Myron Kerstein interview: ‘tick, tick… Boom!’ editor

“I don’t really treat them any differently,” editor Myron Kerstein admits about how he approaches his work on movie musicals versus other genres of television and film. This year, he worked on both Netflix’s “tick, tick… Boom!” and Warner Bros.’ “In The Heights. “I always wanted to make a musical,” Kerstein shares, describing the experience on both projects as “a dream come true.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

Kerstein served as co-editor on “tick, tick… Boom!” with Andrew Weisblum. “It’s always different when you come into a film” whose “tone is already set,” he notes, but cites the “shorthand” he established with director Lin-Manuel Miranda on “In The Heights” as crucial in helping to finish the film. “Lin is a very competent first-time director as you can see from the film,” he says, mentioning how he served to “make sure that Lin’s ideas came to full completion.” Those responsibilities involved rethinking the film’s beginning and conclusion and consulting on the decision to cut one of the movie’s musical numbers. “There was a lot on the line,” Kerstein recalls, because “this is Lin’s first movie.”

WATCH Cinematographer Alice Brooks on the ‘very personal story’ of ‘tick, tick… Boom!’ and getting ‘completely immersed’ in ‘In The Heights’

Two of the musical sequences Kerstein had the biggest influence over in the edit are the opening number “30/90” and “Therapy.” On the former, he talks about how the song had to serve as a “slice of life,” an introduction to the film’s protagonist Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield). The sequence seamlessly flows between Larson’s apartment, the diner where he works, the Strand bookstore, and the New York Theatre Workshop where he performs. Kerstein describes “Therapy,” which intercuts a song performed by Larson and Karessa (Vanessa Hudgens) and an argument between Larson and girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp), as a “zany, vaudeville, ‘Chicago’-like piece” and “a jigsaw puzzle of madness because there are so many tempo changes throughout the whole number.”

For “In The Heights,” a film adaptation of Miranda’s Tony Award-winning stage musical of the same name, Kerstein reunited with director Jon M. Chu, with whom he previously collaborated on “Crazy Rich Asians.” “Jon is always so open to me trying to find my own way with the footage,” he states, including his ability to “be aggressive with the cutting.” He reveals that there was once a version of “In The Heights” that was 45 minutes shorter than its final runtime, an experiment that ultimately felt “less than” the longer version.

WATCH Andrew Garfield (‘tick, tick… Boom!’): Playing Jonathan Larson felt like ‘being introduced to an old brother that I didn’t know existed’

Kerstein talks about his work on two of the film’s most memorable sequences. In “Blackout,” a long musical number in which the ensemble scrambles to reconnect with each other when a power outage strikes Washington Heights, he discusses working closely with cinematographer Alice Brooks and having a conversation every day after reviewing the dailies. In Olga Merediz’s emotional solo “Paciencia Y Fe,” he recalls one shot in particular, when a match-cut transforms a beam of light into a subway pole, as “the coolest thing ever,” and remembers trying to intuit what Chu had in mind for the transitions as he was reviewing the raw footage.

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UPLOADED Feb 8, 2022 6:30 am