Post Production

Art of the Cut with “Brooklyn” editor Jake Roberts

Brooklyn posterThe film “Brooklyn” is one of those rare films that is able to dismiss so much dialogue, simply by pointing the camera at its superbly talented and emotive lead actress, Saoirse Ronan. Today’s Art of the Cut interview is with editor Jake Roberts, who, along with director John Crowley, sculpted “Brooklyn” from Ronan’s subtle and telling performances.

“Brooklyn” was shot in Ireland, Montreal and New York and was edited in Dublin, Montreal and London. It tells the tale of an Irish girl who immigrates to the US in the 1950s and traces her path from home-sick Irish girl to confident American woman, and the struggle of leaving behind loved ones and a familiar life.

Editor Jake Roberts started in documentaries and did some  TV episodic editing before working on several features. Roberts has been busy. After “Brooklyn” he edited “Trespass Against Us,” due out next year, and is currently editing “Comancheria” which is in production. He also cut a short film with Steve McQueen, called “Kanye West: All Day.”

HULLFISH: After looking at some of your past work, editing “Brooklyn” seems like they’ve asked you to play against type. Can you get typecast as an editor?

ROBERTS: It seems that in this industry people often want to give you the job you’ve just done. You have to constantly fight against that. The two films I did prior to “Brooklyn” were kind of violent male-dominated movies (“Starred Up” and “The Riot Club”) and I certainly didn’t want to get typecast doing those, so it was definitely a conscious movie on my part to try and take on something that was more female-driven.

JohnCrowley HULLFISH: Talk to me a little bit about landing this job.

ROBERTS: I think the script initially came my way because I had been working with Lone Cherfig, who had directed “An Education” for the producers, Finola and Amanda whose regular editor was busy. Lone put in a good word so that got me the meeting. As with all jobs, it just comes down to sitting down with the director and discussing the project. I got sent the script and I literally knew nothing about it. I saw that it was called “Brooklyn” and assumed that it was going to be a hipster rom-com. I had to read the screenplay more than once to get the feel for the tone of it. I’d been playing the wrong movie in my head, knowing the stakes and calibrating myself to its subtle tone in this day and age. Then I went and met John (Crowley, the director, pictured right) and for both of you it’s sort of a feeling-out process. It’s like going on a first date with someone. Sometimes there’s just no chemistry, no matter how much you might want the job and be qualified for it, you and the director just aren’t simpatico or have the wrong energy and you probably don’t get the job and it can be as simple as that. Obviously you have to be qualified and you have to say some intelligent things about the material, but it does often come down to gelling with someone. It’s like buying a house. You pretty much know the minute you walk through the door – it may look good on paper, but if it doesn’t have that feeling, you’re not going to buy it. But it’s the director that gets to make the choice.

HULLFISH: And the director and editor spend more time together on a movie than pretty much anyone else, so you’ve got to like each other and trust one another –  know that you can hang out with this person for an extended time.

ROBERTS: It really does come down to “Do I want to spend three months in a room with this person?” Fortunately, John’s a very charming, affable, lovely man, so it was easy on my part. 

HULLFISH: Talk to me about the differences between directors you’ve worked with, as far as the working relationship – running the gamut from complete autonomy to someone sitting over your shoulder.

ROBERTS: Over the course of my career, I’ve had both experiences as you’ve said. There have been people that literally sit on your shoulder and try and dictate every cut down to the frame, but other times I’ve just been left to it with very, very minimal feedback at times. As I’ve progressed through the industry I’ve found that you get less interference because I think there’s more trust in you and more confidence on the part of the directors – that they don’t need to micro-manage every little thing. They tend to only ask questions when things aren’t working. It’s sort of a first-film syndrome to try and really control every tiny aspect. At least that’s my experience.

Saoirsedarkblueireland On Brooklyn, initially I was cutting in Dublin and they were shooting in County Wexford, which is a two-hour train ride south. So I was separate from the production. I was given the rushes (dailies) on a 24-hour delay. Some directors like to see the assemblies at the end of every day, but John would look at them at the end of the week, so he wasn’t obsessively trying to keep track of what I was doing. Really, I was left to my own devices during the shoot. He’d watch at the end of the week and give me a few pointers and every now and then say “No that’s not at all how I intended it.” But for the most part he was pretty happy with what I was doing and the material. That proceeded through the eight weeks of the shoot. After the shoot, directors tend to take a break to catch their breath and restore their sanity at which point the editor is left to polish and put together the first full assembly. When I finally screened it for John it was just he and I sitting together in the edit suite and at the end of the film I was really embarrassed because I had tears in my eyes, trying desparately to hide my emotions. I looked over and John was crying too! I thought then that maybe we had something.

