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November/December 2021

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irector Wes Anderson's latest film, The French Dispatch, brings to life a collection of stories from a fictitious, middle-America magazine that covers the 20th-century happenings of the imaginary French city of Ennui-sur-Blase. Each of the film's chapters is told from the perspective of one of the paper's contributing writers. Collectively, they have gathered to write the obituary of their former publisher. Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson) is a travelogue reporter, who covers the seediest sections of the city, all via bicycle. Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand) reports from the height of a student revolt, led by Zeffirelli (Timothée Chalamet) and Juliette (Lyna Khoudri). J.K.L. Berensen (Tilda Swinton) recalls the rise and fall of Moses Rosenthaler's (Benicio del Toro) fine art career, which started and ended while he was in prison. Bill Murray, serves as the magazine's editor — Arthur Howitzer, Jr. — with Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park and Adrian Brody also taking up roles. Andrew Weisblum, ACE, edited the feature, continuing a relationship with Wes Anderson that includes cutting the director's films Isle of Dogs, Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Darjeeling Limited. He recently spoke with Post about his work on The French Dispatch, its challenges and how he and Anderson collaborate during the edit. You have worked with Wes Anderson on a number of films prior to The French Dispatch. "Yes. We've been working together for a while now — I guess, since The Darjeeling Limited, so we're pretty famil- iar at this point." His films are very stylized. How would you describe his style editorially? "How would I describe [it]? Precise! That's the first word that comes to mind: precise and detailed, just like everything else about his films. This one in partic- ular, it's very dense and complicated material, and a lot of the process is a design process in a way where, there are a lot of things that are figured out in the pre-planning stage and animatics in terms of details. And then a lot of stuff is happening in production. The production design crosses into post, where we're constantly manipulating and rebuilding and combining images, particularly of the larger canvases that are combina- tions of partial set builds, of miniatures and live-action elements, and even small animation elements, all kind of concoct- ed together and tweaked until, hopefully, it's somewhat seamless." Knowing that so much of the film comes together in post, where do you, as an editor, begin? "Well…I'm involved in pre-production very early on. Wes shared the script with me and we talked about some of the chal- lenges and approaches. I guess my first reaction reading this was: Every sentence is a new set? (laughs) That became a major part of our animatic process, which is something that has carried over from the animated films into live action as a strategic tool, where we work with storyboard artists." Which scenes did you work on first? "I think that the animatic process kind of informed that. We only got so far in terms of the animatic process, because it's kind of several films in one. Where there was a complete animatic for the Owen Wilson section, and a fairly com- plete one for Rosenthaler, and less so for Nescaffier (Stephen Park), and very little for the central piece — the Timothée Chalamet section. I think that the stuff that had all the material detail planning, in terms of the animatic stuff, was kind of both first and last, because it required the most manipulation, and the middle section was a little bit more freeform, both in terms of production and editori- ally. But, you know, I'm on-set all the time in Angoulême, and a lot of things come up, where we know there's something else we need to pick up or grab while we're still there." What camera format were they shooting with, and can you talk about your editing set up? "It's an Avid, although the animatic was done [with] After Effects and Avid as a combination. And then on this film, it was all shot on film. Wes wanted to do a 4K DI, and we worked out a system with Company 3, formerly Sixteen19, whereby we scanned everything — all the dailies — at 4K during production, and those became our resulting files for the end of the show, for the end of post. We were always working on and looking at scans from the beginning. We would process the film in Paris, scan on a 4K Scanity, and as soon as that hit the scanner, we never really touched the film again. And then those scans were down-res'd on a local system that Company 3 set up for us, much like they would do mobile dai- lies if you were shooting digitally. "There were a lot of visual effects, where I would do a mock-up of some- THE FRENCH DISPATCH BY MARC LOFTUS ANDREW WEISBLUM, ACE, HELPS WES ANDERSON REALIZE HIS LATEST CREATIVE VISION D EDITING 12 POST NOV/DEC 2021 Director Wes Anderson and editor Andrew Weisblum

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