Variety talks about Editing

8 01 2008

I was talking with someone the other day about the devastating Writers’ Guild strike and we figured out that one good thing about the strike is that it seems to be cutting down on the number of the insipid awards shows that have proliferated to such a degree that I’m starting to feel badly that I haven’t gotten an award — as Best Viewer recently moved to Hollywood who also teaches. Or something like that. Not to make light of the strike — it’s effects have started to be noticeable all over the city (I’m told that Campanile, a high priced restaurant near my house, is offering $18 meals to people who show WGA cards).

I also shouldn’t make light of the awards shows, since one great thing about the upcoming awards — even if every single one of them gets cancelled — is that there are a few articles out there in which editors are interviewed talking about their craft. In my blog posting Sunday I mentioned the New York Times’ piece. Today I want to make note of a piece in yesterday’s Daily Variety, in which editors like Chris Rouse, John Gilroy, Paul Tothill, Jay Cassidy, and Juliette Welfling each give one (usually great) quote about their process. In the process, the piece (written by Peter DeBruge) manages to use the names Thlema Schoonmaker, Michael Kahn and Alan Heim in the same sentence as the word “innovators.” It’s a heady article and it makes for fascinating reading. You should all run over to their web site and read the article.

A few choice quotes help to reveal what goes on inside our heads. Chris Rouse talks about editing THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM and, rather than talking about the editing as a reflection of the story, he talks about it from a character point of view (most good action films pay attention to character — take a look at TERMINATOR 2, for instance):

What I’ve attempted to do, apart from being aggressive, is keep the rhythms much more off-balance than I would normally because he’s a guy who’s not in tune with his environment

John Gilroy edited his brother Tony’s MICHAEL CLAYTON. The director speaks of storytelling in a way that only an excerpted quote from a much longer and interesting interview can convey:

Storytelling is about coming in too late and getting out too early.
You’re always looking at what’s the last possible moment you can come
in on the scene and the first possible moment you can get out.

Of my adored THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, editor Juliette Welfling talks about character:

“It’s hard to be in a character’s head; it doesn’t happen so often,”
she says. “I had to ask myself, where would he blink, what images would
he have in mind, and things like this.”

And Jay Cassidy, who I’ve always found to be an inciteful, introspective and intelligent guy (hmmm, the “Three I’s”)

Screenplays are kind of inadequate blueprints that we all have to use,”
Cassidy says, expressing a philosophy shared among editors. “As soon as
you photograph it, it’s a new beast.

All in all, a great week for getting the word out about editors, and what we do. Thank you Disappearing Awards Shows.

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