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From “Homeland” To Actors’ Best Practices: Editor Jordan Goldman, ACE

Jordan Goldman at work on “Homeland” in his edit suite. Photo credit: Prashant Gupta

Jordan Goldman, ACE, wants you to enter a room on the shoulders of Claire Danes.

A member of the “Homeland” editing team since season one, Goldman has remained focused on accentuating the character’s personal and professional evolutions through the years. After kicking off season four by showing Carrie Mathison’s (Claire Danes) face as she travels through Kabul at night, Goldman chose close, over the shoulder shots that presented the character’s emotional state as she enters an Afghanistan drone operations control room – a new environment for the viewers.

“We shoot with a lot of long lenses, and this allows us to create an identity with the character,” said Goldman. “You see the world from their shoulders: the camera follows her into the room, and we get to see this new environment from her emotional viewpoint. I always look for those shots where we see through their eyes.”

Defining character throughout intense personal and political situations remains a focus in the “Homeland” editing suite. Once a script is completed, the episide’s writer, director, producing director Lesli Lanka Glatter, show runner Alex Gansa,  producers and editors meet. They review the script and discuss intentions, goals and potential challenges to ensure all facets of the production are in concert. While tone meetings are fairly common on productions, editors are not always included in these important discussions.

“Tone meetings are critical,” said Goldman. “Any show not conducting these meetings with the editor in the room is just creating issues further down the line.”

Next, a stylistic pre-production meeting occurs between the episode’s director, cinematographer and Glatter to ensure visual and emotional continuity is maintained from set to suite.  The stylistic meetings ensure Goldman can express what he needs for his creative impact – such as his desire to “hang on the moment,” requiring shots that linger on the face or maintain a static moment – as well as understand intentional movements and rhythms caught in camera. Goldman generally edits four episodes a season: one, four, seven and ten. He’ll receive dailies – primarily out of story sequence – the next day and will begin forming a rough edit based on the style notes, script and his own intuition. Two to three days with all footage he completes a rough cut with temporary sound effects that’s presented to the director. The edit is then delivered to the producers who may want to delete lines or make some changes to performances. After a week the edit is sent first to Fox21 then Showtime for a final round of notes. While “Homeland“ has tackled tough subject matter, the notes generally don’t require content nixed. Rather, they pertain to pacing, dialogue adjustments and clarity of story lines. Goldman appreciates the round of feedback he receives.

“I’ve seen the material so many times, however they are seeing it for the first time,” said Goldman. “Having people watch with sets of fresh eyes are always helpful to ensure the story is as strong as it can be.”

Goldman was able to diversify his editing style between the third and fourth season of “Homeland” when executive producer Howard Gordon asked him to join the ranks of “24: Live Another Day.” The twelve episode mini-series followed Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) attempt to thwart a massive terrorist attack while on the run from the US government. The editing style included incorporating the series signature multi-frame boxes and high adrenaline action throughout each episode.

“’24’ is a real rollercoaster ride with non-stop action. It provides an editorial challenge stylistically,” said Goldman. “It’s lot of quick cutting within very specific signature style. It was completely different from ‘Homeland.’”

Goldman enjoys allowing a project’s challenges to fuel his choice of projects. If he doesn’t find the material interesting and rewarding, he feels he’ll be spending a lot of “miserable hours” ignoring his creative tendencies. He honed his editing skills while working on “The Shield” early in his career and feels his connection to the critically acclaimed show provided many opportunities to pursue great material, leading to his involvement with “Homeland.” His work on the series pilot, alongside fellow editor David Latham, brought him additional notoriety after receiving his first Emmy nomination and win. While the recognition of his peers was extremely rewarding, Goldman remains driven by a desire to creatively present the best story possible.

“It was a great honor and a wonderful bonus, but it is never a goal,” said Goldman. “What continues to drive my work is great material and great storytelling.”

To further advance great storytelling, Goldman has taken his editorial skills into a new dimension. He’s just completed a book for actors that advises them on presenting performances that remain in the picture. “How to Avoid the Cutting Room Floor: An editor’s advice for on-camera actors” will be released towards the end of June, 2015.

“The book is meant to help actors avoid falling into common traps,” said Goldman.

Information about the book can be found by clicking:
http://editorsadviceforactors.com/