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Giving Thanks To Film Editors, Part Two
Cinema Junkie / December 4, 2020
On the last episode of Cinema Junkie I kicked off a trio of podcasts that give thanks to film editors. I started with an interview with Tatiana S Riegel, the Oscar-nominated film editor of "I, Tonya." Now I speak with Stephen Mirrione who has worked repeatedly with Steven Soderbergh and Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu, and won an Oscar for his editing on "Traffic." He provides insights into the craft of film editing and recommends what films you need to watch to appreciate how an editor can impact cinematic storytelling.
Speaker 1: 00:00 What's going to best serve, telling your story, and you're going to make a lot of mistakes and don't be afraid because those mistakes usually lead to the most, in my opinion, lead to the most exciting, uh, filmmaking discoveries
Speaker 2: 00:14 That was film editor, Steven Mariani, and this is listener supported KPBS cinema junkie podcast. I'm Beth like a Mondo. [inaudible] my last episode, I kicked off a trio of podcasts that give thanks to film editors. I started with an interview with Tatiana Sri gull, the Oscar nominated film editor of I Tonya. Now I speak with Steven Marioni. Who's worked repeatedly with directors, Steven Soderbergh, and Alejandro Gonzales in URI to on films such as traffic and the Revenant. Since I feel like many film goers, don't fully appreciate what an editor does. I wanted to focus on three acclaimed editors working today to provide some insight into what they do hold tight. While I take one quick break, then I'll be back with Oscar winning film editor, Stephen Marioni. He talks not just about his own films, but also recommend some great films to watch, to learn about the craft of film editing.
Speaker 3: 01:32 Steven, since editing is not the most glamorous profession in Hollywood. I am just curious how you got interested in becoming a film editor.
Speaker 1: 01:40 When I, when I first started thinking about, you know, what I was going to do, you know, as I was in college, I had always intended to kind of follow a more scientific path and, and go into psychiatry, psychology, something like that. And of course, somewhere in high school, I discovered that involved a lot of talent doing science and, uh, lots of, lots of things that I don't have talent or patients for. So, so I kind of shifted gears in college and that's, that's when that's, when I discovered filmmaking just as a, as something you could study. And, and then more specifically, when I started doing a documentary classes, editing my own, you know, short documentary pieces, that's when I really started to fall in love with editing and, and really began to understand the power of editing in terms of storytelling, in terms of, uh, shaping point of view of just the poetry of it, I guess.
Speaker 3: 02:43 So what storytelling tools do you think you have as a film editor that maybe people going to movies may not fully be aware of
Speaker 1: 02:52 As an editor and, you know, and obviously working with the director and impacted by performances by what the camera is doing, but if you've got all that material, you can really manipulate and shape a scene to kind of mean whatever you need it to mean, the more choices, the more coverage you have, the more ability you have to, to change what the intention of the scene was. But that's a small part of, of what an editor does. More importantly, it's, it's taking all that material and taking it in, digesting it and interpreting it in terms of the way you're putting it together. Um, I, I, I think of a lot as, especially when you're putting together something like a dialogue scene between two people is you're kind of helping to choreograph the dance between the two characters and who the, who the audience is paying attention to versus not. And making sure that the audience always is getting fed new information, whether that's narrative information, emotional information, whatever that, whatever that is, you're constantly making those adjustments and fine tuning to the performances to make sure the audiences is getting everything they're supposed to be getting
Speaker 4: 04:12 Well, unlike a stage production where you can't control where the audience is looking with film as the editor, you and the director can work to really focus where you want people to be paying attention. And that can be for them to get information or to mislead them depending on what your purpose is. And that, but talk a little bit about how you can actually like craft a performance in terms of how you edit, choose shots, work with the audio, things like that.
Speaker 1: 04:45 Some really just like basic things that, that you, you discover as you're, as you're starting out in terms of learning how to edit one real useful tool is if you're facing a character and that person is talking, and then you are going to cut to the character that they're that know it's listening to them. If you pre-lab, for example, if you start a little bit of the dialogue of the person you're going to cut to before you cut the audience, hears that, and naturally wants to see where that's coming from, and it can help sometimes smooth out a cut or a transition if something is awkward, if you're, you know, if you're having difficulty finding where the cut is, but, but, but it's, it's more than that. It's again, it's, it's leading the audience and, and helping them go where you need them to go.
