Ep 15 | Julian Clarke - Editor (District 9, The Handmaid's Tale, Deadpool)

Credit: Hulu

Transcript

Julian Clarke: It was a profound change. Absolutely. I mean, I was a more or less an independent film editor working in Canada and then I became a Hollywood editor after that.

Mike Battle: Hello and welcome to Red Carpet Rookies. My name is Mike Battle, a film production Jr. working for Studios in London. Each episode I bring you advice and stories from film, TV and content professionals to help demystify and democratize the industries for juniors and fans alike. Thanks for joining me. Let’s get started. Today’s guest is editor Julian Clarke. After beginning his career in the world of short films, Julian was the man behind the Edit of 2009 highly influential district nine which rocketed him to the Oscars and onto projects such as Dead pool, The Handmaid’s Tale and Terminator dark fate. He’s the first editor we’ve had on Red Carpet Rookies, and I can’t wait to learn more about his craft. Welcome, Julian! How are you doing?

Julian: I’m doing fantastic considering the circumstances in the world right now.

Mike: Very good to hear. Now, before we get started, we’ve had lots of requests for editors on the show. And I’d love to hear what would you describe it as in your own words?

Julian: Well, it’s one of those things, it’s very difficult to describe the process until you’ve actually been through it. But it is definitely a kind of a companion process to writing in the movie process. The screenplay is really just a kind of a template for the movie. The movie doesn’t become a movie until it is edited. It’s kind of a template and then raw material. So, to me the actual movie, it being written into a movie form is the editing process. You’re not just executing the screenplay, all these little tiny decisions are made about the performance, about the structure, about the rhythm, about the tone, and that’s where it becomes what it is, for better or worse.

Mike: Fantastic. Now to take you back right to the beginning. I like to ask each one of my guests, what did your parents do? And did that affect your career choices later in life?

Julian: I come from an incredibly academic accomplished family. So my dad is a geophysicist, glaciologists, who was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the got the shared Nobel Peace Prize. He’s really accomplished scientist. My mother has a history PhD and writes mystery novels. And then she stopped writing mystery novels. And now it’s kind of involved in a little opera company. My stepmother is an anthropologist who’s received the Order of Canada. My stepfather is an Art Gallery curator.

So anyway, very intellectual and academic family, I’m one of the only people in my family that doesn’t have a PhD. So anyway, I think what I got from it was, I was very interested in art and in ideas, and not at all pragmatic. I was like, interested in doing kind of something that was creative, and like, was not interested in kind of pursuing money, or any kind of these things. I wanted to do something in the realm of ideas and creativity. That’s sort of what I got from my family.

Mike: No pressure from them, then, did you ever feel the pull to do that at all? Or were they supportive in you following your artistic dreams?

Julian: Well, I was a very lazy child. So I think they were just really happy when I found something that I was passionate about, and kind of mean, I’m now a real workaholic. So I think they were just very happy that, “Oh, he’s found something that he’s totally diving into as doing well at it.” So it wasn’t kind of like, they were trying to steer me towards anything. They just wanted me to sort of find something that I was, really into.

Mike: So how was it that you first came into contact with filmmaking, then in your younger years?

Julian: I mean, just obviously, like everyone else, like as a fan. Like probably the movie aliens, I’ve seen that movie probably like, 50 or 60 times we’ve just like, come home from school pop on aliens, and like, quote, along with all like the Bill Paxton lions and stuff like that, so there was just definitely like a lot of watching Terminator two, watching aliens, watching these kind of movies over and over again, as a teenager.

Then as I got older, kind of getting into like, Godfather and Apocalypse now and all these kind of like, more cerebral and artistic 2001 these kinds of movies. And then I kind of got excited about like, oh, what you can kind of really not just as kind of like a nerd who’s excited about science fiction, but like, then excited about it as a kind of art form, like what you can do with it. And so then, when I was going to university, we had film classes, I was like, “Well, obviously, I’m going to take film classes, that’s going to be fine.” A lot fine writing an essay about a movie than it is writing about, like, Don Quixote or something.

