Regarding post-production, editors are one of the most critical players in getting a movie across the finish line. They take the hours and hours of footage shot and piece it together to make it all work.
This incredibly lengthy process can take months to finish, even with the director guiding the process. There are assembly cuts for getting everything in the editing system, rough cuts to get a sense of flow, first cuts to see how everything is looking with finished effects, and the final cut that becomes the last stage in pushing the film out into theaters. It’s an incredibly time-consuming job and one of the most seamless parts of the process, depending on the quality of the picture. With this in mind, here are some noteworthy editors worth highlighting:
Fans of Steven Spielberg should be familiar with the acclaimed director’s returning editor Michael Kahn. He got his start as an editor on several crime and blaxploitation films, ranging from George C. Scott’s “Rage” to Jonathan Kaplan’s “Truck Turner”. Michael’s career took off when he first worked with Spielberg on his 1977 sci-fi film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. His editing work on that iconic film earned him nominations from the Academy Awards and BAFTA. Since then, he has worked with Spielberg on “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, “Jurassic Park”, and “Schindler’s List”. His work on Raiders and “Schindler’s List” would win him Oscars. Kahn’s editing work continues with Spielberg’s most recent films of “The Post”, “West Side Story”, and “The Fabelmans”.
Lee Smith is an Australian who originally started as a sound editor before becoming a film editor. His career began working with sound on “Little Boy Lost” and “The Chain Reaction” productions. In 1981, he worked as an editing assistant on the comedy film “Puberty Blues”. For 1982’s “The Year of Living Dangerously”, he was an associate editor. By 1986, he had become a primary editor working on the cult hit “Dead End Drive-In”.
In the years that followed, he dabbled in film and sound editing. His editing skills became highly noted when he worked on 1998’s “The Truman Show”, directed by Peter Weir, earning him awards nominations for the first time. Since then, Smith has continued working with Weir but also with more high-profile directors like Christopher Nolan (editing all entries of his Batman trilogy), Matthew Vaughn (“X-Men: First Class”), and Sam Mendes (“Spectre”, “1917”, “Empire of Light”). His work continues to be nominated for many awards with each film he edits.
Joe Walker started editing for television in the 1990s but soon moved into movies in the 2000s. He began editing several small but sleeper films like Giacomo Campiotti’s “Never Again as Before” and Steve McQueen’s “Hunger”. In addition to working consistently with Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and once with Michael Mann (“Blackhat”), Walker became the go-to editor for Denis Villeneuve. Starting in 2015, Walker has been the editor of the acclaimed director’s most riveting works, including “Sicario”, “Arrival”, “Blade Runner 2049”, and “Dune”, which won him an Oscar. Walker is additionally editing the second part of Villeneuve’s “Dune” adaptation, which is sure to become a top contender for Best Editing at awards ceremonies.
In addition to Walker, another notable name when it comes to the works of Denis Villeneuve. He worked his way up from being an editor on various short films, TV movies, and direct-to-video productions. Later, he worked in the editing department on bigger productions like “A Good Day To Die Hard” (2013). He would then become involved with Villeneuve’s editorial department as a technical manager working on “Blade Runner 2049″ (2017) and “Dune” (2021). In addition to his continuous work on television, László is also branching out as a director on the TV series “Erlebnis Erde” and “Terra Mater”.