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How ‘Honey Boy’ Was Rewritten in the Edit Room

"When we started to blend the two it felt like the past and the present were in dialogue together, the way it feels like in real life."

Shia LaBeouf in ‘Honey Boy.’
Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Honey Boy–Shia LaBeouf’s autobiographical film about a spiraling child actor who must reconcile his past and present–has an unusual origin story. Not only did LaBoeuf pen the film as part of his court-mandated rehab, but the final film is told in an entirely different sequence than the original script.

The screenplay linearly told the story of child Otis, growing up on film sets, living with his abusive father (played by LaBeouf himself), and eventually becoming an adult and having to go to therapy to deal with his trauma. But in the editing room, editor Monica Salazar quickly realized that there was a different way to present the narrative: by starting with the adult Otis and intercutting the childhood scenes as flashbacks.

Noah Jupe in ‘Honey Boy.’ Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

“As we were watching, it became very clear that by doing the intercut, the story of Otis and the healing process, that the past was pushing the present forward,” Salazar tells Indiewire. “And those connections were much more resonant once you put things together and intercut them. That was just the magic we found in the edit room.”

“When it was linear, it felt like you were almost starting the movie over 60 minutes in,” co-editor Dominic LaPerriere explains to CineMontage. “When we started to blend the two it felt like the past and the present were in dialogue together, the way it feels like in real life. Those connections that were in the script were enforced rather than diminished. That’s what a lot of our works was, finding ways to support what the original intent of the script was.”

 

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