Berlin, February, 2016: French film editor Patricia Rommel sat down to talk craft and career with Berlin based fashion designer Paula Immich.
Patricia Rommel has editied the films of established, as well as of independent directors and her work has taken her to Mexico, India and Los Angeles. Among the many films Patricia has edited are two Oscar winners: Nirgendwo in Afrika by Caroline Link and Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Currently she is editing a new film directed by Angelina Jolie.
Speaking in the terms of film language, I would describe Patricia Rommel as a jumpcut: she is full of energy, in a constant change of movement it seems like a new thought or impulse comes to her mind every minute.
Her mercurialness is in sharp contrast to the moment she enters her world of editing: this is the instant where she blends out everything around her. She focuses like a sniper; concentration, patience, silence, flow.
Patricia, what exactly do you do when you start editing a film?
Editing is quite similar to writing. A writer has his thoughts and his words. As an editor I work with the shots, the sound, the music and my thoughts. I string takes together, play around with the space of time or deplace the intended order of the shots and the meaning will be completetly different. There are endless possibilities of how a story can be told.
When things become challenging my ambition is fueled because, all the more so, I have to use my creativity and think out of the box.
What do you love about your job?
For me the most beautiful part in the process of filmmaking is the editing. The atmosphere in the cutting room is communicative and calm at the same time and I can follow my own schedule. I love working at night when the city goes to sleep, when everything around me – the constant mails, the phone calls, the assistants – calms down.
What are the down sides?
The pressure of time. There are always tight deadlines within which I have to be creative. I would love to have the freedom to experiment even more.
How do you deal with this pressure?
After so many years I am still passionate about editing and the process itself is still rewarding to me, which compensates for the pressure.
Are men and women judged by the same measure and do they have equal opportunities in your profession?
Opposed to the women’s poor representation in the film industry in general, editing used to be a women’s domain because film was shot on celluloid, which physically had to be cut and then taped back together in the editing room, which was a very meticulous affair. A labour which was to be found more apropriate to women. Since film editing has become digital more and more men are working in this job. For myself I feel lucky to be working with women directors, such as Caroline Link or Angelina Jolie, who again themselves enjoy working with women. It is not uncommon to find women assigned as heads of department on Caroline Link’s team
Patricia, you are currently editing Angelina Jolie’s new movie. There is so much larger than life glamour associated with her, were you nervous the fist time you met her; did you find her intimidating?
Because of her celebrity I was a little hesitant during the first handshake, but I soon realized how sincere and how down to earth she is.
Is it important for your career how you dress?
No, not really. In general I like to alternate between a casual style and simple elegance. But when I have meeings for first interviews I deliberately try to dress neutral, since I don’t want peolple to put a label on me right from the start.
Patricia, you’ve had a fantastic career so far, any advice to other women about how to get ahead?
Always be honest with yourself, be clear about what you want and what you don’t want. Be patient and open minded. Be respectful. Learn to listen, and …smile.
Patricia , thank you for sharing.
Text & image copyright of Paula Immich. For more on Paula’s work visit www.paulaimmich.de
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