Awards

IBC 2019

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4th Qtr, 2019

The IBC (International Broadcasting Convention) has always been a showcase for the latest products and developments for content creation but this year’s event doubled down by attracting a number of established artists to present masterclasses or public interviews. Chris Dickens, ACE, an Oscar® and ACE Eddie winner for Slumdog Millionaire, shared insights into how he helped Dexter Fletcher’s biographic musical Rocketman about shy piano prodigy turned international superstar Elton John.

“The film is about Elton’s battle with himself and moving away from who he was as a child,” Dickens said. “In one scene he swims underwater and is confronted with himself as a boy but by the end of the film he has come to terms with who he is.” Presenting clips including a sequence that appears early in the film accompanied by John’s “The Bitch is Back,” Dickens described the script as a heightened version of reality. “It had two sides, this real-life drama and a fantastical story of his success with musical sequences which tell his life through song.

It gave us a license to play around visually but I couldn’t quite unify the two dramatic tensions in my head. The biggest challenge was finding a way to combine all the elements to give the film tonally the same feel all the way through.”

Elsewhere, there were sessions devoted to the VFX behind Avengers: Endgame and insider looks at the cinematography and grading of Netflix series Mindhunter and Black Mirror interactive episode “Bandersnatch.” Attendees were treated to a special showing in Dolby Vision and Atmos of Game of Thrones’ season 8 episode “The Long Night,” the episode which landed Tim Porter, ACE, the Emmy® for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series.

HBO executive producer Greg Spence and Steve Beres, HBO’s senior vice president of Media and Production Services were on hand to talk about the show’s production. The virtual production of Jon Favreau’s The Lion King was another highlight as explored by cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, ASC, and VFX supervisor Rob Legato, ASC.

New ways of working were also a theme on the exhibition floor. Aiming to find new ways to create, produce and distribute content on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, Avid announced its participation with Disney in a five-year partnership with Microsoft. The partnership will be run through The Walt Disney Studios’ StudioLAB, Disney’s technology hub, and will be aimed at delivering cloud-based workflows for production and postproduction or from ‘scene to screen.’

Microsoft has an existing strategic cloud alliance with Avid and the companies have already produced several media workflows running in the cloud, including collaborative editing, content archiving, active backup and production continuity.

“By moving many of our production and post-production workflows to the cloud, we’re optimistic that we can create content more quickly and efficiently around the world,” said Jamie Voris, CTO, The Walt Disney Studios. “Through this innovation partnership with Microsoft, we’re able to streamline many of our processes so our talented filmmakers can focus on what they do best.”

The announcement was separate but related to a wider move by major studios to rethink production workflows in the cloud. During the IBC conference session titled “Hollywood’s vision for the future of production in 2030,” tech bosses from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Disney and Warner Bros. gathered to discuss a 10-year blueprint for the process, as outlined by non-profit research initiative MovieLabs.

“There’s been a massive increase in content production and brand extensions, and we need faster production cycles and more rapid iterations,” said Universal CTO Michael Wise. The MovieLabs report suggests assets need to be created and ingested straight into the cloud. Any tools used on content assets in this new workflow must come to the cloud, rather than the  other way around. “We need the entire industry to come together on this,” said Bill Baggelaar, senior vice president of technology, production and postproduction technologies at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“We don’t want to build our own tools to manage cloud solutions but would require the ability to plug into our own preferred vendors.” MovieLabs is working toward the creation of a standard, a big part of which will be security.

A common ID system would be critical to identify the thousands of workers interacting with studios’ content, the speakers related. “This would also formalize protocols for crew members who wish to use their own devices or plug their own kit into studios’ production networks,” noted Daphne Dentz, senior vice president, mastering & production technology, Warner Bros.

Adobe used the IBC platform to unveil Auto Reframe, a new feature for Premiere Pro that uses the company’s Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence and machine-learning platform. Slated for availability later this year, Auto Reframe is developed to reframe and reformat video so that the same project can be published in different aspect ratios, from square to vertical to 16:9 versions, the company said.

Like Content-Aware Fill for After Effects, which was introduced in the spring, Auto Reframe is designed to “accelerate manual production tasks, without sacrificing creative control. “For broadcasters, or anyone else who needs to optimize content for different platforms, Auto Reframe will help you get there faster,” Adobe writes in its blog, citing tools designed to “analyze, crop and pan footage to prioritize the most compelling parts of your video.” The company also demonstrated new Best Practices guides, which include ones for working with native formats, using project templates, using Motion Graphics templates; mixing audio with the Essential Sound Panel, exporting video and using third-party tools with Adobe tools.

Blackmagic announced Blackmagic RAW 1.5, a new software update with support for Premiere Pro and Media Composer, plus Blackmagic RAW Speed Test for Mac, PC and Linux,  so customers can work on a wider range of platforms and editing software with their Blackmagic RAW files. Blackmagic RAW 1.5 is now available for download. “Blackmagic RAW is now available for editors working on all major professional nonlinear editors,” said CEO Grant Petty.

“You can now edit native Blackmagic RAW files in Premiere Pro and Media Composer and then finish them in DaVinci Resolve without needing to create proxy files.”

Alan Holzman, ACE Heritage Award

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4th Qtr, 2019

The Invisible Art, Visible Artists (IAVA) seminar has become one of ACE’s annual flagship events. The wildly-popular program takes place every year at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and offers a rare opportunity to hear that year’s Oscar®-nominated editors talk shop. Interestingly enough, the man behind it all – prolific editor/director Allan Holzman, ACE – conceived of the idea while recovering from the flu. “It was quite a beautiful story actually,” says Holzman.

“My favorite children’s book is Miss Rumphius, which I’ve read in my daughter’s third-grade class. It’s a story about a young girl who assists her grandfather in making paintings of the ships in a harbor. Her grandfather says to her, ‘I want you to do three things in life: Live by the ocean, travel the world and do something to make the world more beautiful.’ About 20 years ago, I came down with a nasty flu. I felt like I wouldn’t live another day. The first day I felt well enough to go outside, I took a walk and reminisced about that book. I thought, ‘I’ve traveled the world. I live by the ocean.

But what have I done to make the world a more beautiful place?’ IAVA would my contribution to the world.” He explains, “Have a seminar the day before the Academy Awards®. All the nominees have to be in town. Have it in the morning so it doesn’t conflict with any other event.