Mike: Am I right, that you didn’t actually go first towards editing though, at film school?

Julian: I imagine that most people I think they go like; I want to be a director. Because it’s like, I mean, the director for, it’s like, we’ve kind of assigned the director sort of authorship of the movie, which they are kind of the author but it is such a collaborative process as well. But when you’re coming to it, just as kind of a fan and someone aspiring to the craft, I think people naturally are drawn to directing just because that’s when we talk about movies. It all kind of revolves around the director. And so once I kind of like got into film school, and I directing and went through the editing process and make very short film as a director as a man.

But I think part of the process is so much more rewarding than the shooting part. I mean, the shooting part, especially, when you’re working in low budget world, is just filled with like failure and compromise and things going wrong. And then there’s all this kind of thing about keeping the morale of the crew up and logistics and all that kind of stuff. And I hated all that stuff. So to me, it was like a creative outlet of the process, there was so much more of the creative part of part of the process in editing than there was in directing. There’s a lot of misery involved in directing, there’s a lot of creativity as well.

But there was like, a lot of downside. But I saw the I think the sort of ratio to creativity to shitty stuff you have to go through and editing is much smaller, much smaller. So, I was immediately kind of drawn to that. And then I kind of became the next year in film school, then I then I chose editing, and I just started editing on my sort of film school friends, projects and stuff like that. I just became, I think probably every film school has like the one person whose kind of like that, “Oh, I did that for you. Well, I did that for you.” I was that guy.

Mike: When you look back on it, what is your opinion on the film school routes? Because it’s something that lots of people wrestle with whether to go or not? 

Julian: Well, I don’t think there’s one route. I mean, certainly, I think it worked for me. And that I don’t think it’s like that you can’t know what you’re doing without film school. But it gives you a network, a network of people that are at a kind of similar level, entering the industry at the same time as you. So like, when I entered the Vancouver industry, I was in Vancouver at the time with those people, I kind of like, didn’t project for them, they introduced me to other people they met. And so I had this whole kind of kind of world of people that I could kind of enter the industry with and kind of make contacts with. And it just felt like a very natural process.

Now if you’re extremely extroverted person, and you just like go to independent film events, and you meet people, and you could probably get the same network out of just kind of really putting yourself out there. But the process was just very organic, going through film school and kind of you just inherit a network like that, unless you’re a total jerk or something like that. So, I think that’s what I really got out of it less so than like, what specifically I was taught, just kind of like making those connections.

Mike: From what I can see off deals, film school days, you got thrown deep into the world of short films, and I’d love to hear. Would you say that was quite an education for you that gave you a basis really in different genres? Because from what I can see, on one end, you’re doing kind of classic horror shorts. And then you’ve also got titles such as Barbie Fairytopia. 

Julian: Well, that’s a feature actually. 

Mike: Oh it was a feature! I just wanted to bring it up.

Julian: It’s made by the, there’s this I don’t know if you remember this cartoon reboot from like, 1000 years ago. Anyway, it was a very early 3d animated cartoon made by this company at the time, Mainframe, Vancouver. So they were early pioneers of 3d animation, and they had this relationship with Mattel, where they made essentially direct to DVD, kind of like very, not Pixar, done, like, maybe, a million or $2 million, kind of like direct to DVD kind of adaptations of these different Mattel properties. And so, that was just another thing was like, “Oh, you know, a guy edited a short film for,” he’s like, “I need some money.” So he, like, became a producer of one of those and he’s like, “Hey, you want to cut this?” And I’m like, ‘Sure.’ I mean, I think when you’re starting out, especially if you’re not in a place like Los Angeles, where there’s not just this massive spring of work, I was really a jack of all trades.

