would say I would take from both of them even when doing something like baby driver I would be thinking about both films when constructing scenes which just goes to prove that really editing which crosses all forms and all styles. They're all things that you could use as references even though you wouldn't look at it and go oh yes he's aping Barry Lyndon he's not. But I'm just remembering the style the speed the construction and just having that in the back of my head. So just just right there are two completely different styles of filmmaking. Two completely different styles of editing that I would encourage people to watch and glean from both really.
Well I want to thank you very much for being very generous with your time and talking about editing.
You're very welcome.
And good luck with the Oscars.
Thank you very much indeed.
All slightly surreal but it's tremendously exciting of course that was Paul matchless who along with Jonathan Amos is nominated for best editing on baby driver. Now.
Sank. Wait wait wait wait wait wait.
Finally Gregory Plotkin talks about working on Georgeann Peel's get out. He explains how an English major ended up as a film editor.
Yeah I was an English major in college at UCLA and I've always I've always loved to write. I started editing actually is the final rewrite if you will. And I've always loved making movies with kids and so forth. So it became sort of the perfect mix between writing and making movies.
You can see your writing with images. It just appealed to me. It felt like when I first got exposure to it it just felt like it was encompassed all aspects of filmmaking. And I started as a P.A. and worked on set. So every department. But it's not like a department where you have the most say in how the film turned out. And again I've never worked on a film that hasn't essentially been rewritten and so really exercises that writing part of my brain and I'm out it there's a lot of fun.
And how did you get into editing in the sense of did you go to film school. Did you just start working on films and get your training kind of on the job.
I did all my training on the job. I graduated from college and started as a production assistant. In fact I was on a movie called Weekend at Bernie's Part 2. We were in the Virgin Islands. They picked me to run dailies at night so they taught me how to run a projector and I had to get the film from the editors. Being 21 being super excited and energetic I would get there early and ask him if I could do I want him to learn editorial soon enough they had me doing extra stuff for them at the time was was films so I was making trim boxes and recording chemicals etc. and when they decided want to go back to Atlanta they needed an apprentice and asked me it was a non-union feature so they asked me to come on board and I'd love to cut my hours on that show get a union on that show and never look back. I never went to film school so I can't tell you a direct comparison between what your mother and some school which are on the job. But I found some people I knew and people I went to film school I learned as much on one show with practical experience and then a lot of my friends did it in four years of school again taking nothing with and still talks I think it's an amazing experience you learn so much fun for me on set and on the job training which worked really well.
And what do you think a person needs to be good at it or what's kind of a skill set. Because editing is something that takes a lot of organization. It takes a lot of patience it takes creativity. It seems like a lot of things but what do you think are the key ingredients a person needs to become a good editor.
First and foremost a good sense of story a good and a good point of view. What's the best advice I ever got as an assistant and carry with me as an editor. Always have a point of view. I know it may sound odd. Always think like an editor even when I was insisting I had an editor or something like an editor. Don't just organize a daily is an exercise that sort of library and brand assistants need to think about story. Think about how what you're doing when the footage you're watching is going to affect the story. And I always. No amount of what I'm doing I have the entire story in my head as I'm cutting. So have a point of view for each scene but I also am applying that to to my point of view for the entire film. The best skills are are forget organizations to get all that because you clearly have these great support staff to help us in terms of assistance and so forth. It's being open to change. Being open to letting the footage dictate where the film should go as opposed to you trying to force the film to go in one direction and that's with any good writing. I think a lot of times with my perks and screenwriters and Novelis and so forth sometimes the characters end up telling you the direction to go in and once they start as one thing can evolve into something else. So I think just being a good writer and listening and having that conversation with the footage are invaluable assets to be an editor.
And how does that play out in terms of you are working also with a screenwriter usually and a director in terms of a story that's already laid out. So how do you work in terms of kind of bringing that second set of eyes and bringing what your point of view might be for this scene in kind of maybe making the director see something in a new way.
