‘Spotlight’ editor Tom McArdle on importance of test screenings for pacing (Exclusive Video)

With so many characters and moving elements, the narrative of a film like “Spotlight” could easily be lost. But as editor Tom McArdle tells us during a recent webcam chat (watch below), piecing together this intricate puzzle meant following a very simple principle: “We tried to track how people were following the information. We had a lot of screenings, every three weeks or so, and we would ask people afterwards, ‘Were you following this, were you following that?’” 

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And, as he admits, “You know, it’s funny, when you hear the same thing from a bunch of people over a few screenings, you know you sort of have to do something to fix it.”

McArdle also collaborated with “Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy on his first four films (“The Station Agent,” “The Visitor,” “Win Win,” and “The Cobbler”). With “Spotlight,” the two took the true story of how a team of Boston Globe reporters revealed they coverup by the Catholic Church of pedophile priests and turned it into a riveting investigative procedural.

The editor reveals that pacing was always their main concern. “The original script was really good,” giving due credit to McCarthy and cowriter Josh Singer, “but we cut out about five scenes and fragments of other scenes. Some of the scenes we cut out were about the reporters’ personal lives. We found that we just wanted to stick to the investigation and keep that moving as much as possible.”

McArdle is currently ranked second behind Margaret Sixel for “Mad Max: Fury Road” to reap his first Oscar nomination. We are predicting he will win his first-ever Independent Spirti race and he recently took second place with the Boston Society of Film Critics.

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“Spotlight” photo credit: Open Road 

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