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Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter Cut The Social Network

Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter Cut The Social Network

Articles - Editing

Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter are having a good year. Their work editing David Fincher’s The Social Network garnered them both Oscar and Eddie nominations. And the film itself, in addition to being a front-runner come Oscar night, was a success with both audiences and critics. That might seem like a hard thing to accomplish with a movie that, on the surface, is about the founding of a Website. But The Social Network is less about writing computer code and drafting business plans than it is about communication. Through showing the relationships between those involved in the founding of Facebook, the movie draws parallels to how social networking has changed how we all relate to one another.

It was up to Wall and Baxter to make sure that the drama and intensity of the personal interactions in the footage and Aaron Sorkin’s script formed the core of the movie. They definitely managed it. The scene where Eduardo smashes Mark’s laptop upon learning how Mark, his former best friend, ousted Eduardo from the company he helped to found is the most explosive example, but the quieter scenes of legal talk and college shenanigans are loaded with significance as well.

Wall and Baxter will be editing Fincher’s next film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, scheduled for release in December 2011. The two took the time to answer some questions on working with Fincher and editing The Social Network.

Rebecca Pahle (MM): What is collaborating with David Fincher like, having each worked on several of his films before? Do you find that you’re usually on the same page regarding editorial decisions and how the final project should shape up?

Angus Wall (AW):I don’t think there’s a better director to work with. David is very precise and gives the perfect kind of direction when it’s needed: General direction when we’re starting and very specific direction when we’re fine cutting. We are very much on the same page when we edit. Everything we do is in service to the story, so a lot of the “correct” decisions become obvious as we work.

MM: Were there any difficulties posed by editing The Social Network that you’d not dealt with on previous projects? Editing some of those boardroom scenes–with the rapid-fire dialogue between upwards of half a dozen people–must have been challenging.

AW: The most difficult part of editing The Social Network was making sure we had wrung every gesture and syllable of great performance out of the footage, that we had exhausted every opportunity to infuse meaning into the dialogue.

Kirk Baxter (KB): It’s the same thing with most movies, but with The Social Network there were a lot of words that were all infused with a lot of complex meaning. It was an incredibly rewarding project to work on. Watching the first screening with an audience was a revelation.

MM: Do you work exclusively with Final Cut Studio? What is it about the program that you enjoy working with?

KB: We work exclusively with Final Cut Studio and have for the past six years. It’s very open in terms of user interface and can be customized easily. Editing on some programs makes you feel like you’re driving one of those theme park rides where you can only go where they allow you to go. Final Cut isn’t like that. It’s really flexible. We use every possible feature available within the program, and it fits nicely within the data management ecosystem we’ve built. I love it.

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