On Monday I was able to conduct a couple of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ interviews on behalf of The Awards Circuit. Today I’m bringing you my chat with editors William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor. Both gentlemen are Oscar nominated craftsmen who rank in the top tier of their field. Collaborating on ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, they’re each having standout years and deserve all of the accolades being thrown their way. The guys were kind enough to speak to me by phone during the Los Angeles based Craft Junket for the film, and the transcript of our chat can be found below. Enjoy!
Joey Magidson: Pleasure to be speaking to you two today.
Dylan Tichenor: You too!
William Goldenberg: You too!
Joey: Big fan of the movie and I don’t get to talk to the behind the scenes guys as much as a I like, so this is a real treat. Doing some quick research before this I was surprised but mostly delighted to find that some of my favorite films have been edited by you guys…’Magnolia’, ‘The Town’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘Gone Baby Gone’…
Dylan: Thank you.
William: Thank you very much.
Joey: You guys have both worked with Ben Affleck, who I think is only a few years away from being the best director in the business.
Dylan: Yea, he’s doing good.
William: He’s a good guy, a talented guy.
Joey: You collaborated on this film, on ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, so that’s something I’m very curious about. I guess we’ll just jump right in…how did you both come to edit this film?
William: Well, Dylan started it, so why don’t you start?
Dylan: I had actually talked to Kathryn and Mark about doing, they had a movie set in South America. A sort of Delta Force gone bad movie, rob a big South American drug dealer type movie they were working on. I met with them a few years about about that and then Kathryn started talking to me about a Bin Laden story, and that finally came together, which is a whole other story. They started working and shooting, and Billy came on after finishing ‘Argo’ when shooting ended, and that’s how we all got here.
William: I came on in June towards the end.
Joey: I think ‘Triple Frontier’ was the name of that other movie they were thinking of doing.
Dylan: I wasn’t going to get specific…I didn’t say anything! (Laughs)
Joey: Never mind then, it wasn’t ‘Triple Frontier’!
Joey: I think between ‘Argo’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ William, you’re having an incredible year. They might be my two favorite edited films of the year.
William: Thank you. It’s hard to believe they were both in one year. I’m really excited about it and proud too of both movies. Not only am I proud, I just had an incredible time on both movies. Kathryn and Ben are both incredible talented and generous filmmakers, so I had a blast.
Joey: They’re both obviously making movies reliant on good editing, so I can only imagine what being in the room was like. For this one, I’m curious if either one of you had done collaborative editing efforts before?
William: I have, have you?
Dylan: I have a little bit, not nearly as much as Billy. The ping pong back and forth…you know Billy’s an expert at it and I really liked having another person in the trenches to bang ideas with. You work on something long enough and you lose a little perspective so it’s great to have someone else say “what if you don’t even do that”.
William: I had done a couple of Michael Mann movies with Paul Rubell, so if you trust the other guy, like Dylan and I do, it can only help to have another set of eyes on it before the director sees it. Two minds can come up with better stuff sometimes, so I just think it can be better and makes it quicker.
Joey: My next question was actually about how often and in what regard the director is there during the process…
Dylan: Every director works differently, but Kathryn is in the room a lot, she gives you a general idea and then lets you do your thing, which is great. It’s a lot of pressure but it’s what you’re looking for. Someone who trusts you.
Joey: I have to imagine this was a complicated process, I can only imagine what’s on the cutting room floor.
William: Everything is actually in the movie.
Joey: Even better!
Dylan: We barely did anything!
Joey: I can only imagine cutting something from Mark’s script that he potentially risked his life on while doing the research…
Joey: It’s great to hear that though, since Mark and Kathryn do such great work together.
Dylan: Something happens with Mark and Kathryn as partners. They’re just meant to work together, it’s magic. They’re incredibly gifted at what they do, but the synergy is just incredible.
William: They fit together really well too. Mark brings an understanding of all these complex procedural things and Kathryn has this great visual sense and a dramatic instinct, so they really fit together perfectly.
Joey: Indeed. I remember thinking if they could capture the magic again, and they did. Everything is so great, and honestly guys…I have you winning the Oscar at this moment.
William: Thank you.
Dylan: Tell all your friends!
Joey: Definitely. It’s going to have a lot of buzz and a definite audience, which will lead to proper admiration of your work as well, even for someone who doesn’t tend to notice editing…especially that final sequence.
Dylan: Well thank you…go on!
Dylan: The thing is, no one is trying to chase awards, we’re just trying to make a good movie. This is, in my mind what I wanted filmmaking to be like when I came out to California. It was just a really great experience.
Joey: You’ve both been in the awards season before, often for films that were snubbed as well as for ones that got nominated. Looking at each of your resumes it’s so hard to think that you’ve both never won the Oscar before.
William: My wife feels the same way, by the way.
Joey: You grab any 3 films from each of your filmography and it’s crazy. I think this might be the year though. Before they kick me off, I’m curious what’s next for you two.
William: I did ‘Argo’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ back to back, so what’s next for me is to reconnect with my family a little bit. I’m taking a break right now…
Dylan: I’m not sure, but a few things are happening next year. It was a long year, so I’m not chomping at the bit right now.
William: Both of us realize how fortunate we are though, and realize that it’s a real gift, so we’re both very grateful.
Dylan: That is true.
Joey: Last question…would either of you consider directing?
Dylan: (laughs) I’d like to direct a movie but reserve the right to never show it!
William: I’ll direct under a pseudonym!
Joey: Very cool. Once again, excellent work and I look forward to seeing your names a lot more during the season.
William: Thank you Joey.
Joey: Take care guys.
Dylan: Nice talking to you.
William: Take care.
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!