Giles Alderson and Lucinda Rhodes Thakar chatted to Promising Young Woman’s OSCAR & BAFTA-nominated editor Frédéric Thoraval on the podcast this week. 

Getting Nominated

Frédéric said that being nominated has been an emotional rollercoaster. “I am using ‘emotional roller coaster’ to describe what the movie is, but at the same time, it’s exactly what happened to me.”

He didn’t expect the nominations and described it as a firework finish to the experience of making Promising Young Woman. “That movie started on a very good sign, it was very positive since day one and it ended as it started. The nominations were an amazing experience and amazing recognition from other editors.”

How He Works

With filmmaking, “we can only imagine, and that’s why it’s important to have screenings all along the process to see it in different ways.”

Frédéric says that “when you have a very intimate movie, it helps you to connect even more with the movie, and to accept things that you won’t accept at home because you have the phone ringing because you have the dog barking, the kids coming and all that. And it’s important to be in a cocoon to enjoy that moment. We (editors) do everything we can so you have the best experience – sound wise and picture wise.”

“Because I like to be in the picture I’m cutting, my setup is to have two display monitors in front of me (a bit lower) and in the back, my main monitor – where I’ve got the sound I’m working with. Not only stereo, I like to have three speakers. I have the dialogue in the middle (like you would have in the theatre). And I’m really focussed on that monitor and the sound coming from it.”

This is his main focus. “The rest is just technical stuff, and I don’t want to see it. It’s helpful. It’s necessary. But what is important for me is what I’m seeing on screen. And I try to have the director in between me and the monitors. So we have the same experience. We see the same thing.”

He also likes to watch the film in different places. “Most of the time, we are working in a screening room, which is not a big theatre, but at least you can see it on a big screen. You can feel it differently. And another thing that I’m doing, that is very important for me is to take the movie home and watch it in a different environment. Just to feel it differently.”

Movie to VOD

Because of COVID and the restrictions on cinemas and releases, Frédéric said that he found that people were still enjoying the film together. It “was great to see a lot of young people were experiencing an exchange on that movie, an exchange that continued after. I think it’s important to have that exchange. It’s a movie that raised questions, that raised reactions.”

Receiving the Script for Promising Young Woman

He received the script from his agent. “There was a mood board linked to it – very clear, very detailed, very precise, showing the universe she wanted to (visually) put on screen and a playlist referring to all the songs that she had in the script.” And a lot of the songs that Emerald Fennell had chosen were used in the film. 

Frédéric recalls that he couldn’t put the script down and knew that he wanted to work on it, from that point. He met up with Emerald, for an informal chat and at the end of the meeting, she offered him the job.

“And I think Emerald did something quite amazing to bring together a team that was excited by the movie. And I think that you can see that on screen. Everybody put his soul in that movie. It’s wonderful with the ideas of Emerald, the light – the way they feel very neon and pop – and the hair and makeup, and the costume, and how it helps the character of Cassie.”

There was something very strong and positive during the shoot of that movie.

Frédéric’s Process

“I’m working with what I feel with emotions. And that’s what is important for me. To filter all the dailies, to filter the script, of course, but to the filter of the emotions too.”

“I tried to not have a preconceived idea of what the sequence needs to be. I tried to see what was shot and what the magic moment will be in the movie at the end of the day. Sometimes I see one, and maybe it’s not what you expect. So I sometimes build all the sequence around that moment, because it is what is the most important emotion wise.”

Frédéric watches all the dailies. “And when I say all the dailies, it’s every picture, even when it’s not in the action. There are some pieces from moments before, or moments after the cut because something is happening and because it’s important to the story. So I’m doing a big selection and organising that selection.”

He says that after that he funnels and filters the footage in order to arrive at a first version. “What is important, for me, when you work with a director you’ve never worked with, is to try to see what they want to tell, where they want to go, how they want to do that because there’s something very important to never forget: we are there to help a director to bring his vision on the screen. This is not my vision. And my work is to try to use my past experience to bring the movie together.”

“The shoot and the editing is a very fragile moment for the director.”

You can find more from our podcast with editor Frédéric Thoraval, here.

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