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Interview: William Goldenberg


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William GoldenbergIn the last year alone he has worked on two Oscar nominated and winning films and has received an Academy Award after being nominated for Best Film Editing of Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. Samantha Booth talks to the award-winning William Goldenberg about his proudest editing achievements, 70s movie marathons and working with acclaimed directors Ben Afflect and Kathryn Bigelow. 

What was it like editing Argo, as it was quite different to the other films you have edited? And what preparation do you have to do when you approach a different film?

The only preparation I really did was reading the script many times and we had a lot of discussions about what we were going to do and what the mixing tones would be like. But we all looked at a lot of films from the 1970s and about 15 movies that he uses as benchmarks for style and look of certain films like Network, Bloody Sunday and Killing of a Chinese Bookie. We looked at these movies and it’s not like we copied them, but wanted to get that vibe that they had. We wanted a movie that felt like it was made in the late 1970s, not like a period movie that felt like it was made then and we held onto it for 20 years.

How did you get into editing?

I was at Univeristy in Philidelphia planning to become a physician but it didn’t really work and I realised quickly it wasn’t for me. I always loved the movies and I thought it’d be a great career to go in to. I got a lot of encouragement from a professor about my word as an editor so I kind of ran with that and moved to camera. I eventually got work as an assistant editor and worked my way up. I ended up working for Michael Mann for a few years then he taught me everything I need to know about being an editor including the politics and psychology of editing. That felt like my graduate school there. This year we got to spend a lot of time together because he was nominated for Lincoln and he was incredibly supportive and proud of me so it was a wonderful time.

What was your reaction to being nominated for Best Film Editing at the Oscars for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty?

It was mind blowing. I kind of hoped it would happen but you can’t really count on anything. It was such a great year for me and I’m so proud of both movies. Working with Kathryn and Ben was a dream year in terms of collaborations and they were spectacular human beings which makes your life better when you’re there everyday for 12-16 hours a day, and you want to be around people that are fun to be around. It was a tinge with a bittersweet element because Kathryn and Ben were left off the best directing nominations and they were so gracious and proud of me. They were so supportive and wonderful.

How much involvement you have in the whole production?

I started on Argo from day one of shooting and then we met with the gentlemen who do the sound and we brought them in and talked with Ben about how we want to approach sound. But my role really starts on day one of filming. There have been some movies I’ve been involved with the story boarding process though too.

What was your favourite film to edit? And what memorable moments do you have from editing a movie?

Well there are certain aspects in a lot of the movies I’ve done that I’m proud of. Without naming one, because I have no favourite, for instance, the first fifteen minutes of Al Lee of the musical montage and in Argo the whole last 35-40 minutes I’m really proud of. The raid in Zero Dark Thirty is obviously one I'm really proud of that too. In each movie, they’ll be a section that really lends itself to editing and I think I did a really good job with so I have a lot of favourite parts.

What is next for you?

I’m not sure of my next steps but I have a few things that I am thinking about and one movie in particular that I’m working the details out of but there’s nothing settled yet. 

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