IAVA 2023

May 23, 2023

Celebrating the season’s Oscar-nominated editors, ACE presented its 23rd Invisible Art /Visible Artists (IAVA) program March 11 at the Regal Sherman Oaks Theater. Academy Award winner Alan Heim, ACE, (past president of ACE and president of Motion Picture Editors Guild) welcomed the crowd and introduced the event, before passing the torch to ACE president Kevin Tent, ACE. “We had no idea how popular this event would become,” said Heim, who moderated the previous 18 IAVA panels, as he introduced moderator Tent.

This was a year that marked an emergence of new editorial talent being recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Five of the six editors were nominated for the first time, including Paul Rogers, editor of Everything Everywhere All at Once, who won the Oscar the following day and exclaimed in his acceptance speech, “Wow this is too much. This is my second film. This is crazy!”

Produced by ACE executive director Jenni McCormick and Erin Flannery, IAVA was a free-to-attend in-person event that was simultaneously live streamed. As Alan Heim noted, “American Cinema Editors and the Editors Guild are different. The Guild sets working standards for our varied members while ACE tries to make our field of editing more visible to filmmakers and the public at large. Today’s event is a great example of ACE’s work.”

Hollywood has trumpeted 2022 as the year that audiences returned to theaters, and three of the five nominated films for best editing grossed over $100 million worldwide, with Top Gun: Maverick climbing to $1.48 billion. Maverick editor Eddie Hamilton, ACE, explained that he fell in love with the big screen experience at an early age. “The most exciting thing I could think of doing was going to see a movie and getting lost

in the world of the film. I loved it. At the age of 17, I played around with hooking up two VHS machines together. I used to take my VHS of Rocky 4 and Aliens and I used to make montages of the best bits of those two movies. And hours would fly by in the creative process. And I’m a total nerd. So the combination of storytelling and technology really appealed to me.”

And that love of filmmaking turned into a burning desire to be editing. “I tried to get into film school and failed. I found myself very depressed for about a year where I was paying bills by temping in a police station or a bank.” He realized, “I have to quit and get a job as a runner somewhere making tea because I will not be happy unless I’m editing something.” Once he got that job, “I remember staying up all night the first day I got there reading the manual for Avid Media Composer and teaching myself how to use it so when someone didn’t show up one day, I could put my hand up and go, I can do that!”

Mikkel E.G. Nielsen, ACE, who was nominated for The  Banshees of Inisherin (and previously collected an Academy Award in 2021 for Sound of Metal) got a laugh when he reflected on where he took an interest in editing: “I was cut out of a movie as an extra and it opened my eyes to editing.” Kevin Tent joked, “So you’re in this [editing profession] for the revenge?!” Nielsen laughed, “I thought that they would put everything shot together and I would see it with my best friend (also an extra). And he was there a lot and I was completely gone.”

Nielsen’s latest nominated film would allow him to honor an editing hero, Academy Award-nominated Jon Gregory, ACE, who was a regular collaborator with The Banshees of Inisherin writer/director Martin McDonagh. “Jon Gregory was a huge inspiration for me ever since I saw Naked for the first time,” he said. “He worked a lot with Mike Leigh and also edited In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for Martin. Sadly he passed away, so we should honor him because he was a huge inspiration and a great editor. So when they approached me to consider working on the film, I obviously wanted to try and see if I could bring something to the table.”

Paul Rogers shared that a chance encounter at a birthday party can lead to a life-changing collaboration. “I met Daniel Scheinert [director of Everything Everywhere All at Once with Daniel Kwan] shortly after I moved to L.A. at the Moonlight Roller Rink in Glendale. My friend took me to a birthday party and it was Daniel’s party and I wasn’t invited. And I showed up with no money so Daniel paid for my skates. We skated and did karaoke and by the end of the night I thought these people are incredible. And then I find out they were filmmakers who had this kids camp called OMG! Cameras Everywhere! where they would teach the kids how to make music videos.

“But the one thing that the kids couldn’t do was edit,” he continued. “So we would do what they called the edit party where we took all the footage we shot during the week and for 48 hours we would edit it so the kids could come in for a Sunday premiere with their parents.” Thus began a collaboration editing music videos together including Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What” before the directing duo known as the Daniels acted out the script for Everything Everywhere All at Once in their garage for Rogers.

“It was a really beautiful story,” he remembered. “And as crazy and as silly as it was, I was in tears at the end of it. I was crying. Please make this film. I’m so excited to see it. I had no idea if I was gonna work on it or not. And then a couple of months later, they called me and said – you wanna help us make it? I said, yeah, that’s a terrifying idea because I had seen the story acted out and I don’t know how y’all are gonna cut this.”

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis editing team of Matt Villa, ACE, ASE, and Jonathan Redmond showed a clip where Elvis first performs to a live audience and starts to become the musical sensation that swept the U.S. Redmond described, “This sequence is kind of interesting because it is the first big musical set piece with Austin Butler [who plays Elvis] and it’s his entrance.”

Performance was key to sell this larger-than-life ‘King of Rock and Roll’ when shooting three cameras. “One thing that made it very easy was Austin Butler. He was a machine. He would do these set pieces where he is singing a song and he would just do the same thing over and over and over again. So that gave us a lot of latitude to use coverage from multiple takes.” Villa interjected on the editorial challenge of the musical set pieces, adding, “Any one of these scenes could have been cut looking at nothing but Austin or looking at nothing but the audience’s reaction or looking at nothing but Colonel Parker [Elvis’ manager, played by Tom Hanks] in awe of this new play thing that he’s found. It was always a weave to make sure it was good.”

Every year each nominee shares a clip with the audience. The final nominee, Tár editor Monika Willi, was unable to attend in person. Still, a clip from the film was screened, featuring Cate Blanchett as composer/ conductor Lydia Tár in orchestral rehearsals. Rogers commented, “I felt when I watched this film it was edited the way Lydia Tár would’ve edited it. There is such a quiet confidence and effortlessness to it.”

As the event came to a close, all the nominees talked about the collaboration between their teams and departments like sound and VFX. Hamilton recognized his assistants – Matt Sweat, Laura Creecy, Travis Cantey, and Emily Rayl Russell, who were in attendance – asking them to stand for a round of applause. “These guys supported me and I want to acknowledge there was a point where they were filming so much footage every day. There was one day that they had 27 cameras running,” he said.

As has become tradition, an MPEG-hosted luncheon followed, at Frida Mexican Cuisine, where nominees, MPEG and ACE guests enjoyed margaritas and Mexican dishes. ACE would like to thank IAVA Gold Sponsors Adobe and the Motion Picture Editors Guild along with Silver Sponsor NAB Show and Friend of ACE Sponsor Avid.

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