Q4 2019

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91 F A L L Q 4 I S S U E B O O K R E V I E W Paul Hirsch Life Moves Pretty Fast F rom its outer cover to its f inal paragraph, renowned picture ed- itor Paul Hirsch's new book, "A long time ago in a cutting room far, far away…." is a treasure. On a dust jacket featuring endorse- ments from the likes of J.J. Abrams, Taylor Hackford, and Mark Hamill, fellow editor Walter Murch entices readers inside the book with the blurb, "Paul's invaluable tips and insights, hard-won through experience, will brilliantly illu- minate the creative process for aspiring filmmakers and enthusiasts alike." The 360+ pages within fully bear out Murch's acclaim. Hirsch takes readers on a journey through his extraordinary career with a writing style that is clear, e n te r ta i n i n g, a n d ro l l i c k i n g. S e e m - ingly no story is left untold, no craft secret is left unshared, and in his closing paragraph, Hirsch creates a musical metaphor that is a dead-on description of editors' work. "Being an editor on a mov- ie is like being in a band. We are certainly not the lead vocalist, nor perhaps even the brooding, mysterious solo guitarist. We are more like the bass player or the drummer. Our contribution is taken for granted, but we can make a huge differ- ence. I've played in some terrific bands in my life, and it has been a blast." The tone of this statement captures not only Hirsch's writing style, but also the cultural underpinnings of a man who was in his 20s when he cut his first theatrical feature in 1970, Brian De Pal- ma's "Hi, Mom!," and whose most recent feature credit is 2017's "The Mummy." Hirsch most certainly played in some notable bands along the way, including FROM 'STAR WARS' TO 'FERRIS BUELLER,' PAUL HIRSCH SAW — AND CUT — IT ALL By Betsy A. McLane the ensembles of "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope" (1977) and "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back" (1980), "Obsession" (1976), "Footloose" (1984), "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986), "Steel Magnolias" (1989), "Mission: I m p o s s i b l e " ( 1 9 9 6 ) , " R a y " ( 2 0 0 4 ) , and "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Pro- tocol" (2011). Hirsch was not a film school graduate, as were many young filmmakers of the era; he studied art and architecture at Colombia University. Nor did he follow the traditional Hollywood path working up through the ranks of a studio. Hirsch writes that he did not have an editor as a mentor, that he learned mostly through self-taught trial and error. "A long time ago in a cutting room far, far away..." does not shy away from detailing the successes, the trials, nor the mistakes that sometimes resulted. Hirsch reveals his colleagues' quirks and qualities, both good and bad, as he relates his own story. Perhaps the many De Palma f ilms edited by Hirsch best demonstrate his de- velopment as a craftsperson and artist. As young men, both were part of the New York independent film scene in the early 1970s, a gritty but freewheeling time and place that fostered directors Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, Gordon Parks, and Jerry Schatzberg, among others. Hirsch's first five features were with De Palma. Chapter One describes the mak- ing of "Carrie" (1976), which Hirsch calls "My First Hit." Chapter Two goes back "Ten Years Earlier," tracing the paths that brought De Palma and Hirsch together for "Hi, Mom!" He began in the business running film cans to and from labs, found jobs in industrials and trailers, learned negative cutting and switched from 16 to 35mm as assistant to Chuck Workman. There he cut down an existing featurette for "The Thomas Crown Affair," and when the client liked it, Hirsch was awarded the job of editing the promo for "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" from scratch. He writes, "From then on I was an editor, on and off." Hirsch's break came when his brother was in partnership with Brian De Palma to make the film that became "Hi, Mom!" Some of the most affecting stories of the early years involve legendary composer/conductor Bernard Herrmann. After career landmarks like "Citizen Kane" and the great Hitchcock films, by the late 1960s Herrmann was considered out of style, composing chiefly for televi- sion and European films. De Palma, with his unabashed fixation on Hitchcock, hired "Benny" Herrmann as composer for "Sisters" (1972) and later "Obsession"

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