1st Qtr, 2019
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.”
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).
1st Qtr, 2019
John Ottman, ACE, who edited Bohemian Rhapsody; and Yorgos Mavropsaridis, ACE, who cut period comedy The Favourite, won Eddie Awards for best edited feature, drama and comedy, respectively, at the 69th ACE Eddie Awards.
During the gala, visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro received the Golden Eddie; Craig McKay, ACE, and Jerrold L. Ludwig, ACE, earned Career Achievement Awards; and Eddies were handed out to editors of 11 feature, documentary and series categories.
More than 1000 guests attended the black-tie ceremony, held Feb. 1 at The Beverly Hilton hotel, with ACE President Stephen Rivkin, ACE, presiding over the festivities and comedian Tom Kenny serving as the host.
Del Toro’s award was presented to him by friend and collaborator Octavia Spencer, who co-starred in the director’s best picture Oscar®-winning film, The Shape of Water.
“This is a profession that I tried myself when I was an amateur filmmaker making Super 8 and 16mm films,” del Toro said of his early editing career. “It’s not just the craft and the technique that I recognize, it’s the partnership that I value. It’s the most intimate and most vulnerable time of filming.”
Del Toro has a prolific track record producing, writing and directing for film and TV including Cronos, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone and is currently embarked on his first directorial feature animation, Pinocchio, for Netflix.
He continued, “What makes editing unique is that I work with the actors, then I block it with the cinematography but I am very, very careful not to tell the editor how to cut it or what I am thinking because you learn that when two people agree in a room then one of them is not needed. An editor listens to the movie and that is what I most value.”
McKay, whose credits include The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, thanked his grandmother for first taking him to the cinema when he was 6 years old. “It was a black-and-white film that then exploded into glorious Technicolor. It blew me away and my course was set on the road to making movies.” He added, “To receive this honor from all of you is an enormous thrill.”
Ludwig’s distinguished career editing TV movies saw him win two Eddies and a further eight nominations plus several Emmys® for work including An Early Frost and The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank. While he was unable to attend the awards, he said in a statement, “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.”
Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, edited by Ottman, won Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic). “This was a very inspiring film and a labor of love in trying circumstances,” Ottman said, making the audience laugh by adding, “It’s always great when you get the first dailies in and you realize no one has been miscast … because you don’t have to polish that turd for a year.” Royal period film The Favourite, edited by Yorgos Mavropsaridis, ACE, landed Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy). Mavropsaridis thanked director Yorgos Lanthimos “for taking me along on his journey.” He added, “It is a great honor for me, a Greek, to receive this award thanks from ACE.” Oscar nominees were out in force at the ceremony including Spencer, Spike Lee, Bradley Cooper and Alfonso Cuaron.
The Roma director, who was also an ACE Eddie Award nominee for the film, said on the red carpet, “I always enjoy partnering with someone in the edit because, for me, it would otherwise be a very lonely experience. In this case with Adam Gough who is an amazing editor and the partnership we have enriches the whole process.” Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, edited by Robert Fisher Jr., won Best Edited Animated Feature Film; and Free Solo, edited by Bob Eisenhardt, ACE, for Best Edited Documentary (Feature).
Television winners of the night included Atlanta, “Teddy Perkins,” edited by Kyle Reiter, for Best Edited Comedy Series for Commercial Television; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, “Simone,” edited by Kate Sanford, ACE, for Best Edited Comedy Series for Non-Commercial Television; Killing Eve, “Nice Face,” edited by Gary Dollner, ACE, for Best Edited Drama Series for Commercial Television; and Bodyguard, “Episode 1,” edited by Steve Singleton, for Best Edited Drama Series for Non-Commercial Television.
Hunter Gross, ACE, used the occasion to speak to the loss of Anthony Bourdain, whose eponymous show, Parts Unknown, “West Virginia,” won Best Edited Non-Scripted Series for Gross.
“This year is special because of the passing of my dear leader, Anthony. He talked a lot about telling people to get out and explore the world and I was lucky to have had an opportunity to follow him on travels where the message was always about building bridges not walls.”
ACE Eddies were awarded to Malcolm Jamieson and Geoffrey Richman, ACE, in the Best Edited Miniseries category for Escape at Dannemora, “Episode Seven,” and to Greg Finton, ACE, and Poppy Das, ACE, for Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind in Best Edited Documentary (Non-Theatrical).
The latter award was presented by director Spike Lee who said, “Any documentary can show us something real but not any doc can show us what is true.”
Emma Hickox, ACE, presented the Anne V. Coates Student Editing Award to Marco Gonzalez of Boston University, one of hundreds of competitors from film schools and universities around the country. This honor was renamed this year in honor of legendary editor Coates, who was Hickox’s mother, who passed away this past year.
Actress Jenifer Lewis (Black-ish) presented and said, “I never get a chance to say anything to a room full of [editors] but I want to say that you may think we don’t see you, but I am honored to be here now and say to you all that we know how hard you guys work.”
Jon Chu, director of Crazy Rich Asians, called the audience “the mad architects of Hollywood” and director Peter Farrelly (Green Book) said, “The editor is the director’s best friend. Not just because we spend the most time together on a movie but because when we have something good going you make our dream come true and when it is less good you save our asses.”