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Even though PASSENGERS is science fiction, the film includes science premises that are very real in regards to “therapeutic hypothermia” and cryotechnology. It has been said that NASA is currently in development with a suspended animation cryosleep chamber that will allow astronauts to hibernate while traveling to distant worlds. This past November iHorror was granted the opportunity to speak with Editor Maryann Brandon and Production Designer Guy Hendrix Dyas. Both are essential players in the beauty and conception of this film. Both had a wide variety of information regarding their expertise to share. Check out our interviews below.

Synopsis:

Directed by the Oscar-nominated, Morten Tyldum, PASSENGERS, stars Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, and Laurence Fishburne.

In PASSENGERS, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are two passengers onboard a spaceship transporting them to a new life on another planet. The trip takes a deadly turn when their hibernation pods mysteriously wake them 90 years before they reach their destination. As Jim and Aurora try to unravel the mystery behind the malfunction, they begin to fall for each other, unable to deny their intense attraction… only to be threatened by the imminent collapse of the ship and the discovery of the truth behind why they woke up.

Editor Maryann Brandon has quite the resume to go along with her experience as an editor. Her other works include Lucasfilm’s Star Wars The Force Awakens, Universal’s Endless Love, Paramount’s Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. She has also edited JJ Abram’s SUPER 8 and Mission Impossible III. Maryann has received an Oscar nomination along with an Eddy nomination and won the Saturn Award for her work on Star Wars The Force Awakens. In addition to editing, Maryann has served as a director on two episodes of Alias and served as the Producer for the fourth season. With no sign of slowing down, Maryann has now completed editing for PASSENGERS, which has a release date of December 21st, 2016. iHorror caught up with Maryann at Sony Studios, and we had a lot to talk about.

Interview With Maryann Brandon Editor – Passengers [2016]

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iHorror: With the film, PASSENGERS was there a lot of planning or did you just dive in?

Maryann Brandon: You know I just dive in. When I first started this project with Sony, I knew that it was going to be big, like a lot BIGGER than BIG. I think that we were a bit over taken by how big it became, that is because it has a small cast as you know and the other things in it become very important that they are absolutely perfect and that they look great and function smoothly and that they do not look laid in, they actually look organic to the whole film, and that takes a lot of talented people and a lot of people with vision to make it real.

iH: Definitely, it is almost like putting a puzzle together when editing and you’re absolutely right it requires talent.
MB: It is like putting together a puzzle and then getting a puzzle piece that does not fit, so what I really needed to do is this thing so Erik Nordby who is the visual effects supervisor (who is incredibly talented and awesome) I need you to like flip flop everything. So we all put our heads together, and we always need to keep in mind what story we are telling, that is a really big thing. You can be like “this is going to look great!” But I am telling this story.

iH: Is it difficult working with another editor on the same picture?

MB: Well On Passengers…

iH: You were solo?

MB: Yes, and for me was great because I was able to continue with vision and talk to Erik and continue to speak to Erik and talk to whomever I need to and keep refining everything. I know something in reel 1 I am going to recall in reel 5. I then have a flow of the whole film, and I do not need to convince someone else to go along with my vision and with what I want to do. With said on Star Wars I worked with Mary Joe who I have done all of JJ’s films with and we have a great method of working together, we are very collaborative. Yes, that helped enormously, there was a lot of footage on that film a lot of battle scenes. We split the film up, she took her stuff, and I took my stuff, and we talked about each other’s stuff. So, it really depends on who you collaborate with, if your of like minds that it can flow into one, it is like having the perfect marriage.

iH: {Laughs} Yeah, exactly. How long was the editing process for PASSENGERS?

MB: They started shooting in September, and we are just wrapping up now {November}, so fairly fast for a film like this. For a number of visual effects and I have a feeling that they did not realize how many visual effects there were going to be, I don’t know the exact numbers. You come up with things along the way, and deciding what comes first, getting the visual effects done first and then getting some tweaks done. Everything little thing that you put into editing is like a Domino Effect. So I could go to a meeting after they screen the film and the studio can say, “we just have this one tweak” and something that sounds very simple such as that will now turn into eight scenes that I have to fix.

iH: Sounds like you are always on your toes.