Make it free and open to the public. Make it so you wouldn’t have to see the movie to appreciate it, but have it be more about the artistic process: How do you work dailies? How do you work with the director? How do you cut a scene? How do you work with music? Everyone answers the same questions so you don’t have a moderator trying to psychoanalyze the movie.

You have a discussion about the creative process. That’s all I wanted to communicate: the creative experience of editing.” By the time IAVA got off the ground, Holzman had already been in the business for over two decades as one of the premier documentary editors in town. He had earned two Emmys® for his work on Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Holocaust and an Eddie Award for the critically-acclaimed Old Man River. Not bad for a Baltimore kid who developed a noticeable stutter early in childhood. His stutter became something that he learned to embrace rather than overcome or use as an excuse to fade into the background.

He chronicles his journey in an autobiographical documentary called C-C-Cut: Autobiography of a Stuttering F-F-Filmmaker. The self-proclaimed storytelling stutterer cut his filmmaking teeth in Roger Corman’s camp. He soon went on to direct and/or edit a number of B-movie gems like Forbidden World, Out of Control, and Crazy Mama.

Around the time he met his future wife, composer Susan Justin, he began to add documentaries to his roster. This pivot would offer Holzman a new playground for his creative storytelling abilities.

One of his hallmarks on all of his documentaries is the lack of narrator to drive the story along. “I don’t like using a narrator in movies,” admits Holzman. “I have often tried using the speaker saying the same thing in multiple settings. It makes it more of a feature film because it is unpredictable and emotional. You’re not telling the story in a conventional way. You’re tying it through characters and characters are told through story. It’s really a way to keep the stories going and you can jump time.

The great thing about telling history through characters is it becomes a circular way of discussion. You don’t have to catch people up to where you were. You’re constantly experiencing the depth of the story in one way or another. You’re communicating culture. You’re not communicating facts. You’re communicating an experience, and scenes are the key to keeping people engaged because you can’t lose them for a second when you don’t have a narrator. The pressure is really intense to hold your audience.

Music is your narrative guide. A song is about three minutes and so is a scene. If the composer is into song structure you really can develop a beginning, middle and end in a scene.” It’s this passion for storytelling that led him to become one of the driving forces behind ACE’s Heritage Brunch. The first incarnation took place at a yacht club in Los Angeles over a decade ago where editors were invited for food, drink and a little gab session in front of the camera.

Holzman realized there was a whole class of editors who were assistants during 1940s and ‘50s who were unable to find work in film after completing their eight years as assistant editors. The editors who had trained them were still alive, working, and few had retired.

However, there was work in television. This group became the first great TV editors on shows like I Love Lucy and Mission: Impossible. They conducted 33 half-hour interviews in one day. Holzman recalls, “It was a very fun event. I couldn’t have done that or IAVA without Jenni McCormick [Executive Director of ACE]. She’s an amazing advisor, organizer and totally devoted.”

Even after nearly 50 years in Hollywood, Holzman has yet to slow down. He shares, “Four decades ago, I wrote a book on the art of editing that is about to be published. I wanted to reveal the art behind B-movie editing. The book is called Celluloid Wars: Lessons Learned from Making the Movie “Battle Beyond the Stars.” It will be followed by part two on directing.

Both books are based on daily journals I kept while working for Roger Corman on that film and Forbidden World (aka Mutant). He’s also working on a new fourscreen installation based on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech for Columbia, and penning his own memoir eloquently titled The Storytelling Stutterer.

Karen Schmeer Fellowship 2019

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2nd Qtr, 2019

The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship (KSFEF), now in its ninth year, is annually awarded to a new Fellow during the SXSW Film Festival Awards ceremony.

This year’s Fellow, Victoria Chalk, is a British-Chinese film editor whose career in post-production has spanned more than a decade, several countries and garnered numerous accolades.

“Growing up British/Malay in rural France forced me to see things differently. I have lived a life of constant adaptation, bridging the gap between cultures and social norms” says Chalk.

“Struggling to learn a new language in my early teens made me realize how difficult it is to express oneself when conscious of translating. As I became fluent in French, I would joke about having two different personas, since I wouldn’t express myself the same way in English as in French. I wouldn’t have the same go to expressions, the same sense of humor, the same vocabulary, and this fascinated me.

This is what first drew me to editing. There are endless possibilities to the artistry of expressing emotion, plot, pacing and storytelling.”

Chalk’s latest feature documentary, Call Her Ganda, which tells the story of a transgender Filipina woman who was brutally murdered and left in a motel room in the Philippines, premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was the winner of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Grand Jury Award.

The film’s director and Chalk’s longtime collaborator, PJ Raval, who gave a keynote at SXSW this year, remarked, “Victoria’s ability to empathize enables her to view the footage through the subject’s own perspective, avoiding the pitfalls of extractive filmmaking or reducing our subjects to
victims or ‘others’.”

Sponsored annually by ACE, the KSFEF was established to develop an emerging documentary film editor by offering opportunities for creative growth and professional community building.

The Fellowship pays tribute to the legacy of Karen Schmeer, ACE, who edited projects including the Academy Award®winning The Fog of War in addition to the controversial Mr. Death and the IFC series, First Person.

Schmeer died in 2010 when she was struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident. This year, the Fellowship launched a new initiative called the “Diversity in the Edit Room” program with 29 mentees selected in this inaugural year.

It’s designed to cultivate the careers of emerging assistant editors and editors from diverse backgrounds and experiences working in the documentary field. Garret Savage, KSFEF founding board member and diversity committee co-chair, says, “We’d like to acknowledge American Cinema Editors’ Diversity Mentorship Program, headed by Troy Takaki (ACE) and Mark Yoshikawa (ACE), as an inspiration and model for ours and thank Troy and Mark for their guidance.”

Of the many benefits the KSFEF bestows on a Fellow, Chalk is most looking forward to learning from her appointed mentors who include Victor Livingston (The Queen of Versailles, Crumb), Azin Samari (The September Issue, Ethel), and previous KSFEF recipient Lindsay Utz (American Factory, Quest).