Speaker 1: 05:36 Now, that being said, there's all these kind of rules. I mean, not, not rules per se, but things that you're just naturally just in the natural flow of, of watching a movie that are gonna happen, knowing all those rules, though, the, the really fun thing is knowing how to then break those rules, right. And knowing how to take, you know, the expectation of the rhythm of what the scene is. And then maybe slowly start to break that, uh, change it up and, and create, uh, create a weird feeling with the audience in terms of the rhythm being broken. Um, sometimes that's useful if you, if you want to create tension, that's, that's from something, but again, a lot of these things with what's. So to me, it was so exciting about it is it's it's subliminal, right? It's the audience is taking it in, and hopefully they're not intellectualizing what you're doing when you're creating these, these other kind of background rhythms in terms of the cut or in terms of what's happening on screen.
Speaker 4: 06:40 Now, each director is different that you work with, but talk a little bit about what that collaborative process is with a director, just in a sense of how early do you come onto a film? Are you starting to work while they're still shooting? Do you come in after the film is completely shot? Things like that?
Speaker 1: 06:57 The thing I really, really enjoy about that part of the job is the collaboration, you know, that one-on-one collaboration with the director because, uh, I take my role as an editor is to kind of help and understand and follow the director's creative process. Now, obviously I have my own instincts and creative process when I'm just working alone. But at some point, once I've gotten a handle of what the material is and what I'm dealing with, it becomes a partnership where we're working together and I'm I'm then at the service of their creative process, some directors don't want to talk about it, right? They just, they just kind of, they want to look at it. Is it, is it working? Is it not working? If it's not working, they'll say, no, that's not working. And then I'm left to kind of maybe wind my way through and figure it out without talking too much about it.
Speaker 1: 07:52 On the other hand, another director might want to talk about everything, everything they're thinking, everything they're feeling so that I get brought in to, to whatever space that they're in, in terms of how they want something to go together. So one of the skills you have to have as an editor is being able to, is being able to make that adjustment and being able to, to listen and follow the journey that the director is ultimately gonna have to take. You know, that's, that's something that is also very tricky, right? When you, when they're shooting the movie, um, I'm usually I start right at the beginning because every day they're going to be shooting enough material, probably for a scene, uh, at least maybe a couple. And so every day I'm going to spend, you know, once I get that material and watch it, and then maybe spend four or five hours putting it together, um, in a, in a rough way, just to, just to start to get a sense of it and also to make sure nothing's missing, there's nothing that's going to, uh, box us in later on.
Speaker 1: 08:54 Uh, there's nothing troubling in terms of technically focused sound, things like that, but also also just in, in creatively in terms of making sure that what the scene is about, that, that everything you need to tell that story is there. Um, because on the set, a lot of times things are moving so quickly, um, and there's such an urgency right? To, to, you know, it's, it's very expensive on the set. So people are oftentimes moving very quickly to try and get things done. They might miss something where, whereas I'm alone in my room watching this stuff in calm and quiet, I can then see that a lot more readily. So, so if there's an issue I might contact the director, let them know. Sometimes directors feel a little bit unsure if they got everything. And so they'll still, they'll give me a heads up ahead of time and say, Hey, concentrate on this scene.
Speaker 1: 09:46 Really work with it to make sure I have the flexibility to write. It's not just, can I get the scene from point a to point B beginning, beginning to end. It's also seeing did the, the, the, the actors give enough range in, in the different takes and the different performances that like, if I want to tune this scene up to be a little bit hotter, um, or if I want to bring it back to make, make it a bit more subtle, we want to make sure that we have all those materials to go one way or the other. And so, so that's what I'm usually doing when the, when the movie starts. Cause I'm, I'm putting that together, checking those things out, communicating with the director, if they need that information. And then also again, just starting to get the feel for what the movie is, because up until that point, it's a script and, and scripts just by their nature are going to be overwritten, right?
Speaker 1: 10:45 Everything's communicated. In words, once the actors start to breathe life into a character, sometimes an expression, a way they, they move their mouth or, or the way they look at, somebody can tell you, uh, you know, three or four lines of dialogue that then become completely redundant in us and then necessary. And so w you're going to start to see those sorts of things as, as the movie continues to get shot. And the other part of that right, is I'm now a while the director is shooting, I'm here every day, focused on these things. So I'm actually taking an emotional journey with this material that the director hasn't had a chance to be alone with it yet. Right? So it's, it's very important that an editor is able to, at a certain point, once the director comes in, kind of take a step back and not, not try to like, uh, plow through things because the director needs time, right. To, to see what those choices were to, you know, to maybe, maybe make some explorations, um, that they didn't have time to think about while they were, and you don't want to, you don't want to, you know, prescribe too much and say, Oh, no, no, I've already, I've already been through all that. You don't, you don't need to, you don't need to see that. It's that, to me, that's the fun of it is, is doing that exploration and sharing, sharing that process.