MB: Yeah, it is a lot of hard work. You need to be very inventive and have the ability to look at everything differently from when you first looked at it.

iH: Do you every travel to the filming locations and sets or are you strictly in the editing room?

MB: On Star Wars I was on location in London at Pinewood for the entire shoot which was incredibly helpful. I could go over daily’s with JJ, put things together quickly and decided what to take out and he is very open to that, and it allow us to be very collaborative. For this film I did not go to Atlanta, I wish I had, but it was just the way that it worked out. I also like to stay home with my family.

iH: Yeah, exactly

MB: I try to get the daily’s done and the scenes cut so that we know if we need anything in the future we can get it. So I am always in communication with the director and I keep all lines of communication open with everyone, it is very important that we are all working together. I am always available for alternate shoots at later dates.

iH: Yeah if you do not have that open communication and dialogue with everyone then nothing will flow. I have seen a lot of your films, and they are beautiful.

MB: Oh, thank you I really appreciate that.

iH: I don’t think that directors receive the recognition that they should.

MB: [Lauhgs].

iH: Editing is just an amazing part of the job, and I know that your career has spanned over the past few decades. I remember Bingo.

MB: Yeah, I love Bingo.

iH: Me too. I can remember seeing that move, and I am sure that technology has drastically changed since then.

MB: Oh, my God. Are you kidding? There are dogs now that actually look like they are talking. With Bingo it was really all about their face, and I really love dogs. I became friends with the dog trainer of that film because I was so fascinated by his control and his kindness for the dogs, it was really inspiring, and it really helped me to get to know my star {laughs}.

iH: It really is amazing with what they can do with these animals. When you edited PASSENGERS was there one scene that you were just so proud of?

MB: There were a lot of scenes that came together like that. Jennifer and Chris have this chemistry that is like crazy good and they just flow off of each other. That made performance stuff very easy to do. One scene in particular when she is jogging {Jennifer Lawrence} on the ship and he {Chris Pratt} is talking to her over a loudspeaker. I worked really hard so that he could see her on all these different monitors, there is a wall of monitors, and I split them into nine different monitors, so there is a lot of different angles, they never shot it but I just really loved the shots where she is running, and you get all these different angles like he is talking to like twelve of her. I loved it because you could really get the feeling that he was trying to get to all facets of her personality and when they cut to her I have the voice bouncing around off the ceiling, and she is not sure where it is coming from, so I am kind of proud of that scene.

iH: I can’t wait to see it, the whole movie just looks stellar, the imagery is sharp.

MB: Yes, it is very different.

iH: Yes, it is, and people are talking about it. The word is definitely out there.

MB: I feel really special about this film. I think that it is a film that it will appeal to sci-fi people, people that like love stories, and for the people that love just fun films. It really does seem like it offers something for everyone. Chris Pratt is just awesome in this film. He has that every guy quality, and then he goes to this dark place, and I have never seen that before, he is amazing. Jennifer really brought a maturity to the film that I have not seen before.

iH: Yeah, maybe we will see some Oscars out of this one.

MB: I would love to see them recognized.

iH: Here is a funny question. Have you ever taken a bunch of scenes from your films and put them all together to see what you could do with all of it?

MB: You know I haven’t but I kind of leave it up to anyone else that wants to do it. Happy to watch it {Laughs} I am on board with it. The last thing that I want to go home and do is think about another montage, but maybe if I was younger {laughs}. I can imagine it in my mind; I mesh it together every night.

iH: Do you have anything else coming up? Are you working on anything?

MB: Actually no I am not at the moment. I am not sure what I am going to do next. After Star Wars I did not plan on doing anything else, I was exhausted. But they showed me a great script, cast, and a love story I couldn’t say no.

iH: Thank you so much, Maryann. It was a pleasure speaking with you today.