Q1 2020

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Shannon Baker Davis P H O T O : C H R I S T O P H E R F R A G A P A N E 40 C I N E M O N T A G E C O V E R S T O R Y S hannon Baker Davis has come a long way from Georgia. The picture editor moved to Hollywood after college and honed her skills in television ("Grown-ish" and "Queen Sugar"). Her latest project, "The Photograph," Universal's new romance drama starring Issa Rae (of HBO's comedy "Insecure") and Lakeith Stanfield, is in theaters on February 14. She spoke with CineMontage about growing up with scientist parents, her love of "Pulp Fiction," and the impor- tance of balancing work and family. Q How did you get involved in "The Photograph"? What were your reactions to the script? I h a d w o r k e d w i t h t h e d i r e c t o r, Stella Meghie, on two previous projects, "Grown-ish" and an indie film called "The Weekend." We clicked from the first day, and, when she mentioned that she had a feature in development at Universal, I was interested, even before reading the script, based on how great it was working with Stella, and based on seeing and loving her first film, "Jean of the Joneses." When I got the script, I connected with it immediately because I had grown up watching and re-watch- ing black romances like "Love Jones" and "Love and Basketball," and "The Photograph" tapped into that feeling I hadn't felt in a while. The script also took relationships to the next level by includ- ing a mother-daughter story that was so heart-wrenching. Q What was your working relation- ship like with the director? How often was she in the room? Does she give you a lot of notes leading up to editor's assembly, or just let you fly solo until later? S i n c e t h i s w a s o u r t h i rd p ro j e c t together, I knew what Stella liked and dis- liked. And I think she has a trust that my instincts will line up with her intentions. She doesn't usually do a lot of takes, and I can always pick up on the adjustments i n t h e d a i l i e s. I t 's a l m o s t l i ke s h e's communicating through takes just on account of the changes in performance. I was pretty much free to try things (after putting together the script, of course). Then we worked together in the room daily to get it to directors cut and then to picture lock. I think the fun of working with a director is the talks. I'm a talker. I like to talk through things. And when you work with a director who has a precise vision and specific taste, who can have a discussion about it, it helps the project evolve into what it needs to be. Just like any personal relationship, a movie gets hard to make when the communication shuts down. Q You mentioned working together previously on "The Weekend." What was that experience like? Did it help when approaching "The Photograph" that you two had a previous work collaboration? "The Weekend" was a scrappy little movie that was super personal to Stella and became my first big festival film, when we premiered at Toronto Film Festival. I'm really proud of it. Post was a hyper-speed super-short six weeks. And I think we actually got to a cut that Photo Shop SHANNON BAKER DAVIS ON EDITING UNIVERSAL'S "THE PHOTOGRAPH"

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