Speaker 4: 12:07 We may have some young filmmakers in the audience listening to this. What advice would you give to a director in terms of how to best work with an editor?
Speaker 1: 12:18 Well, I mean, I think it's, it's really very simple in, in that as a director, I would apply the same, the same skills that you're using to communicate with, with an actor, for example, or to communicate with your DP. Um, it's the same thing. What you're, what you're hoping for, right. Is to get a great performance from your editor, that, that your editor is able to inject their point of view, their personality and all of the things into the work that they're doing. Um, um, and to, to have conversations in a creative way and to share again, to share your creative process with that person and not to, um, not to think of it. So, um, uh, in a way that, that, that shuts you off from, um, from sharing what your feelings are with the person you're working with, um, it's also, you know, I would say there are so many lessons that, uh, I wish I could teach every director directing their first movie.
Speaker 1: 13:27 Um, the, the most important of which is to, to understand that every director, every director, it doesn't matter if you've made one movie or a hundred movies, the movie that's in your head is almost never the movie that, that ultimately gets made. Um, and that's exciting. And, and, and not to look at that as a failure, but to look at that as an opportunity to say the thing that's in your head, once you start to collaborate, once you start to work with other people, that thing will start to blossom and grow in ways that, that, that you never could have imagined. And as long as the, the core, uh, principles or the core, the core of the story and the feeling, and the thing that you're trying to, to express underlines, all the decisions that were made, all of that's going to be in there, but it's, but it's, it's a poetry, right?
Speaker 1: 14:25 It's, it's something that's going to affect people in different ways. And you're going to be able to share that thing in different ways, but you have to be open to, to letting the movie take you, take you where, where it needs to go, um, based on the material that you have. And, and for example, uh, uh, directors that are just starting out. A lot of times, they get obsessed with, I want to do these really long takes, right? Want to, I want to set up a shot that's, that's, um, really complex. And it's going to be like a, you know, a two, three minute shot. It's going to go here and here and here. And what, what they don't realize is by doing that, you are locking yourself in during the most expensive part of the process to something that may or may not work.
Speaker 1: 15:12 And it takes years and years of experience to have the internal intuition to knowing the day did that work or not. I'm a good example with what the work I've done with, uh, Alejandro United, too. Um, it's taken him years to get to that point. And even at that point, right, he spent the entire morning rehearsing. Those shots looks at them with me, figures out if there's anything editorially he wants to do within that long take, right before he even begins to think about shooting it for real. And then it's, you know, however many takes that's going to be, um, there's so much preparation rehearsal to get to that point. And so I would say to a young filmmakers is what's going to best serve, telling you your story, and you're going to make a lot of mistakes and don't be afraid. Cause those mistakes usually lead to the Mo in my opinion, lead to the most exciting, uh, filmmaking discoveries.
Speaker 1: 16:14 So make sure you have a lot of coverage, make sure when you're shooting an actor that you don't waste 20 takes on a master scene that you're proud of. I'm going to use like a little tiny bit of, right, because the master scene is not going to be about the emotion as much as it's about where they are just setting it up. But it's a common trap that that filmmakers fall into is they'll start shooting their master, spend forever trying to get it perfect. And then by the time they get in for their close-ups or whatever, they don't really have enough time and maybe they don't cover everybody. And they figured, well, we got everybody in the, in the master, so I don't need to cover this person or that person. And then suddenly you're, you're stuck. And, and, and, and you're you end up after the fact like, Oh my gosh, do I have enough money to go back and pick up those pieces that I have missed?
