Editing with Douglas Crise, Claudia Castello & Michael P. Shawver

Eric: Hi I’m Eric Conner senior instructor at New York Film Academy, and in this episode, we’re taking a look at film editing.

— There is a freedom to be able to cut to coverage. I mean there’s a freedom to be able to say I can cut to the other side. I can cheat a line over somebody’s back.

I would work on his scenes and he would work on my scenes. It’s kind of a different way of editing.

The interesting thing about Claudia and I is that one of us is the ying and one is the yang. I mean we are opposites. —

Eric: While the work of directors cinematographers and writers might contain cinema’s most visible style. Editors have a very different goal for their work: to be invisible. Most audience members are so drawn into storytelling that we don’t even realize how much work goes into cutting to make accurate pop, shape performances, and create emotion. But show even the least trained eye a bad cut, they’ll notice. For our look at the invisible but crucial art of editing. We’re exploring two different Q&As Douglas Crise the OOscar-nominated editor of Babel spring breakers and Birdman and the editing team of Claudia Castello and Michael P. Shawver who worked together on Creed, Fruitvale Station, and most recently, Black Panther.

— I’ve been fighting. My whole life every punch I’ve ever thrown has been on my own. Nobody showed me how to do this.

You are Apollo Creed’s son.

I’m afraid of taking on the name and losing.

You’re scared to death that you don’t matter and you know what you’re right you don’t.

You’re Birdman you are a god —

Eric: All three editors initially honed their craft in film school. In Douglas Crise’s case, he needed this education to figure out his true calling in the entertainment industry.

Douglas Crise: I would say you know when I went to film school I didn’t know I was going to end up in editing and I initially thought I wanted to do photography or something else like that. But when I got out here and started interning I ended up in a cutting room and I found that that’s where I belong. And I was doing film. Editors that I – you know, I admire – I don’t know a lot about film history of great editors – I mean you could certainly say people like Walter Murch. Who directed Sound of Music? Bob Wise, he was the director, you know he edited Citizen Kane. He started out as an editor. So you know I would say Jerry Greenberg who cut French Connection. You know Michael Khan’s a great editor. I think Dylan Tichenor is one of the better editors around. I think I’ve worked with one of the greatest editors that exist right now, Stephen Mirrione. And I think Stephen is probably the biggest influence on me, completely because he’s the one who pushed me to start cutting and even from our very first film together. He would say, “can you cut this scene for me?” And, “can you do this scene”? You know? And working on Traffic, he would give me a lot of scenes to cut. “Say, can you cut? Can you do it or you want to cut this or you want to do this?” And the more we worked together like even on 21 Grams he would basically say, “Can you get the last half of the movie edited?” Because he would be so busy polishing the part he’s working on you. He’d say, “can you just get that together?” I sometimes struggle through an assembly because in some respect I don’t want to change it after I’ve done it. So I struggle through the assembly to get it the way I want it to begin with but I find recutting actually easy to some extent because it’s like, you know, then you play with it.

Eric: Meanwhile Claudia and Michael’s time in film school introduced them to the work of fellow student Ryan Coogler the man who’d eventually direct the Black Panther to his billion dollar reign.

Michael P. Shawver: You know I was like most film students you think directing is it like you want to be a director you want to be that Scorsese you want to be that Speilberg. And so I went and I took a directing class and there’s this guy making these two three minute short films. That were just incredible that make me feel something that would change my mind about things and you know I’m the guy that’ll sit in the back I’ll take everything in from there. But there’s something that just compelled me and my gut said you need to talk to this guy. And I just went up to him I said, “Hey man like I don’t know how but I need to work with you. You’re making all this stuff that I want to make.” And he’s like, “alright.” He’s like, “for sure man!” And that’s how I met Ryan Coogler. You know that that kicked off you know everything and Ryan had basically already you couldn’t choose before but he was like, “Iwant Claudia.” I don’t know if he ever told you this but he was like, “I want Claudia Claudia Claudia.” And I kind of came in and he had already kinda decided on this other guy but I threw my name in. And he liked the work that I was doing. But I think the thing that really sort of got me that job which got me this career and kicked it off was was he was shooting this short. The next morning the day before Thanksgiving everybody was going home and he was like, didn’t really know what to do for production design he was like, “Hey man do you know how to production design” I was like, “yeah yeah.” Again fake it till you make it. So, like that was like 10:00 at night I woke up at 4 am like, “oh my god I don’t know what I’m doing,” but that day I was a production designer, set dresser, first AC gaffer, just – I got lunch, like every every little thing and what I learned was you know, find opportunity and you know, meet the people and follow your gut. But then once you get the opportunity just work your ass off you know, give give give what you have and be a good person.

