"The most important thing is always: story, story, story."


Can you tell us about your background?
I've been editing for well over 20 years now. Of course I on film, 35mm film long before the days of digital non-linear systems AVID and Final Cut Pro. I've had the privilege to work with many great directors as you said Ridley Scott, I actually worked as first assistant editor on his first film “The Duelists” with Harvey Keitel, also worked with Mike Newell, and a particularly interesting experience to work with Terry Gilliam on “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”, shot in Rome and in Cinecitta and we finished that movie at Pinewood Studios, the biggest studio then. And now this is wonderful for me: this is a New York street and we're on a studio in Sofia [note: this interview was conducted while the picture was still in production]. And this whole set has many streets and they're extending it but this is the base for the new film I'm on called “Command Performance”, written, starring and being directed by Dolph Lundgren.

So how did get involved in it?
The first assistant director, Mark Roper, made a call to an agent who knew me, my name was put forward, and after a number of phone calls I actually put together a teaser for them, where Dolph was sort of drumming, I cut that together, we uploaded it, Dolph liked it, and then we went from there really. I flew over and started here, on then they were already shooting for a week when I started....

So it was sort of luck...
Yeah like all things in this business, you know one phone call can change your life, you never really know what's gonna happen! So this has introduced me to Bulgaria, I've never worked here before, this is a very interesting studio. I've always loved to, I've never worked on a full action picture like this one, so this is given me editorially some great scopes, great opportunities. So I'm really looking forward to that. Dolph is a wonderful guy, a good director and I'm really looking forward to working with him.

Did you have a general discussion of what he wants in terms of editing style and want to get across?
Well we've had a number of discussions about the style of the film and the sort of character he plays, Joe. But you know like all these things, the relationship with a director grows over a period of time during the shoot and certainly in post-production, more so in post-production because he'll have more time to discus the edit, at the moment he's fully committed to the shoot so I'll see him a few times a week, we speak a lot we email each other, I'll send him cut material on DVD and we're proceeding in that fashion. Today I'm going over there (on the set) to show some cut material of recent scenes to discuss the need of close cover on the character Joe so that's something I'm gonna do today. But generally I just keep up with the editing as the dailies are coming.

Do you have references of editors or movies that you can inspire from for "Command Performance"?
Well it's difficult, I'm not exactly sure in what direction Dolph wants to go in. I've got some colleagues, fellow editors like Stuart Baird (who's a Brit editor who's recently he finished a picture called Vanishing Point which is an action picture), he's worked on a lot of pictures with Dick [Richard] Donner, he's a great friend and colleague and his style of editing is very fast.I think there's a few films that Marc Windon the DP, the director of photography, is using as references for the shoot, and in a way that effects the editing as well: The Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne Supremacy, this sort of pictures, Man On Fire the Tony Scott movie with Denzel Washington, there's another one I can't remember the name of but you know, these pictures like Paul Greengrass movies where the camera is searching for the subject. It's not “put the camera on a tripod here and we'll shoot this way, then put the camera there and we'll shoot in that direction” etc.The style is much free-willing, you've got generally two cameras, sometimes three, and they're sort of covering the scene in a searching way, almost documentary style. The camera has to find the action so it gives it a sort of energy and a style, reminiscent of a lot of these films we mentioned.

Today there's a tendency to film and cut the action in a way that as an audience you're not always quite sure what's going on and it sometimes feels like overkill...
Yes, you're absolutely right. This is something I'm aware of and I'd like to avoid those problems. What happened is I think it's grown now to two things. One is the editing, the new editing technology that we have today, the ease with which it is to cut material together, many many shots and experiment. And there's a tendency top make things too busy, it's easy trap to fall into where, going back to my early days in film, editing was a different style because when you had to physically cut film you had to consider very carefully how you presented that scene.So I'm gonna pay particularly attention to that in this. Because there are moments when you want a period of calm within a frenetic scene, throwing out the emotion, and you might not be able to see it in the scene. Many times I've seen the visual pyrotechnic choreography of the scene but in the end it's a bit cold because there's no emotion, just “crash bang bang bang”: lots of energy but no content.

It seems from the footage I've seen that it already has an energy that would allow to balance fast pace with story and character...
Yes, that's interesting you should say that. I think that's very much the approach that I'm gonna try and bring to the project. The camera work already has a built-in energy and a frenetic, documentary-style quality, with a good visual style: that's the richness I've got to play with. What I want to inject really is those emotional, quieter moments, those more satisfying moments, again from a more traditional standpoint, mixing the old with the new if you like. I think that's the way to look at it.The most important thing is always: story, story, story. This picture has very strong story, and within it, there are scenes that are shootouts etc, it's a chase picture, it's a great genre to work in but within that, I want introduce the human touch, the frailty, the sensitivities of Joe, a man alone within this, he didn't asked for it and yet he's involved in this.

What do you think of Dolph Lundgren's vision as a director who's also an actor?
Well I think it's fantastic, he's clearly somebody who can be great in both roles, and I think there's very few people who can do that, I'm thinking of the most obvious one, Clint Eastwood.

Who is actually one of Dolph's major inspirations...
Well Clint Eastwood had such an incredible career and successfully blended those two roles. Not easy to do. And I think that Dolph can achieve that. I think it's just about blending the script, the story, the film of it and, obviously I'm very conscious of the post-production and the power of editing and what it can do for a story.

Thank you!

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