Speaker 1: 17:03 Um, whereas a real good lesson is just shoot things. If there's one way to create a little bit more coverage by shooting it a little bit differently, like, don't be so formal. Well, uh, when you're first starting out, imagine if you shoot something really close, uh, and then you shoot it a little bit off this way and a medium shot or something that just creates new coverage, um, is always going to be, is always going to be useful. And again, it's you, I have to really be careful. I just don't know why. Um, I mean, I guess I do know why, but, but people get so obsessed with everything's gotta be right. Perfect. I think that kills exciting filmmaking. Everything should not be perfect. Let's shots be out of focus. Let, let, let somebody fall out of frame. Let something be weird because you'll find a way most likely to use that in an abstract way. That'll be more exciting.
Speaker 4: 18:04 Which of your films do you feel you had the greatest impact on in terms of the storytelling? It's a really,
Speaker 1: 18:12 It's a really difficult thing to, to, to answer because for me, when I'm in the middle of a movie, I'm always, it's a different experience working on the movie than it is being done with the movie. Right. And, and I think the thing that people don't realize is an editor has just as much, if not more impact on the frame to frame interior design of a scene than they do on the larger, uh, overview of the whole, of the whole story, whether, whether you it's about, in other words, the, the impact of editor has, I think is less about, Oh, let's take this scene and move it over here. Or let's take this scene out of the movie. It's much more about that. Like cut from this person to that person, or how long do we stay on this exterior? And whether we pre-lab dialogue going into the next scene, uh, or, uh, super important, where does the music start and stop?
Speaker 1: 19:15 You know, I think a lot of people assume that the music is, is a thing that the composer just kind of, we just send a movie over to the composer with no music, and then they suddenly start, you know, writing music to it. That's really not how it works. It's, that's not an efficient way to do it. Um, you know, we, we fill the music, uh, uh, that fill the movie with music ahead of time to understand, uh, because music is so important to shaping point of view, right. But music tells you a lot of times, like where it starts and, and how it starts, who is the character whose point of view this scene. Um, we're feeling this from, and is the, is the music portraying the CA the characters point of view is the music portraying the filmmaker's point of view sometimes. Like, so, so you want to have a sense of that so that the composer has a roadmap.
Speaker 1: 20:08 So, so for example, that's something, so every movie I work on I'm whether it's this, you know, uh, something that you'd think is a really simple movie or something that you think is super complex, all of those decisions are coming into play. It's just, and, and, and I don't always know, right? Like, I, my, the goal for me is to be putting things together without thinking about it, to be putting things together on autopilot. That for me, was the, the most difficult things starting out right. Is, is, um, feeling like this pressure every time you made a, Oh my gosh, why am I cutting here? What is this cut about? And that just takes years of, and hours and hours of practice and doing it and getting it wrong, sometimes getting it right before you start to get a more instinctual feel. And the more instinctual you are, um, the more, the more fluid that, that cut will ultimately be.
Speaker 1: 21:07 And the, and the less you're going to start, you know, messing around with it, I guess is a way to say it, like, you know, in terms of asking for an example, there's a scene in, in Babel where, um, uh, Rinko Cookie's character is, is taking drugs, right? It's a, this is kind of a classic, uh, editors moment of how do you, how do you play with the point of view of someone taking drugs? And, but my approach to the scene was less about the fact that she was taking drugs and more about the fact that, that she's a young person who is feeling this, this flushness of attraction and, and, and kind of feeling this lust for this guy, but also these feelings, Oh, maybe I'm falling in love for the first. Maybe he loves me, maybe that. And so building that scene around that feeling, and, um, because I had that in my head as I, and, and all this great material, that whole portion, I was able to put it together really quickly without really thinking about it, just kind of that overarching a through line of, okay, every shot, it's gotta be about how she's feeling and how this is new and how this is, you know, what does that feel like?
Speaker 1: 22:22 Right. And so that went very, very quickly. And then it got to the point where they're inside this club, and then it became, there was all this narrative stuff that had to be told, like you had to understand, okay, this person's here and that person is there, and then they're going to start dancing, and then she's going to see him. And that part became like a mess, because we had to think about making sure that the audience knew exactly what, you know, it couldn't be abstract shots of just pure emotion. Um, w you know, that you're, you're putting together, you had to also do that. And at the same time, kind of understand geographically where everybody was. And so, you know, what would seem like, Oh, well, that should be the easy part. No, actually, it's, it's the, exactly the opposite. That's, that's the hardest part is, is because you don't want the audience to ever feel like we're just kind of following the rules. You know, you always want things. I feel like to feel like they just kind of accidentally happen. There's just this randomness to it. I think that's really exciting.