Eric: Michael and Claudia soon learned that their different approaches, as well as their backgrounds, made them ideal editing partners in crime.

Michael P. Shawver: The interesting thing about about Claudia and I is that we are one of us is the Ying one of us is the yang like we are opposites. Like I’m kind of a like intense dude from the northeast and she’s a super laid back former professional surfer from Brazil. So you know we kind of attack things a little bit differently and kinda what she was saying on Fruitvale. We came on after they had already shot so the whole movie was already shot and we kinda got to divvy up what it was and she edits very organically and with feeling and I’m I’m a little more of like why is this cut like this why is this like this so kinda when we both have our take. They’re different enough that they work and we get we get in our creative discussions and heated heated debates about this frame or that frame or this shot that shot. This is what it says about the character and whatever and Ryan jokes he says when she and I actually agree on something that he knows to use it in the movie. But yeah a big thing of it too is the passion. We still have that because Ryan is such a great human being and a great filmmaker and makes such compelling stuff. It’s our first opportunity to say ok we’re the editors of this this is going to be ours we have ownership over it. And I think that’s something you never want to want to lose you know. I mean even if I’m doing a project I’m not super super thrilled about or in love with you find a reason to love it. You find a reason to love these characters to care about this because if you’re working such long hours and we never you know if Claudia is going I want to cut the scene like I’m feeling it like she wakes up she comes in like ready to beat somebody up I’m like whoa take the scene and do your thing you know so so we kind of let each other be who we are you know in the editing room and I think that diversity can create some amazing things.

Eric: So much of editing hinges on the ability to collaborate both with others in post-production and most importantly with the director each of whom has their own approach to working with their editors. While cutting Spring Breakers Douglas Crise found that Harmony Corinne gave him a lot of freedom possibly too much.

Douglas Crise: You know I would almost say maybe Harmony’s a little too relaxed because you know you want that director who will push you. I don’t like a guy who hovers all the time. You know the brilliant thing about harmony is he inspires you to do stuff without hovering. He inspires you to try things and do things. But I work with like Nick Jarecki on arbitrage and he’ll certainly give you your own time but then you have the hours that he’s with you that you’re trying this and trying this and trying this and trying you know it’s tiring because I think Nick described it to me the first time I never even realized that how hard your job is sometimes where you have to use the mechanical sense of the software and putting things together. But then you got to think creatively at the same time and when you’ve got a director feeding you creative ideas from behind my creative end starts to shut off because I have to keep up with the mechanics while he’s throwing fast. Creative ideas at me and directors who just do that to you. It’s hard to keep up and you can’t give them the input back. So I think if they give you the breathing room then you’re like they’ll tell you to do something and then they leave and then you say well I did what you wanted. But I now I came up with this idea that I think works even better or this let’s try this. So I think you need a little bit of both.

Eric: After working with Alejandro Iñarritu on babel and birdman Douglas Crise feels the director is the perfect collaborator supportive of the editor’s vision while still pushing them to do their best work.

Douglas Crise: He never wants to compromise Alejandro’s a very particular guy an has his idea how to do it. He doesn’t want to change if he can. I mean you know he wanted to make a movie that took away the safety of cutting because Alejandro is a he’s a genius editor himself I mean he doesn’t actually physically ever touch the computer but he knows all the possibilities of an editing room and that’s where he even pushed me like you know he knew I could do something with this if I tried if there was something that we thought we couldn’t you know I’m like it’s one shot what am I going to do with it. No no no. There’s a way to make this work. And he wanted to make a film where he wasn’t relying on the editing room as much and he he said to me when I did one of my many visits to set he was so stressed and he was like saying that he’s like I got to get it right getting it right. I can’t fix this later. It’s got to be I got to keep all those ideas in the head. You know there’s the pacing there’s everything. You know he would script edit on set. He would shoot the scene then shoot it again with less dialogue and shoot it with less dialogue and shoot it again with. So he’d have because he knew we couldn’t cut the tape so we’d be like you know we got it we got to have our option of what what we’re gonna do here.

