Jazz Tangcay talks to the editors of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs Masisel about Paris, working together and why they love coming to work on the show.
What’s it like working on one of the most beautiful shows on TV right now? Tim Streeto and Kate Sanford – editors on Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – have the answer: they all work in one studio. From writing, production design, shooting and editing, the cast and crew all work in close proximity. I caught up with the editors to talk about how they edit episodes and set the pace. We talked about editing the telethon sequence and the Paris scenes.
Read our chat below.
The season opens with a trip to Paris. How did you approach that as editors to give it a Parisian vibe?
Kate: After working on season one, we were delighted. I think our viewers were also excited to go someplace new.
The shooting crew went and filmed all of the Paris scenes for both episodes, and I cut them since I was on first. Then, when Tim started, he continued editing dailies for episode 2 as they came in and incorporated the Paris material, re-cutting and revising with Amy and Dan.
Tim: When we heard that they were going to Paris, it was such a thrill, because we knew they’d be dressing it for the period and going to a lot of great locations, like the Rodin museum, the Seine by Notre Dame. I’m not sure we did anything different editorially to give it a Parisian vibe, because that city really speaks for itself.
What’s the process of working together as a team?
Tim: While we’ve worked together on four shows now, we rarely work on the same episodes. We usually alternate. Kate cuts odds, I cut evens, or vice versa. Occasionally, one of us will pinch-hit for the other, as Kate mentioned she started on the Paris stuff, but that’s rare. But we really rely on each other as collaborators. Even though we’re not cutting the same material, Kate’s the only other person on the show who’s doing what I do. So her insight and ideas are very important to me.
In episode 2 you feature the song “How are Ya’ Fixed for Love?” Talk about the music choices and cutting that scene?
Tim: That was a tough one. As she often does, Amy shot a bunch of carefully staged beats that composed the montage of Abe and Rose’s life in Paris. On set they used playback of Sinatra’s “I’ve Got the World on a String” but Amy really only wanted it there for a feeling. And she always wanted to end on the night shot of the couples dancing along the Seine to “What a Wonderful World.” Originally the idea was to do a kind of Nelson Riddle swing orchestration of “Wonderful World” the whole way, but we couldn’t really get that to work, and started to fall in love with the original tracks anyway. But “String” did not want to cut smoothly in that sequence, it swells and builds in a way that was really hard to edit. So we went on the search for another song to start it off, which of course necessitated a bunch of alternate picture edits. I got some critical remote help from our music editor Annette Kudrak (who hadn’t started yet). What I love about “Fixed for Love” is it has the romantic Sinatra vibe, but is a duet with Keely Smith. It felt perfect for Abe and Rose.
It’s interesting how you reveal it to be so challenging. Can you tell me more about the telethon episode?
Kate: That was Dan’s writing and directing. I think from the beginning, that episode (209) had a unique quality where a lot of the humor came from the editing. In the first scene for instance, in the diner, Susie is going around the tables getting information from everyone so she can get Midge on the telethon. Every time we cut to the next table, it’s a bit of a joke because we cut faster and faster until it’s unrealistic- there’s not actually enough time for her to get to the next table. I think that’s just part of the humor whether you recognize that or you just feel it.
Dan wrote that telethon episode and in typical fashion, he used repetition of dialogue and situations. The fact that Midge and Susie kept revisiting the control room and having them pop up there and get yelled at was really funny.
The ending of that show was pretty challenging too because we needed to have enough of Midge’s routine to stretch across all of the reaction shots of everybody around the city watching her performance. It happens sometimes on the show that the writers come up with something and we find that there may not be enough dialogue to stretch all the way across what we need to show visually. We try to get it as tight as we can to tell the story and then we ask Dan and Amy to add more jokes or off-camera dialogue. There were a few more jokes that were re-recorded and added to finish that sequence.
You talk about the balance of comedy and drama on the show- how do you get that tone right in the editing room?
Tim: It’s tricky because it’s a funny show where the pace is really driving the comedy, but there are also some real heartfelt moments. If the writing weren’t as good as it is, the show would really whiplash tonally. But it doesn’t. The scripts are just so well-crafted. There’s the scene later in the season where Midge is on stage and sees her father in the audience. It was such a huge moment for the series, Abe discovering what she’s been up to. It’s really funny, but it was such a terrifying and dramatic moment too.
Kate: We created that moment as a choice. The standup is racing and you’re keeping the balls in the air and then it comes to a dead stop right in the middle where they look at each other. I built in some of those pauses and Amy said, “we can have a moment of Midge stopping and a stammer, but then we need to keep it going.” Even in that moment, the space is filled with perceptible coughing, whispering and chairs scraping. Pace-wise we can come to one full stop per dramatic moment. Then we have to ramp it back up and keep the balls in the air again.
One thing that is so apparent is how much like family you are. What is that environment like for you?
Tim: Well, first of all, we’re all working in the same place, Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The writers and the art department are down the hall. The production office is down the hall. Everyone is invited to the table reads, and you really get to know the crew. You get to know people you might not usually get to know working in post. And some of us have worked together on other shows, brought along to this one mainly by Dhana Gilbert, our producer. Also, Amy and Dan are open to having people come and see us in the editing room. David Mullen, our DP comes by, Bill Groom, our production designer comes by. Kate and I love it. Maybe it also has a family feel because Amy and Dan are married. They kind of feel like our parents, I guess!
Kate: The mood starts with them. I’ve been on shows where the table read or the set felt tense or was open to only a small inner circle. But from the start, on this show, everyone on the crew was invited to come to the table read and that really set the tone. Everyone comes and has a laugh, the cast and crew have brunch together and it’s just really nice. We’re working and mingling with our amazing actors, and we feel like we’re all making something together.