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Thursday, 19 June 2014 23:04

Editing "Jersey Boys:" A Conversation with Joel Cox

Written by  Thea Green
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Editor Joel Cox (Prisoners, Trouble with the Curve) recently revealed to ICG Magazine a behind the scenes glimpse into his editing process and longtime collaboration with Director Clint Eastwood.

They’ve worked together on everything including documentaries, war pictures, and now, a musical.

“Clint shoots the same way every time,” Cox told ICG. “Yes, we had musical numbers, but they were well thought out and well photographed, which made our job relatively easy. It was a very easy, smooth show to do considering there were live recordings, which actually gave some spontaneity and life to it rather than just singing back to a song.”

Cox’s familiarity with the music of the Four Seasons and the live recordings of songs helped the film find its rhythm. Cox mentioned that he didn’t watch the musical before his edit so that he could look at the picture with fresh perspective. “I have to edit the material the director shoots, so what he gives me is what I have to create,” Cox stated. “If you have seen something, you’re going to start creating in that direction.”

Eastwood, known for his long single takes, was allowed even more freedom in using the ARRI Alexa on this shoot. “He’ll shoot something, then back up and do it two or three times in a single take,” said Cox. “The difference is that electronically you don’t have to worry about running out of film. His transition into it was pretty smooth.”

Eastwood allows Cox a lot of freedom in his editing process, and Cox always begins right in the theater with a look at the dailies so that he can always be on the same train of thought with the director. “Mentors like Sam O’Steen taught me a long time ago to go in a theater and run dailies. Then you go back in your room, run each of the takes and make notes on what you see. I use a legal tablet. You use shorthand writing down what you’re seeing. It helps me memorize. Once I’ve written it down, I put the papers in my desk and very rarely will I look at them again. I might not remember everything. But most of the time, the minute I start running the footage, I remember exactly what I wrote down.”

Eastwood’s trust in Cox is part of what has made their working relationship a lasting one. “He always says, ‘I just want you to edit. I want to see what you see.’ He gives me a free hand.” (ICG)

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