You know it's really case dependent. Look at the gift that you have to respect the the source material clearly for the drama you're not going to try to force it to be a comedy even though you may see something funny in the footage or if you really do want to go that route. I think that's what the conversation you have with the director and so forth and that's like everything in life it's communication. It's the great the greatest thing I can get or e-mails or daily phone calls from the director letting me know what he or she saw on the day what would appeal to them how they want to say to see it and so forth. And a lot of times I will I will take my own stab at it. We'll will also take a version that honors what the director wants men again to become just a conversation becomes sometimes you you marry the two versions sometimes you pick one over the other. But I think I found a lot of directors love coming in seeing sequence and going gosh I never thought it would go that way. That's a great way to look at it. And conversely I love my color sequence and I'm convinced it's great it is really the way to go and then the director comes and says not totally not what I thought. Try this this and this. And I look at it and go oh my god that's great I'm seeing the footage in a completely different light. It completely makes my you know my experience on the film different and it's fun. I would say I love to be wrong if you will because it really no one way to do something. So it's really great. Especially we have a strong director. I have that with Jordan on get out where you have a stronger I of the strong point of view. Again you can start that conversation where you realize that you may have come at it from different points. We both want the same thing and you find that you know that sort of special way to put together well.
What I always found appealing about editing is that while a director on the set has lots of people waiting around for him to make a decision and immediately sees what his decision will yield.
When you're editing you tend to be kind of by yourself and if you have a crazy idea you can try it and if it doesn't work nobody else has to see it and you can hear it. But it feels like it's more conducive to experimenting without as much fear of failing at something.
Yeah that's that's definitely true although it's funny a restaurant that only sees what they're capable of seeing the moment and I mean they're looking at do they hit that emotion for me today. They did they do whatever to to get that line out to do whatever and what they're not seeing a lot of times. Are those really special moments that an actor gives you of a certain look a certain blink of an eye a certain head turn. You know that's part of the fun of editing is that you get to find those little gems that say everything the director Mickey wanted or potentially the director may have missed. And all of a sudden that scene changes because you have that great look which is nonverbal. It's cinematic and you don't need to go to a page of dialogue etc.. So those are the kind of things I like to experiment with. When you talk about sort of my time on my own there are things I like to present to a director. But yeah to your point I've tried tons of crazy things either alone or with a director especially the advent of digital editing. You can really experiment.
One thing I'm curious about because I work at a horror film festival where we have a lot of filmmakers come and talk about film and one thing that's come up a number of times is questions about do you see a similarity between comedy and horror in terms of kind of the beats that are set up and kind of the way tension builds and is released very different kind of outcomes.
But is there a similarity and you've worked in both comedy and horror so I'm just curious if you see any kind of similarity when you're editing those.
I have always said from the outset I've always said that they they are they sort of they sleep in the same bed if you will. I think Pommie who are very similar. They're all about set up and pay off with a joke if you are under set it up. You don't sell well enough. It's not going to land. If you stay if you overstay your welcome. It's not going to land in the same thing. They're both about the payoff that both of the set up. And the joke it's Gomis instead of the joke in comedy. There's a joke in court. Serious attention. And whether it's a jump scare that you get your release on or or or some other device. I mean they're very very similar. All editing is difficult. All types of stories are difficult but it's funny. Comedy or in my experience sometimes more difficult because there's so much more to to think about. You're not just getting to seeing your peers. You're trying to build this moment. This experience for the audience to talk with a few frames too much or a few frames too little or can really make a difference in how well sequence plays out.
Well in terms of horror two there's this careful line you have to walk between like giving away showing too much or showing too little because sometimes it's more gruesome or more violent or more horrifying if you show less and sometimes it's better to show more as when you're editing like what goes through your mind in terms of like when is it a good time to really show something and when is it a smarter move to kind of pull away or not give as much.
You know I think it's case dependent really depends on the film kind of something making I tend to prefer the less is more.
