Making the Cut: Robert Leighton — A Rewarding Long-term Collaboration

Robert Leighton’s 40-year editing career includes a 15-film collaboration with Director Rob Reiner, which began with the classic comedy This is Spinal Tap in 1984. While he has worked on many films with many directors—most recently A Dog’s Purpose with Lasse Hallströmhe says it’s remarkable to have worked with a single director so many times.

Leighton points out that since he began working with Reiner, new technology has changed the way films are shot and impacted the editing approach and process.

Now, he says, the tendency is to shoot more footage, including more “from the hip.” When working with physical film, he says, the art of editing was about making refinements to “perfectly tell the story.” In the digital realm, it’s about, “How do we turn all this into a film?” which is a different kind of creativity.

“It’s a very difficult art to talk about the art of editing because it’s not what you see—it’s the things that aren’t there. … People often call it the invisible art.”

—Robert Leighton, editor, This is Spinal Tap, Misery

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