DIXON, KELLEY

Kelley Dixon, ACE

No birth date available.

Kelley Dixon, ACE began professionally editing in 1990, as an assistant editor on feature films and TV series (including Good Will Hunting, Reservoir Dogs, and thirteen episodes of Without a Trace). As primary editor, she is known for her work between 2008-2017 on several noteworthy series, including sixteen episodes of Better Call Saul,  twenty-seven episodes of Breaking Bad from 2008-2013, five episodes of The Walking Dead, and seven episodes of Shameless. Dixon won an Emmy for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for Breaking Bad and has been nominated twenty other times for various editing awards.

“For an editor, sometimes things are hard, sometimes shows are hard, sometimes politics are hard, and you’re not working with the people that you want to work with and stuff like that. But you know what? It’s the best job ever.”
— Kelley Dixon, interviewed on Television Academy. The full video can be found in the Appendix.

LEPSELTER, ALISA

Alisa Lepselter, ACE

Born 1963

 Alisa Lepselter, ACE succeeded Susan E. Morse in editing all of Woody Allen’s films, beginning with Sweet and Lowdown. She began as an intern on Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild and was Thelma Schoonmaker’s assistant editor on Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. Her first editing credit was for Nicole Holofcener’s first film as a director, Walking and Talking. She was nominated for an Eddie Award for Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris.

“I learned a lot about how to work with directors by watching all these different personalities. Some editors could explain themselves in a way that ultimately got them what they wanted. They were diplomatic. And some people weren’t cut out to be editors because they were too confrontational. You have to have the kind of personality that can work with the director to achieve the director’s vision; you can’t be fighting for your own vision. And that’s something I’m okay with because I thought editing itself was so much fun.”
— “Making the Cut” in Duke Magazine. The full text can be found in the Appendix.

MORSE, SUSAN

Susan Morse, ACE

Born 1952

Susan Morse, ACE was Woody Allen’s primary editor from 1977-1998, during which time she edited twenty-two of his films, from Manhattan to Celebrity. She got an Oscar nomination for Hannah and Her Sisters, and five BAFTA nominations for various films by Allen. Morse has forty-one credits, and in the 2010s, she edited the third season of Louie and three episodes of Billions.

“The director,” Morse says, “has got built in how he wrote it, how it was conceived, the nuances of the performances he heard in his head, the problems he had in camera placement… It can distract him from really looking at it.”
—“On the Cutting Edge” by Desson Howe. The full interview can be found in the Appendix.

BENSON, LILLIAN E.

Lillian E. Benson, ACE

No birth date available.

Lillian E. Benson, ACE began working in 1977, and was the editor of two episodes of Eyes on the Prize, nominated for an Emmy. She has eighty-one editing credits. Benson edited several feature films by black women directors, including Ayoka Chenzira’s Alma’s Rainbow, Christine Swanson’s All About You and Debbie Allen’s The Old Settler. Benson was the first African-American female editor selected for membership in ACE and serves on their board of directors. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Hollywood Education and Research Center in 2017. The extensive list of documentaries Benson has edited about the African-American experience include those about the Freedom Riders, Maya Angelou, John Lewis, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Group.

“You always draw on the intuitive self…and if you’re familiar with the tools, and don’t have to think about how you’re working, then…that is the strength of having a system that works with your mind, and you don’t have to overthink how to get it to do what you want it to do.”
—“Making the Cut: Lillian Benson, ACE—Drawing on the Intuitive Self” by Jess Bedford. The full interview can be found in the Appendix.  

 

 

 

LUCAS, MARCIA

Marcia Lucas

Born 1945

Marcia Lucas edited Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and was then the supervising editor of his next two films, Taxi Driver and New York, New York. The first film by her husband George Lucas that she co-edited (with Verna Fields) was American Graffiti. She then co-edited the first Star Wars: Episode IV with Paul Hirsch and Richard Chew.  They won an Oscar and a Saturn Award. Lucas co-edited the next two Star Wars: Episodes V and VI. After their divorce, she retired from editing work. But later, in the same galaxy…

“I love editing and I’m real gifted at it,” she stated in 1983. “I have an innate ability to take good material and make it better, or take bad material and make it fair. I’m compulsive about it. I think I’m even an editor in real life.”

