“An editor is responsible for bringing everything together and making sure that it all works…you’re always thinking about what’s best for the story, and in doing so, you need to build performances, create arcs, figure out pacing, add temp music, and also do as much sound design as possible.” – Michael Flores
To an audience, the performances in a film are usually credited to the actors & directors. While it’s understood as to why (the actors are the ones performing the piece, and the directors are the ones directing them into doing so), most people tend to overlook one crucial and important influencer: the Editor. Our “EXPOSED” crew member of the week, editor Michael Flores, shares his opinions on editing, collaboration, and his work on the film The Most Hated Woman in America!
“Most people don’t understand just how much the editor is responsible for crafting the performances that you see on the screen.” – Michael Flores
In the biopic The Most Hated Woman in America, Melissa Leo plays Madalyn Murray O’Hair. The film, which premiered at South by Southwest in Austin (where most of the story is set), tells the story of the rise & untimely demise of O’Hair – a crank, swindler, iconoclast, and America’s most outspoken atheist. Flores not only had to edit Leo’s performance together, but also collaborated with VFX artists to age her.
“In addition to working with the director [Tommy O’Haver], I enjoyed having the opportunity to edit such amazing performances, especially Melissa Leo’s…it taught me a lot about collaborating with visual effects, because we needed to make Melissa Leo age from her thirties all way to her seventies. Making her look older was mostly done through the use of makeup; however, making her look younger was done digitally.” – Michael Flores
The edit of the film took 4 months to complete, most of which was done at the O’Haver’s home in LA. Flores began editing a week after production started, and had an editor’s cut ready to view a week after production wrapped. O’Haver and Flores then worked for a month to get a cut ready for the producers, and then another month getting a cut ready for a test screening. Once the test screening was over, Michael had roughly one more month until picture lock.
“After the film is locked, you need to ensure that the finished film looks and sounds correct…meaning you need to check the sound, the color, and the score. The worst feeling for an editor is to see a mistake that made it to the screen.” -Michael Flores
For Michael, who has worked on commercial projects for Johnson & Johnson, and documentaries such as Dr. Feelgood: Dealer or Healer, one of the most challenging parts of being an editor, is taking time to get a story to work. For inspiration on editing The Most Hated Women in America, Flores looked to a couple of more well-known crime documentaries: THE JINX and MAKING A MURDERER.
“The most challenging part about being an editor is getting the story to work. This is especially true in documentary, since there’s no script and it can take months—if not years—to figure out the story structure.” – Michael Flores
Thank you, Michael, for the wonderful insight into the editing for The Most Hated Woman in America! To contact Michael, please select the “ABOUT ME” button on his photo.
And thank you for watching this week’s Exposing the Crew “EXPOSED” indie project!
(We just want to do our part in supporting the indie community!)
We’ll See You All Next Tuesday,
Samantha George (Producer, JJack Productions)