Sundance Series: Mirror Party

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Every single year, Sundance Film Festival brings artists and audiences together for the premiere of groundbreaking work. This year, we had the opportunity to speak with many creatives and professionals who have worked on some of the incredible work being spotlighted at this incredible festival. 

Editor: Patrick Lawrence

Project: Mirror Party (short) 

Synopsis: Two friends role-play a breakup conversation.

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How long have you been in the industry and where do you draw your inspiration from?

Patrick Lawrence: I have been a professional film editor since 2011. I was drawn to editing in film school while taking a course on video production and learning the basics of non-linear editing on Adobe Premiere. While I had been pursuing a career as a Director, I found that editing could be an extension of directing and it gave me the ability to have an impression on the third re-write of a film, and that creative control was very appealing to me. I had also spent ten years playing music professionally as a drummer, and I knew that my internal rhythm gave me a bit of an upper hand in the pacing of my edits. I pride myself on my ability to find emotion within the rhythm of my cuts, especially when cutting montage driven scenes.

What made you sign onto this project?

Patrick Lawrence: For Mirror Party, I have worked with director Bridey Elliott on five films since 2016, including her feature film debut Clara’s Ghost, which premiered at Sundance in 2018. Bridey and I have become simpatico when it comes to working together in the edit room, we have a shorthand together that has proven successful time and time again over the course of these five films. When she asks me to “do something weird,” I know exactly what she is looking for… even if it’s not inherently in the footage.

How do you know if a film is going to get into Sundance?

Patrick Lawrence: I wish I knew! Mirror Party is my seventh film to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival (Dogwalker, Affections, Clara’s Ghost, Men Don’t Whisper, Scare Me, The Starr Sisters, Mirror Party). On a few of those films, I have been very lucky, but for the most part I believe that a good Sundance film is driven by personal stories, powerful performances and unique visions. I think over all my experiences at the ‘dance, the one thing I’ve learned is what type of film won’t get into Sundance.

Can you describe what it was like collaborating with the other pros (like the director) about feedback?

Patrick Lawrence: Bridey really gives me room to explore in the edit. She trusts my instincts and lets me get into the weeds a bit while constructing my first cut. I like to approach that initial edit as how I see the film working best, even though I know it’s not necessarily what the director wants. After I’ve thrown everything at the wall, I like to get in the room with a director and start sculpting my work into something more akin to what they are looking for. And that convergence of ideas is what I love about collaboration in filmmaking… no one film exists in a vacuum, so I’m not the type of editor that likes to be a “button pusher.” If you hire me, its hopefully because you like something that I’ve done in the past and it’s that knowledge and experience that I want to bring to the table while working on your project. I want to work with you to make the best film possible.

Let's talk about your experience using Premiere Pro. What was that like? How did it help you accomplish your work?

Patrick Lawrence: I have been using Premiere Pro and the Adobe Creative Cloud for the majority of my career now. I like to consider it as an extension of my hands or a muscle that I can flex. I know my way in and out of the program so well after all these years, that using it has just become second nature to me. The toughest and yet most exciting part is when new features are introduced, and you have to take the time to learn them and adopt them into your workflow. My favorite newest feature is Speech to Text, which I think has the ability to really break new grounds and streamline your edit, not only in documentary formats, but also narrative. I have been using it most recently as a tool in script based editing, something that is gravely missing from Premiere.

Additionally, Frame.io was a big component of our workflow on this film because the two creators - Bridey Elliott and Angela Trimbur were split between Los Angeles and New York during post-production. So I would use Frame.io integration to export cuts directly from Premiere Pro so that Angela could watch in New York, while working with Bridey in the room here in LA. Being able to reference notes directly within the Premiere Pro workspace is a dream, and really helps streamline my workflow while doing the tedious work of addressing creative feedback.

What advice would you have for directors on working with editors?

Patrick Lawrence: No one wants to make a bad movie. So, if you’re starting out and have never worked one-on-one with an editor before, I think it’s important to be open to new thoughts and new ideas… the same goes for editors. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but it comes with experience - the best idea wins, but only if you are open to exploring all options. Let your editor try new things and take your film to places you never initially expected, you might be surprised with the results.

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