Lowkey, Jennifer Lame has been editing all of your favorite films for some time now. Manchester by the Sea, Hereditary, Marriage Story — her work thus far has been smart, contained, character-driven, and intimate. It was all of these qualities and more that caught the attention of Christopher Nolan, who hired on Lame to edit his upcoming Tenet when his regular editor Lee Smith was booked up with 1917. This would, by far, be the biggest production Lame worked on to date — and Nolan was blunt with her about the canvas she’d be cutting.
In an interview with ICG Magazine (via IndieWire), Nolan had effusive praise for his new editor, but informed us about an introductory chat they had where the stakes were outlined:
Working for the first time with editor Jen Lame was a real pleasure. I joked with her when she first came on that this might be the hardest movie any editor has ever had to cut — and I’m not sure she would dispute that right now [laughs]. Working out all the aspects of portraying time running in different directions meant going beyond what was down on the page, as the execution lay with a successful translation of the visual.
“The hardest movie any editor has ever had to cut” is certainly quite the welcome mat for anyone, let alone someone not used to the big-budget blockbuster scale and mode of filmmaking. But Nolan, on his end, wasn’t worried about Lame’s CV. He watched her work, yes, “but not necessarily in relation to what you’re looking to do. I look for excellence and judgment. When meeting, it’s more about discovering if there’s a common creative language, which is exactly what turned out to be the case.”
When she got into the cut, Lame did, in fact, start to feel intimidated by the cross-cutting, time-inverting action of Tenet, until Nolan gave her sage advice:
The films I have worked on up until this have been more character-driven, so I enjoyed getting more intimate scenes to cut. I found myself spending more time on the quieter moments and perhaps slightly intimidated by the action. To get over that, I began to think of action as also driving the story forward, explaining, and fleshing out the character’s journey. When Chris saw I was intimidated by the action sequences, he reiterated this point; the story was always the driving force.
Story-driven action from one of our most exciting contemporary editors working with a well-established blockbuster auteur? Boy howdy, I can’t wait to see Tenet… y’know, once it’s nice and safe. And speaking of which: here are the latest worldwide release plans for Tenet, given the pandemic of it all.