So it’s kind of like I did corporate videos, I did actor demo reels, I did short films, and yes, of many different genres, I did documentaries, I did that 3d animation, I did reality TV. So it wasn’t like a kind of thing where you could kind of go, “Well, I only edit this kind of stuff,” whatever, where you could be kind of like, high and mighty about the kind of work you would do, would just be like, great, someone wants to hire me. And it seems it might be okay. So that gave me a very dynamic resume. So it kind of widens your cutting skills as well. So it’s not all bad. But eventually, you do want to kind of refine and define yourself by excellent work or whatever. So it was a good starting point, for sure.

Mike: Do you think young editors, it would be good advice to throw themselves slightly into that generalist mindset in the beginning and then refined themselves from that?

Julian: Well, I don’t, I certainly don’t want to, I don’t think you should be waiting around for someone to be handing you an Oscar movie or something like that. That’s just not going to happen. So yeah, you got to go out there. And you just got to kind of start working and even working on something bad. I’ve made contacts from working on things bad that then led to stuff that was good or whatever and you learn from working on stuff that’s bad. And there’s just a basic competency, like, you get better at it, making something bad, be passable. That’s really hard. There should be an editing award for that.

So absolutely. Now, of course, eventually, you have to transcend working on stuff that’s bad and work on stuff that’s actually good. And if you work on stuff that’s bad for too long, then that can define you. And I worked on a Uwe Boll movie. So I mean, I understand. There’s certainly people in Vancouver, worked on many Uwe Boll movies, and then maybe they got defined by those movies. So it’s a balancing act. It’s like in the beginning, I don’t think you should be turning your nose up at things, but then eventually to, you have to then be as you build a body of work, you have to be careful about how you’re defining yourself.

Mike: On this podcast, one of the things I really like hearing about is turning points. And it seems to me that you mentioned working on bad work for only a short amount of time there, one of the big turning points in your life, from what I can see, please fact check me if I’m wrong, is when District 9 came into your life marking a bit of a change. Could you talk about how you came onto that project? And how it then did affect your later life?

Julian: Yeah, I mean, it was a profound change. Absolutely. I was a more or less an independent film editor working in Canada, and then I became a Hollywood editor after that. So it was a pretty like a light switch getting turned on that project. So how it came about and this is kind of, I guess, the kind of ties back into what we were just talking about, you know, right when I was starting out, just after the sort of idea of an era of short films that lasted about two years, where that was mostly what I was editing, and then you know, one of those short films turned into editing a feature. And then there was also kind of, like, I cut two features that year, actually. And the other feature was like this $80,000 movie shot and mini DV, and it was, the director had been editing it himself, it was just kind of like not quite coming together.

So he wanted someone else to kind of cut it for him. So like, there’s no money, he was just like, “Hey, you want to cut this for me?” And I was just excited about trying to get more feature credits and transition out of just editing shorts. So I was like, ‘Sure.’ So I cut it this movie called Come Together. And went to some festivals and stuff like that people liked it. And but the connection I got from that there was this other guy who were trying to Clinton Shorter, who was the film composer. And he was another guy kind of like, he was a composer assistant. And he was trying to transition and being a composer in his own right, much like I was trying to transition into cutting features. And he did a great job on Come Together. And so like I recommended to him for some other features that I cut after that brought him on. And so we were kind of just recommending each other back and forth for jobs, because we both kind of liked each other. And we both thought that this guy’s good. I was like, “Why not.: So he was friends just socially with Neil Blomkamp, who lives in Vancouver, and Neil at that time, was doing kind of music videos and commercials and that kind of stuff. So he had no kind of editor feature editor relationship.

And so when Neil, when District 9 finally kind of gearing up to happen, Neil kind of like didn’t have all these kind of people that necessarily, relationships, so he kind of asked his friends, “Hey, do you know a Vancouver editor?” Because at that point, we were kind of planning to post a bunch in Vancouver. And so Clinton suggested me and so, I chatted with Neil, we got along, and it kind of just happened from there. And so it kind of came from that working on that little $80,000 film that then someone put their neck out for you to recommend me to work on this project. Now, I think some other things need to be kind of factored into, like how this opportunity happened, besides the fact that whatever, someone recommended me and right time, right place was that, this was a very unique project in that, you know, it was made for about $35 million, but a huge amount of that money was going into the visual effects budget, when you watch District 9, now, it looks like an 80 or $90 million movies.

