Over the course of two days, lives collide and multiple stories interweave in screenwriter and director Paul Haggis’ Crash, a tale of racial and ethnic tensions in modern-day Los Angeles.The cast of characters is varied and their life histories are complex. The sheer number of story lines, not to mention the film’s furious pacing, created one of the biggest challenges for editor Hughes Winborne. “When you’re rolling that fast, it’s hard to slow down, even for a scene that might need to breath,” he says. It was important to stay long enough on one story to hook the audience, but not so long as to forget the other story lines.Over the 35 days of shooting with multiple cameras, there was a great deal of footage, much of it unslated. “Paul was voracious in grabbing shots without a slate,” says Winborne. He notes that the high-caliber performances gave him a lot of good footage to choose from. “That was the gift, to watch those actors, especially Don Cheadle – he never hit a false note.”Winborne believes it’s a tribute to Haggis that the final edit of Crash is fairly close to the original script. “We had to do some shrinking and collapsing of scenes. We reordered a bit, but not a lot. There were not very many deleted scenes. It was a very tight script.”For Winborne, Crash was the kind of breakout film that editors of indie projects dream of, but still he has been “surprised it has the life.” When the film previewed, the response was overwhelming. “I never had an experience like that,” he says. “The audience was just blown away. People were looking for me, the editor, after the screening because they were so moved and provoked by it. The film stuck with them.”Winborne’s credits include Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade and Employee of the Month starring Matt Dillon. He is currently editing his first major studio feature, the Will Smith starrer Pursuit of Happyness.
Written by Mary Ann Skweres