Says Chalk, “The Karen Schmeer Fellowship will allow me to grow in experience, confidence and communication in profound ways. The mentorship and support it provides is like nothing else. The community offered through this fellowship is also a way for me to help my own communities thrive.”

Chalk hopes to harness what she can from this experience to inspire other emerging editors from diverse and marginalized backgrounds, sharing her resources and what she learns with them. “I truly believe that the organizing I do with the Asian American Documentary Network (A-DOC), shines a spotlight on the lack of access and opportunities we have as a community of people of color. If I can add to the resources and bring something back to filmmakers in that space, I will,” says Chalk.

Chalk’s next feature documentary,  A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, directed by Yu Gu, will premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival where half of this year’s competition lineup were directed or co-directed by women.

ACE is a proud sponsor of the KSFEF and through the program, Chalk receives associate membership in ACE as well as admission to EditFest in Los Angeles.

Cinema Eye Honors

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1st Qtr, 2019

Going into this year’s Cinema Eye Honors awards, I was told by an editor friend that I’d have a good time. Not only did I have a good time – I had an incredible time. In his final hosting gig for Cinema Eye Honors – the annual event that recognizes nonfiction filmmaking, held Jan. 10 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, N.Y.

Two-time Oscar®-nominated documentarian Steve James knocked it out of the park in his trademark breezy style, making the evening even more impactful. Nominated for an Oscar last year for his film, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – but losing out to the similar sounding Icarus – James kicked off the evening with an anecdote: “I have a theory,” he began, slightly resentfully, “Icarus won only because people meant to vote for Abacus and they accidentally voted for Icarus.”

At one point during James’ opening monologue, a security guard’s radio went off. James paused and woefully peered out at the giddy crowd finding it thoroughly amusing. They eventually quieted. “That’s sad that that was the funniest moment of the evening,” he deadpanned. The crowd exploded.

Clearly making stirring documentaries isn’t the only thing James has in his tool belt. Minding the Gap, director Bing Liu’s autobiographical portrait of friendship, won best debut feature film, outstanding achievement in direction, and best editing for Joshua Altman and Liu. With seven total nominations for the evening, the film tied the record for most nominations in Cinema Eye Honors history.

The award for outstanding achievement in nonfiction feature filmmaking went to Hale County This Morning, This Evening.

Free Solo snagged the trophy for best achievement in production, best cinematography (Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin and Mikey Schaefer), as well as the Audience Choice Prize. As she clutched her statue with husband and co-director Jimmy Chin in tow, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi put the crazy ride in unique perspective: “You know, we would never have asked him (Alex Honnold, the star of the film) to free solo. We couldn’t. We just had to wait and be ready.” After Vasarhelyi and Chin walked off stage, James squeezed in this zinger: “What they did with that greenscreen in that film was amazing.”

Best nonfiction film for broadcast went to Baltimore Rising. Outstanding achievement in an original music score went to Ishai Adar for Shirkers. Additionally, the film won for outstanding achievement for graphic design or animation. The Spotlight Award went to The Distant Barking of Dogs. Director Simon Lereng Wilmont walked up flanked by Oleg Afanasyev, the 10-year-old star of the film. “I owe everything to this little guy and his grandmother,” is all he said before walking off stage.

Host James won for best drone footage, and for best nonfiction series for broadcast, for his docu-series, America to Me. The Heterodox Award – recognizing work that blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction – went to American Animals.

Eyes on the Prize – the affecting 1987 PBS television series about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States – took home the Legacy Award.

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes won for best achievement in nonfiction short filmmaking.

ACE Interns 2019

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1st Qtr, 2019

Following a rigorous selection process, ACE interns Irene Chun, a grad of Pepperdine University in Malibu, and Katelyn Wright, an alum of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., recently completed a four-week ACE Internship Program that gave them their first look into the professional Hollywood post-production scene.

The program, chaired by program alums Carsten Kurpanek and Tyler Nelson, involved spending time in editing rooms and touring post-production facilities while being mentored by experienced ACE editors.

Wright remembers how she became aware of ACE and the intern program: “There was one day during school where we were analyzing film credits and how the style of them helps introduce and close the film. I asked my teacher why you would put ACE after someone’s name.

I went down a very deep rabbit hole after that. After stalking the different ACE editors and exploring the website I fell across the internship program. The same day I was begging my program director and the editor I had worked for on Fox Hunt Drive to write me recommendation letters.

The program was everything I needed. It would take the basics I had learned in school, and expand my perspective on the roles in postproduction. I may have had a general understanding of editing, but I had no idea how much effort and work went into being the assistant, which was the first step I had to take.

“Throughout the application process, I was convinced I would not be selected,” she adds. “Even when I was a finalist (which is already a huge honor) I knew that I didn’t know nearly as much as the others.

When I was driving home, I received the call from Tyler Nelson and Carsten Kurpanek that I was chosen. And so, the journey began.”

For Chun, participating in the various editing rooms during her internship was a crash course of different aspects of post-production. During her week in the editing rooms of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,  lunches with the post-production team were exhilarating and fun.

She soaked in as much as she could from the years of experience present around the table. She also spent a week with the editorial team of 6 Underground where she learned how to process dailies and prep them for the multiple editors working on the show.

Wright shadowed the editorial team of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. She got her feet wet in how to deal with dailies and organize them for the editor. The assistant editor would group clips together and mark them ‘action’ or ‘reset’ and create thumbnails. As an assistant you could then familiarize yourself with the footage and give the editor an opinion if that’s asked for.

Her second week was at Disney’s Stargirl where she learned the importance of editing sound effects to help to give an indication of how a sequence is going to evolve.

Both Chun and Wright were introduced to the advantages and intricacies of Avid’s ScriptSync, through which clips are organized in lined-script order, a very fast and organized way to get an overview of what was shot for a sequence. They also learned how to do turnovers and how essential these are for a smooth hand-off to all the facilities that take care of the post-production after editorial.

How important flawless turnovers are became very clear to both ACE interns when they spent their third week visiting Los Angeles-based post-production facilities. They went to a film lab, a sound studio and a visual effects studio that all needed to work with the flawless EDLs and AAFs supplied by the assistant editors of all the shows.

The interns watched sessions with a colorist, Foley walkers, sound mixers and digital artists. They saw the professional transcoding of dailies, learned how VFX can help pre-visualizing sequences and got a taste of how the cloud can help an editorial team to work remotely.

