'Birdman' Editors Talk Giving Up Control for 'One-Take' Movie

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A film that appears to be one long take--but is in actuality stitched together from several--needs precision and a lot of editing forethought to work. Birdman editors Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise talk to Moviemaker Magazine about how they made the movie magic happen.

Says Mirrione, "That’s the thing that I find really remarkable about this film. The level of difficulty for the director and for the actors is so much higher in this situation, because all of the effort and decision making is front-loaded. You don’t have the usual opportunity of changing your mind or making adjustments during post. You can do it, but you can only do it within a very, very narrow margin of being able to move this way or that way. Again, it shifts the dynamics of that relationship. With a movie like this, your editorial ego really has to be held at bay, because you don’t have the same kind of control that you normally have over all of these decisions. You’re giving up control to the actors to a certain extent. Yes, there were still lots of ways that we could make adjustments and fine-tune, but we all signed on to this committing to the idea that this was all happening live. You have to adjust your threshold of what kinds of things you’re in control of and what kinds of things you aren’t. Chivo [Lubezki] and Steve Scott, the colorist from Technicolor, did a really amazing job with the color correction and the digital imaging. [Director] Alejandro [Gonzalez Inarritu] was confident in saying: 'You know what? I want to trust in the material,' much more so than what his instinct would be in his usual way of working with us. So that was always the challenge; instead of imposing ourselves onto the material, we had to take a step back and digest it and think about it very, very precisely before we added anything to it."

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