Meet Dana E. Glauberman, Jason Reitman's Editor Extraordinaire
Every other year or so, film editor Dana E. Glauberman gets The Call. The tradition began quietly enough in 2005 with an indie adaptation of the novel Thank You For Smoking. Yet by last spring, as the first of Jason Reitman's footage from the set of Up in the Air arrived in Glauberman's editing suite, the duo's meticulous shaping and storytelling process began anew on their biggest project to date. Expectations run high after their previous collaboration Juno became an Oscar-winning box-office smash, and indeed Up in the Air is already showing similar promise after its Toronto Film Festival premiere. But to hear Glauberman tell it when Movieline caught up with her this week, that's just another day at the office.
You've edited all three of Jason Reitman's feature films. How and when did you two begin working together?
Jason and I have actually known each other for a very long time, because I was an assistant editor on a lot of his father's movies. So Jason used to come into the cutting room at night and work on his short films, and I would help him out. I started working with Ivan and Ivan's two editors -- Sheldon Kahn and Wendy Brickmont -- in 199... 5, I believe it was? So Jason and I just struck up a friendship from there.
The relationship between a director and an editor is obviously among the most important on any project. What made yours and Jason's click, and how has it evolved?
As you know, the director/editor relationship involves a lot of trust. And it involves being able to be in a room with somebody for however many hours a day and not get sick of them. I think over the years of knowing each other, and how I worked with Ivan and Ivan's two editors, the trust just started building from there. When he was just starting to interview for Thank You For Smoking, he had interviewed me along with a few other people. But we just had a certain comfort level, I think, because we had known each other for so many years prior to working together on Thank You For Smoking. The comfort level just came naturally.
So take us inside the editing suite with you and Jason. What transpires to build that comfort level?
Jason has a pretty good idea from the get-go of how he wants something cut and how he wants his movies. I think that makes for a very strong director to begin with. When they're in production, I'm just cutting away. Usually the way we've worked in the past is that I'll cut scenes and send them to him. If he's shooting out of town, I'll send them through an FTP site or different means. On the first two movies we worked together on, he didn't have a lot of notes for me during the production phase. Once he got into the cutting room, then he was like, "OK, let's do this, that, and the other thing." We throw ideas off of each other, and it builds off of that.
Up in the Air was a little bit different because our post-production schedule was so short. We only had a 16- or 17-week post schedule; the normal post schedule is anywhere from 22 to 26 weeks. It was basically the same schedule as Juno, but there were 20 more production days on Up in the Air. On Juno, we shot through the second week of April, I think. On Up in the Air we shot through the middle of May. So that didn't leave a lot of time. Fortunately for our schedule, Jason was involved in post-production while he was shooting as well. We shot entirely on location and I stayed in L.A. to cut. It would have been too much for us to continuously move from city to city with the Avid. I still sent him scenes every day or every other day as I finished them, and he would take a look at them. He flew home every weekend to work with me for a few hours on Saturdays or Sundays. That was the only way we could catch up on the time we were losing with our schedule. He was very involved. I didn't really have a first cut or assembly version that was all mine because he was so involved from the get-go.
All three of these films came out of Toronto with a lot of buzz. But with Juno in particular, was there a specific scene or day where you realized just what kind of hit you might have on your hands?
You know, I tend not to think that way. I love what I do. I love the stories I work on and the movies that I work on, and I don't necessarily think further down the line to what's going to happen with it. I try to make the best movie that I can and then deal with all the hype afterward. I don't remember any specific day on Juno where we thought, "Oh my God, this is going to be a huge hit." We knew the script was phenomenal, and we knew the acting was phenomenal. When I was cutting, I was overwhelmed by how amazing Ellen Page was as Juno. I've been in this business for a long time -- not as a full editor in this position, but I've seen a lot of performances, and I've seen a lot of people do phenomenal work in character. But I've never seen anyone like Ellen Page completely become the character they were playing. And I kept saying that to my crew and to friends and to Jason: "She's just amazing." Of course I'm thrilled that it got four Academy Award nominations and was as successful as it was. But I don't think I realized exactly how successful it was going to be during the process.
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