Eric: When Claudia and Michael collaborated with Ryan Coogler on Fruitvale Station. The director was so involved with the editing process that he all but moved in with them.

Claudia Castello: I went to Brazil. I took some time. I was like, “Okay I’m done with film school and now I’m going to rest.” And then I got a call like, “we need you guys to work with me. There’s basically no pay. You’re going to live in the same house. Michael lived in the closet”

Michael P. Shawver: For a while, for Fruitvale I lived in a closet. It was a one bedroom apartment they put us in an I’m obviously going to let Claudia have the room.

Claudia Castello: It was very nice to have.

Michael P. Shawver:The only other little enclave was it was a closet no door had a had a curtain and it fit an air mattress fit perfectly like a twin air mattress just fir perfectly right inside it that was it. That was that was I mean we were working like seven days a week. Also if anybody was doing laundry my light had to be on. So that’s just that’s so no naps

Claudia Castello: No laundry after 10 and we didn’t stop working it was like work work work work and then little sleep and then work work work. It was it was massive. It was a lot of work but we were really passionate about the subject about what we were doing. So in the end it definitely paid off. There were days where Ryan didn’t go home. He slept right there in this sofa. And then there was one day that he went to the bathroom…

Michael P. Shawver: Let’s just say you know you you know you when you’re up for hours and hours and hours and everybody gets loopy like you think something’s been said or done and you just start cracking up. We’re going to leave it at that and lets

Claudia Castello: There are funny things that happened because we are so tired

Eric: Fruitvale Station starring Michael B Jordan focused on the true story of Oscar Grant, an unarmed young man who was shot and killed by a transit police officer in Oakland. Michael and Claudia were proud to put in the time to help share such an important personal story to a mass audience.

Claudia Castello: We have a serious problem with the media in the whole world nowadays that everything’s so polarized. Then you have to read so much to kind of start understanding what’s going on in the world and human rights issues is not a priority for the media. And I found in film a very powerful tool to touch those subjects without people turning their face away. You know, I think when you go to the movies you kind of let the guards down and you’re there for how many you know an hour and 20 minutes and you open yourself to see what’s on the screen. So whatever the filmmaker puts there on the screen it’s really really really powerful. So I think it’s important for all of us to have the awareness of what we can do. You know as communicators because film is an art form but it’s also a very powerful form of educating people or raising awareness. And that’s I think what we’re dealing Fruitvale Station. We had an opportunity to humanize a victim and a victim by the eyes of the media is never humanized. And I think every one of us here have that opportunity to use for the best. And that’s that’s why I I make movies actually.

Eric: The biggest pressure the filmmakers felt was when Fruitvale Station premiered at Sundance not because of the festival’s prestige or even its A list audience but because of one important family in attendance

Michael P. Shawver: Specifically with Fruitvale. So Oscar Grant’s family was going to see this movie for the first time at Sundance so we didn’t even care about Sundance we that was whatever we were done with the movie just happy. But his family was a big thing and the first cut of the movie Oscar was the nicest human being you’ve ever met in your life. And it was good. It worked. But there’s something that we weren’t we weren’t being true because nobody is the nicest person ever all the time. And there’s a scene in the movie where where he goes to get his job back and they did one take where he threatens his boss like you want to see me outside I’m gonna wait till you’re done I gotta feed my daughter. It’s amazing. That was the one take that he got mad everything else he was just kind of like begging.

— I hired somebody else for me to bring you back that means I have to let someone else go. I’m sorry. I like you man but I can’t – I need this f*****g job breh. You want me selling dope breh? You need me outside waiting for you to get done breh? —

Michael P. Shawver: It was towards the end we went in and just cut this. And it changed the movie completely because it made him a more complex character and through his interactions with his family and his daughter and his mother and his girlfriend we all have and having this like he could be nice he can be he can be all these things to all these different people. I think that actually brought people closer to him and saw like we could relate so that we could relate to getting frustrated. We can relate to having our mom say you don’t be driving with you know whatever. So there’s sort of this addage I guess it’s. When you make things more specific to a character they become more universal. And so you know and in those those specific moments those specific relationships and the textures of those are what make people feel and cry for Oscar you know which they wouldn’t have watching a news report.

