×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

EnergaCamerimage Film Festival Honors Editor Carol Littleton With Unique Visual Sensitivity Award

Each November in Poland, the EnergaCamerimage Film Festival, which casts a spotlight on the art and science of cinematography, celebrates an editor with the Unique Visual Sensitivity award. This year’s honoree is Carol Littleton.

Littleton is known for her prolific catalog of work with directors like Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan on film such as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and “The Big Chill” — but the project she cherishes the most is Robert Benton’s “Places in the Heart,” the film that won Sally Field the second of her two Oscars.

“I grew up in rural Oklahoma,” Littleton says. “The sort of family life, the sense of values and the extraordinary strength of [the characters in ‘Heart’] reminded me of my childhood. I grew up with those people, so it has a real personal resonance for me.”

It’s often assumed that editing is mostly about shaping the actors’ performances, but Littleton notes her most important focus is on the images themselves. “Editors [must be] very sensitive of the visual language that the director and cinematographer choose for the film, because we are the first interpreters of that when it comes to putting everything together,” she says.

Littleton came up through the Hollywood ranks in the late 1960s and ’70s even though it wasn’t her intention to work in film, having graduated with an MA in literature. In 1963, she traveled to Europe as a student and visited a Renaissance art exhibit in Florence. There she met cinematographer John Bailey, current president of the Motion Picture Academy. The two married not long after and moved to Hollywood. It was fate that introduced her to the business, but her passion for it has kept her there.

“I was a novice in learning about visual arts at the time,” she says, “but I have to admit, if I had not met John, I would not have had a career in film. We’ve worked in different disciplines, and they’ve informed each other greatly over the years, proving a wonderful partnership.”

In the early days, Littleton took odd industry jobs around town, eventually apprenticing at a small film facility called Einfeld Prods. “The owner, Richard Einfeld, was a very fine editor,” she recalls, “and he taught me; it was one-on-one. From that point on, I gravitated toward editing.”

She also found a great working relationship in Kasdan. He sought out Littleton specifically because he wanted to have a female perspective on making the sexual scenes in “Body Heat” more suggestive and less explicit.

“Larry just liked the way that I responded to the script,” she says. “I saw the humor as well as the drama, and since then we’ve done [10] movies together.”

Littleton says she didn’t think much about the gender differences when it came to often being the only woman in the room. Perhaps, too, it’s the solitary work of editors that left her out of the spotlight — just as so many women in other disciplines were — within a patriarchal industry.

This week, Camerimage notices.

More Artisans

  • ILM John Kroll Star Wars VFX

    Sci-Tech Awards Honored After Effects, Photoshop Developers' Major Impact on VFX

    On Feb. 9, two weeks and a day before the Oscars, the Motion Picture Academy held its annual Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards — sometimes referred to as the nerd Academy Awards — honoring achievements in motion picture technology.  The ceremony included no surprise winners — Sci-Tech kudos are announced in advance, and the achievements [...]

  • Steven Spielberg Lee Orloff Mary Jo

    Cinema Audio Society Honors Steven Spielberg, Lee Orloff and Mary Jo Lang

    At the Cinema Audio Society Awards on Feb. 16, CAS is honoring a trio of artists. The event take place at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel.   Steven Spielberg, Filmmaker Award It’s hard to overestimate the influence of the three-time Oscar winner, a towering figure in Hollywood for decades. A prolific director-producer-screenwriter, who also co-founded [...]

  • Alex Honnold being interviewed in El

    Cinema Audio Society Nominees Added Audio Realism to Film Action

    As the Cinema Audio Society heads toward the 55th CAS Awards, its nominees, who have created immersive and intoxicating work, agree that sound is becoming the new frontier in storytelling. “Today’s directors understand the importance of sound from the start,” says Doc Kane, nominated for “Black Panther,” “Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” “Looping [...]

  • American Society of Cinematographers

    Cinematographers Blast Academy Response on Oscar Telecast Exclusions

    Cinematographers opposing the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations on the telecast have blasted the Academy’s latest attempt to assuage concerns about the move. The group responded Thursday to officers of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors, sending a letter Wednesday night to its membership, asserting that no award category [...]

  • Bradley Cooper A Star is Born

    Oscar-Nominated Sound Artists Immerse Audiences in Aural Landscapes

    Four of the year’s oscar sound contenders — “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “First Man” and “Roma” — share sound editing and mixing nominations, whereas “A Star Is Born” lands in mixing and “A Quiet Place” in sound editing. In “Black Panther,” production sound mixer Peter Devlin saw the film’s intricate wardrobe as the biggest challenge. [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Cinematographers Guild Chief Slams Academy Awards Exclusion: 'It Is Humiliating'

    Steven Poster, national president of the International Cinematographers Guild, blasted the academy’s decision to shorten four awards from the live Oscar broadcast, including the cinematography prize. Poster, whose union represents more than 8,000 members, said the decision is “humiliating” for the winners. He joins a growing chorus of opposition, including high-profile cinematographers and directors, like Spike [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content