Skip Macdonald Interview: ‘El Camino’ editor
Emmy-winning editor Skip Macdonald didn’t know “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan planned on creating what would eventually become a sequel movie on Netflix, “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.” All he was told at the start was that Gilligan was planning a special project to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the beloved AMC drama. When he then discovered it would be a continuation of Jesse Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) story in the form of a Netflix movie, the editor was thrilled. “This is gonna be great the fans are gonna love it,” Macdonald recalls thinking, in an exclusive new interview with Gold Derby. “I was loving being involved in it and it was something I was really looking forward to getting started on.” Watch the full video webchat above.
While “El Camino” is in the same universe as “Breaking Bad,” Macdonald did have to accommodate to telling a story without commercial breaks. “It was just making sure that we kept the rhythm going and keep the pacing going without those breaks and hopefully that just kept everybody entertained enough and not wanting to say, ‘I need a break to step away,'” says Macdonald. Even with all the extra time a movie allows, he still had to cut out scenes to make sure it didn’t go on too long. One example was in the big shootout at the end. They had shot footage of Jesse getting shot and requiring assistance from Ed (Robert Forster) at the vacuum store, but it was cut for a more streamlined ending. “It was just a matter of what could we get rid of that wasn’t going to really affect the story and leave anybody wondering what happened or why there was a big jump of something,” Macdonald explains.
The ending to “El Camino” has Jesse riding off into the sunset, not unlike in “Breaking Bad,” but this time with much more of a maturity. It was important to Gilligan and Macdonald to reflect the right tone for the end of Jesse’s story. He says, “We were going back and forth with what emotion we should actually have with him at the very ending because what do we wanna tell the audience? Is he happy? Is he sad? Is he trying to figure out what his new life would be like?” There is ultimately a bittersweet feeling to the ending, where Jesse is about to start over with a new life but he also has to leave the people he loves behind.
With “Breaking Bad” and “El Camino” providing strong endings to the stories of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse and Saul’s story coming to a close soon on “Better Call Saul,” one wonders if there is room for more storytelling in this universe. Macdonald will be there if Gilligan and company do decide to commit to more stories. “If there are more, yes, I would very much love to be involved with them,” he promises. “The ways the writers tell the stories and the actors that they get, everybody is so good. It’s more like a family now.”