Eric: One of the editor’s most time-consuming responsibilities is combing through a productions dailies that’s the daily footage that’s captured on set depending on the director. This could be an hour of material or so many feet of film. It stretches a hundred football fields. Douglas Crise experienced this dichotomy first hand when working with Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh and Alejandro Iñarritu.

Douglas Crise: They’re both very committed and very good filmmakers I mean Iñarritu’s more I would say. You see his passion on his sleeve more and you see his emotion more and until maybe Birdman again he went to a comedy if you can call it a comedy because you know to him movies where you’re having a good time are a waste of time. You know you have to be feeling something you have to feel anger you have to feel you know despair. And Soderbergh is more of a cool cat. I mean he’s very quiet and doesn’t really talk a lot but he’s very sure of himself you know and shoots a lot less. He has a pretty good idea what he wants and once he gets it he’s done. I mean there were I, especially on the like the Ocean’s Eleven movie you know there was days we got 500 feet of film. He got what he wanted he was done and that’s not a small movie. I mean we had a nice big long schedule but the only day we got a lot of film was the day they had all 11 characters in the same room and they had to shoot coverage on all of them. That was the day we got I don’t know 30,000 feet. I think in film back then days because we were still getting film and winding it. And even though we cut it on the Avid we were still thinking dailies on film but they definitely work differently. The two of them but you know both talented in their own way.

Eric: A quick definition here. The first assembly is the first cut of the film usually done when it just wraps production. It’s a chance for the filmmakers to see the basics of what they captured. Douglas Crise adores this part of the process because it gives him the opportunity to show the director how he initially sees the film.

Douglas Crise: My biggest influence initially is the assembly because I’m assembling the movie and they have no input. So I cut the film together. And by the time they show up I’ve got a cut of the movie. Now it’s usually too long and it’s usually boring and it’s usually you know and it’s got all kind of problems and story things don’t make sense. And then I give the director his moment right. I don’t say anything hardly. I’m like Okay we’re gonna work the next couple weeks and I want to hear everything you want to do I’ll even tell a director what I love to do and I do this to harmony too is we won’t watch the whole movie when they come in for the first time this is what I prefer and this is what I always try to talk them into. They’ll come in and I’ll say let’s watch 20 minutes. You tell me what you hate about this 20 minutes what I got completely wrong. What performance I put in that you absolutely hate or this or that or or you know you want to try some music and then let me work on that 20 minutes and then tomorrow we’ll watch the next 20 minutes or whatever and then you would do the same thing and then like a week or so now we’ll watch the whole movie at least then they’ve put their stamp on it a little bit and then we will go through it again and I’ll work on their cut. But then after we were in that stage after you know a few weeks where I let them just tell me what they want. I try to give my perspective of saying OK now this is what I think or this is what this is working and then we’ll watch the movie with other people and then it becomes a back and forth hopefully. But I always usually take my feed from the director as much as possible.

Eric: When working on Creed a continuation of the Rocky saga. Michael and Claudia had to do a tremendous amount of work before a frame of the movie was even shot in a way much of their first Assembly occurred prior to the first day of filming.

Michael P. Shawver: We want to make this movie for everybody so people who’ve never seen a Rocky movie in their life can watch this pick it up. Not miss a beat you know but there were some previz work pre-visualization. A lot of big movies do it. Marvel does it like crazy like just just for money and stuff like that like they plan every single shot as much as they possibly can. So before creed even shot they had Claudia cut together storyboards and animatics from the final fight so Ryan and the producers can see like okay this is going to work out if we cover it you know this way and then I had the task two tasks one of which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as an editor but it was cool because Michael B Jordan came over to my house and watched boxing. Ryan had me break down the script and find every single line of action boxing action. Find it on the Internet, real boxing fights. Download that stuff, and cut it all together into a timeline. It’s like editing something when you don’t even know if the footage actually exists. So it was terrible so that was the realistic aspect that Ryan always goes for. You know the real the punches feel like they hurt you know I mean like Ryan was always like if the punch doesn’t look like it hits take it out movie I don’t care if I wrote it I don’t care if I love it like take it out if it doesn’t feel real. The other thing that we do that Ryan had me do was basically think of every single fight of every single movie I could ever think of and basically cut together these sequences of every fight from every movie. Like everything from Play It To The Bone that Woody Harrelson boxing movie to Girlfight you know all the Rockys so. So we saw what it would do. Now if you go back and watch the Rocky fights. They’re terrible boxing. They’re this far away you know.

