Behind every great man is a great woman – and this is indeed the case in the film industry. Although women are woefully under represented, making up only 18% of all directors, producers, EPs, DPs, writers, and editors employed on the top 250 grossing films (domestic); it’s important to highlight the ones who are beating the odds and enjoying promising careers on the other side of the camera. Two of my favorite lady filmmakers are Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, the female editing duo behind most of J. J. Abrams works including Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Alias, and of course, Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
source: Paramount Pictures/Empire Magazine
I recently saw them speak at a panel during Film Independent’s LA Film Fest and was blown away by their depiction of film editing. They referred to it as the final rewrite. They spoke of times when a cut just wasn’t working out, and even showed examples of scenes that were too long, or hard to follow, and how they went in and fixed them. They spoke of their long careers with JJ, but also of the projects they worked on separately in between. They even mentioned how JJ had to fight for them when he went on to do Star Wars; afraid that the higher ups would want to bring in bigger names to work on one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the year.
I found the talk inspiring, being an aspiring editor myself. They discussed the importance of the medium in general, which I quite frankly feel is looked down upon – especially in this day in age where “we’ll fix it in post” is becoming a more and more common phrase thrown about on sets. For the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to work as an assistant on a feature film currently in the post production stage. I’ve seen first hand the amount of work and passion that goes into getting that final, flawless image. In light of this, my respect for Brandon and Markey knows no bounds. It’s hard enough to be a woman in the film industry, but a woman in one of the most under acknowledged positions? These women are jedis.
cover photo source: Art Streiber/Website