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Discussions About A Career In Cinema: Mike McCusker, Editor

In this conversation with Phedon Papamichael, Mike McCusker, the editor of Identity, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma and Knight and Day, shares his insights on career, collaboration, and the intersection of technology and storytelling. McCusker talks about the path that led to his current success, the dizzying impact of his first Oscar nominations, and what he’s learned along the way about balancing life in the cutting room and life at home.

0:00 – Recalling collaborations with PP

00:40 – Early days – film school, breaking in, the path to editing, lessons learned

2:25 – Getting the right opportunities at the right time

3:08 – The collaboration between the cinematographer and the editor. Making your voice heard without creating a crisis.

4:38 – The importance of understanding intent

6:39—Pre-vis and visual effects

8:27 – A headache for the DP can become a headache for the editor

10:01 – Critiquing performance; not watching dailies together.

11:29 – Dealing with the attention of an Oscar nomination

12:54 – How to get work: it’s relationships

14:13 – Prepping for the job interview

16:12 – Interviewing the interviewer

16:59 – Getting the gig versus picking and choosing projects – a change in attitude

18:02 – The impact of film lifestyle on personal life—“There is no balance.”

19:03 – Editors and equipment – purchasing gear, or not

20:22 – Storytelling means committing to a focused point of view

21:30 – A story about a long first cut

22:54 – A wide variety of performances versus too many options

25:02 – When cinematography gets in the way of the story

26:53—Editors spending time in the DI and the impact of technology

31:01 – Are DPs less relevant on big effects films?

33:19 – Potential problems of pre-vis

35:04 – Diagramming your career