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In Search of the Story

In Search of the Story

Articles - Editing

Editor Meg Reticker
Editor Meg Reticker

James Mangold’s Heavy. Michael Moore’s The Big One. David Wain’s Wet Hot American Summer. Adam Rapp’s Winter Passing. Since beginning her professional career more than 10 years ago, editor Meg Reticker has made a name for herself in Indiewood, choosing films that tackle “human dilemmas.”

Fresh off the Sundance screening of Joey Lauren Adams’ Come Early Morning, her latest editorial effort and ninth Park City premiere, Reticker sat down with MM to talk about her editorial philosophy, what attracts her to the indie side of the business and why it pays to enjoy the process.

Jennifer Wood (MM): You’re known specifically as an “indie” editor, having worked on such films as Heavy, Wet Hot American Summer and Winter Passing. What is it that attracts you to a project?

Meg Reticker (MR): I am drawn to stories that are not often tackled in mainstream Hollywood fare—films that capture personal, intimate stories and grapple with emotional, human dilemmas. Filmmaking is storytelling in a visual form and writing is the backbone, or the roadmap, for the journey. If you don’t have a well-written script in hand, it’s often difficult to navigate.

It’s also very important for me to understand the director’s point of view. When I first meet with the director, my initial aim is to make sure I comprehend their vision of the characters: Who are these people? What motivates them? Where do they start out in the story—on an emotional level—and where do they wind up? It’s inspiring to meet a director who is intelligent and articulate about the story they want to tell—and even better when we discover a personal connection beyond the world of filmmaking.

MM: What is it that attracted you to your latest project, Joey Lauren Adams’ Come Early Morning?

MR: The script for Come Early Morning struck me as a well-crafted, compelling story, told in a raw, honest and seemingly simple way. Lucy, the protagonist, is hellbent on self-destruction, but the script is not moralizing or heavy-handed in its tone. We are given a compassionate view of her human vulnerability, which rings true to life. From the beginning, Joey was very passionate about the story and the characters; these were real people to her, living and breathing in her mind. Joey’s enthusiasm was infectious. With that kind of focus, I knew I could spend countless hours working with her in the editing room.

MM: Come Early Morning represents your ninth Sundance film. Do you see a particular thread in the films that you’ve worked on that have shown here?

MR: I have edited documentary and fiction films, comedies and dramas, and some not so easy to pigeonhole. Each film represents a rewarding experience, in terms of my creative growth. The common thread is that the filmmakers were truly inspired to endure the struggle it took to convey their vision to an audience.

MM: Let’s talk a little bit about the technology you’re using. You’ve been a very vocal supporter of Avid Xpress Pro, particularly as it relates to some of your low-budget projects. In terms of cost, what do you see as the greatest benefit of the program?

MR: On low-budget projects there is often only one editing system, with the editor working the day shift and the assistant editor working at night. In that scenario, the assistant is reduced to being a technician and is not able to work alongside the editor. I like to work with my assistant as a team, conferring not only on technical matters, but also creative ideas. With the low cost of Avid Xpress Pro, my assistants can now have their own editing systems. This enables them to contribute creatively, in addition to organizing the editing room and dealing with the lab. They pull selects, clean up sound and are able to contribute to the artistic direction of the film.

MM: What about in terms of how it relates to other aspects of your job? In what ways does Avid make life easier for an editor?

MR: The Avid Xpress Pro maintains a consistent interface with high-end Avid systems, in terms of graphics, audio, timeline, online and color correction. It also allows you to work at a 24 frame film rate. It enables you to finish on film without forfeiting too many of the tools found in more expensive Avid systems.

MM: With Come Early Morning in particular, what impressed you most about the final results? Both in terms of the look and the workload?

MR: Locking picture is always stressful—the creative side of the picture editing is complete and now the film must be handed off to the sound designer, music composer and other technical collaborators. This is often the moment when distressing technical problems kick in. On Come Early Morning I was pleasantly surprised that there were few complications, leaving me anxiety-free and able to appreciate the beauty and accomplishment of the film.

MM: What are you working on next?

MR: Since completing Come Early Morning I have been editing “The Wire” for HBO, and I’m on the look-out for my next feature film project.

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