Find out how this editor contributed to the action and comedy of ‘The Fall Guy’

Did you see The autumn man?

It’s a film pretty much tailor-made for the No Film School audience, and they’re not paying me to say this. It’s a film that’s all about moviemaking, with a strong focus on the often overlooked stunt performers who provide some of today’s biggest action.

Of course, there’s some rom-com in there too, and that’s all in good fun too. But movie fans and filmmakers will probably be more appreciative of the IATSE shirt that Ryan Gosling’s character wears at one point, or the fun crew hats and jackets that pop up everywhere, or the fact that characters talk about one’s and split screens.

It’s also just a fun action movie with some truly fantastic stunt work from the 87North team and David Leitch. Longtime collaborator Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir is the film’s editor, and we were thrilled when we got the chance to hop on Zoom and talk about her work on the film.

Buckle up!

The Autumn Man | official

Editor’s note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

NFS: I’d like to know more about your background and how you got started as an editor. I know you dabbled in cinematography a bit.

Ronaldsdóttir: Yes. I was super interested in cinematography, and that’s what I wanted to be. I went to film school.

When did I go to film school? Probably ’89, ’88, ’89. I went to film school. It was fun, enjoyed it. My focus was on film photography. I went to the London Film School in Covent Garden in London. So much fun.

And then I became an editor, but I was also a single mother when I went to film school. And then I had another child when I got home from school. And as we all know, anyone who has ever been on set. There are a lot of people there who depend on you showing up for work at the right time and sometimes staying there for very long hours. And as a young mother with another child, with my second child, it was too much.

So it was kind of by accident that I was introduced to editing, and I fell in love with it. But the great thing about post is also that you have more control over your own time. So I really liked it.

NFS: Your work is very diverse. It’s not just action, it’s not just film, it’s so many things. What I want to focus on first is your work in action.

Ronaldsdóttir: As an editor I do a wide variety of tasks. And I just want to say this, because people kept telling me in the beginning, “You can’t do all that stuff. You can’t make films, short films, TV and documentaries because no one will know what you’re talking about. You should focus on one genre and stick to it.”

But it turned out not to be the right choice for me, because when I came to Hollywood… the reason I came to Hollywood was that a very small independent film that I made in Iceland was being remade in the US, and I the small budget film, and I was offered to edit that big Mark Wahlberg film, Contrabandthe US remake And that’s how I got here.

But what happened is because everything changes so quickly, and I remember it further Contraband They shot this scene with, I don’t know, it’s been too long, but it was so many drones. It was the new. So the ability to be able to get through that material comes from my training and documentary that you have to go through – you have to think very quickly and realize, “Is this going to work for us? Is this going to work for us? us?” So everything I’ve done so far, as diverse as it has been, has given me the tools to work on big blockbuster action films.

But I don’t. How do I go about editing an action scene? I really don’t approach it any differently than anything else I edit. … I don’t do the stunts myself. There are other people, stuntmen, who should receive Oscar recognition from peers for making valid contributions to the film industry. So they do all the stunts, and then I just put it together.

But I do think we should keep the emotion within the stunts. So I also try to help by taking out those emotional bits when you have actors fighting, just to keep the energy and the emotion and the story even though you’re fighting. But that’s true, it’s not just me. It’s also that I work for people, David Leitch and Kelly McCormick at 87North, their focus is on making story-based action films.

I don’t like people being pigeonholed because I’m very happy where I am, but people are being pigeonholed. But an editor is an editor, and if you can make a music video, you can take action.

Behind the scenes of The Fall GuyBehind the scenes of The autumn manUniversal images

NFS: I really enjoyed seeing that little flash Atomic blonde in the movie. Once again, more of your great work. I wonder if you have something similar in the way you approach comedy, because you’ve done a lot of comedy as well.

Ronaldsdóttir: Yes, but I believe timing and payouts are very important in everything. I always say that action is easy. It’s the dialogue that’s difficult, and that’s something you have to focus on for what feels like a normal reaction between people. And if it’s comedy, it’s the same.

I think you have to have rhythm and you have to have tempo in your blood. But yes, it’s all about the timing. Everything in editing is about timing.