The last week of the ACE Internship Program involved shadowing a reality-show post-production team. Chun spent the week on The Voice, during which time she was amazed to see how organized the assistant editors needed to be in order to keep track of all the footage. “They used a whiteboard in the office to communicate tasks from day-shift to night-shift. They not only have to prep the footage, but also address media requests from producers.

Without a script to follow, the editor needed to create a story by combing through the interviews with the transcript and watching the footage. “After my week at The Voice, I’ll never be able to watch unscripted shows the same again,” she admits.

“There’s so much work that goes into creating the story. It was also amazing to see that even though there are so many editors working on the show, they make it look seamlessly cohesive.” Wright spent the week with teams from American Idol and the Academy Awards.

She enthusiastically recalls how this was a nonunion house, Sim Digital, so she had the opportunity to do some hands-on work: “I got to sync and group [15 cameras] on the Avid, working with managing assets, and creating outputs from the Avid. As a kinesthetic learner, this was vital to really bring everything together. The assistant spent a great deal of time illustrating to me how to handle playback for the editors with a tape workflow and conform.

Cutting multicam for reality is immensely different from anything scripted. It can be said that there is certainly a rhythm to it. Navigating 10-15 cameras is no easy feat, but the editors and their assistants here have mastered the way.”

For both interns the first step into the professional world of post-production will likely be an assistant position, so shadowing an editorial team and learning all the ins and outs are important aspects. But surely their ultimate goal will be to become editors themselves.

Then the creative part takes precedence. What have they learned about the creative side of editing? Says Chun, “I was indeed exposed to the creative sides of editing. On the scripted side, I learned that it really is important to watch all the dailies. You don’t want to miss anything and you want to be aware of what footage was shot. By attending the table read and tone meeting, I was reminded of how important communication is to collaboration in film.”

Adds Wright: “Watching all dailies was important for all editors. They form the sequence in their head, making sure that all the golden moments from production are included.” Both say they were introduced to valuable contacts and learned technical, organizational and creative information that will speed them ahead in their careers in post-production. They both recognize that staying in contact with others in the business is key.

Wright remarks that the one thing the ACE internship has taught her is that the post-production community here in L.A. is small. Everyone knows each other. The only way for the editors to stay sane is for them to stay connected.

“I think the most important thing for me is not only stay in touch with the different editing rooms I visited, but also stay connected to Irene, my fellow intern, and the other honorary interns, the people I met at the lecture series, and my mentors and guides through this journey,” she says. “I have a nice long list of contacts that I can call whenever I run into issues as a post-production PA or as an assistant editor.”

She plans to continue to grow her involvement in the community by attending upcoming events including EditFest LA. Chun is determined to do the same: “I’ll be holding up the social part of post-production by going to different mixers. I’ve been to every mixer I’ve been invited to since I’ve been an intern and it’s been really fun.

I also have a system set up so that I can remember to touch base with those I haven’t talked with for a while. I’ll be going to upcoming ACE events and will try to volunteer as much as I can in the years to come.” Chun, Wright and ACE wish to thank the people, productions and facilities that so generously opened up to make this once again a successful ACE Internship Program.

Craig McKay 2019 Career Achievement Award

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1st Qtr, 2019

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden,” wrote Frances Hodgson Burnett in her classic children’s novel, The Secret Garden. The book has had a number of iterations through the years on both the big and small screens but it was the initial 1949 adaptation that left a very young Craig McKay, ACE, spellbound. He may have only been 5 or 6 years old, but it was a seminal experience. Like the two children in The Secret Garden who uncover a world of secrets and beauty inside this walled garden, so too did McKay in the possibilities of cinema.

Two-time Oscar® nominee McKay grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley where he developed an interest in photography and filmmaking at an early age. His parents bought him a small camera and he started making little movies. Film schools weren’t really a thing at the time and there weren’t any opportunities in his hometown, but he was determined to pursue his passion vigorously nevertheless. However, fortune favors the bold.

“A friend of my family knew someone who had a film company. He asked if I wanted to meet him. I was very excited about doing that. It was very hard to learn anything about filmmaking in my small town. There weren’t a lot of film books out at that time. His name was Mort Fallick. I went over and spent an afternoon with Mort. At the end of the afternoon, he asked, ‘Do you want to come work with me?’ A week later I was carrying cans to the laboratory in New York City.”

He continues, “I was initially interested in cinematography. Mort’s company was Cinemetric in New York. It was a commercial house. He had a print house and I was working there as a messenger boy and he promised me an apprenticeship at some point, which I got sometime later. But I was always fooling around with a camera. I was shooting a small movie for 20th Century Fox Family Club on the side and then I made a little film about Cinemetric. He saw that I could shoot so he would let me do some test commercials. That totally changed once I got involved with editing.”

McKay had a hunger for more experience and always kept his eye on the prize. “I had always considered myself, even at that early age, a storyteller. I saw the storytelling advantages being in a cutting room. That sort of galvanized me. But I was in a commercial house, and I wanted to do feature films. That’s where the real fire in my belly was. I met a lot of people in the commercial house who also worked in features. I started doing more camera work and editing, but I lost interest in the camerawork because Madison Avenue only wanted to take pretty pictures and I was more interested in storytelling.” He remembers, “One of the people I started out with was Richard Marks [ACE]. We were both PAs in the beginning.

I told Richard my gripes about Madison Avenue. He told me to try coming back in the cutting room. At least you get to learn every aspect of it. It’s a very powerful place to be. After that, I started to pursue a feature film career.” “Film production was really picking up in New York at the time,” recalls McKay, “and [sound editor] Sandy Rakow recommended me for an assistant position to a fairly new editor at the time – Alan Heim [ACE]. Alan hired me on my first feature film. Thank you, Alan. I’m forever grateful.

That feature was the Sidney Lumet film, Last of the Mobile Hot Shots. There I was … doing a Warner Bros. feature film with Alan Heim!” From that point, McKay wanted for nothing regarding assistant work. McKay details, “Alan recommended me to Evan Lottman [ACE]. I did a film with Evan as his assistant, which was Puzzle of a Downfall Child – Jerry Schatzberg’s first film. From there, Barry Malkin [ACE], whom I knew from Cinemetric, asked me to be his assistant on a feature film. It was the Herb Gardner-scripted film, Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? Then, I went back to work on a movie called Scarecrow with Evan Lottman.

