Post Production

EditFest 2016: Cult Film Favorites with the American Cinema Editors

UPDATE: Watch the Full Session Video


What does it mean to edit a cult classic? Does an editor go into a project thinking or knowing what they’re working on is going to be a cult classic? What makes an editor want to be part of a cult classic?

These were just some of the questions that were discussed during the Cult Film Favorites session at EditFest 2016. This panel was the second of four panel discussions, all of which were an amazing mix of insight and experience. We’ll be taking a quick look at what kind of information was shared and discussed in each…

…and video for this whole session is available at the bottom of the article.

During this session, Michael Krulik moderated a panel that included Mark Goldblatt, ACE, Mark Helfrich, ACE, Tina Hirsch, ACE, Norman Hollyn and Jane Kurson, ACE, and each of them had to directly and indirectly explore what it meant to edit movies that have become cult classics.


As they talked through that involvement, one thing that kept coming up was that none of them ever envisioned they were working on a cult classic when they took the job. For most of them it was just another gig. That said, the mentality behind the project could end up influencing what we might recognize as a core element of cult classics, as Hollyn mentioned how there was a very, “anti-John Hughes film” effort for Heathers.

Goldblatt said that for him, Terminator was simply a great sci-fi script that he thought would make a great film, but he never imaged it would have the legs that it’s shown. Hirsch admitted that many of the choices she made were based on the limited amount of footage she had, but doing so more or less created an incredibly distinctive and influential style. Hollyn made a great point around the opening of Heathers in terms of knowning it might isolate a segment of the audience, but if the audience wasn’t with them for it, they never would be. That sort of attitude would seem to be an essential ingredient in any cult classic.

The highlight of the panel was probably hearing Helfrich discuss some of his favorite Showgirls memories. He readily admitted the movie was the most fun he’s ever had, and the things that happened on that movie in the edit suite are things that simply don’t happen on other movies. His recollection of an ADR session with star Elizabeth Berkley was priceless.

panelcultEach of the editors showed a clip that more or less showcased how and why these films have become cult classics. The scene from Terminator showed the brutal efficiency of the main character, but Goldblatt explained how perspective and music can influence a scene in such a critical way. The scene from Beetlejuice showcased why the initial feedback for that movie centered around getting more of Michael Keaton into the film, which no doubt directly contributed to it becoming a cult classic.

The panel also teased out their own choices for cult classics, and made compelling cases for such films as Xanadu, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and more.

Watch video of the entire Cult Film Favorites session below, although the clips from Showgirls didn’t make it into the cut. There’s a reason it was rated NC-17!


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