You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘I, Tonya’ Editor Blended Pop-Culture Infamy With Dark Humor

“I, Tonya,” the latest dark comedy from Aussie director Craig Gillespie, is getting a lot of awards attention. The cautionary tale about talent, ambition, celebrity, class, bad perms and domestic abuse has earned three Oscar nominations, including one for editor Tatiana S. Riegel, who has also nabbed the American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Award, as well as a Spirit Award nom.

The film, which is stuffed with larger-than-life characters, unreliable narrators and shifting time frames and perspectives, marks her fifth collaboration with Gillespie (she edited his features “Lars and the Real Girl,” “Million Dollar Arm,” “Fright Night” and “The Finest Hours,” as well as the TV pilot for Showtime’s “United States of Tara”). Her credits also include work on such comedies as “Bad Words”  and “The Men Who Stare at Goats.”

“After 10 years, we have a great shorthand together, which is a real luxury with a director,” Riegel says of Gillespie. “We also share the same sensibility, although when Craig first told me about this project, my reaction was ‘Tonya Harding? Really?’ Then I read it and immediately knew it was perfect for him.”

Riegel wasn’t on set. “I stayed home in L.A. and began working on the first assembly on Avid at [post house] EPS while Craig shot in Atlanta,” she says. “I’d send him scenes, so he could see how it was going and if there were any tonal issues — establishing the right tone was crucial. And Craig shot it all as interviews but also with scenes breaking the fourth wall, so that later in the edit we could try it either way.”

By the time Riegel and Gillespie met up in New York to start the main edit at Harbor Picture Co., they were in pretty good shape, she says. “But there was very little music at that point, so we started experimenting and adding tracks,” Riegel adds. “Because of all the jumping around in the story and all the different time frames, we thought it might be a quite complicated edit, but we’d planned it out so carefully that we had our first cut done in under a month after we wrapped, which is incredibly fast.”

The team then started getting into the minutiae of every scene, Riegel says. “Some are very dramatic, some are darkly funny and then there are scenes that are incredibly emotional. So it’s a very fine line, walking between the tragedy and comedy and all the absurdity, and we’d show it and then go back and fine-tune stuff, then show it again.”

Although star Margot Robbie, who gives a tour-de-force performance as the fiery Harding, trained hard for months to learn the ice-skating sequences, the film used more than 120 visual effects shots created by Eight VFX to enhance the scenes. “Some of it was quite tricky in terms of the edit, as we were on a very tight budget,” Riegel notes. “So it was all very choreographed and carefully planned out.”

Though the work was challenging, Riegel can’t wait to work with Gillespie again. “This film has been a real highlight for me,” she says.

More Artisans

  • Chile's Production Incentives Include New 30%

    Chile Incentives Pilot Program Aims to Draw Producers With 30% Rebate

    With over 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, the long and narrow South American country of Chile encompasses a remarkable variety of weather patterns and landscapes. Filmmakers traveling there will discover that the Chilean Economic Development Agency in alliance with nation’s film commission recently launched what it calls a Pilot Program for High-Impact Audiovisual Investment [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 3", regia di

    'My Brilliant Friend,' 'Gomorrah' Show Different Sides of Naples

    When Saverio Costanzo, the director of HBO and RAI’s “My Brilliant Friend,” started to plan how he would depict the grand but gritty city of Naples — one that’s so vivid in the imaginations of millions of Elena Ferrante readers, he quickly decided that the working-class neighborhood at the core of her four Neapolitan novels [...]


    How a Costume Designer Brightened M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass'

    Paco Delgado’s costumes are as varied as his films. Contrast the drama “The Danish Girl,” the futuristic fantasy “A Wrinkle in Time” and the period musical “Les Misérables.” Now he’s in comic-book territory with M. Night Shyamalan’s newest superhero/supervillain thriller, “Glass,” which Universal releases Jan. 17. The costume designer’s career began in Barcelona and London, [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]


    How Writer-Crew Collaborations Are Changing the Script for the Creative Process

    In traditional filmmaking, once a script is written, the director and department heads break it down and figure out the costs and logistics of production. But if the screenwriter collaborates during the creative process with key crew members, the entire production can benefit.  Such collaboration offers the prospect of help on many fronts. For example, [...]

  • avengers infinity war

    'Avengers,' 'Lost in Space,' 'Ready Player One' Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations

    The Visual Effects Society announced nominees for the organization’s 17th annual awards on Tuesday. Leading the way in the film and TV fields, respectively, were Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and Netflix’s “Lost in Space.” Each picked up six nominations. Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” received the most nominations among animated feature contenders with five. “Ready Player One” [...]

  • Dynasties BBC Vundu Pack

    Bush Guides, Night Cameras Help BBC America’s ‘Dynasties’ Catch Unique Moments

    Just getting to one of the locations of BBC America wildlife documentary series “Dynasties” — presented by David Attenborough and following the lives of endangered animals — requires an 11-hour flight from London to Johannesburg, a two-hour connection to Harare, Zimbabwe, an hourlong chartered Cessna 206 trip to Mana Pools National Park airstrip and an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content