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Categories: Interviews

Enjoying something of a hiatus but keeping an eye out for the next big project, Nicolas Chaudeurge, the editor of Still Alice and Fish Tank, tells The Spread about how he got into editing, how to succeed in it and his thoughts on the director’s cut phenomenon.

chaudeurge cycle

“Cutting an Oscar-Winner with Acclaimed Editor Nicolas Chaudeurge (Fish Tank, Still Alice)” will be held at Cinema Jam HQ at Collective Temperance Hospital on Saturday June 25 and Sunday June 26, from 10:00 to 18:00. Tickets are £249 for two full days of instruction.The Spread readers, for a 10% discount, please use the promotional code “SpreadEdit. Click here for more info. 

Director Laszlo Nemes, who won this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar for Son of Saul, recently announced that he wants to not only film his next feature in 35mm, but edit it physically that way too.

Speaking to film editor Nicolas Chaudeurge, The Spread got an idea of how difficult that would be.

“First of all, it would be hard to find people who know how to do it” he says “I can, but I’m having difficulty thinking of people who would want to do it. When you’re dealing with physical film, you have a lot less of it so you have to be a lot more careful.”

Apart from that, the sound would be an issue. There are so many things you can manipulate digitally on Avid, for this he would have to get hold of very expensive magnetic tape which is not widely available.

“It’s like if you want to walk from London to Glasgow, that’s doing a normal feature. Editing film is like doing it with one leg” he says. 

He explains that the great thing about analog equipment is it doesn’t age, so the mechanical equipment would be easy to find. But all the consumables like tape and film are in short supply.

He should know – he has been working in film for over two decades now. Beginning as an intern in a production company in 1993, he only got into editing by chance. “They had a video editing bench. There was a lot of machines with a lot of buttons. I was very impressed by the set up and I started editing stuff on video for them.”


Now a master in the field he is proud of his success in Still Alice and Fish Tank and explains how he came to work in both.

“I met Andrea Arnold back in 2001 when we did a short call Dog which she wrote, and she asked me to do Fish Tank. For Still Alice, I had met the two directors, Richard Glatzerand and Wash Westmoreland for a project that had fallen through in the UK about a vampire” he says.

Chaudeurge insists that good projects come out of relationships with people who you have met and have gotten to know. Often if something is really good, by the time you hear about it they will have everyone they need for the production, “so it’s better to meet people up-stream.”

It stands to reason that an accomplished film editor would relish the notion of the director’s cut. The fact that you could produce a number of completely distinct features based on the same raw footage would surely hold some professional significance. This is not, however, the case. “I hate them. I even hate the idea of them.”

“Some people have really exploited it. How many director’s cuts are there of Alien or Blade Runner? I love the studio of Blade Runner, it’s nice” he says, but it quickly becomes apparent that his dislike is seeded in his earlier years.

“Mostly, it’s because when I was a teenager my favourite movie was Betty Blue. I really loved that film. But now, because the director decided to release a director’s cut, it’s awful. It’s too long. You find out too much about the characters, which can spoil things. It’s just badly done; the film is about crazy characters, and you really feel that in the originals, and you don’t in the new one. And now it’s only available in the new version, which is really annoying.” 


Chaudeurge concedes that the cut of Big Blue is a better version. “But that’s because the original was too long and they cut it down” he says. 

He thinks for a moment and explains that usually it is the director feeling like the forsaken artist. But throughout film history movies have been a commercial entity. “Some of the best filmmakers were the most successful, like Hitchcock and Chaplin. Because if they weren’t they wouldn’t get the money to do what they want.”

He is strongly of the opinion that a film is a collaborative medium, where all the opinions in a studio come together. “They challenge each other for the better and then you don’t need a director’s cut. You just need the one cut.”

As for the notion that you can have a hundred different films based on the same raw footage: “yeah, but 99 would be bad.”

His latest project, much like the British vampire, has fallen through so he is looking out for the next job. “I’m in that period of time at the moment.” So if you hear anything…

Ian Donegan

I crossed the Narrow Sea to do an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University London. Imagine an Irish accent when you read my stuff. Wasted my childhood watching movies and am now cashing in on it. Billy Zane is my spirit animal. Updates available @iandonegan

Posted on Jun 9, 2016

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