If you feel like you’re watching too much violence on television and in movies, try being Jordan Goldman.
He was tasked with editing “13 Hours in Islamabad.” The 10th episode in the fourth season of Showtime’s Emmy-winning “Homeland,” it’s perhaps better known as “the one where stuff went down.”
The tension-fueled episode saw a security breach result in a hostage takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Casualties amass for both sides and there is a serious amount of gunfire.
“I had this really bizarre experience when I was cutting the episode,” Goldman says. “At work it felt so real. You go home at night and it’s all fiction.” He says he’d leave the editing bay wondering, “Why isn’t anyone talking about what just happened?”
Despite the PTSD by proxy, Goldman, who began his career on FX’s “The Shield” and won an Emmy along with David Latham for editing the “Homeland” pilot, says he was “totally excited” that he got to cut this episode.
“We don’t usually get to do a lot of big action stuff on ‘Homeland,’ ” he says. “It’s just fun to do shoot-’em-up stuff … I enjoy cutting that sort of material just as much as I enjoy cutting the heavy, emotional drama. You get to have guys running around shooting stuff and at the end of the take, everyone pops up with a big smile on their faces and it’s all OK.”
Goldman also keeps in mind the sacrifices made by those who live similar circumstances to what he sees onscreen. “I just try to be as real to the situation that I’m cutting as possible. I know what we’re doing is fiction even though it’s mirrored in reality. I just try to be as real as it can be for anybody watching and for anybody living through it.
“For the people who are experiencing this stuff in real life, I’m sure it would be an incredibly disorienting and alarming experience to go through.”
“13 Hours in Islamabad” did have significant emotional scenes, including the death of a regular character. And the ep was just as much about how Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and those responsible react to the losses.
“If you watch the episode, the on-camera body count is actually quite low,” Goldman says. “Later in the episode Martha (Laila Robins) says 36 people lost their lives. But you don’t see anywhere near 36 people get shot. We had plenty more footage of people experiencing violence, but we found that the less you show of people getting shot, the more meaningful it is when somebody does get shot.”
He says that’s something of a mantra for the show: “A lot of the terror and the horror is (more) in the minds of the viewer than it is on camera.”
“You have to feel the emotional pull because you have to make it count,” Goldman adds. “No human is expendable. Life matters. Even stunt guys who are on screen for the sole purpose of raising the body count, hopefully they can be a character who the audience cares about, and the audience feels something when it happens.”
During the “Homeland” hiatus, Goldman released the book “How to Avoid the Cutting Room Floor: An Editor’s Advice for On-Camera Actors.”
He’s also editing season two of FX’s “Tyrant,” another show set in the Middle East that was developed by Howard Gordon. Has he typecast himself?
“Hopefully I’ve typecast myself as somebody who does good work and can meet the challenge. I enjoy doing stuff that’s smart and that’s compelling.”