Why The Rehearsal’s Editing Is So Important to the Final Product
Speaker 1: This Ad Free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership.
Speaker 2: What I love about editing is that you get to dip into different people’s voices as an editor and kind of help them craft their vision. You know, if you wanted to be your own creative voice, you’d have to be a director like you shouldn’t be an editor, I think.
Speaker 3: Welcome back to Working. I’m your host, Isaac Butler.
Speaker 4: And I’m your other host, Karen Hahn.
Speaker 3: Hey, Karen, it’s been a minute. How are things going out there in L.A.?
Speaker 4: I know it’s been a while since we recorded together, but things are going all right, you know, normal L.A. stuff.
Speaker 3: Oh, yeah? Yeah. Are you aligning your chakras and finding a guru?
Speaker 4: Yeah, I’m getting really into crystals.
Speaker 3: Amazing. So whose voice was that we heard at the top of the show?
Speaker 4: So that was Stacey Moon, an incredible editor who most recently worked on the Nathan Fielder show, the rehearsal and the film Hunt for Jesus, Save Your Soul.
Speaker 3: It’s been a while since we’ve had an editor as our guest on the show. I think. So what what interested you in speaking to her particularly?
Speaker 4: Well, I’m just a huge fan of her work. She’s also worked on shows like I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, which is one of my favorite things to come out of Netflix ever. She’s also worked on Portlandia. She worked on the chair, Moonbase eight, and the list just goes on and on and on.
Speaker 3: Right. And you actually talk a little bit about I think you should leave in the episode and talk about probably the show’s most famous sketch, the hot dog man sketch case. Our listeners don’t know who Hot Dog Man is or what that sketches. Could you just explain it for them?
Speaker 4: Yeah. So you’ve probably I’m going to guess that even if you haven’t seen the show, you’ve seen the meme which features Tim Robinson dressed in a hot dog costume and being like, We’re all trying to find the guy that did it. And the context is that he’s just crashed a hot dog shaped car into a shop and is trying to deny culpability despite being dressed like this.
Speaker 3: Amazing. And are there any slate plus goodies this week?
Speaker 4: Yeah. So Stacey and I talk about the fact that she actually designed the little intertitles for I think you should leave, as well as the value of having kind of a bigger skill set than you might necessarily think you need for your job as well as like a bigger breadth of experience.
Speaker 3: Well, that sounds great. And if you’re a Slate Plus subscriber, that bonus segment will be waiting for you at the end of this week’s episode. Now. Let’s listen in to Karen’s conversation with editor Stacey Moon.
Speaker 4: Hi, Stacey. Thank you so, so much for coming on working.
Speaker 2: Thanks so much for having me.
Speaker 4: There are a couple of things that you’ve worked on that I think are very in the discourse right now. The first one being you worked on the show, the Nathan Fielder show, the rehearsal, and then you also worked on the film Honk Refuse to save your soul. And I wanted to start talking about the rehearsal, which for anyone who hasn’t been watching the show, the premise of the show is like Nathan Fielder sets up these environments in which people can rehearse upcoming moments in their life. And you worked on one of the episodes called Apocalypto. And I wanted to ask, working on a show like this seems like kind of a unique challenge because it’s almost more like a reality show or a documentary in some sense. How does editing an episode start? Like where in the process do you come in and what kind of discussion do you have jumping into it?
Speaker 2: Yeah, it’s like an unscripted show where they just have hours and hours and hours of footage. I will say, and you can sort of tell in the way the show is constructed, that the producers, the writers, Eric Noter, Nicola and Kari Kemper and Nathan, they take great care to react in real time to like what’s happening in the people they cast and seeing, like what kind of things they might draw out of, like the real, very real people that they cast. And so they’re kind of rewriting the story and the situations as things are happening.
Speaker 2: And so, yeah, and by the time they’ve shot some of these scenes, we do get like outlines of stuff as like our quote unquote scripts that say, well, these are sort of like the bits of our story that we want to try out in the first edit. And so we’ll just kind of go off that. But also, you know, as an editor, you just kind of have to watch everything. You know, whenever Nathan standing there with a person could be like an hour of footage and you just kind of have to take good notes. And if anything else happens, that’s interesting that they didn’t anticipate, which is like most of the show, you kind of like try to craft a different version of what they were, you know, from what they were thinking to be like.
Speaker 2: Well, you know, I know this scene was supposed to be about this, but, you know, this is more interesting or maybe this is like the thing we want to latch on to. And the first cut is very a little more difficult, I would say, than like most shows, because you’re not going off of a script where you’re like, well, this happens, this happens, this happens, and you can sort of craft around that. And it’s in scripted editing. It’s more about how do you best express a scene that you already sort of have an idea of what’s happening to these characters? Whereas with Nathan Show, it’s like, Well, what’s the most interesting idea or theme? Or like what’s the weirdest thing that is happening with this real person? That’s like a fascinating, like very human moment or character trait. And we kind of like, that’s the starting point.
Speaker 4: Yeah. So I have a, I guess, a two part question following up on that. The first is how much footage did you actually have to go through for your episode? And the second part being, it almost sounds like in that sense you have a little more freedom over crafting the episode because if you as an editor spot something that you think would really change a scene, it’s kind of up to you to be able to massage the narrative into a sort of different shape than the outline might necessarily suggest. Is that right?