I think it's much more terrific to hear if you're talking to a death. For example I think it's much more horrific to hear the death and to see the death. And I think the audience is much like I love to read and and so often a book is far better than a movie for me because my mind fills in all the blanks and I picture what I want to see. And I think that I try to take out a lot into the horror that all of you see if you see something scary happening or someone coming down the hallway and you hear it you hear the kill again. Sometimes it was shot whether or not if you did your mind's going to fill in the blanks your mind is going to get you're getting scared already.
So that tension I think it's really effective and I love those films where you see a shadow or something to kill and you don't actually see the kill and you see little blood trickling down and you realize oh god it must be graphic I love. And we cannot reduce reading especially when someone says that was the most terrific kill I'd ever seen in my life. And I sat there and going. You never actually saw the kill that you filled in all the blanks.
Even with get out which I just did it barely killed towards the end where the Chris character kills Missy the mom. And essentially you see this needle going towards her.
And then we cut away and then we realize that she died and against the thought how horrific it was. But you never actually saw the killer because it was so visceral and a struggle to proceeded to kill something you experience it. So again it's never really quite know what to do and it's obvious it's me take a cue to your director as to what they want.
Yeah. Poatina less is more I think it is great and sound plays such a huge hole in your play that you do on all films. But with the right sound the right sound design you could really sell a lot that it isn't on the screen. You worked on Happy death day and I'm curious from an ending point of view because I know going into films like this which are these groundhog day kind of things where you know that a lot of things are going to repeat.
How is it when you going to that because there's a point at which you don't want to repeat so much that people are bored and you want to kind of give each repeat some new tweaks. Is that a pity. Is that kind of a challenge that you enjoy or is it a kind of mundane you know mechanics of it but it's a kind of editing that I'm I'm curious like how do you jump into that.
You know you know it's fun. I mean again in terms of the script Chris Landon who wrote directed that is really smart is something that I have a great shorthand with. I've cut just about all his films and I've known him for three years so we had a lot of conversations about it ahead of time because there are sequences where we just talked about again the movements and how difficult that might be. But the way I approach death was for example one tree. Our main character when she wakes up in Carter's dorm room.
I actually cut all the day she woke up together if you will. So I took two days and I cut every wake up I mean she woke up about seven times because it wanted to do the one minute to a ball that I wanted to because I didn't have all that I and have the entire film together. I still knew in my head that I wanted there to be an evolution juror a character she says. Was that the first day confused. The second day she started to have a deja vu and then I would say it was going to progress from there. So I was able to find that arc. And for me that's all it was was an arc. So I did her her look ups for her walks to the school. I went to when she went to her sorority house and so forth and I found that those arcs are sort of that micro level I'm just just Nosema themselves. Actually really benefit of the film so I was able to to track her character is a really good way and it informed me how you know how I needed her character to be and just that was amazing. She gave me Jessica Roff Stars and she gave great performances and great range. So I found this tackling moments and scenes in that respect helped a lot. Obviously when I can't post for me we went in terms of passes to sort of Hoeness but it wasn't really being organized like that helped me. I'm sure there's a million other ways to done it but it didn't seem that hard once I broke it down myself.
And that's also an instance where you got to mix both the horror and the comedy.
Yeah and I think that Chris Christie is way. They both leave the same world and again within horror comedy helps break some of that tension. You just need to reset first for the audience. Unless you're in the exorcist or something that is just supposed to be intense the entire time but otherwise I think you know the comedy just really offsets the uncomfortable situations that the audience has ended into the characters are in and then allows you to start one up Pampeluna again building tension.
Happy Deathday is an obvious mix of horror and comedy where you are definitely meant to laugh and enjoy it. You also worked on get out which was amazing and this was a film where there are moments of levity at times to break that tension. What was working on that film like what were the kind of challenges you faced on the Townsing saying get out.
Were a lot had a lot to do with reveals you. The movie is that there are so many clues in drought and Jordan is such a smart writer and filmmaker in general and he planted so many clues for us. But the idea where we was. I never wanted to the audience to be ahead of anything and it was when do I put in a look. When do I when do I reveal something. And I notice that in some of the opening sequences again even it was a quick shoot. Jordan got so much good coverage and so many options.
