May-June 2014

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32 CINEMONTAGE / MAY-JUN 14 "Artie is the smartest editor I've ever worked with," says his Back to the Future co-editor Harry Keramidas, A.C.E. "And I've worked with a lot of people. He's even- tempered, well-read, hard-working and a consummate gentleman. He understands how to make a story work." Editing is in his blood. His father, editor Arthur P. Schmidt, was Oscar- nominated twice (Sunset Boulevard, 1950; Sayonara, 1957), and well known for his work with Billy Wilder, among others. "I was in love with film from the very beginning," Schmidt tells CineMontage. "But my father said, 'Don't get into this business. It's too tough. Sell insurance, have some job security.' Although he was a well-respected editor and excellent at what he did, he was aware that he never knew when he'd be hired back." To Schmidt, the Paramount editing rooms in which his father worked felt like prison cells. "It wasn't a very inviting atmosphere, cutting nitrate film," he recalls. "It seemed very mechanical and unpleasant. I didn't think editing was for me. But I'd see the sets for movies he was working on — like the mansion in Sunset Boulevard; it was like magic. I was hooked, even though it took a long time to get there. I didn't get into the business until my father died in 1965." Schmidt spent four years at Goldwyn Studios, going from one assistant job to another. "It was a good place to be. The studio system was largely broken down by then, unless you were cutting television. There were a lot of independent companies there and you met people." Like Dede Allen, A.C.E., who was editing Arthur Penn's Little Big Man (1970) in New York, then brought the film to Hollywood to find sound editors who had experience with large-scale Westerns. "She needed a standby editor back then, since there was the New York union and the LA union," Schmidt says. "I was hoping some of her magic would rub off. I was waiting for some words of wisdom, but they never came. But it was enough to watch her work." After working on Mike Nichols' The Fortune (1975) as an assistant, Schmidt was asked by Allen to assist her on a sequel to Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl. "She said, 'Artie, you're going to be cutting before long because Mike is shooting so much,'" he remembers. "But after two weeks, they shut down; Mike wasn't getting along with About Schmidt The Legendary Editor of 'Back to the Future' Revisits His Past by Garrett Gilchrist, portraits by Wm. Stetz F rom Back to the Future to Cast Away, Robert Zemeckis, and his longtime editor Arthur Schmidt, A.C.E., crafted some of the most iconic films of the 1980s, '90s and beyond. A two-time Oscar winner, as well as the recipient of numerous other industry awards and honors for his editing work, Schmidt — who retired in 2008 — is well loved and respected in the industry. CineMontage_May-Jun_14-3.indd 32 4/15/14 2:52 PM

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