Bobbie O’Steen and Tim Squyres discuss his editing of Gosford Park.
When director Robert Altman made “Gosford Park” he had 55 days to shoot a film involving 58 actors, who were often in group scenes. Because of this time constraint, Altman would usually light the entire scenes and have all the actors individually mic’d, with two cameras always moving among them. There was no time to get all the eye lines right or have the action to match from shot to shot – and no two takes were ever the same.
When film editor Tim Squyres first looked at the footage he said, “I thought I was losing my mind.” He definitely had his hands full and had to change his usual approach to putting a film together. He created multiple versions of scenes for himself and would ultimately ‘go prospecting’ to find the gems – the best moments and performances – and then finesse the cuts in a way to not disorient the audience. Although this was a tremendous challenge, Tim also appreciated that Altman was a brilliant choreographer of actors and behavior. He also understood Altman’s style, that he liked to shape problems into opportunities, to create a certain realism by having his audience lean in listen to the overlapped lines and off-screen conversations. Tim not only respected and ‘got’ Altman’s work, but he had the insight and discipline to ‘mine the richest veins’ from this unconventional way of shooting. The result was that the audience not only had fun with this who-dunnit film, they were also able to really immerse themselves in the upstairs/downstairs life that took place in a 1930’s English country estate.