Q4 2022

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Matt Allen. P H OT O : M I C H A E L K R U L I K 55 W I N T E R Q 4 I S S U E F E A T U R E set pieces during the film's development. "American Murderer" tells the true crime story of Jason Derek Brown (Tom Pelphrey), a classic con man swindling his way through a life of debauched luxury. The walls start to close in, though, when he falls behind on gambling debts to a violent group and, in his coke-addled desperation, robs and murders an armored truck driver. FBI Special Agent Lance Leising (Ryan Phil- lippe) takes up the investigation, and the film, told in non-linear fashion, brings its audience forward and back through time, giving us glimpses of Brown's childhood and the people he betrays in adulthood, until he goes on the run and disappears, like his father did before him. As Allen and Gentile tell it, the trust they built over time, and Allen's gumption to do some off-road concepting on his own, made a significant impact on the third act in particular. It was the one section of the film where Allen was feeling a lack of suspense. Though Brown was on the run, a dramatic climax was missing. Allen had an idea but to sell it, he knew he would need to show rather than tell. CineMontage: Matt, you came up through the studio system. What's the best lesson you took from a mentor? Matthew Allen: Editor Matt Chessé would always tell me, "Keep the drama on the screen. You need to handle the politics all around you well and be solid for the director and producers, and deliver the movie on time. You must be a mediator and a problem solver." He would also say, "They only see what you show them. There may be parts of the dailies that don't tell the story well, but at the end of the day, they only see what you show them in the timeline." CineMontage: Matthew, it's hard enough getting your first feature made. What was it about your relationship with Matt that gave you the confidence to hire him for what would also be his first feature? Matthew Gentile: I've seen producers say to directors before me, "I know you like your film school friends, but we can give you someone more experienced." I noticed that most people who took that deal left the process thinking their movie got taken away from them a little bit. You hire the right person for the job. I came to know that was Matt, because we were friends for a while, we talked a lot about film, and in the year leading up to production, he offered to pre-visualize scenes together with the software he won as part of his ACE Eric Zumbrunnen Fellowship. I told him I had bosses and didn't know if I could ultimately give him the editing gig, but he said, "We're stuck in COVID with nothing to do, let's just try it." He would build a set in 3D, we would take my shot list and roam a camera through. Really, he got me directing again. You come from film school where you made six shorts, all ready to go. But then devel- opment happens, years pass, and you feel like you're forgetting how to block actors. So Matt got me back in the chair and we discovered how well we worked together. Then it became me saying, "I have to get you on this movie." I was very lucky. CineMontage: Did you find the previz useful by the time you were actually shooting and cutting? Allen: For me, the process was really helpful. It got Matthew and me working together without the clock running. It's one thing to watch movies together, have a beer together, but let's see us in a room for 10 hours cutting scenes and doing virtual camera moves. There was a lot of synergy there. I also got a lot of insight into what Matthew was planning. He might come in with a list of 20 shots but then see we could cut seven of them. That was helpful for me to get into his brain and see what Matthew Gentile likes and what he's looking for. You still have a lot of work to do with a director after you put together a first cut of a film, but it helped me get on the same page with him more quickly. I put the previz aside and didn't look at it again, figuring I'll just work with whatever he shoots on the day. I actual- ly went back to it recently and realized that

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