So, it’s like, there was not a lot of money leftover once that VFX are being spent. So, they shot in South Africa, that was cheaper. And then I think a lot of the key crew members were making much less than you would normally on a Hollywood movie. And so I don’t think there was money to hire a real A listed either. They kind of needed someone who was kind of young and scrappy. That’s kind of what they could afford. And then lastly, Peter Jackson was the producer on it. And Peter Jackson lives in New Zealand, and even though he’s kind of a huge Hollywood force. He’s also kind of like, I think he kind of sees himself as kind of a Hollywood outsider. Like people he uses on his shows.

A lot of them are like New Zealanders. He’s not hiring like tons and tons of like Hollywood types or whatever. And so he was kind of also kind of cool with Neil hiring kind of these unknown quantities on his film. So I got hired Trent Opaloch, the DOP who kind of I don’t know if he had shot any features that point he was doing kind of commercials and stuff, Trent’s now gone on to Avengers Endgame. So, he’s had sort of crazy career out of that and Clinton got hired on to it, Clinton’s gone on to do like tons of TV in the US, and Sharlto Copley, who was like, not even really an actor, he kind of Sharlto acted in like, his own shorts and stuff like that. He was more of like a producer or something in South Africa.

So all these kind of people, all these kind of kids really, from not with Hollywood pedigree, we’re kind of brought on to that movie in this way that like doesn’t happen very often. And the post was being based in Vancouver of this larger project also doesn’t usually really happen. So it was really this confluence of crazy events. So, it’s not like one of those things where you can go, “Here’s the recipe and I can pass this on to others to replicate” because I just don’t think it would replicate. I think that the takeaway in terms of things you can control is build relationships. Don’t burn bridges, be the guy that people want to recommend for opportunities. And then, if a lightning bolt does strike, you’re more likely to person who’s the receiver of the lightning, because you’ve built all these good connections. Right? So I mean, that’s like, I guess, the proactive part of it, and the rest of it is really like, right time, right place lightning striking the ground.

Mike: Definitely! Do you think that the wide variety of different types of media you’d cut before corporate videos, music, videos, etc. prepared you well, for District 9 in the sense that you’ve done some documentary, and then some narrative, because obviously, it’s a bit of a conflation of both in quite an unusual way?

Julian: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think having worked with documentary and having worked with improve, those were both kind of invaluable, because I think if you were used to kind of just working with stuff that’s very scripted, then, I mean, in District 9, it was really overwhelming to edit. But if you hadn’t dealt with kind of improve and kind of creating a structure, that you have to do from documentary, there was a real aspect to that in District 9 in sections. And so yeah, that definitely was kind of like it was a useful aspect. I mean, cutting documentary, that’s one of the hardest things to do for sure. When especially, you’re not working on a kind of a TV format, one where it’s just kind of like, here’s a bunch of stuff come up with like, a cohesive narrative with this. That’s like, it’s a lot of work. So yeah, that was a useful skill to be able to go back to.

Mike: Yeah, cuz I’d like to ask you your opinion on that phrase, which fits well to the idea of documentary because they often say, “They find it in the edit,” that phrase, a film is written, or in a documentary three times in the script on camera, and then in the Edit, would you subscribe for that as well?

Julian: Oh, yeah. I think you can say that about any movie, but especially true for documentary. I mean, I think a lot of that, on some things, they quote, I think that the generous documentary directors often give their kind of editors like, producer or co director credits, because the job, that is such a vital aspect of how you form those things, even more so than when you’re working with something that’s scripted. Yeah, it’s hard to I mean, they added those things for years, sometimes, it’s an incredibly labor of love that documentary’s editor’s go through.

