Two-time Oscar-winning editor Kirk Baxter (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Social Network”) enjoyed the narrative complexities and satirical fun of “Gone Girl.” Gillian Flynn’s adaption of her bestselling thriller is like a Punch and Judy act for Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, which David Fincher likens to “Fight Club” for marriage. The editorial trick was creating a language for three different storylines that was easy to follow and compelling — while getting out of the first act as quickly as possible for this 149-minute thrill ride.
“Gone Girl” marks the fifth consecutive Fincher film for Baxter since “Zodiac,” but the first as solo editor without Angus Wall. Baxter quips that the only difference is that there was more work to do. The shoot was around 110 days and he spent 10 months in post (slightly less than “Social Network”).
“But we found in the first couple of assemblies that act one was taking too long. We concentrated heavily on how to reduce that first act. And one of the best areas was the searching with Nick at the top of the house. We decided to trim back a question there of whether he’s seeing this for the first time or not. So we really stripped it down to its bare essentials. It helped our quest to reduce time for the sake of the overall flow of the movie, but I think it also made it a better film.”
However, once all of the story lines converge, they break the rules and then just run with it. “It’s presented in the way that it’s written yet it’s so modular that we kept picking at it, and it was working 10 edits back, but David kept refining and really put me to task on it. And it did improve. I love where we ended up. But we definitely moved things around and rebuilt it so you have different timelines interacting with each other that weren’t designed to be that way. But we managed to manipulate it that way.”
It wasn’t difficult honing the two lead performances from Affleck and Pike. He’s a likable asshole and she’s alternatively cold as ice and sympathetic as a bestselling author who can’t live up to her “Amazing Amy” alter-ego.
Yet the relationship between the twins (Affleck and Carrie Coon) offered the best interaction. “In terms of cutting dialog scenes, those were the most enjoyable. When she comes after him, upstairs in his bedroom, just getting that argument where all of the dialog is right on top of each other. How do twins act when they know all the answers? It’s OK to shout in their faces, they’ve been doing it their entire lives, but it’s the speed of it and getting it on rails. You can never go too fast with twins screaming at each other.”
“Gone Girl” marks the first major Hollywood feature cut on Premiere Pro CC, which is a big boost for Adobe. The decision was made because of the tight integration between Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC, which allowed multiple editors and VFX artists to work on the same project. And, Premiere Pro CC was able to play back 6K files in real-time for VFX review.
As for Baxter’s “Gone Girl” takeaway: “Nick and Amy belong together.”