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HomeAwardsAwards Portfolio: Paul Hirsch/Ray

Awards Portfolio: Paul Hirsch/Ray


Editor Paul Hirsch’s first collaboration with director Taylor Hackford, on Ray, saw him coming onto the picture halfway through the shooting. When the original editor dropped out for personal reasons, Hackford hired Hirsch without any discussion, giving him complete freedom on the first cut. Living up to the director’s trust and figuring out his vision were Hirsch’s biggest challenges. “I asked him a few questions about his process, which gave me clues,” says Hirsch. “When I viewed the dailies, I could understand his thinking very clearly. The shots were quite articulate. I knew how he intended them to be used, and operated on that basis.” Hirsch observes two cardinal rules: never to confuse and never to bore the audience. Storytelling, he says, requires choices about what information to impart to the audience and when. “Holding back a bit of information can create a desirable tension or moment of surprise, or if done wrong, can confuse or irritate.”In approaching Ray, Hirsch decided to avoid too much chronology. “I had the idea of holding back the drowning scene until later in the movie, to create a mystery that would carry us through these episodes,” he explains. “But when we actually tried it, it turned out to be confusing, so we abandoned the idea. However, we did learn that the flashbacks could come later in the picture and to better effect, so it was a worthwhile experiment.”Of the collaborative process with the director, Hirsch is left with nothing but positive memories. “We started at the beginning, and each time one of my choices violated Taylor’s sensibility in some way, however small, we addressed it. We either changed it according to his suggestion, or we came up with a third way that incorporated both his approach and mine.”

Written by Mary Ann Skweres

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