67th ACE Eddie Awards


IN THIS ISSUE – 
1st Qtr, 2017
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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The work of Joe Walker, ACE, on Arrival and Tom Cross, ACE, on La La Land won Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic) and Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy) respectively, at the 67th annual ACE Eddie Awards, capping a wonderful evening at which Janet Ashikaga, ACE, and Thelma Schoonmaker, ACE, received Career Achievement Awards; Lori Jane Coleman, ACE, Diana Friedberg, ACE, and William Gordean, ACE, received Heritage Awards; and J.J. Abrams was honored with the Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year award.

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Over 1,000 attendees packed the International Ballroom of  The Beverly Hilton hotel on Jan. 27 to celebrate outstanding editing in 10 categories of film, TV and documentaries. In accepting his Eddie, Walker said, “The very first editor I knew had the letters, ACE, after his name so it’s something I have long respected and looked up to. I cherish this honor and am really thrilled.” At the ceremony was Arrival director Denis Villeneuve: “For me, each film has two heroes and for Arrival we had Amy Adams, who is the soul of the movie, and Joe Walker, who took care of that soul. The job we did in the editing room was crucial for the success of the movie. Editing is a part of the film process which is partly in the shadows. Nobody knows exactly how important the edit process is but the Eddies shines a light on it.”

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Untitled-38For Cross, the event was especially poignant since his mother passed away during the edit of La La Land. “I know she would have been delighted by the film and comforted to know I am doing what I love to do,” he said. “It feels incredible to be honored by my peers in the editing community.” He explained that the scene which sparked his interest in the picture was its epilogue. “It was the scene [director] Damien Chazelle wanted to start cutting first because it’s the reason why he made the movie.” Cross also shared that La La Land was more challenging than other stories he’d worked on “because it had so many moving parts. While concerned with conveying emotion, which is the mainstay of an editor’s job, we also had to cut in relation to music. Plus Damien wanted different editing styles, some scenes with long extended takes and other scenes to be cut rapidly which made it challenging to find the right balance.”

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Esteemed director Martin Scorsese introduced Schoonmaker – who has edited all of his films since Raging Bull – by explaining how they had met through a filmmaking course at NYU in 1966 and how she helped him complete his first feature, Who’s That Knocking at My Door. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. “Of all aspects of the filmmaking process I love editing the most and a lot of it has to do with spending time with Thelma,” Scorsese said. “When we make a picture we live immersed in the film’s universe. Sometimes it’s not always a pleasant place to be! Each film becomes like a lifetime and a great adventure and so we share many lifetimes together.”
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Untitled-31Schoonmaker has received seven Academy Award® nominations for Best Film Editing and has won three times – for Raging Bull, The Aviator and The Departed. Scorsese observed that both he and Schoonmaker have been asked on multiple occasions to explain their successful working relationship. “There’s no sense in this,” he said. “You can’t explain it. It’s what we do and it’s pretty much nobody’s business.” However, he revealed that ultimately, “it’s about trust. The trust in her and her fierceness to protect and fight tenaciously for the truth of the film. The support she provides, usually under the worst of circumstances, makes it possible for me to make the film I started out trying to make.”

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Accepting the honor, Schoonmaker said the award belonged as much to Scorsese as to her “for the 23 films this utterly brilliant director has made that I’ve helped him edit.” She continued; “Marty’s favorite part of a film is editing and he thinks of editing when he conceives a film, when he co-writes it and particularly when he shoots it. “It means so much to get this from my fellow editors. You know what it means to receive footage that has been shot with editing in mind – it is a blessing.” She won the hearts of the audience by saying she wished she could parcel up all the luck she has had “to put in little packages to place on each of your tables tonight” and ended an emotional speech by thanking “Marty and the mysterious art of editing for giving me such a wonderful life.”