I told Evan I wanted to do some cutting and he told me to ask Jerry Schatzberg, the director, and if he says it’s okay then it’s okay with him. So I did and I cut two important scenes in the Scarecrow so I got the bug even more. That same year, I had worked on The Exorcist, which was such a big hit. I got a lot of television work from that. A lot of TV movies of the week. Also, my first feature film – Thieves. I also found out after some success, it’s easy to get your first feature film. Not so easy to get your second.”

Never one to be discouraged, McKay remained laser-focused on his goals. “I told everybody I’m not going to do anything until I get another cutting job so I stayed in the house for 10 months,” recalls McKay humorously. “Finally, Steve Rotter [ACE] called and said he was doing a miniseries called Holocaust. It was one of the first big miniseries for television. He hired me and I worked with him and Bob Reitano. Alan Heim was also on board – he was still in New York at the time. I really gave that show everything I had. We were eventually nominated for Emmys®.

I remember getting a call from Steve Rotter at 2 a.m. who was at the Emmy Awards and he told me, ‘Our show won!’ I got an Eddie out of that, too.” Around that time Barry Malkin was working on Last Embrace with Jonathan Demme. “They had a good relationship. Jonathan wanted him on his next film, but Barry had already committed to doing another project. Barry recommended me. Jonathan called and we had lunch. Frankly, I wasn’t that impressed with the next script. It was Melvin and Howard. Bear in mind that script won an Academy Award®,” admits McKay, laughing. “Still, I told him I’d love to work with you and your take on the fractured American culture. Even though I dumped on the script, he hired me.

There was a problem, though. I was still working on a TV movie of the week and I wouldn’t be able to start work until six weeks into his shoot. I told him that and he wasn’t pleased. He called Barry and complained. Barry said, ‘Hire him, anyway. I’m telling you, hire him.’ Demme told the studio that I would be starting six weeks late. The studio was like, ‘Who the f@#% is Craig McKay?’ Demme said well, he just won an Emmy and an Eddie. That was it. I had the job.” It may have started out complicated, but it was the beginning of a beautiful partnership. The ‘70s were quite good to Craig McKay and the ‘80s would be no different. He started the decade with a onetwo punch that set the tone for his career as an editor and his craftsmanship as a storyteller. “Melvin and Howard won a lot of critical acclaim. I had crossed the bridge to feature land.

Not long after that, I got a call from Dede Allen [ACE]. I had worked with her as an ADR editor on a couple of jobs a few years prior. She had recommended me for an earlier job for a TV documentary on the American Revolution. She said, ‘I’m doing a very big film. Russian Revolution. John Reed. Ten days that shook the world. Warren Beatty. Diane Keaton. Jack Nicholson. I need a partner. Are you interested?’ Took me about a tenth of a second to say yes. I deeply admired Dede and welcomed the opportunity to be partners with her on the film. And we were indeed partners. It was a partnership and we did that for two years. We got (Oscar) nominated for that but didn’t win. I was pretty well established by that time as a feature film editor.”

Reds scored a slew of Academy Award nominations including a win for its director, Warren Beatty. Now that McKay was in the big leagues, he learned that editing is sometimes more than just telling the best story. “When I started working on Reds Warren took me aside and said, ‘Craig, I want you to know one thing: I’m the biggest narcissist in Hollywood,’” laughs McKay. “I had that in mind when cutting a particular scene where his performance is really good but he had these visible crow’s feet. I asked my assistant, Jill Savitt, to take a look at it, and she said, ‘Well, he’s really good but I don’t know if he’s gonna go for that shot.’ I said, ‘I know but I’m gonna put it in anyway because he’s that good in it.’ I asked Beatty to come in and look at the scene. He came in and after he saw it he said, ‘Wow, that’s really good. It’s a very interesting scene. I like it a lot, but you know that one shot.’ Of course, he’s talking about the one with the crow’s feet.

I said, ‘Yes. It’s a really good performance. Very strong.’ He replied, ‘Yeah, but don’t you think it shows a little too much character?’” And so character won. The rest of the decade was filled with three more Jonathan Demme films (Swing Shift, Something Wild, Married to the Mob) and a number of TV movies interspersed throughout. Unbeknownst to McKay he was building up to something even larger that would bloom in the ‘90s. He explains, “I established a great relationship with Jonathan. We were definitely molto simpatico. Sometimes I wouldn’t even see him while he was shooting but I still had a sense of what he wanted. Most of the time we were totally aligned.

I had fun with Demme. He was a humanist and it was at the core of his work. It transcended the quirky aspects of the subject matter. I ultimately did seven films with him and produced a couple of things with him. Once, we were in a sound mix and he came in that morning and he gave me a book to read. He said, ‘I read this book all last night. I gotta make this movie.’ I said, ‘What is it?’ He said, ‘It’s called The Silence of the Lambs. It’s an unbelievable, thrilling ride.’ I said, ‘I wanna do it with you.’ He said, ‘You got it.’ I’ve done a number of movies, but Lambs is probably the one movie where I got to do everything I wanted to do as an editor.”

The Silence of the Lambs won the Academy Award for Best Picture and garnered McKay his second nomination. The film was not only a critical smash, but also a box office success proving that horror need not be relegated to B-movie status. There is a now-famous scene in which McKay’s talents truly shine through and it is close to the film’s denouement.

“When I first got the scene of the FBI raid, it looked like it was shot in an almost linear or straight line. I looked at it and thought, ‘We should parallel cut that,’ but I couldn’t get a hold of Jonathan while he was shooting out in Pittsburgh. I got a hold of the script supervisor and asked, ‘Was that scene intended to be linear or in parallel?’ She thought it was linear so I went against my instinct and cut a linear version. A couple of weeks later I’m screening it with Demme and in that dark screening room he leans forward and says, ‘How come you didn’t parallel that?’ We had great communication. GamesRadar does a great job describing the scene and the power of editing on full display:

“If any aspiring filmmaker wants to know how to use crosscutting to its full potential, just point them to this sequence. As the film nears its climax, the FBI think they have their killer and are about to raid his house, while Clarice [Jodie Foster] follows up on an interview lead separately. We see Buffalo Bill [Ted Levine] panicking as a bell rings at the exact moment the FBI press on the doorbell but, wait, he opens the door to Clarice while the FBI breaks into what they come to realize is an empty house. The added genius to the sequence is that only [the audience] realizes just how screwed Clarice is, meaning we’re hoping and PRAYING she just walks away from the house. She doesn’t.”

