89th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: Film Editing

CATEGORY: Film Editing
SPEECH BY: John Gilbert



Q. As a proud New Zealander, are you okay if Australia now claims you as our own now that you've won an Oscar?
A. Well, this is a thing we have with Australia.  They always claim the best, and they send us their worst and try and pretend that they're New Zealanders.  But no, Australia and New Zealand, we're kind of like brothers down at the bottom of the world there.  And you know, if you call me ‑‑ I'm not going to say a half, but maybe a quarter Australian?  Okay.  Thank you.

Q. Hi.  The host made a joke about working with Mel Gibson.  And people sort of, like, resisted seeing this movie and then got swept away by it.  What ‑‑ describe Mel Gibson:  What you expected and what you got. 
A. Well, I don't know that people resisted seeing the movie.  I didn't meet anyone like that.  But no.  Working with Mel, what did I expect?  You know, I didn't really know what to expect.  Obviously, a public persona of someone, the picture is almost never true because, you know, he's just a warm, genuine kind of guy, really passionate and a really committed director, and always wanted to make a great film.  There was a lot of pressure on him to make a great film.  So you know, I felt the pressure to make sure that it was good.  And he's a practical joker.  I loved working with him.  We had a great time.

Q. I know the production designer incorporated a lot of practical effects into the set, and I wonder if that provided any sort of challenging situations for you as an editor working with some practical effects, some visual effects, within the editing room. 
A. Well, the practical effects actually were a real bonus.  They had a lot of those bombs you see were not visual effects, they were practical on the day.  And the cast could run through them and have the bomb go off and immediately the reactions from the actors were much more plausible, I thought.  Rather than reacting to something and have it placed in afterwards in visual effects, I prefer practical effects because they look real immediately.  I don't need to wait for them to come back from visual effects.  I didn't think it was really a challenge.  It's always a challenge with the visual effects, you know, with time and making things look real.  And if it looks real on camera, you know, I'll always go for that. 

Q. Congratulations.  Sort of following up on the idea of verisimilitude.  In reality, wars from the World War II onward, we all have a visual record of them.  They exist, you know.  And so how does that, the nonfiction visual record of the actual war, affect some of the choices in the look and the pacing and the editing that you do?
A. Well, I mean, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was my experience of World War II, so you know, I didn't have a practical record.  But so I looked at that as a kind of a reference.  And we had various servicemen come by, and they said it was like being in battle.  They gave us some feedback and said what we were doing was very real and immersive as far as being in a battle, so you know, we took that as positive feedback.  Yeah.  I mean, no one wants to go through what those guys went through, so we wanted to create something that was a hell.  And to some extent you've got to use your imagination and make it as hellish as you can.



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