Mike: For the people who are listening who are totally brand new to all of this kind of information. When you’re sitting in the booth for something like District 9, you mentioned the VFX, could you explain what you’re actually looking at? And how much imagination is coming into it? I’ve seen where the things are going to be exactly like that, the aliens.

Julian: 17:22 Well, I mean, I’ve obviously I’d worked with a little bit of the effects on the kind of projects prior to that, where you’d be like a couple shots here and there. And this isn’t that, but this was just like a whole other level District 9, we had something like, 700 shots or something, which now based on what the average Hollywood movie has doesn’t seem like a lot, but it seemed like a lot of the time to me, but and then, in terms of how you deal with it, and what the process is, it really depends on kind of, it’s a kind of a case by case basis, when it came to kind of like the space people, the aliens, we often had kind of an actor there on stilts, for height reference, and they would be Sharlto would be doing his improve and the guy, this guy, Jason co played almost all the aliens, he would be improvising back in England.

So we would have something to edit with that once you had settled on something that “Okay, this is solid now,” then you turn it over, and months go by and it eventually gets replaced with a three dimensional alien and the choices of, there’s a lot of pressure in terms of knowing that that stuff’s gonna stay because each of those alien shots was like, $60,000, $70,000 $80,000. So, I’m making probably not that much more than, I wasn’t making that much. And it didn’t take too many shots before, it’s like, “That’s way more than my salary now, just for these like couple shots, whatever.” So it’s a lot of pressure in terms of you don’t want to waste, a little bit of waste is inevitable. And so there’s a lot of sort of thinking about, okay, how solid is this, can we turn this over now, and then you still want to give them enough time for it to look really good. So it’s this thing where it’s like, you don’t want to turn it too early, and then a little change you, waste the money but you’d also want don’t turnover too late, where then they’re going to do a shitty job, and it’s not going to look good, but at least in that case, creatively, we had something to kind of like respond to with the space people or aliens.

Now the really hard one was the Exosuit sequence because that one, it was like, much, much bigger than a person, so a person reference just didn’t make sense there. So really, it was mostly just a lot of empty shots are sometimes empty shots with another person reacting and then every once in a while, someone would wander in with a large stick you go, it’s this tall. And we would kind of chop this stuff together. And then I had this like, what they call like a turntable of the Exosuit model, where it’s this kind of thing, it’s essentially kind of rotating as if it’s standing on a record player version of the 3d model of the Exosuit. And I would just kind of we had one on green, but I would just kind of get a freeze frame that key out the green and go plop it into the shots and then like a really bad like Monty Python animation, I would just kind of key frame it around. So be going, it’s going to left to right, it stops, it raises its gun, like really terrible stuff, but at least it’ll be kind of give you an idea of like its screen direction and now I think this shot can work in two and a half seconds and that kind of stuff.

So terrible for kind of screening and immersion, but a little, at least giving you an idea of what the intentions are like a really rough storyboard or something. And so that was kind of the process. But it’s pretty hair raising when you’re the shots are so expensive, and there’s nothing there. And you are kind of like, “Do I want a medium or a close up?” It’s pretty hard. And we didn’t use you know, a lot of the way they kind of get away that around that stuff is using previews and that kind of stuff, previews or post beds where we have, these kind of cartoon video game cartoon versions of the kind of action sequences but Neil’s not really a fan of those, I think, partly they cost a lot. And currently, he just kind of likes things to be a little rawer, and improvised and kind of decided, in the moment, in the location. And so we didn’t have this sort of like blueprint map of the sequence. So that kind of made it, more challenging, but I think, the end result is when he watches action sequences, they’re much more kind of raw and real and kind of fresh feeling, then these ones that are super choreographed. You can really tell the difference between kind of sort of these Marvel type action sequences, which are beautiful and great, but like seem very, very planned. And these ones that are kind of feel a little rawer and spontaneous that Neil does. 

