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‘Sicario’ Editor Joe Walker Found His Own Rhythm to Cutting Tense Film

From vast landscapes overshadowed by ominous storm clouds captured in-camera by d.p. Roger Deakins to bone-chilling stares between Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt, editor Joe Walker had a wealth of visuals to work with as he heightened tensions in “Sicario.”

And to focus on capturing a strong sense of suspense, says Walker, he and director Denis Villeneuve decided early on to cut the film without a temp track.

The editor searched for rhythm in the camerawork, at times even editing with the speakers off. In dialogue-heavy scenes, he chose not to overcut, paying close attention to the way actors processed information and reacted to each other.

The absence of a temp track also allowed composer Johann Johannsson to create a score in a clear space — with no scenes influenced by a particular musical sequence or beat. He and Walker then collaborated by sharing sequences with one another, allowing ample time for finessing.

“He’d send stems,” Walker says. “And we’d checkerboard adjustments back and forth.”

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