Samantha Booth chats to Oscar-winning editor William Goldenberg about Argo, his proudest achievements and working with acclaimed directors, Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow.
How did you get into editing?
I was at university in Philidelphia planning to become a physician but it didn’t really work and I realised quickly it wasn’t for me. I always loved the movies and I thought it’d be a great career to go in to. I got a lot of encouragement from a professor about my work as an editor so I kind of ran with that and moved to camera. I eventually got work as an assistant editor and worked my way up. I ended up working for Michael Mann for a few years then he taught me everything I needed to know about being an editor, including the politics and psychology of editing. That felt like my graduate school there. This year we got to spend a lot of time together because he was nominated for Lincoln and he was incredibly supportive and proud of me so it was a wonderful time.
What was it like editing Argo? And what preparation do you have to do when you approach a different film?
The only preparation I really did was reading the script many times and we had a lot of discussions about what we were going to do and what the mixing tones would be like. But we all looked at a lot of films from the 1970s and about 15 movies that he uses as benchmarks for style. It’s not like we copied them but we wanted to get that vibe that they had. We wanted a movie that felt like it was made in the late 1970s not like a period movie that felt like it was made then and we held onto it for 20 years.
Your reaction for being nominated for two Oscars?
It was mind blowing. I kind of hoped it would happen but you can’t really count on anything. It was such a great year for me and I’m so proud of both movies (Argo and Zero Dark Thirty). Working with Kathryn and Ben was a dream year in terms of collaborations and they were spectacular human beings which makes your life better when you’re there everyday for 12-16 hours a day and you want to be around people that are fun to be around. It was bittersweet because Kathryn and Ben were left out of the best directing nominations and they were so gracious and proud of me. They were so supportive and wonderful.
How much involvement did you have in the whole production?
I started on Argo from day one of shooting and then we met with the gentlemen who do the sound and we brought them in and talked with Ben about how we want to approach sound. But my role really starts on day one of filming. Some movies I’ve been involved with the story boarding
What was your favourite film to edit?
Well there are certain aspects in a lot of the movies I’ve done that I’m proud of. Without naming one because I have no favourite, for instance, the first fifteen minutes of Al Lee of the musical montage and in Argo the whole last 35-40 minutes I’m really proud of. In the raid in Zero Dark Thirty I’m obviously really proud of that too.
What is next for you?
I’m not sure of my next steps but I have a few things that I am thinking about and one movie in particular that I’m working the details out of but there’s nothing settled yet.