We had the brilliant Emmy-nominated editor Amy Duddleston on the pod this week, talking about editing Mare of Easttown.

How the Pandemic Affected the Show

Amy started working on the show in October 2019, and it was shut down in March 2020. 

“We had two more months of shooting left and luckily HBO kept me on.”

HBO thought that the pandemic would only stop filming for six weeks, at the time; but it ended up being six months. Amy “had seven episodes of varying sizes. And what I started to do was just go back through and re-edit everything. We did a director’s cut and producer’s cut of every episode.”

They had time to go back and look through all of their footage, and figure out whether they needed specific scenes, whether they needed to include scenes that had been written but not shot yet, and what they could use to fill in the holes.

“It was the silver lining of the pandemic. I had the luxury of time to do all of this work and we were able to hone in on what we needed and what was missing to tell the story.”

Some scenes were simplified and some got more intimate. 

“Siobhan, Mare’s daughter, was supposed to meet this girl at a concert that they were all at, but nobody was going to be filming a concert during the pandemic. So it became a radio station. We just had to start thinking about making things smaller. Thinking smaller helped our show because it takes place in that little town and it just made it a lot cozier.”

How Amy Edits

She started working in editing in the 90s. 

“I was lucky enough to start back in the film days where we screened everything and I worked and  prepared the dailies every day and then we watched them and that was a very valuable experience to have, because a lot of people don’t even watch their dailies. They just go through it and find all the moments.”

Amy says that she still goes through and watches everything that she receives “because it’s those little things that actors do that make their character special, or just the tiny little moments that you’re not going to find if you’re just going through script sync and clicking on lines of dialogue.”

She says that with editing, she likes to approach it “as an audience member.” Focussing on what the audience needs to know when there’s a mystery. You can’t get too far ahead of the detective (the main character), “so we leave bigger things towards the end of episodes. Because if you’ve solved the crime, where’s the fun in that?”

Finding the Best Performance

“I use the script a lot because it’s story beats that are written in.

And when actors follow those cues, it’s really important. So I’m always looking for those cues and a good actor is just gonna follow the character that’s written for them. And if they’ve talked about something else with the director, I try to make sure that the story beats are there.”

Amy says that it also vitally important for her that the actors are listening to the other characters.

“You can always tell when the actor is thinking of their line. It’s a dead giveaway, so I’m trying to avoid that. Paying attention, being in the moment, and story beats are really true to their character.”

She also says that bringing your personal style is very important. “Whether it’s the camera moving or whether it’s how you like to frame shots” is great but “seeing the actors is really important.

A lot of people love wide shots and wide shots are really important and good, but seeing the cogs turning, knowing what pieces you need when you’re on the set is a totally different thing.”

You can listen to more from Amy, here.

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