Speaker 4: 23:24 Talk a little bit about the tools that editors have now. And how has digital editing helped make you a, or does digital editing make you a better storyteller? Are you able to do more things than back in the day when you had to physically cut work prints and things like that? Yeah.
Speaker 1: 23:42 Yeah, it does it for sure. It does at the time though, if I, you know, there, and I know this, this is very a cliche thing to say, like I started working on film. If I hadn't started working on film, I would have developed in a very different way. And I think that they're there. It doesn't mean that you have to start on film. It just means that you have to be more careful that you're, that you learn with a discipline, that you learn how to do things and repeat certain things in a certain way. And don't try to skip it ahead and cheat yourself out of, of I was going through the tough process of, of not, you know, not always being right, I guess, is the, is the best way to say it. You know, when, when you're working in film, one of the great things is you have to watch everything.
Speaker 1: 24:40 Um, and, and maybe you want to get to a certain point you're kind of going to have to fast forward to get to it. Right. Um, so you're, fast-forwarding, and you're watching everything as you're fast forwarding, and it reminds you of things you might not have seen before. Whereas in digital, maybe you're just going to go straight to that thing. You're going to skip all the other takes, um, when you're starting out, it's a good thing to see that stuff more, as you, as you get more experience, you start to get a sixth sense about, Oh, these are the things I need to dive back in and make sure I memorize. And these are the things that it's not that important. I don't have to waste my time, um, rewatching or going back over and over that kind of thing. But that's a skill that takes a long time to learn.
Speaker 1: 25:22 And luckily for me, I was learning that I was being forced to learn that because I was working on film. If I hadn't been, I probably wouldn't, I wouldn't think of things the same way. Um, also just this, uh, just the idea of how permanent making a cut and film was it, it was such a, uh, a real-world tangible thing that you really felt the pressure of that. And you, it forced you to really think about what you were doing and to have a, have a strategy, have a point of view, have a reason for why you're doing something, some things. Um, and again, yeah, when you're starting out, it's really good to exercise those muscles to really have a plan and to think about it at however, as you get more experienced, you actually, I mean, for me, at least you try to find ways to not do that.
Speaker 1: 26:17 You try to find ways to just do something really quick and random, and then just off the top of your head and see how it feels, which you can't do as easily on film, obviously. So, so I, I, there's no way I would, I mean, maybe a particular project that's being done a particular way. I would do it, but there's no real creative advantage. I find now to going back to film again, other than learning the craft and forcing this kind of, you know, it'd be like, if you had a tennis coach, who's going to make you repeat the same swing over and over again, to build your muscle and to learn that thing, you're not going to go out there the more, you know, and just start doing every kind of crazy maneuver you have to build up, uh, muscles and in a discipline. And, and that's the thing that digital right now, I don't know. I don't know how people navigate that.
Speaker 5: 27:10 You were to pick maybe three films to recommend people watch for editing. What would you suggest people watch and why?
Speaker 1: 27:18 Okay. So the first one for sure would be the diving bell and the butterfly. It's, it's very obvious. Um, if when, when you watch the movie, it's, the movie is about point of view. And so the camera is working in, in a way, in such a way that the editor then is going to be working in some way to try to make you understand, right. That we are in this, this character's head, and we are seeing the world through his eyes. So it's, it's very literal in terms of the way it deals with point of view, right, as the movie goes on, uh, he starts to, you start to see some of these memories and these memories become more clear. Um, and you'll see that the way those memories are presented instead of being these fractured fragments of kind of looking and Apple things out of focus and hearing things out of focus, suddenly things are presented in a very formal way.
Speaker 1: 28:20 And I think it's a really, it's really exciting to see how the movie has essentially flipped the normal, uh, language and storytelling. Um, of saying that the thing that he's remembering I'm seeing as objective truth, but when he's, when I'm seeing his, his day-to-day life, it's being presented in a much more subjective, poetic way, because, and, and that's what I think is, is so great about the marriage of the editing and the storytelling in that movie is, as you can really see how, um, you can really see how the editing is making you feel, uh, feel what he's feeling more so, um, the, the, uh, the other thing, and I just, because I happened to have worked with that editor before Juliet wealth link, um, in talking about right, like, like having things be random, it's, it's one of the things that I think she's just brilliant at is, is being able to take, take shots, make, jump cuts, just, just kind of seem like she's just throwing them together, but they all have a really specific, like, they all make sense.
