Anne McCabe has edited comedies (Greg Mottola’s Adventureland) and dramas (Joshua Marston’s Maria Full of Grace), but with Matthew Chapman’s The Ledge, debuting at Sundance, she has made her move into the thriller genre. The Ledge isn’t your typical thriller, though, as it involves not only suspense, but romance—plus an examination of religious faith and atheism (two subjects that aren’t often explored in the thriller genre). The film starts as Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) is about to step off a ledge to his death; when a detective (Terrence Howard) in the midst of his own crisis of faith tries to talk Gavin down, the audience learns how a test of wills against a fundamentalist Christian (Patrick Wilson) whose wife Gavin has fallen for has brought Gavin to this point.
Anne McCabe took some time out from the craziness of Park City to answer MM’s questions about The Ledge and what she’ll be cutting next.
Rebecca Pahle (MM): You’ve edited films in a variety of different genres—coming-of-age comedy and crime drama being two—and now you’ve edited The Ledge, which is a thriller/romance that examines philosophical issues as well. How does your editing style change from film to film?
Anne McCabe (AM): I like editing different styles of films and documentaries. Working on different types of movies keeps you on your toes and challenges you. The material—what was shot—should always guide your editing style. I don’t think you should approach a scene with too many pre-conceived ideas, though I think there are a few basic rules. There are usually a lot of cuts in action scenes and comedies should not be slow. I guess you could make the point that nothing should be slow; however a dragging, slow comedy is probably the worst!
MM: What made you want to edit The Ledge?
AM: I read the script and loved it, particularly the religious/philosophical discussions. Then I met with Matthew, who was smart and funny. It also had an excellent cast.
MM: The Ledge was originally going to be edited using Final Cut Pro, but post ended up being done with Avid Media Composer. Why the change?
AM: I started out cutting on film and then I learned the Avid Media Composer. This was pretty much the first time I was approached on a film where they had already started on Final Cut. I knew the schedule was tight and that I would be much faster working on Avid Media Composer rather than learning a new system. Also I love, and most directors and producers love, the ScriptSync tool, which they don’t have on Final Cut.
MM: What’s up next for you?
AM: I have been cutting the television show “Nurse Jackie”, which I really enjoy, so I probably will go back to that in the fall. I just got nominated for an A.C.E. award for the finale of last season. Very exciting! Besides “Nurse Jackie” I have been reading some scripts and hope to get to cut another feature this spring.