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Ashikaga – whose credits include Seinfeld, The West Wing, Sports Night and countless other series – was presented with her Career Achievement Award by writer/director/producer Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing, Sports Night). “Janet has spent hundreds of hours in a dark, windowless room with Aaron Sorkin and hundreds of hours in a dark windowless room with me,” he acknowledged in his presentation to her. “From my point of view she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.” Both Schoonmaker’s and Ashikaga’s work was highlighted with montages exhibiting their tremendous contributions to film and television throughout their careers.

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Groundbreaking filmmaker J.J. Abrams received the prestigious ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year honor, which was presented to him by friend and collaborator Jeff Garlin in a hilarious presentation which had the house chuckling. “Most directors are well aware of just how lucky they are to be the beneficiary of the editor’s contribution,” said Abrams. “I’m pretty sure most actor’s [aren’t]. I’m kidding but while it’s nearly impossible … to make a bad performance good, in my experience it’s rather common for an editor to make a good performance great.”
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Untitled-37Abrams’ career includes co-creating the hit TV series, Felicity, Lost and Alias as well as feature films Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, among five features edited by the team of Maryann Brandon, ACE, and Mary Jo Markey, ACE. “I’ve done a lot of movies with numbers in the title and with spaceships so I look forward to doing something people haven’t seen before,” he revealed on the red carpet. “I loved working on [those franchises] but personally as a director I want to get back to movies that didn’t pre-exist my involvement.”
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In his address to editors in the audience he said, “As a writer, producer and director I can’t imagine a group I am more grateful for. They have saved my ass on many occasions.” Thanking ACE “for this preposterously enormous and undeserved award” Abrams also expressed “my undying gratitude, as a moviemaker and moviegoer, for the critical and often thankless work you all do at that last critical stage of our creative process for making something that takes blood, sweat and tears … seem effortless.” Zootopia, edited by Fabienne Rawley and Jeremy Milton, won Best Edited Animated Feature Film. Rawley said, “We feel very privileged to be able to contribute to such a thoughtful and funny movie and deeply honored to be nominated alongside so many great editors. We share a piece of this award with everyone at the studio [Walt Disney Animation Studios] and to our collaborator in chief, John Lasseter.”

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Editors Bret Granato, Maya Mumma and Ben Sozanski took home the Eddie for Best Edited Documentary (Feature) for their work on O.J.: Made in America. Television winners included Veep “Morning After,” edited by Steven Rasch, ACE, for Best Edited Half-Hour Series for Television; This Is Us “Pilot,” edited by David L. Bertman, ACE, for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television; Game of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards,” edited by Tim Porter, ACE, for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television; All the Way, edited by Carol Littleton, ACE, for Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Television; Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown “Senegal,” edited by Mustafa Bhagat, for Best Edited Non-Scripted Series; and Everything Is Copy – Nora Ephron: Scripted & Unscripted, edited by Bob Untitled-32Eisenhardt, ACE, in the Best Edited Documentary (Television) category.
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The Student Editing honor, presented by Denis Villeneuve, went to Tommy Wakefield of University of North Carolina, School of the Arts, who tops a field of hundreds of competitors from film schools and universities around the country.

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Presiding over the ceremony was ACE President Stephen Rivkin, ACE, and the event was hosted by Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). Rivkin presented the Heritage Awards to Lori Jane Coleman, ACE, Diana Friedberg, ACE, and William Gordean, ACE, for founding and guiding the highly-successful ACE Internship Program for over 20 years. Other presenters included Moonlight star Trevante Rhodes, Fences stars Mykelti Williamson and Saniyya Sidney, Chrissy Metz (This Is Us) and actor Tim Matheson.
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Abrams had invited his father to attend the ceremony and the director was able to share the same advice that Abrams senior had once imparted to his son. It’s a piece of advice that not only gives insight into the director’s work but perhaps makes good sense to us all. “The best advice is to be a student of people not just of film. You don’t want emotional, powerful stories to be derived from other movies. You want them to be from things that you’ve experienced, you’ve sensed, you’ve desired, and that’s only possible if you’ve lived life not just observed it.