Mike: It sounds incredibly challenging. And one of the things I’m interested in is how the genre affects the edit. And one would imagine that editing District 9 was quite different to editing Dead pool. But it sounds like from something, you’ve said a minute ago that maybe the improve element of some of it would have made it easier, is that the case? 

Julian: Dead pool is a different type of improve that it’s very smart, how they kind of do the improve in Dead pool, where it really is kind of like the kind of narrative stuff is pretty much all scripted. And he just reads the words. And then as soon as you get to the funny stuff, then you have like, 15 versions, that Ryan or the writers have come up with. And so it was really kind of like a lot of it was just kind of like auditioning different jokes, and how many jokes you’d want in a scene. But versus the sort of District 9 thing, which is like, literally, here’s the general goal of the scene. Now, it’s like annotating two pages, and then you get eight minutes of like, Sharlto like, fucking, going off. And you have to then like, and it’s all great, but you have to boil it down to like two minutes and accomplish the goals and like, not have the blocking fall apart.

Because, if characters are wandering around to different parts of the set then you’re like, how do I get them from here to here? So the Dead pool one was a little more like surgical, we’re like improve, when the character lands here and they do the job, then we’ll have like, you know, there’s a whole bunch of different options. But I’d say one of the similar aspect to those two things is they both have this thing where they’re kind of doing more than one thing at once. And I like movies that do this. They’re very challenging, but I’m very drawn to them, which is like, there’s a real comedic, I wouldn’t say that District 9 is a comedy, but there’s a real comedic aspect to it.

The character if you haven’t worked enough sense of humor is very, very funny. You know when he’s doing that, like burning the eggs. And he’s like, saying, it sounds like popcorn, like, to me, that’s like, hilarious. It’s horrible and hilarious, the emotion and the action in the world feel very real. So you’re still immersed in the reality of the world, and the stakes of the drama, and the coolness of the action, and Dead pool is trying to do the same thing. Where the Dead pool character is like, very, very funny. And then there’s some hilarious stuff in it, but then he’s fucking angry. He’s on a mission for revenge, and he really loves his girlfriend. And its kind of a gritty world. And so we’re trying to do that same kind of thing where it’s like, very funny and entertaining, but we’re kind of still kind of trying to ground it and keep it real and keep it cool.

It looks really easy when you’ve kind of pulled it off. But it’s actually quite hard. It’s very easy to kind of drift into things being too broad or too over the top, and then suddenly, like, it’s funny, but it’s like, the reality is all messed up. And suddenly the action’s not cool and the world’s not cool. And it’s less emotional, because you’re not believing in the reality of the story. So that’s kind of an interesting thing of like, the sort of tone of when you’re oscillating between something that’s dramatic and comedic.

Mike: I guess. It’s like the classic tragedy comedy.

Julian: Yeah. And then there’s the Shakespeare plays that have a little bit of both. So that’s kind of what we’re trying to do that we’re trying to cuss both worlds a little bit in those movies.

Mike: Definitely. I can imagine that working on Deadpool with all those improve lines; it was probably an exercise in killing your darlings with loads of them. Were there any ones that didn’t get in that you had a particular favorite?

Julian: Oh, man, you’re asked me to kind of like rewind time here a little bit. I don’t know specifically if you know, there might be like alt. there’s some pretty funny alternative line read of things and moments where it’s like, “Oh, that’s funny. That’s also funny. Oh man, which one we go for here?” But I don’t know if I can pull them out of deep memory to recite them to you.

Mike: Did it ever get too close to the line because it famously became the highest grossing R rated movie ever. Were there moments where Tim who we’ve also interviewed on the podcast was like, “No, we’re not going that far, that’s too much”?

Julian: What I think generally, I think to his credit from the get go kind of thing. He knew that the script really funny. Ryan is hilarious and like what I’m going to bring to this is kind of like keeping both feet on the ground in a way, so it wasn’t like one of those things where they swung so outlandish Lee and what they got that it was very hard to bring it down to earth and Ryan also has a I don’t know, this is a sort of interesting thing with casting where he’s very good at doing things that are bonkers, but making you believe them. And that’s something that, there’s a lot of people out there that are funny, but then it’s funny, but it feels like an SNL sketch. You don't buy it and it doesn't feel real.