So even though it’s a comedy, but I have to say this, it doesn’t have the same timing. There is a different timing, just like horror films have a different timing than drama or action films. So you just have to find the right timing for it. But I’ve learned over the years to just give it time. You know what I mean? We don’t pay too much attention to comedy, and it’s an old truth that comedy is the best in the broadest sense of the word.

NFS: The autumn man is very meta. You have that in the beginning, and then you have the split screen. But one thing I found really interesting was the use of intercutting.

Ronaldsdóttir: All the intercutting happened afterwards… we’re telling a love story. The initial intercutting at the beginning is done mainly for two reasons. One of them is that I don’t like repetitions. And the fact that we know he’s a clerk is kind of boring when (Gail) starts telling us on the phone that he’s a clerk and he starts telling her he’s a clerk. So (we) paused that, to minimize the recurrence of it, but also to emphasize his decision to go to Australia and help Jody. And that was further emphasized by the fact that he was dropped off at work and then almost drove to Australia in that beautiful car.

Yes. And then we did this again and again, mainly to keep Jody and Colt – even though they were apart – together as much as possible. Keep them in the same energy.

NFS: What was the most challenging scene for you in this film?

Ronaldsdóttir: Most challenging series. I mean, sequences can be challenging for many reasons. Sometimes things don’t go as planned on set. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s just the time. And that is always something you have to be prepared for with every film.

If it’s a small budget movie or a big blockbuster, things are going to happen in the ways that you have to figure out and be on your toes to figure out how we can make this work. But nothing was super challenging.

I mean, there’s a lot of gold on the newsroom floor, which is always heartbreaking. A lot of things that never made it into the movie. But we are brave and I like that. You have to be brave in filmmaking and brave in the sense that you have to be able to kill your darlings and leave stuff behind for the greater good of the story.

Behind the scenes of The Fall GuyBehind the scenes of The autumn manUniversal images

NFS: I know it’s a collaboration, but do you have any insight into how you make those decisions? How do you decide what you leave behind?

Ronaldsdóttir: Well, through dialogue, both with the director, with the producer and with the studio, we do test screenings, and through the test screening you might learn that this is a little too long, we have to shorten it, otherwise this is a little, otherwise we have we need more of this. So you refine the film a bit after the test screenings. Yes. But it’s all collaborative.

And that’s the beauty of this art of filmmaking: the community you live in while you’re making it and working with the people you work with and the people you interact with every day. And I think it’s important for anyone who’s interested in films and filmmaking, but you always have to be honest. That doesn’t mean you have to be mean, because mean has nothing to do with being creative. But just be honest and put your heart into it.

NFS: Is there a segment in the film that you are most proud of?

Ronaldsdóttir: Well, I’m very proud of the garbage/car/karaoke series. I’m also very proud of the way we handled the opening of the film, both with the introduction of stunt people, and with the exchange between the clerk and Gail on the phone with Colt. That was fun, and I like it when we get to be brave, because it’s a very extreme trade-off in many ways, but we work with people who are brave and who are willing to experiment in that way. So that was fun.

NFS: It’s an interesting way to learn and see him make that decision. I like that it’s not completely linear. Is there a common mistake you see aspiring editors make and how can they avoid it?

Ronaldsdóttir: Well, it’s something I battle with all the time, and I have to remind myself all the time that you may have a streak and think it’s working, but you have to go through it again and in a vicious way. Even if you just think: what is the shortest version of this series? And even if you think: oh, this is it and what if it is even shorter? It doesn’t mean it will end like this. It just means you learn more about the scene you’re working with, you learn more.

What is the essence of that series? From that scene? So just do it as an exercise. What is the shortest possible version of that scene? Because sometimes we have a tendency to just sit around too long and stuff.

And we must always remember that the audience is not carte blanche. They come to the theater with a lot of knowledge. So you have to be willing to use their brains too. What does that character have to say? What does the public already know without us telling them?

NFS: Is there anything you wanted to discuss that I didn’t ask??

Ronaldsdóttir: Just that I hope people go see the film (theatre) because I think it’s a great cinematic experience, especially seeing it with other people. It’s that kind of movie, but it’s so beautiful. The film was shot by Jonathan Sela and directed by David Leitch. It’s just beautiful. It’s a stunning cinematic experience, I’d say.

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