Claudia Castello: So special effects weren’t that good.

Eric: As someone who grew up around Philadelphia I do not condone any negativity against Mr. Balboa. But as Claudia and Michael pointed out special effects have advanced so much since the 70s and helped make Creed’s punches land both figuratively and literally.

Michael P. Shawver: Now VFX I don’t tell a lot of people this but VFX did some amazing stuff. They could actually make punches hit if they didn’t hit so and they would ripple the face and put like sweat coming off and blood coming out and stuff like that. So. So if we had this scene that we loved there’s that awesome shot that actually passed through the ropes and back in the ring and out of the ropes when they’re just wailing on each other. And there was one that that was just missed completely but they were able to fix that to kind of keep that. But yeah I mean there’s you know when you when you do a Rocky movie like you’ve got to be…I’m actually more worried now doing the Dirty Dancing remake so I’m more terrified of all the girls that are texting me like you better get this right. I’m going to this is my favorite movie I’m having the time of my life. But what we wanted to do with the fights and I honestly think this is this is why it’s so effective. I mean obviously the set up for the fight you care about the characters and it’s funny when we first cut the fight together, we just cut the boxing and it wasn’t until we started adding the reaction shots of the mom and the girlfriend and Rocky that you actually like oh my guy. Like I’m feeling emotion for these people. It’s what the other people who care about this character are feeling just as much if not more than than that guy. So the thing with the fight is it’s not just punching. It’s an emotional journey it’s rocky coaching him it’s him. It’s that father-son relationship it’s getting your ass kicked and then coming back and showing you got a little something and then going to the depths of hell in those awesome Raging Bull homage shot. And it’s an emotional fight an emotional journey where if you watch a lot of these other fights it was just punch punch punch punch punch punch punch oh my god like that hard punch look at this blood look at whatever we tried to bring as much emotion humanity story you know and always goes back to story. Montages, fast cuts, lots stuff happening but there’s a story there’s Adonis not getting it. He gets in a fight with the other dude. Rocky tells him to shut up and listen. And then he starts to get it. That’s the story of that montage. You know it’s really story. It’s always it’s going back to story and above the action the hard hits all that.

Eric: The Oscar-winning Birdman was made to feel like it was one continuous take. The irony is making a film look like had no cuts. Actually takes a tremendous amount of cutting and special effects wizardry.

Douglas Crise: I’ll be a little bit more open because you know Alejandro didn’t want a lot of the magic given away but there’s been several articles contradicting coming out in Hollywood Reporter. One says there’s 15 minute take in the movie one says there’s this one says there’s that edits can be done surprisingly places you never thought of before. I mean we had the planned ones where you know there’d be a dark alley or a whip pan or the pans aren’t even – you can do a an edit when the camera’s not even panning fast because you just start wiping the frame and you find an edge or whatever. And that’s where a lot were done. But I mean there’s rotos that we did in different things like that like one of I’m probably the most proud of is one I came up with because like I said he wanted this performance and he wanted this performance and there was where are – we going to put it? And it’s a scene where Michael Keaton is on stage performing for the audience and the cameras coming around him. And Ed Norton’s getting drunk in the background.

