Written by Post Perspective
Editor Sandra Torres Granovsky, whose credits include Promised Land, The Opening Act and Alpha, recently cut the SXSW film Scrambled. Torres Granovsky, who studied film theory and anthropology at UC Berkeley, learned her craft from her mentor, editor Dan Lebental, ACE, while he worked on Jon Favreau-directed films such as Elf and Iron Man and other Favreau projects such as Couple’s Retreat and The Break-Up.
Torres Granovsky started on Scrambled — which follows millennial Nellie Robinson on a hilarious, existential journey as she faces reproductive challenges and decides to freeze her eggs — a week before the film started principal photography. The film’s director, Leah McKendrick, stars along with Yvonne Strahovski, Clancy Brown and June Diane Raphael.
Let’s find out more…
How did you work with the director, Leah McKendrick?
During production I shared a few scenes so that the director could get a sense of how her footage was coming together. Leah and I had never worked together before, so we decided to connect and work on a couple of scenes during production. This was great for beginning to establish a rapport.
Was there a particular scene or scenes that were most challenging?
One of the most fun and challenging scenes to edit in Scrambled was one of the first scenes of the film. Nellie, our protagonist, takes ecstasy at her best friend’s wedding. She’s alone and we had to convey what that experience was like.
We were tasked with creating a comedic moment when Nellie’s reality shifted and became different from the reality of everyone around her. The director and I also wanted it to be fun and viscerally accurate. There was a lot of trial and error and a lot of laughs. In the end, we played with the speed of the footage, the music and the lighting that DP Julia Swain created. (Swain shot on ARRI Alexa in the OpenGate 4.5K format.) It felt like a wild dance party for Nellie, and it was a great way to start the film.
Can you talk about your editing workflow?
When I edit a project, I eagerly wait for my first completed scene. Once I receive all of the organized dailies for that scene, I will edit according to script. I move quickly because as I continue to receive footage, it’s important to keep up to camera so I can flag any issues or desired coverage as soon as possible.
I focus on sketching out the scenes and do not allow myself to get bogged down by any footage puzzles. Once the whole scene is sketched out, I fine-tune the cut until I am happy with it. I move forward in this way throughout the whole of production. However, I always go back to the scenes I have edited at least once more with a fresh eye.
What editing system did you use?
We used Adobe Premiere Pro because our deadlines and production workflow dictated that we transfer dailies internally.
Is there a tool within that system that was particularly helpful?
The copy and paste features are great in Premiere.
How did you manage your time on the film?
Managing time with editing is somewhat esoteric because it’s such a creative endeavor. The most important thing for me is to have an idea and plan for execution. That doesn’t necessarily come when I sit in front of my computer. Oftentimes it comes when I am doing everyday activities, such as washing dishes, walking my dogs or having my morning coffee. I try to be patient with myself if I don’t have the inspiration or plan right away. I know that once that comes, the execution takes no time at all.
Did you have an assistant editor on this?
My assistant editors (Malcolm Garvey and Jeff Cummings) and I worked remotely on this film. This had actually been the case with most of the projects I worked on shortly before COVID-19 greatly affected our workflows.
Luckily, post technology has enabled a successful remote workflow. However, it requires working with a very strong assistant editor and good communication on both ends. This has also been an interesting way of working because we met in person only a handful of times. Most of the time we communicated by messaging, Zoom and phone calls.
In this case, we sent cuts and footage back and forth with Premiere Productions and Google Drive. Occasionally, when we had tight deadlines or screenings, we worked in person.
How do you manage producers’ expectations with reality/what can really be done?
Communication and confidence are the most effective ways to manage expectations with the reality of what can actually be done. It is important to develop the confidence to know and to communicate that a certain expectation may not result in the best possible work. In these situations, I have found that almost everyone has respected, supported, facilitated and appreciated my desire to do good work.
How do you take criticism?
I try to make sure that I feel very good about the work that I do. If I feel good about my work, then any feedback I receive is a welcome part of the process.
I have also found that a good idea is undeniable, and everyone I have worked with has strived for that. I believe that ideas that don’t work are just as valuable as ideas that do. While it is more challenging to execute an idea I don’t believe in, it’s a wonderful exercise that makes me a better editor. I also very much enjoy the times when I don’t believe in an idea, and it works. It enables me to always have an open mind and to be excited about collaboration.
When someone who is starting out asks what they should learn, what do you recommend?
I would recommend that anyone starting out as an editor be humble and always open to learning. There are so many aspects of editing that require an openness at all levels of experience, from learning new tech to learning how to express new ideas.