Speaker 2: Yeah. You know, like this, the show really taught me to think more like in terms of writing, it really felt like writing more so than like a lot of shows where you kind of have to think really, really hard about how it connects to the entire scope of the episode, the show and everything that, you know, I did episode five. So there are four episodes prior to this and and sort of like letting that kind of play into, you know, the scenes that I have in my episode. It’s like, oh, well, you know, he did something like the last episode that might be interesting to see play out here in a certain way, etc.. Mm hmm. How much footage we had to go through?
Speaker 2: We went through a lot of footage. I mean, in the house, it was like 24, seven robot cams. 16 angles. Wow. And our assistant editors were so, so helpful in that endeavor of just like we had to organize a lot of that into like. Kind of like character beats or story beats almost where it’s like, okay, it’s 24 hours, 7 hours and hours of footage. I don’t I don’t think they ran the cameras at night when they’re sleeping, obviously. So not like fully that. But like whenever people were doing stuff in the house, it’s like, okay, well, we need to categorize like beats that would be helpful to our story is like, okay, where are moments with Nathan in July? Like having a conversation or like where moments where that might be interesting that that are like moments of tension between the two and those are things that we would categorize separately into like different sequences.
Speaker 4: Yeah. And I was curious how much, if at all, you talk to the editors of the other episodes and how I guess divided the work is or how involved you are in other episodes and kind of mapping out what has to be a coherent arc over the course of the season, even though it’s different people working on each one.
Speaker 2: Yeah, definitely. Where we’re talking to each other for sure about like the series as a whole. And this show, it was fairly easy to have like one editor do like different episodes and keep it kind of isolated in that way instead of having multiple editors, like, jump into each episode. Mm hmm. And our process was that we would assemble an editors cut. It’s called the first cut and, you know, show it to Nathan. And Nathan would come in work on the episode with each editor, and then we’d screen the episodes with everyone, the other two editors, and Eric Nodar Dakolo, who is one of the writing producers who is here in the edit with us. And then we would all discuss the episode and like give feedback as much as we can about what we think is working.
Speaker 2: What’s feeling weird? What’s feeling, oh, that feels kind of like disingenuous or fake maybe. Or like, maybe this feels too engineered or something. Like, we did have that problem sometimes where people would say real things and we would think, well, that’s like that feels like not a real person would say that. And it’d be like, no, it’s, that’s actually what they said. And we fight very hard in the edit to like make sure everything had that authenticity I guess. And then usually, you know, Nathan being is like smart and like astute as he is about everything.
Speaker 2: Yeah. He would be able to kind of keep track in his head, like the bigger picture, details of what works in each episode. And I think he was kind of like the linchpin of like seeing that the whole vision of it, like worked all together and he’d be kind of like the guiding light of like when we’re just kind of in the weeds of the footage, you know, going, is this moment interesting? Does this, like, bit of the conversation have anything to do with anything? And I think, like Nathan and Eric were really good about being able to say yes or no to things that we would like find and come up with. Yeah.
Speaker 4: Speaking of like being able to give feedback of an episode, I’m curious what your philosophy is towards editing in that sense, or like your sense of ownership towards editing. Because for my book on Bong Joon Ho, I talked to his editor, Young Jin Mo, about working with him, and a lot of what he was saying was sort of like making sure that what he does ultimately serves that director’s vision. And I wonder how much of a push and pull there is there for you in terms of on paper, yeah, that is kind of the role like you are crafting a story to fit what the director thinks, but at the same time it is still a creative field. You are still giving input on this if that makes sense. Like it’s still something that you have some responsibility or shepherding for?
Speaker 2: Yeah, I think what I love about editing is that you get to dip into different people’s voices as an editor and kind of help them, you know, craft their vision and like bring that to fruition in the way that they see the world. And I think Yung Mo is totally on the spot that, you know, as an editor, you’re always serving the vision of the director that’s of, you know, if you wanted to be a your own creative voice, you’d have to be a director like you shouldn’t be an editor.
Speaker 2: I think like that said, you know, obviously I take a lot of ownership and pride in my work and bringing able to bring ideas that kind of fit within the language and the vision and the vernacular that the director has and wants. And that said, I think my relationship with the director is totally different depending on who it is.
Speaker 2: It’s like you kind of have to, you know, listen very carefully and very hard, especially if it’s a new relationship and try to see. Where you guys fit into each other is working partners and see kind of what works best to get the best thing for the film or the or the show. And you kind of have to like bring some amount of humility, I think, to be able to do that well. And, you know, and it’s something I’m developing still as like someone who’s only been editing for, you know, less than a decade or whatever.
Speaker 4: And that’s still a long time. You can’t say only with that.
Speaker 2: I’m very I’m very lucky. I’m very lucky in the in the short amount of time to have worked with so many different people and get like a taste of everyone’s different sensibilities. And I think I learned a lot from that because even in comedy, it’s like no two person has the same sense of humor. And the thing the way you put together the joke for the last person might be completely not the right way for the next person you work with. So you kind of learn to adapt to that. I think for instance, with Tim Robinson on I think you should leave.