— I’m drunk Yes I’m drunk I’m supposed to be drunk. This is Carver He left a piece of his liver on the table every time he wrote a f*****g page. If I need to be… —

Douglas Crise: We roto’d around Michael Keaton and it’s almost like a 40 second edit happening because we’re changing the background to a different performance of Ed Norton. So then once Michael finishes he steps out of frame and we’ve wiped completely across. So there’s an edit there that wasn’t planned. What it was is basically split screen is the easiest way to describe it because it starts on Michael but you know as he’s talking I did it in the avid first where I just did an animat around him and we figured out we could do it because we thought oh we could do the cut. Later when there’s a whip pan but that wasn’t going to work because then we wouldn’t get the moment we want to with Ed. You know there’s so many things you can do with the visual effects once you’ve figured out it’s possible. I mean there’s ones we all came up with when Michael Keaton shoots himself and he falls out of frame we switched the audience because the gun goes off his arm wipes the frame and he falls because Michael Keaton’s best performance was his last one but the audience had been there all night, they’re tired they’re not professionals their best performance was take four not not you know, and that’s the best audience he wanted. So when he falls out of frame there’s a cut there. You know there’s 100 cuts in the film. There was no 15 minute takes the longest takes every the standard day of shooting was it would be a set up of like three to four minutes long. And that’s how long that takes were and the longest take I think they ever shot was close to five minutes. And probably the longest take in the movie’s five minutes. But most of them are way shorter and there’s cuts in within those even in those four minute takes we’d put two or three edits that we didn’t plan on having. I mean there were like I said they had the planned spots and we did a lot of other stuff like you know on every film you do speed ramps and you do dialogue replacement people’s mouths. You do all kinds of stuff but here you had to really work it because you couldn’t play anybody’s over the shoulder too much. And you know if you wanted to find you know someone flubbed a line a little bit you had to sneak the word in their mouth or we would ramp the speed up to get the pacing a little faster. There’s one scene I won’t give it away but there’s a scene that you know it was one of the scenes we feel where the movie slowed down a lot. And I was ramping the speed up between every line of dialogue. So when somebody wasn’t talking we’d ramp it 30 percent faster and then bring it back down and still probably run their dialogue 5 percent faster. So we would be running ramps up and down. I never did so many speed ramps in a movie. And sometimes we actually slowed down. sometimes we actually wanted the moment to last a little longer. And what was I think ingenious about Alejandro is he knew to build in some of these moments in the film where. OK. We’re going to take a break here. You know it’s like one of my favorite scenes that I didn’t understand when he shot it was the corridor. And that of course we had the mobility of once and there’s actually a cut when the cameras panning over to the empty hallway. It’s actually wiping and you didn’t see it. But anyway you know we I think we slowed that footage down so it even plays slower because he knew we could go faster or slower with it until he wanted Michael to step in. And you know and I think we’re even digitally zooming in a little bit before the camera actually starts to zoom.

Eric: One of the editors many challenges is dealing with the sometimes tricky landscape of the film’s final cut and potentially then having too many cooks in their kitchen. But Douglas Crise never loses sight of who’s the head chef.

Douglas Crise: I think this is probably true for most editors and I hope it is. I definitely took this from Steven is when I’m working on a movie. I work for the director for anybody else. Nobody else tells me what to do or what to change or how they want it. We’ll have producers in the room when when the producer is allowed to come in and they’ll give their notes and their notes. They don’t give me notes separately their notes go to the director and director gives me the notes and they fight it out. They fight out the politics and if they’re arguing about things I’ll usually agree now when I say work for my director I will agree with my director if I agree with him if I don’t I will say I will take the producer’s side if I agree with the producer on something. But I I try to stay out of that political nonsense that will happen. And those choices that are made I would say as a director you should get final cut as quickly as you can in your career and you hold on to it and never give it up. I mean harmony when he was shooting Spring Breakers the producers came to him and said they wanted they want to have final cut. And he says you know give me ten million dollars right now. You’re not getting it. That’s that’s his standpoint and he’s had final cut from the day he started and he won’t ever give it up. And Soderbergh has final edit or if you’re going to hopefully align yourself with a producer who is strong and someone you trust immensely they might have final cut over you on your first couple movies but they’ll have your back and you know and I know George Clooney’s first movie he didn’t have final cut but Soderbergh did and Soderbergh was a producer on it. So they are as tight as they get those two guys. So that’s the way you start out before you get your final edit.

Eric: For Michael and Claudia on Creed. The path to the film’s final cut was made even more complicated since one of the producers was Rocky Balboa himself.