But some of your early sequences where the families having house iced tea outside make any crests and the subsequent scene where theyre having dinner and Jeremy sort of interrogates Chris. There were there were moments where I could have probably revealed a lot more about his character but I always wanted to back back again and to expect footage it was coming in. I was one of the hold back to to save those reveals because I become an audience member first and foremost I'm cutting and I knew I wanted to live in these performances and just given the weirdness and not know what's going on though you know something nefarious is about to happen in terms of the comedy.
One of the things that Jordan did and he had just glanced in that he did really in such a way was he made sure that we were experiencing and we may be transported to experience in the film to our main characters eyes at all time. It was always about Chris and his journey. Daniel who played Chris is so engaging he's such a fantastic actor that if it didn't serve Chris's story if we weren't able to see it to Chris his point of view got it easy to leave that out order because in order to serve his view again a difficult film because there is so much going on in such an important film socially. There are so many things they wanted to say but I think holding back in a lot of ways really serve the film.
Well one of the things I really loved about the film is that it never condescends to the audience.
A lot of films kind of like hold your hand to make sure you get everything all along the way and this is a film that you can see it two or three times and you keep finding more things in it. And I find that really enjoyable.
I think as a filmmaker or as an audience member I want to work. I don't like them when everything is against me on a platter and then I know what's going to happen.
And we took that same idea with get out and again it was in the script started with that and we took it you know throughout the whole. I mean I think the one thing we did do again to make sure we were with Kristen to make sure the audience didn't understand at certain moments was the flashbacks we had in the flashbacks in post that weren't scripted but we found that they gave the audience little anchors that we understood that in those moments. This is what Chris was. He was figuring it out. He was understanding that as a result of Chris figured it out now they aren't interested. So it wasn't something to excitatory it wasn't something that was written that said oh gosh you're doing this this and this again. It's a it's a visual medium. And we found that visually we were able to add these flashbacks to tell the audience everything is going on two accents. Our main character was going through a lot of fun to put those together.
Well and so much of it is told visually and it's a film where you have to pay attention. I know sometimes people will say like oh you know is this something I should watch in a theater or on TV and like this is really something you want to see on a big screen with an audience too because I think audience reaction also helps kind of add to that whole community experience. But it's a film where you want to pay attention to what's going on like throughout the frame and to see what's happening and pay. And again it's like paying attention. There's something being said and you should be listening and watching.
It's a complicated dilemma that respect in a great way because first and foremost. I think at first watching it first giving you want to just pick up the story because again we're not telling you what's going on. There's obviously twister's turns as revealed. And then once you realize what the story was able to actually now watch it with a different eye on the second and third showing to look for the clues. And again Jordan did it so well he's so smart and how he planted those. But I think first and foremost the reason why the movie is such a big hit is it's a complicated so there's so many layers that we were dealing with. You don't even know what you're supposedly looking for the first time. A lot of you don't even know this was the second time which is why we're showing is really benefits.
That's good. Well another thing I think that was great is that while people who are real fans of horror know that the horror genre is a great place for social commentary and that films can really talk about a lot of things in very interesting ways that really connect with an audience. But I think on a certain level the general public or you know people like just casually going to the mall theater they go into horror films with certain expectations and when a horror film kind of ends up giving them more. It's you know sometimes they're surprised by that.
Yeah I think that that was a beautiful thing about the movie and I had so many friends and family that part of the movie's release didn't know what the movie was about. You know they they through the marketing and so forth they said is it a straight word to them look like a straight whore. And I was sort of his own was more of a social thriller than a straight horror film. But it is 19 separate occupations. It is nice for the audience comes in and they're immediately a little bit sort of caught off guard because I don't know what to expect. And I think it's up to us as filmmakers to understand that we can source material and to help drive the experience and make it fun make it interesting make it relevant for the audience. It's one of those special films is a great experience. Personally editing the film because you knew you had something special. Jordan. You want a great script that he made a better movie. I always thought it was a very special film. It's nice that you start that conversation and having that conversation translates to the general audience without really the benefit of the film.