Speaker 2: Yeah, that was so fun for me because it was a first season show and when we did the first season it was like, you know, they were still developing their sensibility as like filmmakers. I think specifically. Obviously they have a very deep and intuitive understanding of their comedy, and I think translating that to sketch comedy was like, so fun for me to like have a bigger hand. And, you know, that’s a sketch comedy show where the editors picks the music, the editor’s like, really?
Speaker 2: Yeah. And so, you know, oftentimes in like sketch comedy because it’s like a tighter budget, they usually don’t have like a composer. And oftentimes it’s it only makes sense, though, that the editors choose the music and sketch comedy because so much of it is musical and, like, has to do with like the timing and the whatever genre they’re spoofing. Sometimes they’re like, it all goes together with the editing. So I actually very much enjoy like picking the music and stuff for Yeah, stuff.
Speaker 4: I’m curious since you mentioned like being able to sort of be in the process of like figure out what the tone or voice of I think you should leave was like. Is there a particular sketch that stands out in your mind as like one where you’re like, Oh, this kind of cracked it? Or like this one I can remember like sort of figuring out what it’s supposed to look like.
Speaker 2: I mean, the hotdog one is like.
Speaker 5: Yeah, someone drove a hotdog shaped car through the window, drivers gone. Somebody call the cops. We need to find that driver. They could have killed someone. Whose car is this? Yeah. Come on. Whoever did this just confess. We promise we won’t be mad. What? Well, close our eyes. Just take your car and get out of here, sir. That’s clearly your car. Wrong.
Speaker 2: In some ways, the setup of it is very classic. Like something you might see on SNL. The way it’s set up and stuff. But I think it kind of like really goes off the rails in terms of, you know, these sketches were written to be very long and part sometimes part of the joke is how long it is. And so we spent a lot of time going back and forth about like, well, how long should it be? Without it becoming like the most absolute annoying thing in the world versus how long can we be or like repeat a certain Fraser a joke or come back to a thing and have that be funny. How many times he says something. Yeah. And I think the hot sketch was great in that he has this like extremely long monologue at the end that while he’s like stealing suits from the shop.
Speaker 5: We’ve been sitting here talking all day, and you all never bothered to learn my name. We’re so buried in our phones. Instead of giving someone a real smile, we send an emoji.
Speaker 2: And I think the music choice, too, was something that really clicked in to, you know, a very common moment you see in that show where the character that’s being bad has like some heartfelt speech for some whatever, God awful reason. Yeah. And you always have to, like, score that with, like, the most sincere, heartfelt, like, piano music. And it’s, for whatever reason, it happens to work.
Speaker 4: Yeah.
Speaker 3: We’ll be back with more of Karen’s conversation with Stacey Moon after this.
Speaker 3: Hey, listeners, just got two quick things I want to talk to you about. The first is that if you’re enjoying the show and haven’t subscribed yet, why don’t you go ahead and hit the subscribe button so that you will never miss an episode? And if you like the show and you’ve already subscribed, maybe leave us a good review wherever you get your podcasts. Also, we would really love to hear from you whether there’s a kind of guest you want us to talk about or a question that you have about creativity, a problem you’re facing, something really awesome you’ve done that you want to brag about any anything like that. We’d love to hear it. You can email us at working at Slate.com or call us and leave a voicemail at 304933w.
Speaker 3: O. R. K. All right. Let’s return to Karen’s conversation with Stacey Moon.
Speaker 4: Another thing I want to talk about editing is obviously it’s so, so crucial to, I guess, both of these shows that we’ve been talking about, the rehearsal and I think you should leave because the edit sells so much of, I guess the awkwardness of these shows and the awkwardness of what’s supposed to be funny. How would you say like or are there any other examples, I guess, of like moments that you think really came together in the edit or things in general that you think of that helps? So these kind of comedic moments.
Speaker 2: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting because I think on Tim’s show is very different from how the awkwardness lands in Nathan show, in Tim’s show, because it’s like a scripted sketch comedy. A lot of it is like usually you can rely on leaning into the timing that Tim gives you for his cadence and the way he’s acting. Oftentimes, you know, he’s playing against everyone else and you can really rely on him to bring the awkwardness.
Speaker 2: That said, I think sometimes as editors in the footage, you find moments where you’re like, Oh, well, maybe it’s like this moment held between them longer, or like we stretch out this moment a little bit more between them. And that’s like that comes completely from intuition and your sense of humor that can’t be taught, I think.
Speaker 2: But you kind of like are as you do it, more identifying moments where like, well, let’s stretch to this beat out of what he just said, like a little bit longer. Have like a moment of silence, loop the dead air a little bit, go around the table and see how everyone’s reacting. Like a classic moment of that is probably the hot dog sketch again of where Tim camera pans over. You see Tim in the costume for the first time and then everyone’s just staring at him for like the longest moment. And, you know, that’s something that, you know, maybe it played out a little bit quicker and more naturally, like in real time. But you do want to like go around and see everyone’s faces.
