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‘Steve Jobs’ Editor Elliot Graham on Making an ‘Action Film of Words’

The editor keeps Aaron Sorkin's script propulsive.

With a script by Aaron Sorkin, there was never a question that Danny Boyle’s new biopic Steve Jobs would be dialogue-heavy. Regardless, Boyle and editor Elliot Graham chose an unusual approach to the film.

“[The script] was exciting; an action film of words,” Graham tells The Editors Guild. “It feels like a series of fight scenes, certainly the flashback sequence between Steve and Scully in act two does. It’s like two boxers going at it. If it were an action film, that would be the big set piece. We talked about Steve Jobs’ infamous reality distortion field and how we might visually express that, though in the end it became clear it was through Michael Fassbender’s performance that we could best access that idea. We talked about the need for the film to feel propulsive, to move and rarely stop, because it’s a long script set in similar locations, and you don’t want to outstay your welcome. 

“We did experiment a lot with how fast the pace of dialogue in any given scene needed to be. We found quite quickly that the words necessitated a propulsion in a way that’s just different from any other script  because Sorkin does his own thing. You’re surfing a tidal wave of amazing, brilliant dialogue and if you’re riding on top and it’s rushing along, it’s a rush. But if you fall off, it stops and you have to get back up, surf back out and try and get on another wave, losing all momentum. Then you’re dead.”