As any movie fan (or moviemaker) can attest, editing is a key component in an action sequence. It’s certainly a statement with which Doobie White would agree. A veteran of film and TV trailers and music videos, White (along with Peter Amundson and Fernando Villena) is the editor of the new action-thriller Gamer and worked on the film’s digital effects at his post-production facility, Therapy. He also served double duty on the new documentary Transcendent Man (which premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival), a film that he both edited and executive produced. White has already won a Bronze Telly award for the film’s trailer.
Written and directed by the creators of Crank, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Gamer stars Gerard Butler as a wrongly convicted death-row inmate forced to participate in an online game in which gamers control human beings in life-or-death matches. The movie hits theaters September 4. Just before its release, MM spoke with White about the thrill of editing action movies.
Kyle Rupprecht (MM): What’s the key to editing an effective action sequence?
Doobie White (DW): First I try to visualize the entire scene from beginning to the climactic ending; in essence I become the mind of the camera. It helps layout a mental map, so when I see the footage for the first time… it creates an instinct that’s kind of like hunting. It sounds funny but its true: I see the images and I know which ones I want to go after.
MM: Your company, Therapy, contributed 100 digital effects shots to Gamer. Do you prefer working on effects-heavy films?
DW: Anything goes at Therapy… but we have cut our teeth on all things digital, effects-heavy or not. However, when we are faced with effects-heavy projects, that just means we get to harness the company’s muscle, with all departments working together and creating magic. That’s when we really can see the talents shine under this roof. It’s truly exciting to watch the team work together.
MM: What was the biggest challenge in editing Gamer?
DW: Going home. With any project, I sometimes lose track of time and work the machines all night; whatever it takes. The more I put into it, the more I get out. I take it very seriously and I find that I not only work faster, but more efficiently if I just go hard at it, and let everything else melt away. Sometimes I don’t go home for days on end.
MM: What’s your favorite part of the editing process?
DW: When you are able to show a cut that is perfect, suited to whatever the material happens to be. I love to romance the audience into a scene without being noticed, or shake them out of their seat. An effortless-looking cut is the best part of the trip.
MM: What’s the best piece of advice you can offer aspiring film editors?
DW: Edit what you fear the most and work on as many projects as possible. It doesn’t even matter if it’s good. If you are able to create something interesting out of poorly shot footage, then you will have no problem when it’s shot well. Basically, work your ass off for no money—it’s better than forking over a bunch to try to learn it in school.
For more information on Doobie White’s company, Therapy, go to www.youneedtherapy.tv.
For more information on Gamer, visit www.gamerthemovie.com.