Where you don’t buy like you laugh, but it doesn’t feel real. But he’ll make you believe that he did that in same thing. So yeah, it wasn’t like I think that we were like, way off in some sort of Adam Sandler territory or something like that with it. But there were points where your kind of like, for instance, we had like more comedy and stuff in the strip club scene, which is where he’s going, he’s got up his courage to like, finally, you know, see his girlfriend again. And then she gets, he chickens out and she gets kidnapped. And so it is kind of like, it’s an important dramatic and emotional part in the sort of, you know, structure of the movie. And when we had a bunch of jokes in there, they were funny, but they kind of really stepped on the emotion in the tension. And so it’s just kind of one of those things that when we pull this out, then suddenly the, the dramatic aspects now are more important, and there’s no absence of laughs in this movie.

So it’s like, you’re just kind of getting insecure thinking that you need to laugh everywhere. And another interesting part was, you know, the torture dungeon has its funny moments, but it is pretty traumatizing too, we’re in this torture dungeon for quite a while. It seems pretty grim there. And then in the end, he’s like graphically impaled. And then in the original structure of it, we actually had like a comedy scene right after that *scene raise impaled Thomas* like he emerges from the ashes, then a comedy scene and comedy scene was hilarious, and no one was laughing, because they were like, basically traumatized still by the impalement. And so in the reshoots, we kind of added an extra scene in there just to kind of let you settle down, back more recover a little bit from the impalement. And then suddenly, we got the laughs again, and then in the following scene, that was kind of more of the mission where it’s kind of pulling some stuff everywhere to make sure you the dramatic stuff worked. And then kind of like when they’re kind of tone how these radical shifts, finding a way to kind of soften the landing sometimes, so you could kind of go back and forth between the more serious stuff and the comedy stuff.

Mike: Speaking of traumatizing, I recently watched Handmaid’s Tale, which is quite a departure from the shows we’ve spoken about so far. Did you find it as traumatizing to work on and was I think it was in part because I was a man and did Reed Morano push for that feeling, do you think? What do you know?

Julian: Well, I mean, I think if you read the novel, the novel is pretty traumatizing, too. So I think we wanted to make a faithful adaptation, faithful to the tone, obviously, we took some deviated from kind of some of the story stuff. And a lot of our reference points were pretty grim, dark cons, film, festivals type reference. And so yeah, we were going for something that was hard hitting and unflinching, and I think, you know, there’s like a current of black comedy to the voiceover and to the character. And that’s the tiny little bit of a life raft, maybe you offer the audience to help kind of get through it.

But yeah, I mean, it is pretty punishing. But then I think when you do stuff like that, that you have to be worthy of it, I guess you can’t, you know, if you make something punishing, and then it’s not great, then people just kind of go like, “What are you doing? This is like, I don’t want to watch this.” And maybe, you’re being exploitive or something. So I think the fact that Elisabeth Moss is so fantastic. And Reed Morano used to be a DLP. So it’s just the imagery she got was just gorgeous and the production plans gorgeous. So just the whole execution of it, I thought was so good that we are allowed to kind of make something kind of unflinching because of the quality of the material and kind of how well it was done. So I think that then it kind of worked for people.

Mike: So to change tact a little bit in our last few minutes here. I’d like to talk about the future of the industry on the podcast, and lots of younger people listen to it. Given that now lots of people in the First World pretty much everybody can have access to relatively high level editing tools for low prices. How do you think people can stand out amongst the noise?

