The show, which stars Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton, is carefully shaped in part by Editor Luyen Vu, who formerly worked on projects like “Fringe” and “666 Park Avenue”. In a recent interview with Below the Line, Vu offered insight into how he stays organized in the edit on “American Crime”.
In order to carefully track what is happening in the footage for each episode, Vu and his assistant created a colored card system to follow storylines and character arcs. “My assistant [JoAnne Yarrow] and I came up with a color and shape coded system for each story line,” Vu mentioned. “Sometimes we’d look at the wall and say ‘Oh my God, all of act one is blue squares.’ Sometimes that would affect us. We needed to patchwork more to have an even flow in terms of everyone’s storytelling, so we would not finish somebody’s storyline in just one act. The color system was a way to design it, but as with anything else in editing, it’s all about the emotion, the flow of how you feel. Sometimes we would feel that one entire run of blue squares, which was Mark and Barb’s story line, was okay because emotionally we’re so invested that we wanted to take it to it’s conclusion.”
Many key storylines aren’t revealed to the editors until the very last minute in order to keep things feeling fresh and exciting. “John likes to keep a lot of things close to the chest,” Vu revealed. “He wants us to be fresh to the material. For example, for the finale which concludes this particular 11-part story line, I actually didn’t get to read the script until about two or three days into dailies. Like an audience member, I was getting these pieces of the story and trying to figure it out myself. It was an interesting way to go about it.”
Vu attributes part of the consistently excellent cutting on the show to great footage to choose from. “Felicity Huffman and Tim Hutton were amazing,” Vu said. “And finding a couple of newcomers has been really great. All the actors were amazingly prepared. John spent a lot of time with them, discussing where he wanted them to go. He shared that with us as well. In editorial we were picking between all amazing takes. We would see what the actors would do and respond to that.” (Below the Line)