Thelma Schoonmaker – The invisible force behind Martin Scorsese

Thelma Schoonmaker – The invisible force behind Martin Scorsese

Thelma Schoonmaker is very well -known to the ones who like to dig into the craft of filmmaking and an unknown person who does not see beyond the on-screen performances. She has worked with the renowned director, Martin Scorsese for over 50 years and has edited several of his films including blockbusters such as Raging Bull, The Aviator, and the Taxi Driver.

This 7-time academy award nominee didn’t have a smooth career progression. She was taking a brief film-making course at The New York University when she met Scorsese and edited his first film ever. With prerequisites such as the experience of 5 years as apprentice and 3 as an assistant to enter Motion Pictures Editors Guild her climbing the ladder was quite a ride for her.

She is known for her delicate and phenomenal application of superimpositions. Her accurate calculations while using freeze frames were something that Scorsese’s films were known for. Though she agreed that the final say on all the edits is that of Martin’s, she was still taking care of the nuts and bolts of the editing process.

In this 1993 interview, she talks about her craft of editing, her chemistry with Scorsese and editing some documentaries. While talking about her style of editing she emphasizes that, sometimes she likes the audience to notice that the shot has been edited, unlike some other editors who like to keep it smooth and consistent. To explain, Schoonmaker gives an example of this particular shot from ‘Good Fellas’ where the crashing of glass by the groom and the following shots have been abruptly edited to accentuate the crashing.

Though editors are often behind the scenes and are not known much among the movie buffs Thelma Schoonmaker managed to create her own niche and make a name for herself in an industry that seldom recognizes its editors.