The ‘90s saw its share of other highlights including Miami Blues, Philadelphia, and Cop Land. Eager to impart and discover creativity, McKay was also a creative advisor at Sundance during its zenith as America’s premier independent film festival. It was around this time that McKay made the digital leap. He recalls, “I was helping out Demme on a doc he was producing about Nelson Mandela. He asked me to come take a look at it. There was an Irish assistant on the film named Naomi Geraghty. That doc was being cut on the Avid. I had not made the transition yet. I was able to sit with the editor. While I was on the job, I got a call from a producer who said he was doing a film in Ireland called Some Mother’s Son, and we want to know if you’re interested. He said the director is Jim Sheridan and those are magic words.

I said, ‘I’d love to work with Jim Sheridan.’ I didn’t have an agent in those days. We had entertainment lawyers who would make the deals for us. I knew it was an Avid job. I remembered Naomi was in the other room. I asked her, ‘You interested in doing a film in Ireland?’ She responded, ‘You know I came all the way here to make films and now you’re taking me back.’ She was able to help me out and that was the first film I was able to cut digitally.” For someone known for his narrative skills, telling an eloquent and interesting story didn’t happen overnight for McKay.

He explains, “The transition between assistant and editor was not easy for me. I was known as the technical guy. I was trying to crack the whole idea of story and I was talking to Herb Gardner, the playwright, about it. He suggested I read a book by Lajos Egri, The Art of Dramatic Writing. He said, ‘It’s the bible.’ I studied that book over a couple of years and read it two or three times. It really delineated the framework of storytelling for me. That helped me more than anything else. He also suggested Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. I took that and applied it to film – omit useless words/shots. Those two sources helped me tremendously.

Right now, I consider myself more of a storyteller than an editor or a producer or a director. I was once at a dinner party with Herb, Paddy Chayefsky, Bob Fosse and Sam Cohen from ICM. I asked Paddy if he had any advice on storytelling. He said, ‘Kid, there’re only three things you need to know to tell a story: Who is your character, what does he want and what’s preventing him from getting it? That’s it.’” Filmmaking is about collaboration and asking for help is part of that process. It’s a team of specialists working toward a common goal: Tell the best story possible. Over the years, McKay has been ably backed by such strong assistants like Joe Landauer, Colleen Sharp, Trudy Ship, Deirdre Slevin and Nancy Kanter, who is now executive vice president at Disney Channels Worldwide, plus the aforementioned Geraghty and Savitt.

“I like giving someone talented the opportunity to be an assistant, but sometimes you have to push them out of the nest and find another,” shares McKay. Throughout his career, McKay has been adept at hopping from genre to genre, from style to style, without losing any of that special touch. This century only cements that fact with a roster full of comedies (Surviving Christmas), sci-fi (Europa Report), dramas (The Manchurian Candidate), indies (Sin Nombre), and documentaries (Babies). He explains, “I felt that I could do any genre: documentary, TV, film. My career is varied that way.

The one thing that I was really thought of as is a performance editor. Dede used to say to me, ‘Performance is everything.’ I worked really hard on developing strong performances through deep concentration.” Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Maureen Stapleton, Mary Steenburgen, Tom Hanks and even Warren Beatty can attest to that. Nowadays, McKay continues to edit but is working on a passion project that’s a little hush-hush right now. He’s putting all his energy into producing a script that he has written. Not bad for the die-hard New Yorker who learned how to not let a disability hamper his dreams. McKay was born with a dislocated hip, which created a shortness and a need for an artificial leg. “I’m the one-legged film editor,” jokes McKay. “I never let the handicap get in my way. Fortunately, a lot of people wanted to hire the handicapped guy.

As a kid, I suffered a lot. Doing camera work was pretty aggressive stuff. I still live it today.” When his grandmother took him to see The Secret Garden as a child, he had no idea the film was about “a rich kid who was handicapped and wore braces and how he healed. I remember, looking up at this big black-and-white screen, I got more deeply involved. I was a moviegoer from that point on. I was blown away. It was the impetus for me to pursue passion. Interesting now. All these years later, my apartment in Manhattan is next to a two-acre private garden shared with another building across the way.

Jerrold L. Ludwig

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1st Qtr, 2019

If the hallmark of every successful editor is to have elevated all the material they touch few can have done so as consistently and with as much humility as Jerrold (Jerry) Ludwig, ACE. He scaled the Hollywood ladder from messenger boy to go-to editor for some of the most acclaimed TV specials of the 1980s and 1990s.

Beginning in the first golden era of episodic drama, his four-decade long career is studded with multiple ACE Eddie and Primetime Emmy® Award nominations and wins. Ludwig’s father and uncle were immigrants to the United States from Russia. His mother was from Chicago and met his father, settling in Los Angeles where Jerrold was born in 1941.

While his father worked as an accountant and his mother a homemaker, it was his uncle Edward who had a lasting influence on Jerrold’s career. Edward Ludwig (born Isidor Litwack) was a silent movie actor turned prolific director of shorts in the early days of Hollywood before directing dozens of B-movie features including The Fighting Seabees (1944) starring John Wayne, Caribbean Gold and The Blazing Forest (both 1952).

While the young Jerrold visited the local cinema for regular Saturday morning shows just like millions of other kids, he had a unique exposure to the industry from his uncle who lived in the same duplex apartment. “He lived above us and so I got my film knowledge from him,” says Ludwig. “I remember him saying that a good way to become a director would be to go through editorial which kind of put it into my mind that the movies was something I wanted to do.”

Edward managed to secure his nephew an interview at Universal with head of the art department responsible for designing posters and trade ads. “They were looking for a bike messenger so I said, ‘Sure, I’d love to,’” Jerrold recalls. “My duties basically included peddling from the facility where we were through the lot to the photographic department and back again.