Julian: That’s a good question. I came of age, right at Final Cut Pro version one. And I don’t even know if I would be doing this job if that hadn’t happened. Because before that to get access to the equipment you needed, like 30~40 grand of hardware to have an editing system. And then suddenly Final Cut came, now everyone hates Final Cut, of course, but at the time, it was pivotal that you could spend a couple grand buy a Mac and have that software and like that allowed me to just become an editor and do it. And now of course that notion is caught on like wildfire. And there’s now like, no, everyone’s an editor now.

So yeah, how do you differentiate yourself? Well, I guess there’s sort of like the Neil method, which is like, he makes some crazy, impressive short film and he put it online. Certainly, if you’re the editor on one of those things, if you make something that goes seriously viral, that can’t hurt. But in terms of like, the way I kind of clawed my way up, I’m not sure if that’s now maybe, that route might be totally, you know, polluted with tons of competition of people all trying to do the same thing. I’m not sure. I mean, I guess it’s also kind of figuring out like, there’s this world of like kind of content people for YouTube versus film and television and streaming and all that and they’re kind of very separate, but obviously, the crafts are similar. And so it’s sort of like how do you differentiate yourself for film and TV versus being like another person on YouTube kind of making content for that world. I don’t know if I have the answer to that. I guess it’s making something of quality.

Mike: Definitely. Now to wrap it up on Red Carpet Rookies, I like to ask each one of my guests a little quick-fire questions round in an ode to any actor studio. So just think of whatever comes into your head Julian, and say if that’s all right with you. 

Red Carpet Rookies Quickfire

Julian: Alright! 

Mike: Are you ready?

Julian: I’m ready.

 

Mike: Number one, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Julian: Don’t think so much.

Mike: Number two, do you have a favorite film?

Julian: That when changes, I guess I’ll just put Apocalypse now out there to be simple.

Mike: And the second part of that is, if our listeners were to watch one of your pieces of work tonight, what do you think they should watch? Which one are you most proud of?

Julian: I’ll say District 9. 

Mike: Number three, what gives you a reason to get out of bed every day and edit?

Julian: I don’t know how to do anything else.

Mike: Number four, which job in the industry would you do if you weren’t doing yours?

Julian: If I was a better writer, I’d write and if I was a better musician, I’d be a composer.

Mike: As the second part of that question just for you. Lots of our guests say they would want to be an editor. Why do you think that might be?

Julian: I mean, I guess it’s one of those things that you can just buy a computer and buy the software and just kind of do it yourself. So if you know a lot of the other aspects of filmmaking you, you need an actor or you need like stuff to build, if you’re a production designer. I mean, even as a composer, you need like kind of like a lot of bells and whistles to kind of like to be able to expensive synthesizers and that kind of stuff. So I think it’s editing is one of those kind of things, you don’t actually need much to do it. And so you can kind of dabble in it. I guess it’s a way in for people now, in a way that it didn’t used to be a way into the filmmaking process. They can kind of go, “Oh, this is cool. I can do this.” That would be my theory.

Mike: Sure. Number five, if you could work with one person living or dead, who would it be?

Julian: I have to think about that. Because there’s definitely people that you admire, and you go they make great movies, but then you hear that they’re crazy. So it’s like I try not to work with crazy people. So, who’s someone very brilliant, but also really nice.

Mike: Well, that’s a good mindset because that means you think that you’re gonna work with them. So that’s good, rather than just be like, “Oh, you know, maybe.”

Julian: Steven Soderbergh. He seems like he’s maybe not an asshole.

Mike: Let’s go with that Soderbergh in. Number six, what is a book that everyone should read? 

Julian: Crime and Punishment. 

Mike: And finally other that’s, your academic parents will be proud of that. And finally, if you want an Oscar, who would you thank?

Julian: I think as few people as possible so I could get off the stage quickly.

Mike: Spook like a true editor that you are. That was lovely. Thank you so much with that. With that our time is sadly closed. Thank you so much for Julian Clarke for joining us today. Editing is one of the most requested crafts we have to delve into. And it was brilliant to hear about your process and the mind behind the cat. Thank you, Julian. 

Julian: My pleasure. I hope it was interesting.