Speaker 1: 29:37 It's not random. Um, there's a, a, an emotional framework to the, to the way she's making those choices. Um, it's really bold. And, and, and, and she can like do that and then pull off and then pull back at times. I mean, it's, it's, it's something else to, to, to, to recognize when, when you're watching that is when is she doing these jump cuts and why, and what, what is it making you feel right? Is it, you know, is it, is it disconnecting you? Is it, is it pulling you in more? So, um, for F uh, also I mentioned it, uh, the, in terms of the sound right sound is another thing that editors are using as they're putting all that together, to help again, create point of view, um, sound the same way that picture can be out of focus. It's important. Remember that sound can also be out of focus.
Speaker 1: 30:32 Sometimes you want the sound to kind of disappear. Um, and then you're just, you're just focusing on the breathing of that person that is part of the blueprint that you and the director are going to be working on while you're putting the movie together. Right. You're going to, you're going to start to make those kinds of choices, um, that then get passed on to the other departments who are gonna, who are going to expand on that and flesh those out more specifically. Yeah. Yeah. Another movie that I, I really, uh, that just blew me away when I, when I saw it, um, saw it in a theater, which I think is, is it's so clearly designed to be seen in a theater is city of God, the, the, the opening sequence specifically, if you just, if you just watch that, it's, it's so poetic. Um, it's telling this incredible story in a, in a completely non-literal way.
Speaker 1: 31:33 Um, and it's also important if you look at that, a lot of people, I think, assume that when you're cutting with music, for example, that the relationship with music and editing is that you're going to want to cut with the music. And every cut happens with the music, but that's actually almost never what you're trying to do. What you're actually trying to do is take those images and take movement within the image and have those movements work in concert with, with the music. And so maybe the cuts are like, you know, think of it this way. Maybe the cuts are like the baseline, but the melody is being played by all the, all the movement and all the activity that's occurring, um, within each shot. Um, so that's a great sequence. Just look at, look at like, what are the, what are the cuts doing?
Speaker 1: 32:22 Some of the cuts are to things just to make you smell something, or to make you feel panic, or to make you into then suddenly juxtapose that with somebody smiling and, and make you feel the exact opposite emotion. It's such a, it's, it's so dynamic. And it's a really, it's a really clear example of how, how, uh, how far you can go and how, how much you can communicate, um, just through, through how you put those images together. And obviously, and, and again, you know, it's always difficult to talk about because the, the editing itself wouldn't exist without the material that the editor is working with. Right. Like a lot of editors talk about, Oh, editing is like cooking. It's like, you know, I'm, I'm just like, I'm making a, you know, a beautiful stew for my friends or say, you know, but it's, and that's kind of true, but, but it's, it would be as if though all your friends were working on the farm, grew the food, you know, harvested the food, uh, fed the animals.
Speaker 1: 33:33 I mean, just, just all of, all of that, everybody working together. And so it's, it's, it's, you know, uh, that example is more like if you just got a bunch of stock footage and put it together, it's real, you're really dependent on the team that you're working with and the material that they're giving you, you know, if it's, if it's, if it's got a lot of excitement and a lot of, uh, emotion to it, it just makes your job so exciting and so great. Um, uh, another movie, I, I I'd love to mention, uh, Tangerine. This is a movie that the way it's presented, the way it's cut, it creates it creates this parallel universe, uh, where characters you're. So in tune with these characters and what they're going through, and they're walking around in the, in, in a real, in, in the real world, right.
Speaker 1: 34:26 That it's so great. The way the film is designed in terms of being shot in a, in a, in a, in a real location, um, in a way that a lot of the people around didn't even know what was happening, but what's going on with the way, the way it's presented is you're actually living that parallel in that parallel universe, the same way that the characters in the movie feel like they're living in a parallel universe in terms of, of the trans community and the way that they feel separate from the world around them. Um, it's, it's, it's so elegant, even though it seems so mashed up and, and, and, uh, and ragged, but it's not, it's I find it, I find it so elegant and so beautiful. And, um, it's also really good at letting shots play and giving the audience time to, um, to think to project, to, to let your mind wander.
