Continued Importance of Director/Editor Collaboration Is the Running Theme of the Night's Speeches
The importance of the filmmaker/editor collaboration was repeatedly emphasized on January 27 in between usual shtick, heartfelt gratitude, and moving tributes at the 67th Annual ACE Eddie Awards dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The event, hosted by actress/comedienne Rachel Bloom, star of The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, continued the early awards-season success trend for La La Land as that film’s editor, Tom Cross, ACE, won the Eddie for Best Edited Feature Film in the Comedy category.
La La Land editor Tom Cross, ACE; photo by Peter Zakhary/Tilt Photo
Cross was among the winners who touched on the collaboration topic by noting his partnership with the film’s director, Damien Chazelle, which began with Chazelle’s award-winning feature debut, Whiplash, for which Cross earned both ACE and Oscar nominations, when he stated that Chazelle “wanted to make a love letter to editing. My continuing collaboration with him is a dream come true.”
Arrival editor Joe Walker, ACE; photo by Linda Treydte/Tilt Photo
Joe Walker, ACE, captured the Eddie for Best Edited Feature Film, Drama, in recognition of his work on the sci-fi mystery, Arrival; while Fabienne Rawley and Jeremy Milton were honored for their work on the Best Edited Animated Feature Film, Zootopia; and Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski won Eddies for editing the acclaimed feature documentary, O.J.: Made in America. (See the full list of winners, below.)
But it was some of the evening’s special award recipients who really drove home the notion that the bedrock of filmmaking is the bond between editor and filmmaker. None of the honorees this year, or possibly ever, could claim a longer or more substantive collaboration with a director than Thelma Schoonmaker, ACE, who was given one of the evening’s two Career Achievement Awards.
Silence editor Thelma Schoonmaker, ACE, and director Martin Scorsese; photo by Linda Treydte/Tilt Photo
Her friend and colleague, Martin Scorsese, who introduced Schoonmaker, and who again joined forces with her this year on his newest film, Silence, pointed out in his introduction that the two of them have worked together for 37 years. He explained that they met at NYU in 1963 when a professor asked Schoonmaker to help fellow student Scorsese salvage the negative of a short film he was working on.
Scorsese insisted the creative relationship between the two has remained unbroken since then due to “my trust in her and her fierceness to fight for the truth of the film.” Schoonmaker returned the compliment by insisting that Scorsese essentially “thinks like an editor when he shoots a film” and that she is “still learning from him every day.”
Career Achievement Award-winner Janet Shikaga, ACE; photo by Linda Treydte/Tilt Photo
The other Career Achievement Award winner, Janet Ashikaga, a four-time Emmy winner for her work on some of the most seminal television shows of all time, including Seinfeld, The West Wing, and Frasier, among others, credited much of her success to her working relationships with the creators of those shows, including Larry David (Seinfeld, “the first genius I ever worked with”) and Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing), who introduced Ashikaga. Schlamme joked that Ashikaga more properly deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for being able to navigate the creative highways and byways of such demanding personalities over the years.
Filmmaker of the Year award-winner J.J. Abrams; photo by Linda Treydte/Tilt Photo
But it was left to producer/director J.J. Abrams to nail the point home when he was presented with ACE’s highest honor — the Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year award. Abrams’ got right to the point while accepting his award by pointing out that while directors have a team dedicated to helping achieve their vision, and can rely on the acquisition or creation of new elements and plans and procedures, “as editors, you’re fucked! There is no magical next step. You are not allowed to have dreams of later. The buck stops with you.”
He added that “I can’t tell you how many times” his various editors over the years, particularly long-time collaborators Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, “have saved my ass.”
Later, backstage, while chatting with StudioDaily, Abrams was asked to explain exactly what he meant by that.
“I’ll give you an example. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there is a scene where you first meet Han Solo and Chewbacca,” Abrams said. “Initially, I was planning on staying longer with the two characters of Rey and Finn, who are hiding under a grating [on board the Millennium Falcon when Han Solo and Chewbacca first come on board]. But it felt wrong in the editing room to stay with those characters, because you had just got to finally meet Han and Chewie, and so [fans] would want to stay with them longer. I felt, ‘Oh crap, we’re going to have to figure out some way to reshoot some pieces.’ But then, Maryann [Brandon] found snippets of shots from something that was intended for an entirely different thing, and she cut together this piece that looks entirely as if we had intended it to be used for [the scene in which] Han and Chewie are searching through their old ship.
“Mary Jo Markey did something similar on Mission: Impossible 3. There was a cut that just didn’t work at all, and she used a piece from something that was entirely unintentional, from an earlier scene, a closeup of [actress] Maggie Q. It bridged two pieces that we didn’t have a solution for. Those kinds of things happen again and again, all because of the editor’s ingenuity.”
The American Cinema Editors also honored Lori Jane Coleman, ACE, Diana Friedberg, ACE, and William Gordean, ACE, with the organization’s Heritage Award for their efforts creating the ACE Internship Program.
Here is a rundown of all the 2017 ACE Eddie Award winners:
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC): Arrival, Joe Walker, ACE
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (COMEDY): La La Land, Tom Cross, ACE
BEST EDITED ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Zootopia, Fabienne Rawley & Jeremy Milton
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE): O.J.: Made in America, Bret Granato, Maya Mumma & Ben Sozanski
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (TELEVISION): Everything Is Copy – Nora Ephron: Scripted & Unscripted, Bob Eisenhardt, ACE
BEST EDITED HALF-HOUR SERIES FOR TELEVISION: Veep: “Morning After,” Steven Rasch, ACE
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR COMMERCIAL TELEVISION: This is Us: “Pilot,” David L. Bertman, ACE
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR NON-COMMERCIAL TELEVISION: Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards,” Tim Porter, ACE
BEST EDITED MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE FOR TELEVISION: All the Way, Carol Littleton, ACE
BEST EDITED NON-SCRIPTED SERIES: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: “Senegal,” Mustafa Bhagat
STUDENT COMPETITION: Tommy Wakefield, University of North Carolina, School of the Arts
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