Affonso Goncalves and Adam Kurnitz (‘The Velvet Underground’ editors) on how a Warhol film ended up inspiring the film’s structure [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

When Affonso Gonçalves and Adam Kurnitz started the process of editing the documentary, “The Velvet Underground,” the full structure of the movie hadn’t been developed yet. But director Todd Haynes already had an idea of how he wanted to put this thing together. “Todd had an idea to use ‘Chelsea Girls’ as sort of a template for how we’re going to present the images and the interviews and we could move forward from that,” Gonçalves tells us during our recent webchat (watch the video interview above). Midway through the process, both Haynes and Gonçalves had to stop to go work on “Dark Waters” but Kurnitz stayed and continued the process. “Adam was the one that expanded and tried different things like multiplying images and stuff like that.”

“The Velvet Underground,” which is currently streaming on Apple TV+, chronicles the band that was comprised of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker. After forming in 1965, Andy Warhol would become the band’s manager in 1966. The group performed throughout the rest of the ’60s and eventually disbanded in the early 1970s. The film is the first documentary to be directed by Haynes. Gonçalves is a previous Emmy nominee for Best Picture Editing for a Drama Series in 2014 for the first season of HBO’s “True Detective.”

One of the things that was Kurnitz most enjoyed in the editing process was getting to choose which archival clips to use and that meant getting to look through a ton of experimental filmmaking and animation. “We had access to hundreds of experimental films and animation and part of my job is to build out what the story and structure is going to be and choose images.” While he definitely enjoyed it, the process of going through everything was extremely time-consuming. “There was over 600 hours of footage and I had to watch it all. That’s the first thing you have to do and then you have to go in and start winnowing down. It took a really long time but it was a pleasure, every last minute of it.”

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, there were initial fears that it would delay the production schedule but Gonçalves and Haynes were easily able to continue the editing process due to sheer coincidence. “We had just happened to be in L.A. at the same time. We were cutting in Venice and then COVID hit and they say you can’t go anywhere, but both me and him lived very close to the cutting room.” This allowed both of them to continue their work on the movie uninterrupted and they both continued to work extremely diligently on the project. “We would walk to the cutting room, just the two of us. We would come in at 9:00 AM and we worked until 7:00 PM every day, just the two of us, but then we’d go home.”

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