The editors of HBO’s “I May Destroy You” all have their own instinctual approaches to their craft, but they are in agreement over the show’s most important ingredient: the creative freedom granted by creator and star Michaela Coel. “I think we were in luck on this show, because we had Michaela running into all of our rooms,” says Lindsey Woodward of the collaboration. Woodward is joined by fellow editors John Dwelly, Amy Hounsell, and Christian Sandino-Taylor to discuss the ways in which this groundbreaking limited series asked them all to step outside of the box. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“You just trusted that it would become this coherent, homogenous thing,” explains Sandino Taylor. That sense was shared by all the editors during conversations in the early stages of assembly. That was due in large part to the creative leeway extended to each of them in the editing room. “There was a huge amount of freedom, it was amazing,” notes Dwelly.
“Experimentation” is a word all of the editors use frequently when describing the creation of the series. It is displayed in the unique use of jump cuts, flashbacks, and moments of surrealism that make the series almost indescribable to those who have yet to witness it. Amy Hounsell reflects that for a particularly dreamlike moment where Coel’s Arabella becomes lost in a social media induced haze, the directive from Coel and director Sam Miller was: “have fun. Go crazy. Do what you want. Experiment. Come back and show us something cool.” Woodward concurs that this type of exploration was encouraged. “I think that they were very relaxed with stuff like that,” she describes, “seeing what kind of idas we came up with.”
When the group reflects on what makes for a stellar editor, Dwelly sums it up with “you just make it good…there’s an intuition.” Sandino-Taylor agrees, noting that “you really have to have a feeling or an understanding for storytelling.” That understanding comes from countless hours of trial and error, as well as learning on the job. “I do think editing is an ego-less profession,” states Hounsell, “a lot of it is just your gut.” Their intuitive senses were employed to great effect on this series. “We were allowed to be choppy and experimental,” explains Hounsell, “‘I May Destroy You’ really pushed me out of my comfort zone.”
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