With John, he liked to sit in all the time after that. There wasn’t a day where he wasn’t present, but he’s not dictatorial at all. He likes to discuss each decision as it’s being made and he’ll only challenge you when something is not sitting right for him. The majority of the performances are probably the ones I first chose because we mutually agreed that they were the best takes. Thankfully we share very similar taste. But every now and then the choices I’d make wouldn’t jibe with him and he’d ask, “What are the other options for that line or this bit here?” or maybe “This bit’s a little fast or that bit’s a little slow.” And that’s really what we did for the first six weeks is just hone and refine and tweak here and there and that’s how it went. It was a very easy collaboration and by no means a dictatorship.

BTSdance HULLFISH: Talk to me about the shoot schedule.

ROBERTS: The shoot was eight weeks in total end-to-end, I think, but there was a unit move from Ireland to Montreal and then a move from Montreal to New York, where they actually only shot for two days. So they lost a few days within that, moving the crew.

HULLFISH: What was shot in Montreal?

ROBERTS: Everything that was supposed to be in Ireland was shot in Ireland. Nothing was cheated. Pretty much all genuine locations. The one thing that was cheated was the interior of the steamliner was actually a set built in a studio in Ireland. Everything that’s supposed to be in New York was shot in Montreal except Coney Island. and Eilis’ street. with the brownstones. After shooting was over we went back to London, which is where John lives, and I am often based. We were cutting in Soho in London where we were for 15 weeks.

Edit Suite nicerHULLFISH: Cutting on Avid? With an ISIS? What was the editing team like?

ROBERTS: Yes, Avid on an ISIS. Over the course of the production I had three assistants – one in each location. Once in London we just had two stations on it and were cutting in a facilities house called Molinare (an edit suite from which is pictured, left). What was fabulous about it was that they would allow us to project the movie in their huge grading theater on a weekly basis (pictured below). It made so much difference because when you see the film with scale, the rhythms of the film, the places you make the cut, are quite different.

HULLFISH: I was about to ask about that. Can we talk about that more at length? I’m cutting a film now mostly on a computer screen and about a week ago, we finally projected it on a much larger screen and I was struck by the difference in my sense of pacing… some scenes I wanted longer because the eye needs more time to roam from place to place.

Theatre bluecloserROBERTS: Even in this day and age where one has to accept – as depressing as it is – that some of your younger audience are going to see your movie on an iPhone – you still cut it for the best possible environment, which is opening night in a great theater, so you have to imagine a 70′ screen. It’s to do with where your eye goes. If the screen is large enough that your eye can’t take in all of it at once, inevitably it’s going to go to a certain point on the screen.  And if you have an image that has a lot of information in it, your eye takes several extra beats to take it all in and then to find the focal point in the frame – the salient point. So one of the things that I try to do is to make sure that your focal point in the outgoing image is similar to the incoming one, so that you’ve drawn their eye to a similar point in the frame, so it’s an easier transition for the audience to track into the next shot because they don’t have to scan the frame.

HULLFISH: I just used that same trick on the film I’m editing now. A cut wasn’t working for me from a wide to a medium shot that was panning. When I slipped the trim on the shot so that the key element in the wide shot was in the same place in the panning shot that followed it at the moment of the cut, all of a sudden the shot felt right.


Saoirseclassicshopkeeper ROBERTS: It’s also about things that you see on the big screen that you just don’t catch on the small screen. Sometimes things you’re hoping the audience won’t notice. Bad continuity or bits of equipment or various bits of sleight of hand that we try to get away with often is exacerbated by having a much bigger frame. Usually it comes down to wanting to slow the film down a little bit because if the image is bigger then you need more time to absorb it. While cutting, it’s a great thing to see your film regularly on as big a screen as you can manage.

HULLFISH: I’m fascinated by the fact that your father was a screenwriter. I think of the screenwriter and the editor as two halves of a whole: the beginning and the end. In my interview with Pietro Scalia, he said that “Editing is writing with images” which is a quote that I loved. Talk to me about your sense of story, which perhaps you picked up from your father, and why that understanding of story is critical for an editor.

ConyIslandBTS ROBERTS: I think it’s absolutely essential. Some people have said to me that editing is essentially re-writing the film. Certainly, it’s a very similar narrative process. The structure that’s there in the script may or may not work as intended, so the rhythms of that structure may have to change. 20 pages of script, which would be your first act, may actually distend to 40 minutes or more of screen time in the edit and you need to get it back to 20 minutes because that’s the right rhythm for the piece, so you need a very good understanding of which bits you need to keep and which bits you can lose. I think narrative storytelling comes down to two things: what information does the audience need and when do you give it to them? And I think inevitably it must have helped for me to grow up reading screenplays and talking about them and watching movies. I never went to film school. I’ve read a lot of books and theory and I love storytelling, but it’s mostly intuitive rather than learned. Although I did a lot of documentaries for many years and the type of documentaries I tended to be involved with were the observational, fly-on-the-wall, with no narration, where you’re dealing with hundreds of hours of footage and no coherent narrative plan. That’s such great schooling for telling a story because you talked about editing being a form of writing and with documentaries you are literally writing the narrative as you go and imposing that narrative structure yourself, because documentaries tend to conform to the same principles of storytelling. It’s that way for a reason. You still have acts. You still have an audience with a similar attention span. You have to play all of those games, but with none of the crutches one is afforded with a dramatic feature. So if you can wrestle 250 hours of random footage into a coherent 90 minute piece with acts and structure, by the time you get to making a feature film with a script by a talented writer which has been developed for months if not years. I wouldn’t say it’s “easy” – but a lot of the heavy lifting has been done for you. For me, documentary was a great training ground in that respect.

HULLFISH: I started in documentary too, so I have to agree. Let’s talk about the scripted order of the scenes in “Brooklyn” compared to what people see in the theatres. Any interesting re-arrangements?

phonecall ROBERTS: There was definitely some re-ordering that was done but it’s a very linear story and the structure of “Ireland-America-Ireland” is completely unbreakable, so there wasn’t a huge amount of structural re-ordering, and also Nick (Hornby, the screenwriter, who also wrote the Reese Witherspoon adaptation “Wild”) had done a really fabulous job, so it wasn’t that necessary. But where it was the most significant was the period (when the lead character considers returning to Ireland but before she does) there are a number of very strong scenes, but there was something wrong with the flow of information initially. Somehow the narrative became very circular. We couldn’t put our finger on it, but we knew it was a problem and then we had our first test screening with an audience and we really had them. We were getting laughs when we wanted, and it was pin-drop quiet where we wanted. And then we got to this period of the film where the audience should have been the most engaged and 10 people in the space of five minutes went to the bathroom. So we knew we really had to do something. I had the idea of putting the phone call home much sooner than it was in the original script. It really helped the propulsion of the story line. Originally that came almost immediately before she left on the boat. We also fabricated an area of the film where Eilis is staring up at the ceiling from her bed and then we cross-dissolve – which is a device until this film that I had never used, but here I decided to embrace – to her mother back in Ireland in a church and neither of those things were intended for that purpose at all. Eilis staring at the ceiling was meant to be used on one of her first nights in America, and her mother in the church was supposed to be part of a montage. But we felt like we needed a device to spur her decision to go home in the place where the phone call had been.

Saoirserack HULLFISH: A classic juxtaposition of two unrelated things allowing the audience to draw the conclusion about their connection.

ROBERTS: Absolutely. If you have a face as expressive as Saoirse, the audience will project what they want to onto it.

HULLFISH: Speaking of her performance – and the actress was brilliant – you held a shot on her face early on in the movie for a VERY long time as emotion plays subtly across her face – it was exquisite.

ROBERTS: John and I had to fight quite hard to keep that shot the length that it was because it was not necessarily embraced by the financiers, who thought it was indulgent. Despite the pressure we never cut it shorter. It was a scene that was shot on the third or fourth day and I hadn’t had any discussion with anyone and the rushes came back and I looked at them and it was probably the first scene where Saoirse really had something to sink her teeth into and I was amazed by how expressive she was. At the assembly stage, I thought, I’m going to keep this really long. I don’t know if John originally intended for that shot to go that long. Sometimes you roll very long on a take to find just the right short moment you want. But certainly we were both in total agreement once we watched a cut that it was doing so much work for us. It was keying the audience in at a very early stage to let them know that this is essentially what the movie was going to be about: concentrate on her face. The focus is in her eyes – her expressiveness, as subtle as it is…

SaoirseTonydiner HULLFISH: You were putting a flag in the sand and saying, “This is the way this is going to be.”

ROBERTS: Exactly, exactly. But it wasn’t universally loved but I think it says so much and I’m glad we won the battle.

HULLFISH: Talk about the expansion and compression of time. There’re a number of times when you skip in time. There are some dinners where it’s going on in continuity of time and then all of a sudden you realize you’ve skipped to the end of the meal. Talk to me about making those decisions. Was stuff cut out? How did you clue the audience as to the jump in time?

ROBERTS: I’d love to take credit for any of them, but they were all written in to the script. On a broad scale John didn’t want to do a lot of the kinds of seasonal exteriors that would be a classical shorthand for passage of time. Consequently, you can watch the film in a way and think that all of the boarding house dining room scenes happen in the space of a week, but before you know it the seasons have changed and a year’s passed. I think it’s a clever device that shows Eilis’ assimilation into American life, which is the way that we all change. You don’t notice your hair falling out on a day to day basis but you get to a point where one day it’s gone. Change is a very gradual thing. And by not marking it and having it creep up on you, John and Nick really helped Eilis’ subtle transformation from one place in life to another. In terms of jump cuts during Eilis’ two dates: again, they were entirely written by Nick. We weren’t cutting out loads of dialogue. We marked time jumps by the atmostphere in the restaurants to fluctuate how busy they were.

HULLFISH: One of the things I noticed was the sound design on the ship, as soon as she boards the ship to go to Ireland. The noise, the voices, the frightening difference between her pastoral, serene life in Ireland and this new reality. It assaulted you in a way.


boatBTS

ROBERTS: Definitely that was meant to be the effect. It should be scary and foreboding, but also as large as it could be, because we were leaning on sound design to give us the scale we were lacking visually on the boat, due to budgetary reasons. The ship was just three sets of walls built in a studio in Dublin. So the more weight you can give it, the more you feel she’s really on a voyage… And the voices which populates the ship were all recorded later in group ADR also add to her intimidation and help imply a sense of scale that isn’t otherwise there.

HULLFISH: There’s a scene where she gets sick on the ship and there was a very interesting music choice under that. Can you talk about that?

Crowley SaoirseROBERTS: Obviously, the score that Michael Brooke eventually wrote is different than the score that we spent the working life of the film with because you play with temps (temporary score) which may or may not sound like anything in the final score. During the edit we decided that we needed some kind of music on the scene to help both the scatalogical aspect of it, but also as a rhythmic device to inject pace. Having decided that we wanted music there, it was really hard to find something that fit. We tried so many things that were either way to serious or way too silly. It wasn’t until someone came up with the idea of kind of Irish Ceili music, kind of like a jig (Ceili is pronounced “KAY-lee”) and it just seemed to work. That was what we had for temp anyway. That temp gets passed to the composer, but it’s only really a gentle suggestionas to what they might like to try. Ultimately, Michael came up with his own thing.

HULLFISH: So you used temp score. It seems an obvious question, but in my most recent interview with Joe Walker for “Sicario,” he said they cut without temp!

ROBERTS: We really didn’t have any of Michael’s music on it until after we locked picture, so during the whole evolving picture cut of the film we used predominantly Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s score for “The Road” (2009), perhaps counterintuitively, it’s a very different film. There’s something about it that really seemed to strike the right tone.

stainedglass HULLFISH: There are also some interesting time compressions when Eilis is reading her first letter from home. She’s reading it over and over in different locations.

ROBERTS: The montage aspect of it was intentional and scripted, but breaking back into her room at the end was an editorial decision. It just felt like emotionally if we didn’t come back to her room to see her crying, then the majority of the emotion of the scene was at the beginning and it dissipated throughout, so we needed to come back to her at the end.

HULLFISH: Another one was during a Christmas dinner that Eilis serves to homeless Irish men. It’s actually part of the trailer as a man sings a song. The people at the dinner react to and applaud for the song, but then the song continues throughout a montage.

ROBERTS: The specifics of the shot choices varied enormously through the process, but breaking the timeline like that was kind of an instinctive response to the material that came out in the first assembly and just stuck.

SaoirseRonan EmoryCohen HULLFISH: It’s an absolutely beautiful film. Were there moments where you said, “I just want to sit on this shot for a while just because it’s gorgeous?”

ROBERTS: My attitude would always be that if a shot is beautiful and the performance holds up and you aren’t trying to make a text cut, then don’t cut. I think there’s something more authentic in a moment that isn’t cut, then you know that that moment hasn’t been contrived by the editor. It feels more real. Also, for me, if you’re using a shot for some length of time, it’s always a shame to go back to it. I think that if a scene’s two minutes long and you’ve been given four shots to cover it, instead of using those four shots three times each, if you can use them each once, that’s perfection in my view. So where we were able to do that, that’s what we did. Yves (Belanger, the cinematographer) did a fantastic job, but the game was always more about Saoirse’s performance than it was about “cinema,” so the goal was to allow the audience to empathize with her and be in her head.

greatConeyIsland HULLFISH: How much do you try to cut and trim and move the story along as quickly as possible and how much do you allow the audience to breathe and absorb information they’ve been given. Something I noticed was that there were many scenes that played for another entire shot after dialog was done. There’s a shot where – after the dialog between Saoirse and one of the other girls in the boarding house – the camera lingers for a moment on the other girl as she considers the conversation.

ROBERTS: In general terms, and it’s a writer’s concept, but you want to come in the room as late as possible and leave as early as possible. And that’s good writing. And with editing, it goes along the same lines. So by the time someone’s written it and someone’s edited it, you sometimes are only in a scene for two parts of an exchange that maybe was initially ten exchanges, and you’ve distilled it down to its absolute kernel of what it is. That didn’t apply so much in this film. Of course we were trimming, but other than montage or letter areas the scenes themselves have a relatively stately pace to them. The decision to hold on an actor’s face wasn’t so much down to wanting to adjust the pace of the film at that point as it was to allow you into the character’s world a bit, especially when the film is so much about Eilis, that it’s nice to have a beat with someone else. I think it made the film richer.

HULLFISH: I loved a scene with Saoirse and another girl where the other girl at the boarding house kind of realizes what her lot in life will be and then you give us a moment to soak that realization in with her.


Saoirsemovieicon ROBERTS: Thanks Steve. Actors, especially if they don’t have huge parts are usually trying to give everything they can for their one moment, so often you’ll have some pretty strong emoting at the end of a scene. Often it’s not appropriate to use it no matter how great it is, but in that instance it felt right.

HULLFISH: That’s another writing trope: “You’ve got to kill your darlings.”

Let’s discuss sound design. For example, I noticed that the audience was helped along in understanding some of those time jumps with sound design. Is that something you built in?

boardinghousedinner ROBERTS: All of the sound is generated by Glen Freemantle (sound designer) and his team at Sound 24 who won the Oscar for “Gravity” and they are phenomenal in their field. I can’t take credit for the sound that was ultimately used but the general conceit was something we created in the edit. I love sound design. I try and do as much of it as I can, even at a really early stage. I have a big sound effects library and even on the first day of a rough cut, I will start playing around with atmospheres and effects. One of the things I remember about sound was that after we shot in Montreal there was something kind of viscerally missing from the film and we couldn’t figure out what it was. Then it came to us: American voices. We did a lot of work re-recording American actors and placing those accents around Eilis, just to hear as many authentic accents as possible. Canadians claim they can do American accents, and they can’t. A lot of care and consideration was put into that, just to steep us in that world a bit more.

wedding HULLFISH: Any use of color correction by you to sell time or emotion?

ROBERTS: There are a few places where we needed to make it seem more summery. We definitely added some saturation and warmth to some scenes in Ireland where it was meant to be the height of summer and we were shooting it in April and it was unbelievably cold. The actresses were having to act in summer frocks in a few scenes and the actress’s lips were blue. It was very hard to watch. So we did a bit of color correction on that one to warm it up.

HULLFISH: Talk to me about project organization and how you have your assistants set up your bins.

ROBERTS: I like to have the dailies lined up in the bin in the Frame setting (thumbnails) and have them run horizontally across, staggered through the takes so that you see the first frame in the first take and by take seven, if that’s how many takes there are, you have an image of the last frame.

CrowleyBTSclassic HULLFISH: Really!!! Cheryl Potter was the additional editor on “The Martian” and just described having worked with several British editors that worked the exact same way! However, in her interview, she said that she trains her assistants so that all of the takes use a frame that’s as similar as possible.

ROBERTS: I learned that staggered method from an assistant editor a few films ago. Until that point I wasn’t using Frame mode (Frame View is Avid’s version of “thumbnails”) at all. I was using Text mode (Avid’s version of List view), because of my documentary background. Looking at Frames often doesn’t help much. You have to work off a text description. The assistant said, “You’re crazy! Why don’t you work with the Frame view?” So she showed me that way of working and that’s been the way I’ve worked. Magpie-like, I just pick up things here and there.

HULLFISH: Everybody is like that. You have to constantly be learning and evolving your methods.

ROBERTS: I’m not precious at all with who teaches me something. In fact someone showed me something yesterday and on my current film, and I’m going to adopt that, I think.

boardinghousegirls HULLFISH: What?

ROBERTS: I’ve got 24 audio tracks and I was scrolling up and down, and one of my assistants suggested that I move my source and record monitors over to the left hand bin monitor and expand the timeline to take up the entire right hand monitor.

HULLFISH: I recently started doing that myself. Just within the last few months. Give me your approach to a new scene.

ROBERTS: So for example, if I have a scene at the dinner table, I will watch all the takes in chronological order and as I watch them, I assemble what I call a “palette.” Anything I like, I throw into a timeline and I try to keep that timeline chronological. So I never watch the rushes as an entirely passive exercise, because it can take four hours to watch the rushes and at the end of it all you have is a memory or notes of what you liked. I find it’s kind of a waste of time. So by the time I’ve watched all the rushes for a scene, I’ve got maybe five versions of every line in my palette and then, like a piece of marble I just chip away until I’ve distilled it down to a cut. Maybe the flow’s wrong or the grammar, but at that point you can make objective decisions about the scene and change some of original choices.

Front Of Building 002HULLFISH: Fascinating. So your assistants prep all that stuff for you.

ROBERTS: On this film I had a different assistant in each editing location. There wasn’t enormous coherence. As long as the sound and picture are in sync and the bin is correctly labeled, I’ll manage. (In London, Roberts edited at Molinare’s Soho faciity, pictured left.)

HULLFISH: Do you find yourself with any special project management things? Do you worry about the different versions of things you’ve cut?

ROBERTS: I should be more careful. I get very blinkered when I’m working and if I get a new idea I’ll just start making changes on the master and I’ll realize I never saved the original, so I try as much as possible to keep a coherent index of old versions so you can just jump back. But, I’m not a great housekeeper…

HULLFISH: Me neither. That’s one of the things I need to get better at myself. Especially after interviewing Pietro Scalia and just his organization of sequences and screeners alone was fastidious.

ROBERTS: Probably the majority of editors are fairly anal retentive and fastidious. I guess, I’m the exception to the rule.

HULLFISH: Anything else on pacing?

Saoirseimmigration ROBERTS: We worked very hard to get to America as quickly as possible in the story. So the opening was something that we kept whittling down and whittling down until arguably, I could do with a little more air in there if I’m honest. At the same time, it certainly seems to serve the story. The longer you spend in Ireland, you’re just delaying the inevitable. And then it was about trying to get Tony on the scene as quickly as possible. With producers, it’s always about making it faster. It’s rarely about slowing it down. There was a desire, without undercutting any of the more salient beats to get Tony on the scene as soon as possible.

We’ve gotten so many nice reviews, but one of the criticisms that we’ve received is that there’s a lack of social context to the piece in general and the lack of any mention of race. And it’s a shame because one of the scenes that we did cut entirely was a scene where Eilis and her boss are discussing her department store stocking nylons for African Americans and one of the other shop girls quit in disgust and Eilis was completely naive as to why it would be an issue at all. It revealed something about Eilis as well as alluding to that part of Brooklyn’s history. But it was holding us up getting to Tony, so even though it had many good attributes, we cut it.

Crowley with camHULLFISH: I loved Tony’s little brother as a bit of comedic balance, but was there any discussion of cutting the scene where Tony asks his little brother for help writing a letter to Eilis?

ROBERTS: It’s funny you should mention that. My first instinct was very strongly that we shouldn’t have that scene. It felt at odds stylistically with almost anything else. We were jumping across the Atlantic with no preamble and it’s the only scene in the film that doesn’t feature Eilis. I really didn’t think that that scene would make the film, but Finola, our producer, always felt that we really needed to touch base with Tony at that point because we’d been away from him for so long. I think ultimately she was right.

HULLFISH: By an odd coincidence, the movie you’re working on now is from the same writer (Taylor Sheridan ) as “Sicario.” My last “Art of the Cut” interview was with “Sicario’s” editor, Joe Walker.Good luck working n that project and thank you so much for a revealing and insightful interview as to your process and thoughts. I’m sure people will get a lot out of it.

ROBERTS: It’s been great to speak with you.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please check out the entire series of Art of the Cut interviews and follow me on Twitter: @stevehullfish


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Steve Hullfish has been producing and editing award-winning television since the mid-1980s. He has written six books, and edited four theatrical feature films (including two Number One New Movies in the US). He has lectured…
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