Speaker 1: 35:25 That's another thing that, that you always have want to be careful of, right. When you're filmmaking is, yes, it's good to feed the audience information and make sure that they have everything they need to understand your, but then at a certain point, you want to, you, it's good to pull back and just maybe let a shot run on a person's face or, or on a, on a, on an environment, something that gives the audience time to take all that information that you've given them and let their mind wander with it and let them project and feel emotion and, and feel a connection. Um, and, and, and a, a connection to what the, the, the actor, what the character is going through. Um, that's a, that's a great movie to, to, to watch in terms of just seeing how, seeing, how it's able to do that, um, to just, yeah, just be abstract and just think about whatever you want to think about. Yeah.
Speaker 5: 36:20 And if you had to pick one of your own films to tell people to watch, uh, which of yours do you feel either the most proud of or felt that you had the most challenges that you overcame, or just the most satisfied with,
Speaker 1: 36:33 Again, it's, it's, it's a difficult thing. Um, just in terms of each of the Lake, I could, I could look at my first film swingers and go through it and talk about watching it to watch a group. Like the reason I think that movie, um, actually found an audience was because it was made by a bunch of beginner filmmakers who didn't quite know what they were doing and were making tons of mistakes, but really we're caring about, and going through a similar life experience that the characters in the movie were going through. And so therefore it created an authenticity, um, that nobody sat down and said, Hey, because we don't know how to make a movie. We are the perfect people to make this movie. No, it just had, it just happened that way. And I think that's one of the reasons it connected, um, with audiences the way it did.
Speaker 1: 37:26 So again, like if I look at that movie, I realized I, now I could never make that movie because I wouldn't have allowed myself to make some of the mistakes I made that are actually really emotional when you, when you see it in context. Um, same thing with, uh, with, uh, Doug Liman, the director. I mean, he, he had, everyone would make jokes because he was walking around with a lighting, uh, a paperback book about how the light for movies, um, as he was shooting the movie. But if he hadn't done that there, the energy of the movie would have been completely different and, and inauthentic, I think, so that's a, that's a movie that I think you can look at it and see it for all of us in terms of just the, the, the, in our infancy of, of starting to understand how to tell, how, how to tell a story and how it actually benefited the movie and the storytelling, you know, on the, on the other side of that, a movie like the Revenant is full of, of, of just really, um, incredible sweeping, uh, sequences that, you know, I'm happy that I got to participate in.
Speaker 1: 38:33 Uh, I certainly, uh, am proud of the work that I did, but I also, but, but nobody could claim ownership other than, you know, maybe Alejandro in terms of just the, the, the impossibility of, of some of the things that were accomplished, um, in the making of that movie. Um, I will say this because of the way we made the movie and because of the, the, the constraints in terms of not being able to get everything shot before we, for example, started to lose, uh, snow. So, so there was the entire back half of that movie had to be shot, uh, months afterwards, um, which meant the normal point of the process where we're putting it together and deciding if the movie works by sharing it with, with close friends, they're basically watching it up to a certain point and, and not showing them how the movie ends.
Speaker 1: 39:28 So of course the response is going to be well, it's good up to a point, but it doesn't, you know, it doesn't, there's no finale. Um, it, it was, it was a really difficult process. And unfortunately we just never had the breathing room to have fun, um, in the, in the cutting of the movie, however, I can look at the movie now and see that the result is, you know, just some really, really, you know, just beautiful work all around from, from, from everybody involved. Um, uh, and that's another, that's another example where, you know, if you look at those dream sequences, it's a good example where we really had to measure, um, the, how much of the dream is, is abstract versus how much is, is narrative information, because we've got to fill in the backstory of the character. And so that was, that was a challenge, right? Just, just making sure that we have that balance just right. You don't want to make it so abstract and poetic that nobody understands it, but you also don't want to make it so clear that you're not able to, to, to inject your own life experience into what you're watching.
Speaker 2: 40:33 Well, I want to thank you very much for talking about editing. Absolutely. Thank you. That was Steven Marioni editor of traffic babble and the Revenant. I recorded my interview in October for a Comicon museum panel at this year, Sam storytelling across media, joining me for the next and final film editing podcast will be Paul matchless, who was cut Edgar Wright's baby driver world's end, and Scott Pilgrim vs the world. Thanks for listening to another episode of cinema junkie. I hope you'll come back to hear what matchless has to say about his unique creative collaboration with Edgar Wright. I want to thank ACE, the American cinema editors for helping me set up these interviews. And just to reminder, cinema junkie comes out every other week, and I'll be taking a short break at the end of the year till our next film fix I'm Beth like a Mondo, your resident's cinema junkie [inaudible].
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.