I’m excited that an excerpt from the memoir I’ve been writing for three years, “Chasing the Monster: Confessions of a Film Editor,” will appear this fall in American Cinema Editors’ quarterly magazine CinemaEditor. I wrote the manuscript as my MFA thesis project, then workshopped it at the Yucatan Writers Conference in Cozumel, Mexico. Talk about stepping outside my comfort zone! I’ve been fortunate to have powerful feedback and encouragement from both literary writers and industry professionals, beginning with movie director and USC colleague Robert Townsend. Robert’s electric reaction to the first few chapters turbocharged my momentum, and we’re now developing a film he somehow envisioned from those forty-odd pages.
“Chasing the Monster” is a craft-based memoir, meaning its narrative spine is built around editing and storytelling. Here’s something from an early chapter:
“Cher’s character Sissy reclining her head, eyes lazily closing…quotidian enough, on its own. But when I cut her in as a reaction shot to Sandy Dennis’ Mona weaving her tale of illicit love, Sissy looks seduced, folding into the other’s reverie as if it is her own. And suddenly I remember. She loves this story, they all do, they always will, despite the fact that—and here’s the key—they know it’s all bullshit. I’ve been missing the point. Focused on elegantly matched cuts, I haven’t thought about why the dancers are dancing.”
But it’s also about the stories we tell ourselves when we’re alone:
“To tell stories well, to step into the shoes of others and convey their experience of life, we must confess to our own—the stories we tell only ourselves: the hurts and betrayals, the saviors and safe zones we drag behind us like Marley’s ghost. Only then can we empathize. Only then can we step onto the others' paths, and discover their most hidden truths—the one that animates everything else. There is healing in the process, a mutual understanding between art and artist. For a few minutes, anyway, we’ll walk together.”
“Chasing the Monster” is now going out to agents. I hope to announce good news in the near future. But in the meantime, I intend to continue presenting some of it here on this page.