Speaker 2: That’s a classic example of a comedy beat, I guess, that you make in the edit where like in Nathan’s the rehearsal, you know, he stresses a lot on just letting things play the way they were shot. And I think part of that is that we don’t want it to seem edited. That’s very important to selling. The reality of things is like it has to be in real time. So he often hates when we edit the piece within a scene to fit something it’s almost never done except to like, you know, unless we’re really like aching for a shorter runtime or something, we almost don’t do it and try to hide it as much as possible.
Speaker 2: For instance, the conversation between Nathan and Angela at the dinner table where she brings up Apocalypto. Yeah, that was pretty much in real time. Like, I can’t say that I did too much to the pacing of that conversation as an editor to to net the awkwardness of that conversation. It literally was I could not believe I fell out of my chair when she first said that.
Speaker 5: What’s your favorite movie?
Speaker 1: I love the movie Apocalypto. Have you seen it? Yeah. I think Mel Gibson makes really good movies. Oh, yeah. It’s a classic. Yeah, he’s one of my favorite directors. Right. Right. I like his camera technique where he floats. He’s a little thing you just said, like. Bad stuff about Jews and.
Speaker 2: And it just like was like, well, we have to keep that even though like, yeah, he, he really was just trying to change the conversation. That’s not like a moment he’s scripted or anything like. Yeah. So in that example and like a lot of examples in the rehearsal, it’s like we don’t try to like stitch together line by line, like conversations that are weird. It’s just like we find the moments that are weird. They’ve been so good about crafting these moments in real time as a person on camera to like, push your conversation in certain ways and nudge it in directions and you kind of like lean more into that, I think, on that show.
Speaker 2: So yeah, it was interesting because I learned that from like talking to Nathan at the beginning of the process, he was like, Don’t you know, he hates cutting between two camera angles where like, oh, it was like a wider shot before. Why are we suddenly tight on this? Yeah, when we come back to him, it’s like we should have, like, either seen it zoom in or, like, you know, we don’t want to feel that time jump where it’s like, oh, this was obviously like a jump in time. And those were like some of the more like technical rules that we talked about more in terms of like preserving the realness being as important as like awkward moments.
Speaker 4: The apocalyptic thing again, like insane like the ending with like all of these things are still so, like, shocking to me.
Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah. It’s been like a month, you know, that’s said like sometimes it in the editing we obviously like have to, you know, craft a story so we’re not like just leaning into every genuine moment, otherwise it’d be super boring, you know? So, like, there are times where we’ll just like insert ourselves. And I think you see that, like if you go back and watch it, you see where we, we’ve like stitch something together or like and I think the, the show is very open about this, as you should suspect, any time there’s video like such an unreliable narrator, like, yeah, you should like pick out those spots where he’s, you know, telling the story of what happened and then it cuts to something happening, you know? Yeah. Those are always like suspect. Yeah. And hopefully we, you know, like we tried to do it in a way where it’s like convincing enough like that. It’s within the tropes of reality television or like a documentary where, you know, you just kind of take for granted what the video is saying and is telling you as truth.
Speaker 2: Yes. And so, you know, I think we utilize that a lot in that show of like selling an idea or selling that something is happening when it’s not or something is happening when or someone feels a certain way when, you know, maybe they’re not or maybe, you know, you don’t know. Yeah, for real. Like the full context of things. And I think obviously the show’s a commentary on that in a big way.
Speaker 4: So let’s talk about the movie you just worked on, Honk for Jesus Save Your Soul. Can you talk about the difference between editing a movie and editing a TV show?
Speaker 2: Yeah, I think I because I was from TV, I definitely had a little bit of an insecurity going into like this big film and I kind of. Tried a lot of different stuff before I would show it to them and kind of kept my mind open, though. And, you know, part of what’s exciting about, like a film is that it’s not beholden to commercial interests as much. I mean, it still is, obviously, when you have to make the money back in a big way.
Speaker 2: Yeah, but it’s a little more looser where you don’t have a network breathing down your neck about stuff. And it’s not as like a controlled environment where it went through so many different like hands and drafts and like greenlighting processes to get there. And you kind of want to like the best thing to do for the film is to trust the director and trust the vision of it and know that it’s not beholden to any other language other than what the director feels and wants to develop.
Speaker 2: And Adamas, you know, she was like a first time feature director. She’s directed shorts before, and so it was a really fun process to kind of like figure out the things that worked for her and her sensibility as like a filmmaker of like, well, how long do we want to, like, stay on this line? Or like, how long do we want to hold on this person? And like, what does that mean for like the bigger picture of the film? So, yeah, the process is different. Yeah, for sure.
Speaker 4: And you also worked with another editor, Allie Greer, on that film. What is the collaborative editing process like? Yeah.
Speaker 2: So that was a unique situation where she started out the editor on it, and I came on board because her schedule kind of, yeah, with COVID and stuff. Like I think her schedule got kind of like jumbled. So I ended up just taking over the film. So it was a little less of like a collaborative thing. But you know, what we would do was like send her cuts of the film as we kind of like made it and got her input on it because she has such a great eye for things and she’s just one of those people who could watch something once and like have a million thoughts about like every thing and be like and you’d be like, how did you even catch that?
