Greg Kinnear and Maria Bello
Greg Kinnear and Maria Bello in
Paul Schrader’s Auto Focus.

Editors, with their mission to paste together the
manifested scraps from a director’s mind, are often the unsung heroes
of feature moviemaking; it’s usually when the plot unfurls seamlessly
that their work can be best appreciated. When the same editor can
successfully explore technical challenges across genre and auteur
style, it’s even more impressive. Kris Boden has been able to accomplish
just that. Having worked consistently with Michael Almereyda (on Happy Here and Now and Hamlet) and Paul Schrader (including Auto Focus and Light Sleeper), Boden maintains an
open mind when any new project comes up-even after a very full decade
of experience.

Rachel Gordon (MM): Do you always read a
script before agreeing to edit? At what point do you become a part
of the project?

Kris Boden (KB): Reading the whole script before
signing onto a project is always necessary for an editor, if for
no other reason than to have something to talk about at the interview
with the director. It is the basis for a discussion about style,
intent and character. Even if an editor loves the work of a director
and wants the job no matter what, the script allows for a platform
to discern the compatibility of the editor’s and director’s sensibilities.

MM: Do you edit on AVID, Final Cut Pro?
What are some of your favorite advantages to the system and what
type of improvements do you wish someone would make?

KB: I have only edited on an AVID system. Familiarity
breeds familiarity, so my problems with Final Cut Pro are only from
lack of experience. The changes I would like to see in the AVID
are mostly in the area of sound. I fully expect that AVID will upgrade
their sound options in the near future.

MM: You work repeatedly with the same directors.
Do they pretty much leave you alone and come by for a visit every
now and then, at this point? How much input do you give?

KB: I’ve been very lucky to work with the same
directors. It’s a real pleasure to know what a director wants for
the first cut. Every director has their own “eye,” be it for performance,
lighting, gesture, or mise en scene. All cutting starts from
their vision. It’s crucial to know what the director was intending
and to take it from there. How much time a director spends in the
editing room is so variable, but trust and communication with the
editor is essential to a successful completion of the film.

MM: Who are your influences and why?

KB: Of course on any film my greatest influence
is the director. But, by myself, cutting a scene for the first time,
my greatest influence is whatever music I am into at the time. I
love cutting while listening to music that may have nothing to do
with the film, but inspires me emotionally or intellectually.

MM: Michael Almereyda often uses more than
one format to shoot in. Is that difficult for you, technically?

KB: Michael’s use of different film formats
is technically challenging, but never difficult. It is what I love
about his vision. His use of Pixelvision, 8mm, 16mm, and video in
his 35mm films gives them a unique and beautiful quality.

MM: What styles or tricks do you especially
like to use-i.e. wipes versus dissolves?

KB: I am dissolve-phobic. I only use them when
necessary for emotional or time transition story points, or occasionally
for beautiful pictorial changes. I love a nice, clean, straight

MM: Is it a huge style change to switch
from working with Paul Schrader to Michael Almereyda?

KB: The great challenge and pleasure of being
an editor is trying to “play” to the unique vision and talents of
a director. It’s a somewhat chameleon-like role, but it is very
interesting to get inside the mind-the intention-of a director.
The director’s style should dictate; the editor’s style is for refinement.
Michael Almereyda and Paul Schrader are not so different in that
both are incredibly smart and have superb memories for every film
their ever saw.

MM: You’ve been an editor for a while, so
you’ve seen several changes in technology. Are you quick to embrace
them? How have the directors you have worked with responded?

KB: I’m very glad for the changes in technology
in film editing. The time I spent looking for trims and making tape
splices I now spend on trying alternate versions. Some directors
have a problem with being shown too many alternate versions of a
scene, but for me experimenting and really exploring the possibilities
of the material are the great advantages of computer editing. I
can make as many versions as I like, but I try to present the director
with only one or two, knowing that I might have anticipated changes
that the director may want to make.

MM: Why editing and not directing, or some
other avenue?

KB: I love editing. It fits my personality
perfectly. I totally enjoy experiencing only the filmed “reality”
of a movie. I really don’t care about what happened on the set the
day of shooting or how hard (or expensive) it was to get a certain
shot. I don’t care about lens or filters or the number of extras.
All I care about is what I see on the screen.

MM: How much do sound and music affect the
way you edit a sequence? What is the predominant base to start from?

KB: As much as I love listening to extraneous
music while I am cutting a scene, the soundtrack for the scene is
secondary to the visuals for me. I always try to set up a cutting
pattern based on the picture, knowing of course what the script
calls for. Then I cut the dialogue and after that the music, which
I cut to the picture, not the other way around. This, of course,
is very helpful since the music that is in the first cut is almost
never in the final cut. Cutting to music covers lots of flaws, both
in editing and shooting, but is vulnerable to great disappointment
when the music changes. I firmly believe that the picture should
lead the way, but admit that it always looks better with great music.

MM: How much do you find that shooting is
done with a “fix it in post” mentality, and is that something you
agree with or discourage?

KB: “Fix it in post” has definitely taken on
a new meaning with the advent of CGIs. In the old days, that quaint
expression meant the addition of sound effects or ADR, but now eliminating
signs, production vehicles and crew, backgrounds and even character’s
expressions are fair game for the “fix it in post” curative. It
adds more work to the editor’s load, but it allows for so much more
flexibility. Soon editors will be known as “image processors.”