I remember seeing Gene Kelly once, but not too many other big stars.” This was in the early 1960s and Jerrold had his mind set on climbing the next rung of the ladder. “I’d pass the editorial department and go in and ask if they needed anybody.

They asked if I was in the union. I wasn’t of course, so they just told me to come back. I did this I don’t know how many times. It was always ‘come back next week, next month, next year.’” His persistence finally paid off, however, when he landed the job of apprentice film editor on the Universal lot. “In those days it was all about hot splicing picture positive for the editor. You’d sit at a bench and hook up a reel of cut film opposite an empty reel then you’d make your hand into ‘scissors’ with your second and third finger and crank the empty reel.

When you hit a splice – and you’d know this because it would ‘pop’ in your fingers – you put glue on one side of the reel and used a machine to bring the two reels together and effectively heat seal the join. You’d do that day after day reel after reel.” Universal at that time was churning out dozens of popular syndicated TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Laramie and The Virginian in what was arguably the first heyday of TV drama.

Ludwig was involved at ground level, picking up the rushes which came in from Technicolor and then, separately, the sound from another building across the lot, then syncing the material together before bringing it to the editor. “I’d hang out late or come in early and see how assistant editors would put the material together for dailies viewing later that day,” Ludwig says.

Among his mentors at this time were editor Frank Morriss (Romancing the Stone) and Jack Webb, an actor (Sunset Boulevard) turned writer and producer of hit cop-series Dragnet. “He had a lot of power around the set and the studio,” Ludwig says.

“I brought a dailies reel to him one day which unfortunately had the audio out of sync with the picture. He hated that. He’s sitting there with four or five other people and he leaned over and glared, ‘I presume the rest of reel is out of sync too?’ I replied, ‘No, just that one scene’ and thank god I was right – everything worked just fine after that.’”

Ludwig soon gained a reputation as a go-to guy for projects that were short of a helping hand. He worked for Douglas Stuart, already an experienced editor who went on to edit Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and The Right Stuff (1983) and with whom Ludwig shared editing duties on Rich Man, Poor Man – Book II (1976-1977). This sequel to the hit miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man, earned Ludwig his first Eddie and Emmy nominations. “Doug would always say that people watch a picture with their ears.

I wondered what that meant but if you think about it if you can keep the sound going then you can cut a scene all you want and the story will remain intact. That was good advice because it inspired me to attempt some crazy things with the picture and as long as the sound was consistent it worked out great.” Remarkably, Ludwig stayed at Universal for 14 years working on shows like Wagon Train, McHale’s Navy and Ironside, assistant editing the documentary, Survival of Spaceship Earth (1972), and earning sole editing credits on shows such as A Question of Answers (1975), and episodes of classic detective series Kojak (1975-76) including “Life, Liberation and the Pursuit of Death” (1975).

Then, in a career turning point, he struck out on his own. “I decided to try my luck and go independent, as a freelance editor under my own steam,” he says. “It was one of the riskiest but most rewarding decisions I ever made. I was very fortunate that time and time again I worked with good people.”

Ludwig was soon in demand. For director Lou Antonio he made The Critical List (1978), The Chinese Typewriter (1979) and Silent Victory: The Kitty O’Neil Story (1979), a true-life story about a young girl (played by Stockard Channing) who overcame her deafness to become one of the top stuntwomen in Hollywood, which earned Ludwig a second Eddie nomination.

In 1981 he won an Eddie for crafting Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, a TV special starring the singer which also netted Ludwig an Emmy nomination.

A year later he was Eddie nominated again for the TV special thriller, A Gun in the House,but it was an invitation from director John Erman to edit his next feature which took Ludwig’s career to another level. “We just got along really well from the get-go,” Ludwig says. “He was a hot property at the time and luckily I was part of that streak.”

The first movie of the week they made together was Who Will Love My Children? based on the true story of an Iowa farm wife whose dying wish was to find loving families for her nine children. Starring Ann-Margret and Frederic Forrest, the feature netted Ludwig a second Eddie win. Next up was A Streetcar Named Desire (1984) an acclaimed adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play for ABC starring Ann-Margret and Treat Williams which garnered both an Eddie and an Emmy award for Ludwig, one of the show’s 11 Emmy nominations.

They followed this with An Early Frost (1985) for NBC, recognized as the first drama tackling AIDS to be commissioned by a major network. In it, Aidan Quinn plays a young lawyer who not only has to tell his parents (Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara) about his homosexuality but he has also to reveal he has been diagnosed with AIDS. “I tell you, NBC were terrified,” recalls Ludwig. “They were scared to death about putting this film on air. But credit to them, they did, and the audience loved it.” The film was number one in the Nielsen ratings during the night it aired, watched by 34 million people and going on to be nominated for 14 Emmy awards, winning three including for Ludwig who also took home an Eddie for his work on the show. “I’m very proud of it,” he says.

Ludwig was in high demand over the next decade, teaming with Erman again for When the Time Comes (1987), The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987) and The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank (1988), the latter two landing his eighth and ninth Eddie nominations.

Afterburn, made in 1992 with director Robert Markowitz and starring Laura Dern, told the true story of the woman who overcame male prejudice in the U.S. military to become the best tactical fighter pilot in the world and also succeeded in winning Ludwig Eddie and Emmy nominations. His other credits include miniseries Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III (1994), and the TV movies, Deadly Vows (1994), Dalva (1996), Echo (1997), Love-Struck (1997) and Looking for an Echo (2000). That was to be his last major credit, although he returned to Universal in 2000 to recut feature films for TV distribution (cutting for compliance with swearing, nudity, violence, timing and ad breaks among other considerations).

He enjoys his retirement in Pasadena with his wife, Lois, a former court reporter whom Jerrold dated when he was an assistant film editor, who remains after 47 years, a great support for him and he for her.

Ludwig says, “I feel extremely fortunate to have had the experience in the industry that I have had and I commend every one of the fantastically talented and generous people who I have met and worked with on that journey.

Thank you so much ACE and all its members for this award which I dedicate to them.”

Guillermo del Toro

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1st Qtr, 2019

The teeming imagination of Guillermo del Toro has inspired us with magical worlds filled with fantastic, horrific and unforgettable imagery and characters, from the monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth to the aquatic creature in The Shape of Water.

