I met Karen Schmeer at SXSW in 2007. She was introduced to me by former co-worker Lya Guerra, who had recruited Karen as a jury member for the SXSW Click competition. I remember when Lya introduced her as “Errol Morris’ editor,” and my first reaction was “No way.” I didn’t believe that someone so friendly and down-to-earth could have such a prestigious and important gig. I couldn’t believe that someone so busy and prolific, would be willing to spend time on our tiny little shorts competition. Nevertheless, she was motivated and awesome.
Karen worked on a lot of great films, but she will always be known for helping craft Errol Morris’ later films, such as The Fog Of War, Mr. Death, Fast, Cheap & Out Of Control, and Standard Operating Procedure. If you ever want to see a master class in documentary editing on display, check out her work in Fast, Cheap. It’s one of the best jobs of editing a documentary, I’ve ever seen. At last year’s Sundance, she won an award for editing Greg Barker’s documentary, Sergio. I remember standing at that ceremony, precisely one year ago, and cheering for her win. It’s always good to have recognition come to deserving artists, and always devastating to lose someone in such a tragic manner. When I moved to New York, I ran into Karen a few times in this film community, and it always felt cooler when she was around. It would be this city that would take her away at the young age of 39. AJ Schnack reports on the news of her death, apparently by a hit-and-run on Friday night in Manhattan.