Q1 2020

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A scene from Gerwig's "Little Women." "We hit it off," Houy said of the director. P H O T O : C O L U M B I A P I C T U R E S 56 C I N E M O N T A G E film. Nick respects the actors deeply but will also make the right call for the film. "Nick made me a better filmmaker and person." Maybe Houy's most significant col- laboration has been with Greta Gerwig, the actress whose debut solo directing feature, "L ady Bird" (2017), earned five Academy Award nominations and became the highest-grossing film in the history of A24 Films. Houy and Gerwig are back with the hugely anticipated literary adaptation, "Little Women," from the Civil War-era novel by Louisa May Alcott about the intertwining fortunes of the four May sisters. "Lady Bird" star Saoirse Ronan stars, along with Emma Watson, Flor- ence Plug and Meryl Streep. Gerwig knew instinctively Houy was the right editor for the film. "I just knew that we heard the script in exactly the same way," Gerwig said. "I say 'heard.' Because that is the only way I know how to describe it. It's all in the rhythm of the thing, and I knew he heard how I wanted the script to sound. "He just understood what language I was speaking." S i n c e h i s te e n y e a r s g ro w i n g u p around Boulder and the University of Colorado, Houy has been self-taught. "I was into photography and music," he said. "In high school, I started shoot- ing with a Super8 camera. By then digital cameras were just starting to get normal. Boulder had a community television sta- tion, and I could use their equipment and edit with tape-to-tape. I started making short films, probably 10 minutes long, on Super8 and S-VHS." The film program at Boulder, where Houy enrolled, had an international rep- utation through the extraordinary figure of Stan Brakhage (1933-2003), the radical filmmaker and painter who was a central figure of the emergence of the modernist American experimental film movement of the 1960s. "It was cool because it was all about the avant-garde cinema, and all the classes dealt with that," Houy said. "In my Introduction to Film History class, we watched 'West Side Story.' The teachers didn't turn their back on feature films. "It was the best of both worlds." In an interview in early October at his editor suite at the Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, near the soundstages where much of "Little Women" was shot, Houy talked about his working methods and process and what it was like to work on the bigger canvas of the major studio film. Q CineMontage: Given the more radical impulses of Colorado's film program, was it difficult to make the leap professionally to a more commercially-oriented style of filmmaking? I tried to do the traditional route. I moved to New York right when I gradu- ated from film school. I tried like hell to get a job as a PA or a driver. I ended up on set on a few other movies, but thank God I got an apprenticeship at PostWorks in New York and I met Ben Murray. He was an on-line colorist. I got onto "Sicko" (2007). I was just loading tapes and help- ing him color. Q Did you have a mentor to help you navigate the industry? I soon learned that I also did not want to be a conformer or coloring, so I got a job at Post FactoryNY in Soho with Naomi Geraghty. She is amazing, and she took me under her wing. That was my first real apprenticeship. Then I met Anne McCabe because she was cutting "Adventureland" (2009), and she became my biggest mentor. She gave me my big break. Out of nowhere, I was able to get on "The Night Of," through Anne McCabe. She really helped me get that. I hit it off with Steve Zaillian. It was a huge sink-or-swim moment. Q How did you get connected to Greta Gerwig? That was lucky. When I got that first apprentice job, I met Jen Lame. We were both apprentices for Naomi. Jen had been an assistant and then became the editor of "Frances Ha" (2012), and that became her big break. Jen knows Noah Baumbach very well. When Greta was looking for an editor, Jen recommended me because she was with Greta and Noah. Luckily Greta liked "The Night Of," so I was able to get an interview. We hit it off. What is most impressive about "Lady Bird" is the tonal shifts, the intertwin- ing of observational comedy with the darker themes. We talked a lot about that. It's a story that has been told before, and so she wanted to make sure it felt fresh. We SEE PAGE 66 F E A T U R E

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