[WATCH] ‘Manchester by the Sea’ film editor Jennifer Lame on making a film as good as the script

During our recent webcam chat (watch above), film editor Jennifer Lame admits to being so impressed by Kenneth Lonergan‘s screenplay for “Manchester by the Sea,” she wondered, “how can I make sure that my contribution to this preserves the script-version in the final product,” and, “make sure this movie is as good as it is when I first read it?” This Roadside Attractions release of an Amazon Studios production stars Casey Affleck as a Lee Chandler, man who must confront his past when he returns to his hometown to care for his nephew (Lucas Hedges) following the sudden death of the boy’s father (Kyle Chandler).

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The film is novelistic in its structure, cutting back-and-forth in time to fill the audience in on the tragedies that destroyed Lee’s life. The challenge, Lame explains, “was making sure the audience understood when we were jumping in time.” She debated using, “some sort of visual or audio cue, or some sort of rule or something,” to help emphasize a jump from part to present and back again. Ultimately, however, “the most freeing part of the editorial process was when we decided that we didn’t need to, and that we thought that the audience was smart enough to get it.”

Once they discarded with any editorial tricks and simply cut, “when it felt emotionally accurate and honest,” the film, “kind of just locked in and really felt like it was working like it did in the script.” She adds, “they’re two movies playing at the same time. We’re not cutting to moments; they’re scenes. I think people really do get it, and that makes me feel satisfied to know that it worked.”

Related: Watch our interview with Lucas Hedges (‘Manchester by the Sea’)

Lame recently snagged an Independent Spirit Award nomination for the film. It’s her second career bid, following a mention for “Frances Ha” (2013). Will the Oscars be next? Check out our full interview above for more about her work on “Manchester by the Sea.”

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