Well you talked about early on that one of the key things for you is the point of view in the storytelling. And I think one of the things that get out accomplished so well was to give an audience a point of view that they don't think a lot of them had had before.
Definitely definitely. Again that starts towards me. He wanted he always told me he said look this is the movie that I wanted to see. And I was never ever existed for me. He said this is the movie that I just write. This is my favorite movie. I love hearing that because obviously you want to make sure your director is happy and that his vision or his vision is being realized. He knew and he's such a small filmmaker. He just made this movie doesn't it. Not only did he want to see it. Clearly a lot of people want to see it again. Editorially the best I could do was to try to make sure that we always stayed with that character to make sure that that experience was never exploited and that it just unfolded naturally and that we stayed true to to the to the roots of the film.
Also mentioned the editing is kind of like the final rewrite for a film. Was there anything in the editing of get out where after test screenings or just after going through some you know decision making was there any point where something change or something really shifted for a scene or for a performance or something.
Well I think it's well documented that we alter our ending the original ending was more downbeat. And after screening a couple of times audiences were so into the film. So into Chris's journey that they needed to ignore that cathartic release. So the ending was re shot. Ridgeland vigilantes on the DVD. So that was a big change from that for the ending but you know it's funny the pesky things and the screenings that we did for just friends and family didn't really alter the film all that much. It was it was pretty fun. We ended up cutting all the time out of it. I don't know I felt like we didn't really deliver on the cutting room we had a good sense of the film. So I think aside from the ending it was really kind of structurally and so forth and very similar. Clearly you know I did it my first time I picked performances and certain things that Jordan changed and want to explore different avenues. But it certainly didn't take up in terms of what he was what he was going for but we picked those pretty pretty much early on and he was one of those films that just kind of came together well it was really just a kind of a magical experience.
It's great you mentioned that today or nowadays for an editor with digital technology and things like Avid and other editing programs. It's easier kind of to experimenting like make a kite keep that make another cut. So how has technology kind of altered editing for you in the time that you've been working in the business.
Well you know look it's good in that I don't want to sound like I'm too old but when I started to warm film and I think editors had to be a little bit more forceful. I know when I first started cutting my first scenes on film I was petrified. I knew if you messed up the scene you had to order a reprint. That would mean had to him that had to handle negative. And then if a negative got messed up obviously that was it he couldn't you couldn't go back because the negative was was sort of the final source. So there was little thought on initially.
That said I'm still very thankful. I take a lot of time and making my cuts. What it does is allow me to do with digital is that I'm able to present close to at least the sequence to an editor or director. I was tempted to do the sound effects color print if I need to. So that they're able to see something almost as you are going to see it on a big screen which is fun. You get it you get a really good sense of how it's all going to work out and look forward to the opportunities of start to try. Like you said different things you can try three jump cuts and flashforwards and flashbacks and dissolves and so forth that would take days or weeks on on film. So it is really good.
I think the potential downsides are because you can do so much. Producers Directors studios expect us to do more. And it kind of takes away from the craftsmanship of sound of of time there's always the people that do wonderful jobs a lot is thrown on the editor's plate. But visual effects etc. set to meet again as much as I may be sort of. And they need to do the initial cutting and get through all that it may not want to do some of the visual effects and it is nice when will actually see with the finished product is going to kind of look like there's not as much guesswork. So I love it. I cut the film on the avenue. It's wonderful to use quite a few different digital editing systems and I will always go back to the habit. I think it's just as powerful. It lets me cut fast it lets me organize well I can be thoughtful. So I really have zero complaints about that digital really wonderful.
And if you could address any misconceptions that you think the mainstream public kind of has about what an editor does what might that be.
I think a lot of people think we just either a or a pair of hands to cut off slates and cocktail thats the film and put it together that we dont have a lot of say in everything that its all the directors all the writers all the studio.
I am extremely partial and it is because I am one that I do feel like we are writers as well as as honestly editors.