“I felt we were partners, partners in the ranch, partners in our home, and we did these films together. I wasn’t a fifty percent partner, but I felt I had something to bring to the table. I was the more emotional person who came from the heart, and George was the more intellectual and visual, and I thought that provided a nice balance. But George would never acknowledge that to me. I think he resented my criticisms, felt that all I ever did was put him down. In his mind, I always stayed the stupid Valley girl. He never felt I had any talent, he never felt I was very smart and he never gave me much credit. When we were finishing Jedi, George told me he thought I was a pretty good editor. In the sixteen years of our being together I think that was the only time he complimented me.”

(I love this cartoon but sorry, I couldn’t track down who did it.)

About editing Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore:
“Marty [Scorsese] called, and asked if I would do his first studio feature. He was terrified of the studio executives, that Warners was going to give him some old fuddy-duddy editor or a spy–the studios were known for having spies on such projects. Marty liked to edit, and I felt like I was being hired to cut a movie so I wouldn’t cut it, so I’d let the director cut it. But I thought, if I’m ever going to get any real credit, I’m going to have to cut a movie for somebody besides George. ‘Cause if I’m cutting for my husband, they’re going to think, George lets his wife play around in the cutting room. George agreed with that.”
Three excerpts from “In Tribute to Marcia Lucas” by Michael Kaminski. The full text can be found in the Appendix

McLEAN, BARBARA “BOBBIE”

Barbara “Bobbie” McLean

1903 – 1996

Barbara “Bobbie” McLean has sixty-two film credits. From the 1930s through 1960s, she was 20th Century Fox’s most conspicuous editor and went on to be the head of the editing department and was known in trade publication columns as “Hollywood’s Editor-in-Chief.” McLean received more Academy Award nominations than any other editor during her lifetime (for Les Misérables, Lloyd’s of London, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, The Rains Came, Song of Bernadette, Wilson, and All About Eve). She won the Oscar for Wilson in 1945. Her total of seven nominations was not surpassed until 2012 by Michael Kahn. She also edited Fox’s first venture into Cinemascope, The Robe. Among many other honors, McLean received a Career Achievement Award from ACE. In the obituary published in The Independent, Adrian Dannatt described McLean as “a revered editor who perhaps single-handedly established women as vital creative figures in an otherwise patriarchal industry.”

“I could get to every department and do everything, even to do a good deal of working on music…You’d go on the scoring stage when they’d do the music, to see what he would be doing. You were there watching out for your own good. You know, to know how everything was going to fit. Each thing you learned a little more.”

“Sometime later, McNeil [another editor] had her accompany him to the projection room while Zanuck viewed the rushes with the editor. McNeil was supposed to take note of Zanuck’s comments and discuss things with him, but he never wrote anything down and, as McLean stated, “would forget it or something.” When Zanuck complained, “Why don’t you do what I told you to do?” McNeil tried blaming McLean for not making a note of it. McLean, tired of being ignored and pushed to the other side of the room behind a tiny desk, was livid. “Now look, Alan, don’t you pass the buck to me,” she shot back across the room. “I can’t hear what Mr. Zanuck tells you. Now, if you can’t remember it, don’t you blame it on me.” As McLean recalled tartly, “From there on, Zanuck would yell the notes out so I could hear them. I suppose that’s how he finally discovered that if I could hear, then we would do the changes.” McLean’s grit won her the right to cut the well-named Gallant Lady herself—the first time she received sole credit. Bobbie, a fine sailor in her rare moments away from the editing room, celebrated by christening her new craft Gallant Lady.”

“McLean’s summary of editing was essentially ‘making filmed matters seem better than they are.’ So much for the auteur theory.”
— Three excerpts from “Barbara McLean: Editing, Authorship, and the Equal Right to Be the Best” by J. E. Smyth. The full text can be found in the Appendix.