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How ‘Hereditary’ and Noah Baumbach Editor Jennifer Lame Got Over Her ‘Tenet’ Intimidation

The filmmaker warned Lame ahead of production that "Tenet" might be the most difficult film to edit in movie history.

"Tenet' and "Hereditary"

“Tenet’ and “Hereditary”

Warner Bros/A24

Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” boasts an impressive roster of behind-the-scenes talent, from cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema to Oscar-winning “Black Panther” composer Ludwig Göransson, but the most exciting addition might just be editor Jennifer Lame. After making a name for herself as Noah Baumbach’s go-to editor (see “Frances Ha,” “While We’re Young,” “Mistress America,” “The Meyerowitz Stories,” and “Marriage Story”), Lame broke out further with her work on Kenneth Lonergan’s Oscar winner “Manchester by the Sea” and Ari Aster’s new horror classic “Hereditary.” With “Tenet,” Lame makes the jump to her first studio tentpole.

“For me, hiring is about looking at the work people have done in the past, but not necessarily in relation to what you’re looking to do,” Nolan recently told ICG Magazine about teaming with Lame for the first time. “I look for excellence and judgment. When meeting, it’s more about discovering if there’s a common creative language, which is exactly what turned out to be the case.”

Nolan continued, “Working for the first time with editor Jen Lame was a real pleasure. I joked with her when she first came on that this might be the hardest movie any editor has ever had to cut — and I’m not sure she would dispute that right now [laughs]. Working out all the aspects of portraying time running in different directions meant going beyond what was down on the page, as the execution lay with a successful translation of the visual.”

Lame told ICG Magazine she was attracted to “Tenet” because of the “film aspect.” The editor has a BAFTA Film Award nomination under her belt thanks to “Manchester by the Sea,” but nothing could prepare Lame for having to edit Nolan’s massive action set pieces. The editor was naturally more attracted to the quieter “Tenet” moments given her history of editing character-specific indie dramas, but Nolan proved helpful in giving her the confidence she needed to tackle the action beats.

“The films I have worked on up until this have been more character-driven, so I enjoyed getting more intimate scenes to cut,” Lame said. “I found myself spending more time on the quieter moments and perhaps slightly intimidated by the action. To get over that, I began to think of action as also driving the story forward, explaining, and fleshing out the character’s journey. When Chris saw I was intimidated by the action sequences, he reiterated this point; the story was always the driving force.”

Warner Bros. is opening “Tenet” in global markets first beginning August 26. The tentpole’s U.S. theatrical release is set for September 3.

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