Spring 2016

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22 CINEMONTAGE / Q2 2016 by Rob Feld • portraits by Sarah Shatz V eteran New York indie film editor Sabine Hoffman, ACE, discovered film editing and began her career as a student in Berlin. To make her rent, she worked at a music club before finding jobs on film sets: driver, script supervisor and finally assistant director, which is more of a creative collaborator position in Germany than it is in America. When she was invited into an editing room, Hoffman suddenly saw her different interests in art history, music, photography and theatre converging. "I realized that film editing is all about language, rhythm and music, and I could bring all my interests together," she recalls. "It was a magical discovery." She worked as an apprentice editor in Germany, but started editing student films herself when she moved to Boston to intern with Robert Wilson at the American Repertory Theater. From there, she took on indie films but found her most frequent collaborator when producer and InDigEnt founder Gary Winick introduced her to Rebecca Miller, who was looking for someone to cut Personal Velocity: Three Portraits (2002). Hoffman took the job and the film went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Hoffman recently completed her fourth film with Miller, Maggie's Plan, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and opened May 20 through Sony Pictures Classics. The film follows Maggie (Greta Gerwig), a New York woman intent on having a baby utilizing sperm donated by a college acquaintance. Just — and the word just cannot be overemphasized — as she attempts the self-insemination, she falls in love with John (Ethan Hawke), a brilliant but self-indulgent anthropology professor apparently in a stifling marriage with intimidating Danish uber-academic Georgette (Julianne Moore). There was plenty of behavior and performance to track in the dialogue-heavy story, with the first cut coming in at 140 minutes before being trimmed down to 92 minutes. Any one of the actors could be the story's center of gravity, and Hoffman credits the collaborative atmosphere that she and Miller maintain to finding the balance they felt served all masters. "My motto for Maggie's Plan in particular was, 'I want you to have your cake and eat it too,'" says Hoffman. "That's what it should be." CineMontage interviewed Hoffman in Manhattan in March about the new film as well as her career and her frequent collaborations with Miller. CineMontage: Did you go through a traditional apprentice process in Germany and do you remember a "light bulb moment' that came from the experience? Sabine Hoffman: Yes, an amazing German editor/director, René Perraudin, mentored me, and I remember his generosity. I was overly eager and one day made a big mistake because of it. Some people were very upset and I had to undo everything I had done. I felt very ashamed and sad. I wanted to quit forever, and it was he who said, "Don't worry, I understand why you did it. This is a learning moment — just don't forget about it." Communication is everything. Ask about things when you are curious and try to build bridges of communication. As an editor, I would like my cutting room to be a magical kitchen where it is safe to experiment. Be open to ideas and invite them, because it's not necessarily me who is going to have the best one. CM: Do you feel something has been lost going from those days of 40 tracks on a mag to working in digital? SH: I'm not sure if we've lost so much because we've gained so much — like the ability to explore versions and layer things in ways that were not as instantly possible before and, thanks to digital, I will always do a first draft that has everything Sabine's Plan Engaging with the Editorial Process and the Audience Opposite, Sabine Hoffman.

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