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Making the Cut

Emer Reynolds – Making The Cut
11 Oct 2016 : Seán Brosnan
Emer Reynolds
Winner of back-to-back IFTA Awards in 2014 and 2015, editor Emer Reynolds talks to IFTN about she got into the film and television industry.

Winning the last two years for her work on documentaries ‘Here Was Cuba’ and ‘One Million Dubliners’, Reynolds was a double nominee in 2015 as she was nominated for Terry McMahon’s acclaimed feature ‘Patrick’s Day’ also. She also co-directed ‘Here Was Cuba’ and here she tells IFTN about directing her next documentary ‘The Farthest’ as well as chronicling her beginnings in the cutting room.

IFTN: Firstly, tell us a little about what you are working on at the minute?

Emer Reynolds: ‘I am in the middle of the edit on a feature documentary called ‘The Farthest’ that I directed and that Tony Cranstoun- my husband, genius editor and now key collaborator- is editing.’

‘It’s a film about the two plucky Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977, and sent out to explore the outer reaches of the Solar System for the first time. It’s also a film about their curious cargo; a Golden Record containing music, sounds and images of Earth, which were conceived as an attempt to communicate with Aliens. Voyager 1 is now the furthest manmade object ever from the Earth, currently clocking in at 12 and a half billion miles, and is still sending back data about the space between the stars. The Voyagers will in all likelihood outlive humanity, and may well be the last record of our existence. We filmed in the U.S. last autumn, with the wonderful Kate McCullough shooting, and are now deep in the cut, heading for festivals and a hopeful cinema release, later this year.’

What training/education did you receive to become an editor?

‘Like most editors, certainly back then, I trained on the job as a trainee assistant film editor. I had taken a regular degree in Trinity College, not film specific, and was lucky enough to meet people through the film society there who gave me my first start, including editor Martin Duffy who took me on as a trainee, and my great friends Alan Gilsenan and Martin Mahon with whom I still collaborate to this day. This was back in the dark ages of editing on film, cutting on steenbeck flatbeds , where the assistants managed 1000’s of feet of film every day, hanging selections of film in trim bins and manually splicing film together with sellotape. A long way from how films are cut these days! But the advantage was the assistant was in the room with the editor and director a lot, and so could really learn the process of editing by eavesdropping and quietly watching. I worked for many years with the great Sé Merry Doyle, who was a huge influence on me, and taught me how to really feel how to cut, with instinct and intent.’

And what was your first job in the industry?

‘The first film I was fortunate enough to edit myself, was ‘Ailsa’, directed by Paddy Breathnach and produced by Ed Guiney- both making such wonderful noise this year with their current films! ‘Ailsa’ was a beautiful poetic piece, and Paddy and I went on to later cut ‘I Went Down’ together.’

What was the best piece of advice you have been given in the industry?

‘The best ‘advice' I received was in fact just watching and absorbing Sé’s work. He was so invested and committed and would take surprising leaps in the story, that would make my head spin with excitement! He was so brave- narratively and visually- and I hope that has rubbed off a little on me.’

And what advice would you give?

‘The advice I would give is that to be a great editor, go to lots of films; read lots of books; listen to lots of music; walk on lots of cliffs; open your mind and heart to experience and aesthetic bliss and this will hopefully inform and feed your inner creative life and make its way out through your fingers ..and your mouse! Be open!’

For more Making The Cut articles, check out IFTN’s training page here.

IFTA Q&A Series: Joanne O’Brien on Costume Design
IFTA Q&A Series: Eleanor Bowman on Cinematography
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