When I told Andrew Weisblum A.C.E., Academy Award Nominated Film Editor(for “Black Swan”) that I felt that film editors did not get the credit or recognition for the great contribution their work makes to films and filmmakers we love, he said, “But we don’t want a light shined on us. We avoid the light. We are creatures of the dark,who like to live underground, in little dark rooms.” And for the most part that is an accurate description of what film editors do.But not always. Weisblum is in that most enviable position of being the editor for two of the top film directors working today, Darren Aronofsky and Wes Anderson.and their editing styles couldn’t be more different.And Weisblum’s contribution to their recent successes couldn’t be greater.Or more unknown.What does he bring to the table? he was asked in an evening showcasing great film editors of today presented by Manhattan Edit Workshop as the first of a series of editing events of what they are calling “Inside the Cutting Room” hosted by Bobbi O’Steen, an editor herself, as well as the author of “Cut to the Chase.”“I bring myself,” the mild-mannered, but eloquent Weisblum answered. “I am totally open to whatever is being presented to me.”Not always on track to one day being a Film Editor, Weisblum started out in Special Effects, most notably on the Academy Award Winner “Chicago,” and then came to meet Darren Aronofsky in that capacity on his film “The Fountain,” which he worked on for a year. The collaboration became a very important one to both men, sensing in each other kindred spirits.And their relationship grew over time to one where now Weisblum is Aronofsky go-to-first editor on his subsequent projects, “Black Swan” and now is in post-production working on Aronosky’s epic “Noah.”But he quickly noted that Aronofsky and Wes Anderson couldn’t be more different in how they approach working with an editor.Weisblum is never on set with Aronofsky and receives the footage to edit from him in an editing room, where he works on its’ assembly as is the classical paradigm of editing.Anderson, on the other hand, shocked Weisblum, initially, by wanting to be IN the editing room with him, working on the footage together.“Wes Anderson” Weisblum noted “Has no rule book. It’s what he likes.” Whereas he finds Aronofsky is “a classicist. Who wants a structure, a beginning a middle and an end.”Anderson’s dialogue “is not natural.” He “does lots of different takes, but doesn’t rehearse.”His first collaboration was on Anderson’s “Darjelling Limited.” The story of three brothers(Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody & Jason Schwartzman). looking for their mother(Angelica Huston) who abandoned them and ran off to become a nun in India.Something you don’t find out til the very end of the film. Said O’Steen,”I’m spoiling the film for you, but it’s just such a good clip I had to show it.” Likewise when the time came to talk about “Moonrise Kingdom” it was again an extended clip of the film’s ending that she showed.Weisblum said he was privy to Anderson’s editing style, which was ever-evolving, in the time he began working with him. Anderson, was most heavily influenced by the stop-motion animation cartoon “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” that Anderson directed after “Darjeeling” and before “Moonrise,” Weisblum said, surprisingly.“Wes had never worked with story-boards before,” Weisblum said, “And ‘The Fantastic Mr. Fox’ was story-boarded to death.” But Anderson fell in love with this approach to editing and shooting, beloved by, for instance, the great Alfred Hitchcock, and used it extensively to prepare “Moonrise Kingdom.” Saving the production costs from sky-rocketing on this unusual, quirky love story that had to be done on a dime, “and was very difficult to finance.”Weisblum found himself not only ON the set of “Moonrise” during the shooting at the beautifully scenic Camp Yawgoog (where my mother went as a girl scout in the ’20s) in Rhode Island, but living in the same house with Anderson.He brought his laptop with him, and showed Anderson the day’s edit as they went along with the shooting.“Moonrise” was also complicated by the fact that the two tween actors, who were playing the leads didn’t really like each other, but were supposed to be the embodiment of young love. “The boy thought that the girl was yucky,” is how Weisblum put it. While, of course, the young actress was quite attractive.And for the pivotal dancing-in-their-underwear on the beach scene, Anderson had to throw out his story boards and shoot it ‘from literally every angle” and “every line
had to be recorded and re-corded in a studio” because the young actors couldn’t make it sound believable. Looked at it that way, that scene and the uber-collaborative contribution of Andrew Weisblum as film editor, sound man, sounding board and best friend to Wes Anderson on “Moonrise Kingdom” cannot be underestimated.Andrew Weisblum is also a very nice guy and the kind of kind spirit that auteur directors only dream about. And I’m sure both Darren Arofosky and Wes Anderson both appreciate and value working with this amiable, low-key artist of the editing room.
May 19, 2013