Kevin Tent talks about Girl Interrupted

For Class #4

 Instructor: Norman Hollyn T.A.: Beth Moody
 Office: 310-821-2792 Phone: 323-472-1164

 E-Mail: nhollyn [at]

E-Mail: elizabethmoody [at]

Kevin Tent and re-editing Girl, Interrupted

By Elina Shatkin for EditorsNet

[Norman's note: As part of our series of interviews on how editors approach their work, here is an interview with Kevin Tent, done once again by those great folks at EditorsNet. When Tent talks about the assembly, he means the very first cut that he does, normally without much director input. In light of our screening this evening of Meet Joe Black, note what he says in the second paragraph about audiences being smart. Pay close attention to the material I've highlighted which talks about the re-cut process. How does a film change in the re-editing? The ability to start to make some of those judgements yourself will help make you a better filmmaker. I've highlighted the area where Tent talks about the need for the editor to keep on experimenting. The film, they say, is never finished. It is just released.]

"I usually follow the script very closely in my assembly and after that, it's a free-for-all. It's a process of trying this and that and losing scenes and streamlining it. It gradually starts to take shape and I start to see the big picture. Neither director James Mangold nor I had an overall strategy, we just got in there and started working. That's what I've usually found works best with most directors.

"The rough cut of a film usually runs longer than the final version but on 'Girl, Interrupted,' the assembly edit was much longer than the finished film. We had to cut out so much material out that I was worried the film wouldn't make sense, but audiences are smart. They can make leaps of imagination without needing everything spelled out for them. That was one of the major challenges Jim and I faced from the beginning: How do we lose an hour and a half from the movie? There were some tough decisions to make.

"The original version had more flashbacks, including a whole section around Daisy's (played by Brittany Murphy) death. There were also several more scenes, including one where the girls hang out in a museum, covering Susanna (Winona Ryder) and Lisa's (Angelina Jolie) runaway attempt. We only used a few of them because the movie was playing too long. We also thought it detracted from the drama of the scene where Lisa verbally rips Daisy apart when we used the museum scene. The assembly edit included a flashback scene where we see Susanna take the aspirin and overdose in the supermarket, which was good footage but again, it didn't make the final cut because the film was running long."

"The final film changed quite a bit from the shooting script -- almost every scene was shorter and we also lost several scenes. The basic film is still the same, however. Susanna checks into the hospital at the beginning of the movie, goes through trials and tribulations and then checks herself out at the end. After shooting stopped, James was in the cutting room with me most of the time. When I'm editing, I'm willing to try new things. A couple of times he would say, 'What if we cut here?' And I would ask, 'You mean out of the scene completely?' And when he said yes, I would reply, 'Great, let's try it.' We would try it and it would be beautiful.

"We did a lot of rearranging in the scene where the girls are reading their files because we had another therapy session and another scene with Lisa. In the end, we decided 'Let's forget the story line and just let the girls be friends.' In that small section of the movie, we probably dropped seven minutes of scenes and went from reading files and talking about promiscuity, to the ice cream parlor scene. We chose to focus on the scenes that show Winona's character bonding with the other girls. I think that was a good call because the film is more emotional than intellectual at that point."

2000 EditorsNet


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