“Precious” helmer Lee Daniels can’t be easy to work for.
“I had to fire an editor and a cinematographer,” he wrote in a January article in “Moviemaker” magazine. “I went through three continuity people, three locations managers, two producers, two assistant directors, two sound people, two video playback people, two caterers and I’m too embarrassed to think of any other replacements.”
But what emerged from all this on-set tumult is a film that’s been met with standing ovations at screenings and festivals.
And a key to producing such a work is finding collaborators with the right chemistry — preferably of the noncombustible sort. At least that’s the experience of Joe Klotz, editor of record for “Precious.”
“Lee asked me to not hold back,” Klotz said. “He had tons of ideas, and he knew what he liked. It wasn’t wishy washy. He told me to be as bold as I could because it was bold material. Sometimes he told me I wasn’t bold enough, but sometimes he said, ‘You’re crazier than me.’ ”
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When Klotz joined the crew, his first assignment was to cut the film’s most revelatory, gut-wrenching scene — a three-way, highly emotional exchange among Precious (the lead, played by Gabourey Sidibe), her mother (Mo’Nique) and a social worker (Mariah Carey) — which takes place near the end of the film.
The scene lasts about eight minutes. “(Daniels) kept pushing me to cut it in different ways,” said Klotz. “It was a tough nut to crack, and I threw everything I had at it. It took three or four days just to rough it out.”
During his first meeting with Daniels, Klotz stressed that the film’s lighter moments would keep audiences in their seats as they recovered from its more painful segments. “We agreed that this film will succeed if the comedy works,” said Klotz. “It’s so deep and dark, and you can’t do a whole film like that. It will sink under its own weight.”
Working on an Avid system in Manhattan’s Brill Building, Klotz ended up cutting a film that met even Daniels’ demanding expectations. “As an editor you have to be a chameleon and work in ways other people like to work,” he said. “You develop a trust, then you can input onto that (person’s) style.”
Bookings & signings
Mirisch Agency signings: d.p.’s Andrew Shulkind and Billy Dickson; producers Anthony Santa Croce, Buzz Koenig and Doug Curtis; vfx supervisors Bill Taylor and Richard Edlund; and editor Mark Goldblatt. Mirisch bookings: editors Alec Smight on CBS’ “CSI,” Lisa Zeno Churgin on Scott Charles Stewart’s “Priest,” Lisa Bromwell on ABC’s “Defying Gravity,” Roger Barton on Joe Carnahan’s “A-Team,” Tim Streeto on Noah Baumbach’s “Greenburg,” Virginia Katz on Steven Antin’s “Burlesque,” Wendy Bricmont on Thor Freudenthal’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and Stuart Baird on Phillip Noyce’s “Salt”; producer Don Carmody and vfx supervisor Eric J. Robertson on Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Resident Evil: Extinction”; d.p. Lukas Ettlin on Jonathan Liebesman’s “Battle: Los Angeles”; and production designers Stephen Hendrickson on CBS’ “The Good Wife” and Stuart Wurtzel on Nicole Kassell’s “Earthbound.” Mirisch also booked editors Mark Goldblatt and Walter Murch to recut Joe Johnston’s “The Wolfman.”
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Paradigm signings: D.p. Cynthia Pusheck (“Brothers and Sisters”), costume designer Wendy Chuck (“Twilight”) and 2nd unit director/stunts Andy Cheng (“Twilight”). Paradigm bookings: d.p. Rob Sweeney and production designer Richard Toyon on TNT’s “Rizzoli” pilot, production designer Charlie Lagola on FX’s “Lawman,” d.p. Russell Carpenter on Nicole Kassell’s “Earthbound,” costume designer Gersha Phillips and editor Julian Clarke on Larissa Kondracki’s “The Whistleblower,” and editor David Rosenbloom on Jonathan Liebesman’s “Battle: Los Angeles.”
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Signings at Innovative Artists: costume designer Deena Appel (“Extraordinary Measures”) and line producers Peter Burrell (CW’s “Privileged”), Peter Mcintosh (“Wonderland” TV series), Brian Campbell (“Factory Girl”) and Connie Dolphin (“Flicka 2”). IA has booked editor Tatiana Riegel on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” pilot and Editor Tony Solomons on Dario Piana’s “Lost Boys 3.”
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Montana Artists bookings: production designers Gae Buckley on Antoine Fuqua’s “Prisoners,” Ken Hardy on A&E’s “The Quickening” pilot and Shane Valentino on Mike Mills’ “Beginners”; producer Carol Trussell, production designer Brent Thomas and UPM Warren Carr on ABC Family’s pilot “Pretty Little Liars”; d.p.’s Lorenzo Senatore on Victor Garcia’s “Mirrors 2” and Robert LaBonge on Lifetime’s “Army Wives”; 1st a.d. Chad Rosen on Chris Eyre’s “A Year in Mooring”; editor Kathryn Himoff on Dustin Lance Black’s “What’s Wrong With Virginia?”; and vfx supervisor Ron Simonson on John Stockwell’s “Road Kill.”
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Marsh, Best has signed d.p. Florian Hoffmeister (AMC’s “The Prisoner”), costume designer Catherine Thomas (“Whip It”), production designer James Merifield (BBC’s “Little Dorrit”) and editor Joel Plotch (“Lakeview Terrace”). Marsh, Best bookings: producers Rudd Simmons on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and Ed Cathell on David Schwimmer’s “Trust”; production designers Rick Heinrichs on Joe Johnston’s “Captain America,” John Myhre on Rob Marshall’s “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” and Carol Spier on Jim Sheridan’s “Dream House”; d.p. Peter Deming on Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 4”; costume designer Hope Hanafin on Miguel Arteta’s “Cedar Rapids”; and editor Greg Hayden on Paul Weitz’s “Meet the Fockers” sequel.
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Dattner Dispoto has signed production designer Deborah Evans (“G-Force”) and booked d.p. Sam Levy on Galt Niederhoffer’s “The Romantics.” The Skouras Agency has booked d.p. Philippe Le Sourd on Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grand Master”; and production designers Allan Cameron on Rob Cohen’s “Medieval” and Neil Spisak on Peter Berg’s “Battleship”; and production designer Anne Ross and d.p. Harris Savides on Gus Van Sant’s “Restless.”