Speaker 2: And, you know, she just won an Emmy, by the way, for Barry. Oh, wow. It’s amazing. But yeah, so that process was collaborative in that we, we wanted to keep her in the loop and, like, hover in the conversation because we valued her opinion and voice in the room. So we would send her cuts every now and then to be like, Well, what do you think of how we rearrange this? And she had some great ideas about like rearranging scenes and stuff.
Speaker 4: So yeah, yeah. I also think editing is such a funny craft because I feel like when it’s done really, really well, you don’t really think about it. But then when it’s done badly, like I think about that clip of like it’s like taken to or something where Liam Neeson Try a jumper. Yeah, I’ve seen the film.
Speaker 2: It’s amazing. Really. Yeah. I mean, I very much stand by the philosophy that like if you’re doing a good job as an editor, you’re not drawing attention to yourself, you’re drawing the audience into the characters in the story. And you know, the moment you start doing something fancy with an edit that feels like it’s more about Look how fancy the editing is. That is fraught. I think you have to really think it through and know what what it gives to the film itself. On the flip side of that, if it’s bad editing, it can really be a number of things I think going on and is more so texturally revealing of what’s happening with what the shoot was in a way, you know, kind of like you watch the room and it’s all about the subtext of what the hell happened on that film set, you know?
Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, and yeah, sometimes it can’t be helped as an editor. You just have to own that. You, you committed to something that. Yeah. Where the footage turned out to be a little dicey and you just do your best to get through it. And it’s an unfortunate position where oftentimes the editor is the first person blamed and fired, right?
Speaker 2: Yeah. Yeah. I do think, you know, I, I think on some of the editors I truly, truly admire and think well of and I’m certain that like some of them have been fired, you know, from the biggest films just because of whatever reason, something not working or, you know, and it’s more often than not out of out of their hands. Right? Right. It’s like they’re getting gave me something that’s, like unworkable to save me.
Speaker 4: Half of the jigsaw puzzle when I do this.
Speaker 2: Exactly at the same time, it’s never, ever a good idea to blame the footage, you know? Yeah, yeah, yeah. In the room. And I think that’s also a good practice is like as an editor, you have to be kind of therapist and soothsayer in the room.
Speaker 4: That’s the tough skill to cultivate.
Speaker 2: Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I think everyone. Has their different approach to that part of the job of just being the the voice in the room that says everything’s going to be okay even when it’s not. Yeah.
Speaker 4: So I think there’s sort of an obvious element too, which is like if you’re working on a group project and something looks bad, like everyone has a little bit of a hand in that, but, and cares if you go a little further into what you mean when you say like when you see a bad edit, it suggests that the problem is kind of bigger than that.
Speaker 2: When you see a bad edit, it means you’re taken out of the story for whatever reason. You’re like, Why are you cutting there? Or like, what? What happened? That you have to cut to all these bad moments or, you know, something sticks out about the moment. It’s it’s a very viewers are very astute, especially nowadays, where it’s like when something doesn’t work, you feel like right away in your gut, even if you don’t know what’s happening, that’s like making you feel that way. And at the essence of it, it’s because the character or the story is being compromised because of the filmmaking being bad for whatever reason.
Speaker 2: And for instance, it could be bad acting like why? Why is like the acting so weird in this moment? Or like it could be? Why did they cut the action this way? Like, why? Why are we cutting to this super wide angle when it doesn’t make sense to do that? It’s because, like filmmaking, balance is so many different things going on at once. And so when a movie is good, it’s actually a true miracle. Like, it’s a real miracle when anything’s actually good.
Speaker 2: Yeah. And I think that’s what’s happening when you see a bad edit is that something went wrong, either one shot or a couple of shots or that whole day of shooting something went wrong. That or like the entire production that, you know, maybe like the actor who was supposed to be there didn’t show up. And so they just grabbed an extra to like do this line and now it’s bad. Or like the star was in a really bad mood for whatever reason, so they just didn’t give their best performance or they just didn’t know the lines.
Speaker 2: So they’re just repeating the same lines, but doing the wrong movement as they’re doing the lines or like the continuity is weird. Like someone showed me a clip of some TV show where two characters are having a conversation and the guy on the bed is sitting down and he keeps picking up his left shoe and putting it on the shoe across different lines. Like, that’s amazing to me where the continuity of the action is like crazy. And you could say that’s a bad edit, but it’s really like a lot of other things that are bad with the edit to make it that way.
Speaker 2: Yeah. All sorts of reasons why there’s bad at it, I think. Yeah. And I think for the most part it’s thought through and decided by the powers that be that this is the only way. Yeah. Before anyone puts anything out. So, yeah, I have a lot of sympathy. Yeah.
Speaker 4: This has been so, so wonderful. Thank you so, so much again for coming on our show.
Speaker 2: Yeah, thanks for having me, Karen. This is, like, so awesome and I love your writing. I’m such a fan of you. Oh, thank you.
Speaker 3: Karen. That was such a fun conversation.
Speaker 4: I was so cool.