Claudia Castello: We had to fight until the last minute because the studio wanted Adonis to win and we strongly believed that he had to lose because he’ll win something much more than that which was the humanity which was more important than him being a winner you know. And then we had discussions Stallone was a big help for us because he had a lot of weight on that movie. He’s responsible for the whole series and that was one point that he actually went to the other side and we were like, “oh we’re done. Oh my god.”

Michael P. Shawver: He came in and he was like, “we’re going to do this we’re going to do this we have no time we have no time we’re doing it.” And Ryan was out of the room and I’m just sitting.

Claudia Castello: He was sitting on the –

Michael P. Shawver: Claudia gets up and leaves.

Claudia Castello: I look at him like I’m going to the bathroom.

Michael P. Shawver: And I’m sitting there and he was like. And then he goes he goes, “where’s Ryan? I don’t say this twice.” And I’m like, “I don’t know,” and I like slow turn around and then Ryan came in and kind of talked him down a little bit.

Claudia Castello: And he totally changed.

Michael P. Shawver: Yeah well the thing about Sly is that he listens and he listens to us. He didn’t have to listen to us he can come in and. Do this do that change this. But you know he respected Ryan so much because at the beginning Ryan said. Look I know you’re a director. I know you’re a producer just let me direct like you’re a great actor. Do what you do. Let me worry about everything else but he would come in. And he he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life and would come in with very specific notes and but also like this timecode on this scene this tape this frame like “I really like the delivery here I really like this reaction here,” and he would come with all that stuff and I’ve never seen a producer do that let alone one of the biggest icons in the history of movies.

Claudia Castello: And good notes like he was not a crazy producer.

Michael P. Shawver: Yeah because a lot of other producers are like well you know we don’t think the character would really do that and the story whatever a lot of producers would be like, “I don’t care do it. Cause I said so,” he would actually stop and think and if he agreed with us and a lot of times he did he would say you know, “yeah you’re right. Let’s keep this and move on.

Claudia Castello: Yeah he cared. He really cared and he knew what he was doing. He was not doing that for ego because sometimes you see some producers that come with the money but they have no idea what they’re talking about. But they have to have their print.

Michael P. Shawver: So they inject they inject.

Claudia Castello: Yeah they force you to do things that are not good for the project. And it’s really hard to deal with them because yeah we were very passionate.

Michael P. Shawver: Half of editing is politics anyway you know.

Claudia Castello: And then you have to deal with that situation as best as you can and it doesn’t always turn out for the best of the project. And then you remember it’s just a movie. Yeah. And you move on.

Eric: Maybe the most magical thing about editing is how much hard work goes into a part of cinema. You tend not to notice but editors are the first ones who transform what could be a mountain of footage into a cohesive story. And they provide the last rewrite the screenplay if you want to learn more about the invisible art of editing. Walter Murch’s book, In the Blink of an Eye is like an editor’s Bible. And Wendy Apple’s documentary, The Cutting Edge shows the many amazing tricks editors have up their sleeves. We want to thank Douglas Crise, Claudia Castello, and Michael P Shawver for speaking with our students. And thanks to all of you for listening. This episode was based on two Q&As. Douglas Crise was moderated and produced by Tova Laiter. Claudia Costello and Michael P Shawver were moderated by Kelly Gardner and Josh Eiserike. To watch these interviews or to see our other Q&A’s check out our YouTube channel. That’s YouTube.com/NewYorkFilmAcademy. This episode was written by me, Eric Conner. Edited and mixed by Kristian Hayden. Our creative director David Andrew Nelson who also produced this episode with Kristian Hayden and myself. Executive produced by Tova Laiter, Jean Sherlock, and Dan Mackler. A special thanks to our events department, Sajja Johnson, and the staff and crew who made this possible. To learn more about our programs check us out at NYFA.edu. Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. See you next time.

This projector at the end it’s I just don’t think it’s very accurate. I mean it’s an audio broadcast on a digital medium involving no film. I have an idea. Why don’t we put in there an air siren from World War II because it’s just as relevant or the sound of a frickin dinosaur.

New York Film Academy
New York Film Academy film and acting school offers the best hands-on degrees, accelerated courses, and intensive workshops. Call +1 (212) 674-4300 for more info.
New York Film Academy