Director and editor chemistry key to a film's success

Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:07am EST
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By Todd Longwell

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - When Tony Gilroy's mother heard that he was going to have his younger brother John edit his directorial debut, "Michael Clayton," she was worried her boys would clash.

It wasn't an unreasonable fear. Any two people locked in a small space for weeks on end struggling to transform hours and hours of raw footage into a concise, entertaining work of art are bound to have conflicts. When those two people are brothers with a history of sibling rivalry ("Tony is taller," John says; "But Johnny can kick my ass," Tony admits), the potential for disagreement is exponentially higher.

But Tony, who received Oscar nominations for writing and directing the George Clooney legal thriller, found that their differences produced not violence but a better film.

"It took about three days to figure out that there'd be a kind of push-me, pull-you (dynamic)," he says.

"I would always be pulling to not explain things and turning the thermostat down, and Johnny would always be pushing to turn it up, and the by-product of that would be room temperature. And we were both really happy with where we were going to land."

"It's very good to see different perspectives," concurs director Marc Forster, who has worked with editor Matt Chesse on six films, including 2007's "The Kite Runner," 2004's "Finding Neverland" (which earned Chesse an Oscar nod) and 2001's "Monster's Ball." "Matt and I have a very strong connection and love for cinema and a love for similar movies, but he sometimes sees things differently than I do. My attention span is a little shorter than his. Sometimes he likes to let it breathe a little more than I do."

They are reteaming a seventh time for MGM/Sony's upcoming James Bond film.

Long-standing editor-director relationships like the one between Forster and Chesse are not uncommon: Editor Joel Cox has worked with Clint Eastwood for more than 30 years, and Thelma Schoonmaker has been Martin Scorsese's go-to editor since 1980's "Raging Bull." And brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have been collaborating for decades under the moniker "Roderick Jaynes," an Oscar nominee for "No Country For Old Men."   Continued...

<p>Oscar nominated director Tony Gilroy smiles as he arrives at the 80th annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon in Beverly Hills, California February 4, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>