Speaker 3: She’s so cool. You’re just like, that’s a cool person. You can just tell the second she starts talking like you’re cool. I particularly loved that Stacy highlights. The collaboration often happens within hierarchies. Like we always talk about it like it’s between equals. But actually in most of our workplaces, that’s not true. Collaboration is happening in a hierarchy, even if we don’t want to admit it. And actually being clear about that hierarchy can really sometimes foster collaboration. You know, that’s not the same thing as you always do, what your boss tells you to do. But just knowing who the boss is and who’s responsible for what can really actually make collaboration easier.
Speaker 4: Yeah, I feel like we’ve sort of talked about this idea on the show before, but this conversation, I think, is maybe the most kind of crystallized or clear version of that, where it’s really like any other group project setting where you have to learn to be mindful of other people’s feelings and how to express your opinions without coming off as pushy or otherwise mean, and also sort of know what your role in the bigger machine is. It’s sort of like thinking about an assembly line, like everyone has a different responsibility to the final product and you’re not necessarily going to have a say in every single one or what the overall product is, maybe to the degree that you’d want, but you sort of have to reckon with that yourself.
Speaker 3: Yeah, totally. And you know, sometimes it’s uncomfortable, right? Sometimes you’re lower on that hierarchy. I mean, I’ve talked to people who, you know, work with editors and often you’re leaning on the editor to tell you the truth about something that’s not working, which is an uncomfortable thing.
Speaker 4: It’s really hard to do that.
Speaker 3: Yeah, this thing you’re telling me to do is a bad idea, and I’m going to ask why. That’s. That’s like, a hard thing to do, you know? And part of that’s because, you know, something that happens every time I have a conversation with anyone about it. Editing is writing, it is directing. It is staging. Even though you’re manipulating the end results of those things, like the way she talked about looping the silence in the hot dog man sketch. Right? Those pauses in the sketch are much longer than they were on the actual set, but they do that to make it more awkward, you know? And that’s the complete opposite of the rehearsal, where Nathan Fielder wants it to feel as real as possible, as unmediated as possible. I’m just not sure what other professions except. Except maybe Cameron listening in on this and editing later. Like I’m not sure what other professions really do that or where that’s true. It seems almost unique to me.
Speaker 4: Yeah.
Speaker 3: She also really highlighted this thing that I’ve thought about quite a bit over the years, and I don’t know if you have to, so I just want to, you know, sometimes in nonfiction, something is such a wild coincidence. Or maybe actually the way you’ve captured it is so well crafted that people start to think it’s not true. Right? Like think about how many times that interview she had to say the people in the rehearsal were real people. That wasn’t scripted because the show is so well crafted and so much about what is true and what is not true that you begin to wonder, like, are all these people plants? You know? And I was just wondering if you’ve ever confronted that. And, you know, maybe like in telling the stories of Bong Joon Ho’s career or whatever, is there your version of anti-Semite Angela turning out to have Mel Gibson as her favorite filmmaker?
Speaker 4: Yeah, that moment was so crazy. And I understand, like, why she feels a need to keep saying that, because that was so much of the conversation around the show where people started to be like, there’s no way that this is unscripted. There’s no way that this isn’t manufactured in some way. And it is, of course, manufactured a little bit, but not in the way that some of the, I guess, quote unquote, nonbelievers. Yeah.
Speaker 3: That’s true. There’s rehearsal truth or.
Speaker 4: Yeah, that said, I don’t think I’ve ever really had to deal with that yet, luckily, because I don’t know what I would do in those circumstances. Like a moment. If a moment like that is so perfect, then you don’t want to take it out, you know?
Speaker 3: Yeah, it’s hard. It’s like you have to decide, like, is this gleaming crystal swan going to destroy the everything else, like built around or something? I don’t know. But you.
Speaker 4: Know, it’s so funny, like especially a lot of the things that have happened with the previous presidential administration and it’s fall out like everyone’s been like this is so on the nose. If I were writing a movie, I would never do this. And it’s like it’s real life. Like it happens like this.
Speaker 3: Real life is often on the nose. I mean, did you ever do storytelling events? Like, did you ever do a thing where you got in front of a mike and told the true story of your life to like a crowd of people at a bar?
Speaker 4: Well, I did ask that.
Speaker 5: Yeah, yeah.
Speaker 2: Okay.
Speaker 3: Yeah, but not yeah. So I used to do there was a short lived period of time when I got my MFA and I was like, I’m going to be a storyteller. That’s what I’m going to do. And what I learned was that I worked so hard on crafting the writing of the story that I was going to deliver, that people didn’t believe that they were authentic or true or real. And I actually went on a storytelling show where the gimmick is that one of the people is lying in their story. And my story was 100% true. And everyone thought it was like, wow. And a friend of mine who’s quite good at that kind of stuff was. In the audience that night. And he said, Yeah, you fucked up because you prepared too much. He’s like, When I do these events, I pretend to stumble over my words and I actually like work in fake roughness because people need that.
Speaker 2: So that’s.
Speaker 3: True. And it just blew my mind, really, like I understood nonfiction on a new level after bombing at that event.
Speaker 3: And speaking of bombing, I loved your conversation about bad edits. And it immediately made me go look up my favorite bad edit, which is that scene where Aidan Gillen enters Bohemian Rhapsody as John Read. Do you know the one I’m talking about? Yeah, circulating on Twitter. And it’s a scene where you see.
