4 min read

#084 - Team Deakins Interviews Editor Lee Smith

Editor Lee Smith has cut some of my favourite films for some of my favourite directors.

  • The Truman Show, Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World, The Way Back - Peter Weir
  • Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan
  • Spectre, 1917 - Sam Mendes

In an 80 minute conversation with master cinematographer Roger Deakins and his wife and close collaborator James Deakins, Lee shares some of his own 'war stories' from the edit suite as part of the Team Deakins podcast.

I also got a bit carried away with my time-stamp annotations, and while I didn't itemise every question, it's pretty close.

So much so that I've constrained this email to my top 7 favourite moments and in five minutes you're going to get another email with an [Extended Cut] of everything.

As an editor I don’t see beyond the frame… the thing is I’m not responding to whatever is happening on the day, I’m only responding to what I can see.

— Lee Smith, Editor

It's a brilliant conversation, especially towards the end, with some really useful insights about film editing from Lee's career and some of the mistakes Lee sees younger editors make when cutting features he's been asked to 'help out on' i.e. edit doctor, when they try too hard and add "5,000 gallons of fairy dust."

By fairy dust, Lee means complex multi-layer composites to join the best elements of different takes together, unnecessary camera shake or other stylistic flourishes.

His solution?

Stick to the dailies and the emotional intention of the scene and don't get too carried away.

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