There are several highly stylistic directors who collaborate with the same editor multiple times. For example, Baz Luhrmann worked with Jill Billcock on his first three films – Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! All three films have a very similar feel to them, so much so that they are referred to collectively as the Red Curtain Trilogy. For his fourth film, Australia, Luhrmann worked with a different film editor – Dody Dorn. There is a palpable difference in pacing and overall feel between his first three films and his last film. I’m not sure why he switched film editors, but maybe he even wanted a change of style.
Director du jour Christopher Nolan has worked with the same film editor – Lee Smith – on all his films since 2005’s Batman Begins. It’s no secret that Nolan enjoys working with the same cast and crew on many of his films. His latest film – Inception – utilizes some particularly impressive film editing and was essential for the plot to make any sense.
Smith has also worked with Peter Weir on all of his films since 1993’s Fearless. Although both Nolan and Weir are very cerebral directors, their styles are not really all that similar. Yet, they both use the same film editor and both consistently produce critically lauded work.
Martin Scorsese has worked with Thelma Schoonmaker for decades. She edited his first feature Who’s That Knocking At My Door and has edited all of his other films since 1980’s Raging Bull. She’s also been nominated for an Academy Award for her work on six of Scorsese’s films, winning the award for Raging Bull, The Aviator and The Departed. Scorsese first started working with Schoonmaker when they were both students at NYU in the 60s, making their professional relationship one of the oldest in the industry.
Then you have directors like Joel and Ethan Coen who are their own film editors. However, the brothers use the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes instead of crediting themselves. The Coen brothers are the kind of filmmakers who like to have complete control over the projects they work on. They have written, directed and produced all the films they have worked on, so it’s really not all that surprising that they edit them as well.
Suffice it to say that an Editor’s job in crafting a great film ranks up there with both the Director and Screenwriter, even if the audience never realizes it. So what does this mean for the future of Tarantino’s films? It’s hard to say, really. It all depends on whether he can find another film editor who can juxtapose the images he creates and help him find his tone again.