The finesse with which the film follows characters, switches between them, and remains perfectly paced is in part thanks to the handiwork of editors Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise. In a recent piece in MovieMaker, the two editors discussed their work on one of the most talked about films of late.
The film’s drum score, recorded by Antonio Sanchez, was very helpful in allowing them to find the right pacing for the film. “In terms of rhythm and pacing, Alejandro had given us a lot of drum tracks that he had recorded with Antonio Sanchez, which ultimately ended up being the soundtrack to the film,” Mirrione said. “He knew that sound and music would be a tool for us as a method of adjusting pacing, the tone, and all the things that you take for granted. You get to go in and completely redesign the point-of-view of a scene, and so on, in post.”
Crise, who came onto the project after the shoot began, mentioned that the shooting day was heavy on rehearsal and did involve several takes. “The day basically started with shooting a section of the film,” he said. “Even after all their rehearsal [before production], they would still rehearse for most of the morning before they’d actually shoot something. And then run through all the blocking and do it, do it, do it. Then, they would buzz off a bunch of takes, and it would be a matter of figuring it out.”
To Mirrione, one of the keys to working on a film like Birdman was to surrender more control than usual. “With a movie like this, your editorial ego really has to be held at bay, because you don’t have the same kind of control that you normally have over all of these decisions,” he said. “You’re giving up control to the actors to a certain extent. Yes, there were still lots of ways that we could make adjustments and fine-tune, but we all signed on to this committing to the idea that this was all happening live. You have to adjust your threshold of what kinds of things you’re in control of and what kinds of things you aren’t.” (MovieMaker)