Articles >

Editors Reflect On Longstanding Partnerships With Directors

M. Galas

Long time collaborators where the headline attraction at this year’s ACE Eddie Awards, presented on February 18th.   Many of the evening’s nominated editors had a partnership with their directors that spanned over forty years, and each of these editors reflected on the new challenges these faced as their directors experiment with new technologies.  Thelma Schoonmaker, who has worked with Martin Scorsese since 1967, was nominated for her first 3D editing on "Hugo."

"You know, it was a bit of a learning curve in terms of editing," said Schoonmaker.  "I was given all the no-no’s that you can’t do: you can’t cut quickly, you can’t cut from a wide shot to a close-up, but frankly, I didn’t find that was true.  Finishing was very complicated, but in terms of cutting it really wasn’t a big deal."

The greater challenge on "Hugo" for Schoonmaker came in working with the visual effects.

"We never used to have visual effects in our films at all.  It is a little hard in your mind to pretend what is on the green screen,” said Schoonmaker.  "It was harder on ‘Shutter Island’ because there was an ocean and waves.  (In "Hugo") it was parts of the train station.  Here we didn’t get some of the shots until the very last day before we locked the picture, so that’s something new for me.  I actually had shots put in that I didn’t actually cut in myself.  I cut them in the way I thought they would work and they did.  That magnificent open shot took 103 days and 1,000 computers in four countries and we got it at the last minute.  Rob Legato (the VFX Supervisor)  works like a brother with us.  He’s like a fellow editor, so we are very lucky."

Michael Kahn, who has collaborated with Steven Spielberg since "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," was nominated for two awards that evening, for "War Horse" and his first animated movie, "The Adventures of Tin Tin."


"We had never done that before," said Kahn regarding his experience with "The Adventures of Tin Tin."  "That was three years ago.  It takes that long for the animation to be developed!  I had to get used to certain terms, but I found the editing to be exactly the same as what we do.  I sat down with Steven in 1977 and we were just developing our technique.  We’ve been together since and our technique is about the same.  You know, there are no rules in editing, you are always looking to do something special, something interesting, and that’s what you go for."

Career Achievement Award recipient Joel Cox, who’s worked with Clint Eastwood since “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” initiated his film career by delivering film reels.  He eventually landed a job in the in the sound department and spent time with editors, studying their craft and mastering their technology until he received his first break. He credits his love of technology as the cornerstone of his success.

"When you start a career you never have any idea what’s on the road before you, and I never dreamed of any of this," said Cox.  "Clint says to me all the time ‘You are too technical.’  And I say, ‘Well, sir, part of creating is technical.’  There are certain things that if they are not technically right they won’t work, and so I’ve got to make that work.  But the art is first, and then I will work the technical part out."



The winners of this year’s American Cinema Editors Awards are:

Best Edited Reality Series:

Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations: “Haiti” – Eric Lasby


Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Television:

Cinema Verite – Sarah Flack, A.C.E. and Robert Pulcini


Best Edited One-Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television:

Homeland: “Pilot” – Jordan Goldman and David Latham


Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television:

Breaking Bad: “Face Off” – Skip MacDonald


Best Edited Half-Hour Series for Television:

Curb Your Enthusiasm: “Palestinian Chicken” – Steven Rasch, A.C.E.



Best Edited Documentary:

Freedom Riders – Lewis Erskine and Aljernon Tunsil


Best Edited Animated Feature Film:

Rango – Craig Wood, A.C.E.


Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy or Musical):

The Artist – Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius


Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic):

The Descendants – Kevin Tent, A.C.E.


To view videos intereviews shot at the ACE Eddie Awards, visit: