One event that I look forward to every year is the Invisible Art, Visible Artists seminar held the day before the Academy Awards. Presented by the American Cinematheque and the American Cinema Editors, the Oscar nominees for Best Film Editing talk about how they got their start as an editor and about their craft. This is the 17th year that this event has taken place, and it still remains a hot ticket.
Editors, assistants, students and film enthusiasts line up for hours to hear what these editors have to say and to get a glimpse into the editing bay.
The President of the American Cinema Editors, Steve Rivkin, ACE, kicked the event off by thanking the sponsors (Avid being one of them, of course) and introducing the Oscar Nominees for Best Film Editing and the event’s moderator.
This year’s panelists and Oscar nominees included (pictured below from left to right): Joi McMillion and Nat Sanders for Moonlight, Tom Cross, ACE for La La Land, Joe Walker, ACE for Arrival, Jake Roberts for Hell or High Water, and John Gilbert, ACE for Hacksaw Ridge.
Alan Heim, ACE, moderated the panel as he has done so eloquently for years. His Filmography is quite impressive as well as he was nominated for editing Network in 1977 and won an Oscar in 1980 for editing All That Jazz. Just saying.
Each editor gets to choose a scene from their films that they like and want to talk about. And there was a full range of scenes to talk about: from a violent and bloody battle sequence from Hacksaw Ridge to a pivotal scene in the climax of Arrival to the musical montage ending in La La Land.
The editors of Moonlight, McMillion and Sanders, both went to Florida State University together, along with the team behind Moonlight, including the Director, Barry Jenkins. McMillion, the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Oscar in the Film Editing category, let Sanders discuss the scene in Moonlight where Little is being taught how to swim by Juan. The camera POV is just at the level of the water, which is moving below and above the lens. Sanders explained how he made his editing decisions at the point where the water was moving across the lens. I think it’s a beautiful and natural dance that flows between the shots.
During the panel, McMillion, Sanders and Roberts had to leave early to attend The Film Independent Spirit Awards, as they were all nominated in the “Film Editing” category for their work.
Later that day during the MPEG sponsored luncheon after the IAVA panel, a woman in the corner of the restaurant screamed. After a few seconds of panic from the wait staff and the rest of us, she exclaimed, “They won!” It was McMillion’s Aunt Bettye who received a text that McMillion and Sanders had just won the Spirit Award for Best Film Editing of Moonlight. The room erupted in applause.
Editing is an invisible art. While watching a film, you may not know that a shot is actually several shots stitched together seamlessly or that a few frames in a scene were taken out to improve the scene as a whole. Hearing these editors talk about their thoughts and process just makes me appreciate editing so much more.
I just want to give a huge congratulations to all of the nominees for Best Film Editing. I am always amazed at the work that you and your teams do and I love seeing it all on the big screen. Thank you for your talent!
Photos by Peter Zachary/Tilt Photo and Michael Krulik
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