One of the upsides of the pandemic-forced delay of productions headed for release is the additional time it has afforded filmmakers to hone the product. Normally time in editorial is a luxury that few editors and directors can afford. With productions forced to stop and releases postponed, the ability to down tools and come at the material with fresh eyes has benefitted the editors of Disney’s screen adaptation of Hamilton and Edgar Wright’s forthcoming psychological drama Last Night in Soho.
It could be one reason for the wild popularity and critical acclaim that greeted HBO drama Mare of Easttown, too.
Amy E. Duddleston, ACE was lead editor on all seven episodes and used remote editing solution Evercast to connect sessions with director Craig Zobel when the show was forced into shutdown in March 2020.
“Originally, we thought we were going to be off for six weeks, but it ended up being six months. Pre-production didn’t start back up until August, with cameras rolling by the end of September,” she says in an interview with Ben Mehlman for the Evercast blog.
None of the episodes were in the can. Although the narrative was cross-boarded over seven episodes, she thinks about 75% of it was shot when the pandemic hit.
“When I took over the whole show, I was told to restructure all of the episodes, find all the humor, find all the emotion, dig it out, and start working,” says Duddleston.
When it transpired that the lockdown wouldn’t be weeks but months, the production tasked Remote Picture Labs with setting editorial up at their homes working from material held on a server in a downtown Los Angeles warehouse.
A lot of reworking the edit was in response to being unable to shoot key scenes given the COVID restrictions. For instance, they decided not to shoot a concert (at the end of a wedding scene) because it would have entailed using too many extras.
“It was a luxury to have that summer to go through everything,” she notes, but it still wasn’t easy. “It was really hard, especially at the beginning. I missed my crew. I missed everybody and had nobody to bounce things off of.”
When dailies started coming in and Duddleston was doing producer’s cuts she was joined by additional editor Naomi Filoramo to help cut dailies and do assemblies.
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“We finally finished the editor’s cut on Christmas Eve 2020 and turned it over to Craig Zobel for him to watch. When we started back up in January 2021, Naomi took over episode two for the director’s cut and the producer’s cut. Then it seemed like she got the trust of the other people and was able to jump on to take care of some of the other episodes with me supervising,” she says.
“It was super collaborative, we were always on Evercast chatting with each other. My assistants were also a huge part of the collaboration. We were always talking about the show, character motivations, plotting out the VFX, music.”
Duddleston has done a lot of remote work before most often with directors who have moved onto another project and are in another location.
“I’m always happy if I have to jump on remotely. I find I work with it pretty well. I also like that it helps make the day a little shorter. I’ve never had a 12-hour day on Evercast, thank God. That’s one thing I really liked, it made our days super normal. We stopped working on Mare at like 5:30 or 6:00 and that never happens, like ever.”