The prolific Mexican writer-director and producer has embraced the whole range of media and storytelling styles to blend horror with science-fiction and fantasy into a visual poetry that inspires both mainstream crowd pleasers and more art house projects. His stories are rich in religious symbolism and often use the classical structure of fairy tales to subvert what he considers the true horror of authoritarian rule. From the industrialists in Cronos, to the Nazis in Hellboy, the Francoists in Pan’s Labyrinth to the Cold War government scientists in The Shape of Water the villains of his stories seemingly exist to show that the only real monsters are human.

Del Toro was born in 1964 in Guadalajara, Mexico and was already involved in filmmaking by his teens, making short Super-8 films.

After studying screenwriting at the Centro de Investigación y Estudios in Mexico City, he executive produced his first feature, Dona Herlinda and Her Son, at the age of just 21.

He produced and directed several shows for Mexican television including episodes of sci-fi anthology La Hora Marcada for Televisa, a cult series that also helped launch the careers of compatriots director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki.

In preparation for making his first feature, Cronos, a stylish and original take on the vampire legend which he wrote and directed, del Toro contacted legendary special effects and make-up artist Dick Smith (Little Big Man, The Godfather, The Exorcist and Amadeus). “Without Dick Smith, I would not be making movies,” he told Vulture, at the time of Smith’s passing in 2014. “The first time I came into contact with him was as a child. When The Exorcist came out, I bought his makeup kit in a toy store. It came with gelatin and molds and colors, and I did my own makeup effects at a very young age.

It wasn’t until later that I actually wrote to Dick, explaining to him how much I needed to take his makeup- effects course because no one in Mexico was going to help me do effects for Cronos. I said, ‘I cannot afford an American makeup effects artist. I have to sculpt, paint, design – I have to do everything myself!’”

He was mentored by Smith and Cronos (1993) went on to win nine Ariel Awards from the Mexican Academy of Film, and the International Critics’ Week Prize at Cannes. Following this success, Hollywood beckoned.

The making of his first English language feature, Mimic (1997), a horror scifi starring Mira Sorvino for Miramax/Dimension, influenced his editorial style. “I learned to make my camera more fluid, more a storytelling character,” he said in an interview with The Independent.
“It taught me to edit every day because I was always expecting to be fired. I’ll have a cut of the movie six days after wrap.

I think adversity is good … that is very Catholic of me.” Indeed, his next film was the Spanish language gothic horror The Devil’s Backbone (2001), independently produced by Pedro Almodovar and set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. Del Toro directed and co-wrote the script based on an earlier draft of the story he had written about the Mexican Revolution. He returned to Hollywood for Marvel’s vampire superhero sequel, Blade II, directing Wesley Snipes and followed that by directing and scripting another successful comic-book inspired film, Hellboy (2004), and its sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), starring Ron Perlman with whom del Toro had worked on Cronos and Blade II.

In between he made perhaps his most loved film, Pan’s Labyrinth, a parable which revisits some of the themes of The Devil’s Backbone and interweaves the reality of life under Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco with a mythical world inhabited by a mysterious faun creature with which the main character, Ofelia, forms a bond.

The film won numerous awards, including Academy Awards® for production design, cinematography and make-up and three BAFTAs®. Now an even hotter property, del Toro embarked on an astonishingly prolific workload from which he has not let up. It has seen him produce multiple features and TV series (both live action and animated), author novels and direct big-budget studio pictures, the latter including science-fiction film Pacific Rim (2013) and gothic romance Crimson Peak (2015). As a producer, he worked on the features, The Orphanage (2007), Julia’s Eyes (2010) and Biutiful (2010), for director Alejandro Iñárritu and Pacific Rim Uprising (2018).

With Chuck Hogan, he co-authored The Strain trilogy of vampire horror novels, later adapted into both a graphic novel series and a live-action TV series (2014–17) for which he directed the pilot episode, “Night Zero.”

With DreamWorks Animation he created the Netflix animated trilogy, Tales of Arcadia, which includes the award-winning Trollhunters, the recently-released 3 Below and the upcoming Wizards. The different attributes of episodic and feature formats clearly offer del Toro different opportunities for storytelling but he still believes nothing quite matches cinema’s impact.

“TV is long-arc. It is offering characters, plot and stories,” he explained to The Independent. “Movies can offer vistas, images, moments that are larger than life. I adore TV and I do binge-watch, but with most of the series I love, I can quote you a moment, a line, a character gesture but I cannot quote you a single image that is memorable as an image in the way that the elevator is opening and the blood pouring in the corridor in The Shining or the space baby in 2001.”

The Shape of Water, released in 2017 by Fox Searchlight Pictures, is his most garlanded film to date. The enchanting love story between a mute woman and an amphibious creature  was nominated for 13 Oscars® including for the editing of Sidney Wolinsky, ACE. It won for Best Picture, Director, Production Design and Score, landed del Toro’s first DGA and Golden Globe® awards for best director and picked up three BAFTAs, also including Best Director, and won the Golden Lion at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival.

“For 25 years I have handcrafted very strange little tales made of motion, color, light and shadow,” he said in his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. “In three precise instances, these strange stories, these fables, have saved my life. Once with The Devil’s Backbone, once with Pan’s Labyrinth and now with The Shape of Water, because as directors, these things are not just entries in a filmography. We have made a deal with a particularly inefficient devil that trades three years of our lives for one entry on IMDb. And these things are biography and they are alive.”4 Del Toro has long been attracted to animation as a storytelling form, variously acting as creative producer for TV animated feature Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron (2007); creative consultant on Megamind (2010), executive producer of Puss in Boots (2011), Rise of the Guardians (2012) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) and as producer of The Book of Life (2014), set vividly amid the carnivalesque Mexican Day of the Dead.

Most recently he announced that he will be directing his first animated feature. Pinocchio is a lifelong passion project, which del Toro is also writing and producing as a stop-motion musical for Netflix set in Italy during the 1930s. “No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio,” del Toro said in a released statement. “In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend. I’ve wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember.”

Over his career del Toro has collaborated with editors including Bernat Vilaplana (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Crimson Peak); Peter Amundsen (Blade II, Hellboy, Pacific Rim with John Gilroy, ACE); and Wolinsky (who worked with the director on The Strain followed by The Shape of Water).