Speaker 4: Like, legendary example of that editing.
Speaker 3: Yeah. So, like the two scenes that I think people leap to immediately with bad editing or that one and the basketball scene from Catwoman. But if you haven’t seen the Bohemian Rhapsody one, it’s just Aidan Gillen enters and he sits down at a table and he starts talking. But every time anyone does anything, it cuts to a reaction shot of every single other person in the scene. And while I was Googling it because I wanted to joke to you about it, I found an interview where someone asked the editor about it.
Speaker 1: Hmm.
Speaker 3: Like a video podcast where you ask the editor about it. And the second they mentioned it, he was furious. Like, you could.
Speaker 5: See.
Speaker 3: How angry he was. And what he said was there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Right. They were trying to change the pacing of Act One of the movie. It was all very last minute and he just didn’t have enough time to go back through that one scene and fix it. And he knows it’s not good, you know, but the rest of the movie is he won an Oscar for his product, you know, blah, blah, blah. And it just it really drove home that thing that Stacey was saying that like when you see a bad edit, it is often because there’s some other completely different thing that has nothing to do with the editor’s job and they’re just trying to work around it.
Speaker 4: Yeah, it’s like you get hired to do a job and then none of the tools to properly do it.
Speaker 3: Totally. Yeah, I was. I did love your conversation about bad editing and I like, of course, editors are as obsessed with clips, badly edited things as we are.
Speaker 4: But yeah, like once you start working in a field, it’s much harder to, like, disengage with it, I guess. Mm hmm. Like, I remember, like, when I first started doing film criticism, for instance, like, it was a lot harder to turn off that part of my brain that was like thinking about what I would say about it. But on the other hand, like, I sort of knew that a movie was good or that it was doing what it was supposed to when I didn’t have to tell myself to turn it off, when I was just so engaged with it. Like that was when I was like, Oh yeah, it’s really good. I don’t have to worry about it.
Speaker 3: You know, I went to a press screening, a parasite, and I didn’t write down a single note.
Speaker 2: Because I’m.
Speaker 3: So enraptured by it. I was just so enraged. And then as soon as it was over, I wrote down a bunch of stuff, right? Yeah, but, like, I just didn’t want to look away from the screen because actually it’s a lot of it’s in the editing of that movie.
Speaker 4: Yeah. Young Jon, Mozart. Genius. He’s so good.
Speaker 3: Yeah. So I do. You know, one of the reasons why I love that movie so much is that, like, oh, yeah, you totally defeated the critic part of my brain, but I just. I just wanted to watch it. All I wanted was more. I didn’t want anything else.
Speaker 4: Yeah.
Speaker 3: That does bring me to, you know, one of the things she talks about is that editing is really great. You shouldn’t notice it. Right. And I remember the an editor that I interviewed, I think last year said exactly the same thing. And editors I’ve talked to, I mean, sometimes you notice it on purpose. It’s purposely you’re supposed to notice it like, you know, Thelma Schumacher or whatever. But yeah, you know, in Raging Bull, but most of the time, like, yeah, it should be invisible. But then like you’re a critic, you’re writing about movies. Do you try to pay attention to the editing while watching, or is it like when you revisit the film, you might be like, I’m going to think about the editing this time, or like, What is your experience of watching and interfacing with editing in general?
Speaker 4: I think it’s sort of part and parcel with the whole movie again, because there’s so many things and parts that go into a movie. So you don’t want to try to focus on just one thing when you’re watching it, especially from a criticism angle. Unless your essay is literally like about the editing of X movie, that’s it. I tend to agree with the philosophy that good editing is invisible, but of course there are some times where, like you said, like something is so well edited that you do notice or it’s supposed to be kind of before a sequence, so you’re forced to kind of pay attention to it in that respect.
Speaker 4: But otherwise it’s almost like watching someone like Nail putting together a puzzle or Rubik’s Cube, just being so, so good at putting this very, very hard thing together. It’s just really fun and really delightful. And I mean, this sort of repeats what I was saying in my previous answer, but I wouldn’t say editing is the main thing that I pay attention to while watching a movie because there’s so many moving parts, but it’s certainly a key ingredient. And ultimately the experience that you want to have that would quantify a good review is to not think about any of that stuff at all.
Speaker 3: Yeah, totally. Totally.
Speaker 3: Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s show. If you have. Remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and then you will never miss an episode. And yes, one final reminder to join Slate. Plus, if you join, you’ll get ad free podcasts. Extra segments of shows like The Waves and Culture Gabfest, and you’ll never hit a paywall on the Slate site. To learn more, go to Slate.com, Slash Working Plus.
Speaker 4: Special thanks to our guest this week, Stacey Moon, and to the person whose edits make us sound brilliant, camera crews. We’ll be back next week with Isaac’s conversation with Sean to thank the chief artistic officer of Lincoln Center. Until then, get back to work.
Speaker 4: Hello Slate Plus listeners. Here is an extra little segment from my conversation with Stacey Moon. I’d love to ask one more question about I think you should leave because I noticed on IMDB that you’re credited as title designer on one of the episodes. In other words, you helped design the opening sequence and the little transition sequences which are really colorful and interesting. How did that.
