“Star Wars” Editors Discuss Women in Film Industry, Favorite Scenes

Priscilla Liguori/ WEBN-TV

By Priscilla Liguori 2/26/2016

Oscar nominees Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey are the editors of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

There are a lot of female film editors in an industry dominated by men. Brandon and Markey both agreed, however, that many directors want male editors to cut action, science fiction, and superhero movies. They said they felt lucky to work closely with Star Wars Director J. J. Abrams for over ten years.

Priscilla Liguori/ WEBN-TV

Priscilla Liguori/ WEBN-TV

“He really never had any hesitation about having us do this kind of work where I think honestly a lot of directors would not have want us to cut their Mission Impossible, or their Star Trek or their Star Wars,” said Markey.

Brandon and Markey said they felt proud to show that women can be editors for any movie, no matter the content.

“I’m hoping that if we all keep talking about it, the gender bias will go away,” said Brandon.

Brandon explained that editors are storytellers and encompass the roles of directors and writers while completing their jobs.

“Honestly, if you’re not someone who needs a giant pat on the back, you can accomplish a lot in the editing room. I think that’s why it appeals to women in general,” Brandon said.

The cast and crew had to take a two-week hiatus when Harrison Ford broke his leg on set. Brandon said this gave her and Markey a time to look back and rethink scenes.

“I think it’s a tremendous help having an editor shaping the film while they’re shooting because it just gives you a perspective. Sometimes you can make a joke funnier. Sometimes you can make a scene more heartfelt,” explained Brandon.

Markey said there were many great line readings for one of her favorite scenes with Ford.

Priscilla Liguori/ WEBN-TV

Priscilla Liguori/ WEBN-TV

“The ‘That’s not how the force works’ scene was fun to cut. I really liked that scene,” Markey said.

Brandon added that one of her favorite scenes to edit was “Chewy, we’re home.”

“I knew it’d be a real crowd pleaser. When you’re in the theater and that scene comes on, you can feel people physically sit up and cheer. It was really fun to cut and Harrison was amazing in it,” Brandon said.

Brandon and Markey split up and edited different sections of the film. They do this with all of their films and communicate with each other to make each scene the best it can be.

Markey explained that organizing the beginning of Star Wars was a challenge. She wanted the audience to get to know new characters enough before moving to another event in the village attack.

“There was so much material, and we’re introducing a bunch of new characters and have to create the right introductions,” said Markey.

Brandon and Markey were not able to talk about deleted scenes because they will be extras on the DVD. Still, they did say fans will enjoy watching the special features.

“All the deleted scenes were fun to cut. There are a couple of them that are real gems,” Brandon said.