I usually don't mind. I'm on for a week or more before shooting starts and I'm the last person off the phone. So you know where we are. Filmmakers like everybody else. We are super involved we are integral to the process and we're not just to do the kind of slates we are building moments we are again. I hate it overstated but I think it will be completely lost without an editor. The emotion the the drive of self would be completely lost if you were just doing what a lot of people do. And I just think the misconception is that we're not involved.
And I think every film that's been great and every great record or relationship is because the directors allow the editors to be very involved and from that point of view and can give some insight to people who may not know what Eddings like to how an editor can actually like craft a performance because that's something that you guys can do based on frames you take from a car you know picking multiple takes or things like that.
Yeah it sound. It's case dependent obviously you know a lot of will get it will get buried back until the circle takes from the director who says yeah like tech for that's the hero take for the sequence of performance I want to get and I'll watch it. No thank God. Good but there were great moments and takes one and two. There were these other great moments and takes 5 and 6 etc. and again set to that point of view of do you stay on which characters to stay on for dialogue. Is it more than a resume more if you're playing dialogue on camera or does it resonate more. For example and get out.
There was no one but you just dangle party was in front of people's faces that if you watch a lot of TV when I was a kid you are feeling very sleepy. We do focal points sometimes to guide someone to a state of mind. Suggestibility hiden suggestibility. Saray.
I found that it was more effective to play the dialogue over and over Daniel's coverage over Chris's coverage because I was able to balance the great performance of bowl. But what she was saying I found seen how he reacted to what she was saying. The tears and the terror on its face was ultimately the best way to go. He was my main character but I don't think anyone that sees that felt like she wasn't getting enough screentime there that everyone felt that her performance was and it was it was equally as amazing as Daniels and I was also able just a little tricks of the trade too to exactly what she said. I was able to combine a couple of performances from from from her and make sure that what she was saying was the most powerful way of saying it and then I was able to see the result of that on Chris Daniels. You know his reaction. So it's again all dependent. But you just want to make sure you give your characters some place to start and some place to go. And it's not always just one take. It gives you and sometimes it is. But you know sometimes especially get out there with these curveballs you get thrown where like when Rose is speaking to at the end of the movie or towards the end was asking a question and she says Hey I know you more like me etc. We used a few different takes from from out in there where it was nice that she was very calm and and so forth in the beginning and then we threw and these kind of curveballs to the audience where she she completely changes her demeanor. And again I think I called from a few different takes because she did all these wonderful performances and I felt like it shaped the weirdness of the scene and her performance just how evil she was by taking great little bits from a few different takes as opposed to just one continuous take.
And I saw that you are also looking to eventually produced on some films and it looks like you're also planning to direct some.
Yeah I was actually like I directed the last turn to watch the film. I'd been involved editing edited starting on number two and I didn't do all the rest the series as editor. That is great great to direct the last one of them. I had often directed the film this year and it's great you know. It's an extension of telling stories and I've been very lucky to work on great things of great people. And there are people that luckily believe in me as a storyteller. Beyond editing and it's funny I directed this. The Colonel went to a ghost dimension and then my next job was editing get out and what it did was it enabled me to see the other side of the coin. I know how difficult directing is and I had known as an editor for to actually sit in the director's chair and go through it all gave me this unique insight to essentially appreciate more what the director does. And it's fun. I love editing. I'll never leave editing in a political note between editing and directing much like there's a writers that sometimes are not direct their own scripts and sometimes they write and direct. So I love my job. It's very fun and it's great to take these opportunities and see what I can do.
Well I work with a lot of film groups and we have screenings and stuff and I get asked a lot by people you know. I don't understand what good editing is and I don't know what to look for because most of the time people only bring up editing when it's either while it's almost too long it should have been cut down or oh that film was cut too fast I couldn't see anything and I'm just curious if there's any pointers you can give to people that help them kind of appreciate kind of put you on the spot here.
Yeah it's you know again it was engaged was was was it was I emotionally in the sequence or the sentiment. You know I think I can be safe and get out. If it didn't if it's all extraneous as we try to lift it.