Speaker 2: Happen? Yeah. Yeah. So I do design the titles for for the show. I did it for season two. And when they do season three, I guess, I mean, I hope they let me do it. But also I understand if they want to get like a real professional to do it. But yeah, I mean, that was just born out of necessity almost on the first season where, you know, we didn’t really we figured out the format of the show in the edit and that actually took us a while after we like cut the sketches themselves to be like, Well, what do we do? Do we just go back to back from sketches? Or like, what do we want? Like there’s usually in a sketch show, something in between, some kind that breaks up the sketches or they’re like all, you know, like Mr. Show. It’s like you zoom out of a TV screen and you’re in the next sketch and it’s like more of an exquisite corpse type thing.
Speaker 2: But yeah, I don’t know. We just kind of like had I just had like Punch-Drunk Love on On the Brain, honestly. So I thought, you know, it’s kind of cool that they like break up some of the movie with these like color palette things. And I really love that and kind of sorta ripped that for I think you should leave where where we you know, I just came up with some color animations for fun and thought, well, you know, maybe it’s just like as easy and simple. You don’t want to think too hard about it. They, you know, they already knew that they loved kind of, you know, they’re Tim’s from Detroit. He loves like Motown and soul and that kind of music. And it just it’s just really happy.
Speaker 2: And the show should be positive and happy despite, you know, you have these assholes yelling. And so, you know, we put two and two together and thought, well, just let’s just do these little blips that don’t have to mean anything. It’s a palate cleanser to get you into the next thing. Keep it simple. And then based on that, you know, I did a title sequence that kind of like that goes that.
Speaker 4: Did you pick the song as well? Because now whenever I hear Big Flame’s going to break her, I can only think of I think you should.
Speaker 2: I think Tim and Zac pick that, actually. Okay. Okay. Yeah. But yeah, you know, we had a great music supervisor and he he basically just, you know, goddess, like a huge folder of just, like, soul cues that we could afford. You know, it’s always about the affordability game. Yeah. Yeah. So that was, like, really wonderful. And now it’s like, you know, second season, we decided, well, let’s, let’s at least, like, get new color animated things to go in between, you know, so it’s not the exact same stuff, otherwise it’ll feel like season one too much. And so we just decided to update it with like a new thing. So hopefully we’ll just do that for season three as well.
Speaker 4: That’s so cool.
Speaker 4: And I’m curious like how much of that kind of stuff that isn’t strictly editing like you like to do or like if what like if you have like a larger creative ambition. Like obviously you are a wonderful editor and I think you said like you like being an editor. It’s a job that you are passionate about, but like.
Speaker 2: What other stuff do.
Speaker 4: You like to do? Like what other aspirations do you have?
Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, I went to film school. I went to Northwestern, which is not like a conservatory. It’s like more film criticism, but it has production stuff. And that really gave me the freedom to like explore a lot of the different aspects of filmmaking. And, you know, I initially went thinking I’ll be a comedy writer. Like, I really love comedy, I want to do that. And then I got to school and I was like, Well, I want to be a director. Just like everyone who goes to film school thinks, No, they’ll try directing. No shame in that, I think.
Speaker 2: Yeah. At all. And you know, I think, you know, I enjoy learning about so much of every aspect of filmmaking that I think, you know, maybe someday I might, like, return to, like wanting to direct something like small or something like that. But, you know, for now I do feel like editing has been such a joy and so fun to do.
Speaker 2: Part of the reason I learned how to do any other animated color stuff is because I landed at Portlandia as a post P.A. and that is truly a community of editor, like some of the most talented comedy editors. Like if you look up the IMDB of every person who worked on Portlandia, it’s insane. Like what they had gone on to do as editors and directors, and that’s where they were really learning environment, where they were like, Hey, you know, we were a pretty small show, you know, as opposed to can you like learn after effects and can you do you want to learn this stuff? And I was like, Yeah, of course. And it was just really a boot camp for learning all sorts of like post things specifically that led to me like learning after effects in a bigger way than I ever expected to.
Speaker 2: Yeah, because that show is so much graphics and so much like weird dumb stuff happening on screen that’s like achieved through the visual effects, tricks and things like that. So you, you must know this as a writer too. Karen is just like it helps as an artist. If you are, you have an understanding of a lot of other things and you have an interest. Yeah, it really helps to just be curious about everything in the world and around you, and I think that totally feeds into you as a creative and how you approach your craft.
Speaker 2: Yeah, I think that’s probably an obvious thing to say, but I can’t stress enough how how many like assistant editors or post peers I come across and you know, I, I asked them like, what are you watching these days? Or What are you reading? What do you what are you looking at? You know, what are you interested in? And you can tell right away the people who have like a creative sensibility or like have that interest in things like outside of editing, they tend to be able to bring more to the table. Mm hmm. You know, even as, like, assistant editors, when you have that in you and you can tell that they they have the ability to, like, think beyond just the edits that if that makes sense.
Speaker 4: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. That’s it for our Slate Plus segment this week. Thank you so much, as always, for your support.
Speaker 5: So.