Unexpected cuts keep viewers off-balance

Editors bring in audiences with tech skills

As the main characters of “Precious” and “The Hurt Locker” navigate the very different dangers that threaten their lives, the editors of both films sought to bring the audience along for the harrowing ride by getting them as close to those threats as possible.

“We were really trying to play with the audience’s expectations of when a bomb might go off and when it might not,” says Chris Innis, who edited “The Hurt Locker” along with Bob Murawski. “Each time you see Jeremy Renner go into a situation, you know that’s a risk, so we would do things like cut to footage of people who might be bombers to keep the audience uncertain of what was going to happen next.”

That uncertainty was important because it grounded the main character’s experience, Murawski explains.

“He’s a man who walks into possibly explosive situations,” Murawski continues. “The way to understand that is to feel like you’re there with him.”

While Jeremy Renner tiptoed past explosives, Gabourey Sidibe angled her way past the other volatile characters in “Precious.” Editor Joe Klotz was also determined to keep the audience off-balance through the story.

That meant jump cuts and dissolves and unexpectedly moving from the horrors of Precious’ external life to the rich fantasies of her inner life. Klotz never wanted to audience to quite know what to expect in the process.

“It’s a way to build tension and then give the audience a kind of comic release,” Klotz says. “Because to stay with her real life the whole time would be too much.”

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