If if if if an audience watches get out felt like they were with Chris and they were falling Chris and they got the comic relief when they needed it and they got in the door when they needed it and they got they got the drama of it all and I think editorially it did its job. I did look at certain scenes like the hypnosis sequence and get out for example initially I cut it out the teacup knowing full well that I would find the place editorially where the peak of that accident was going on. I personally didn't get the back and forth performance between Daniel and Katherine and then editorially I found when the teacup get accenting so I think she she asked him Tell me about your mother. He says no and then holding them for a long time and then a constant teacup and then all of a sudden he starts answering her and that was one of those situations editorially where I was trying to find these beats and again visually let the audience know this is what's going on. And that seemed to be as soon as I cut that teacup. CNN certain swimming the audience knew right away there was an audible gasp in the audience. Everyone understood what was happening. So that's one of those where again not that it's fantastic editing I'm not going I didn't think super special but I found that the power of the images put in the right place putting the right order highlighted the theme made it made it really really go you yeah again when he said if it works well and again even if it didn't live long. And you think it was too long. You know we don't make the final decision in terms of the director of the studio whomever who wants to be along. I'm sure I'll hang up and I will think of all the great examples that could answer the question. But I think if you got to get emotion that was welcome.
So who are the editors that you feel influenced you are the ones that you really admire and respect.
Well I was really lucky to work there. I worked for David Rosenbloom who I assisted for quite a long time who was a huge mentor. I always tell him I still hear his advice in my head as I'm cutting. But he was a big influence on the internet. I worked with David and Billy Goldberg and Paul Bell all three of them were just excellent editors and they knew a lot of great advice and I look up to them a lot.
There are people like some of them who cuts. Martin Scorsese film who is just is just in another stratosphere from me I think she's just phenomenal and Michael Kahn who Krefeld Spielberg's films again. I only ever watch any of their films and thought I didn't love them. I didn't think they were well crafted. So those are some of the people that I that I really look up to. And then again you know being involved with the ACE Awards this year and getting to be granted it is least method someone who I've always really admired is a wonderful editor Tatyana Reagle. Because I Tanya she just she's amazing. She did a great job the guys who got a the driver. There's so many great actors out there. I love the film. I love the editor. I know what they did to it. So it's fun love. I love it.
And if you were to recommend like two or three films to someone who is interested in editing as examples of like take a look at these as well cut films are there any that you would point to microtonal on JFK.
I was blown away by the editing and I knew when I first saw the Godfather especially to get to the end when there's that sort of montage it chills. I appreciated the editing there. Two films I loved but one of my favorite films is inters editing. It is Raiders of the Lost Ark. I remember watching the opening sequence where the Paramount logo melts into the mountains and then Andy travels you get to the to the cave and there's almost no dialogue. But I knew everything I needed to know about Indiana Jones and he was the cool guy in the world. I knew he could handle any situation with all non-verbal. It just felt like and I remember sitting watching that film and afterwards having a long talk to my father about it and that felt like that highlighted the power of editing for me especially at opening the film just flowed. It was put together in just the right order just the right amount of time to let me know who this character was. You can talk about great scripts you can talk about great great acting but just that succession of images stuck with me my entire career. How powerful that was. With the three films I've always loved Goodfellas another one I love even though it may not ever match continuity wise. That movie just flows is perfect.
I will watch it no matter where it is at any time. If I turn on the middle beginning middle and I think it's so well cut.
Those are symptoms that I just love editorially amongst many others.
All right well I want to thank you very much for making some time and thank you for the brilliant work you did on get out.
Thank you so much I really appreciate it.
That was Gregory Plotkin editor on the Oscar nominated get out. Thanks for listening to another edition of listener supported PBS cinema junkie podcast. You enjoyed this podcast. Please share it with a friend or leave a review on iTunes. It's your recommendation that will help build a bigger audience for cinema junkie so till our next film Fixx on like Amando your residence and image on.
Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place