A longstanding labor of love for writer-director Emilio Estevez, Bobby captures the era and the man as it follows the stories of guests and staff at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the day of Robert Kennedy’s assassination during the California Presidential Primary of 1968.Three things attracted editor Richard Chew to the script: “The multiplicity of the stories, issues that seemed timeless even 40 years later, and the last speech of Robert Kennedy.” The film Crash had recently been released and Chew was alarmed by the way it depicted the fate of society. Alternately, in Bobby he saw “the hopes of a generation” that had, and hopefully still could, inspire the nation.Bobby was shot in a short, 38-day schedule. The “run-and-gun” style prevented Chew and Estevez from screening dailies together. Although Chew had never worked with Estevez before, he says, “Over the years I have matured and learned better how to serve a particular director.” To tackle the complex editing of multiple story lines, he suggested a plan of attack. The first cut would “concentrate on performances” by the large ensemble cast of A-list talent. Once production was complete, the editor and director could deal with the story structure together. Next they could finesse the style of the film, including the use of archival footage. Pacing would be dealt with last.The story evolved during the editing and Chew discovered that “it was difficult to edit multiple stories because ultimately some of the storylines had to be cut short.” Also, choices were limited. “You never got the same moment twice. It was like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.” The archival footage posed another challenge. Other than Kennedy’s speech used in voiceover at the end, the only other archival footage in the original script was Kennedy’s onstage speech declaring his primary victory. A prologue was added to introduce Kennedy and the time period to a generation unfamiliar with the man and what he stood for, but the added footage needed to be balanced with the other stories. More stock footage was sprinkled into other scenes, including Kennedy political commercials. The producers even managed to acquire 16mm black-and-white footage shot by a grad student in the hotel kitchen where the assassination took place—”the last image before Bobby was shot.” This footage from disparate sources had to be seamlessly incorporated into the production footage.Because of the poignant nature of the subject matter, Chew says that on at least one occasion “I got so emotional, I had to leave the cutting room.” He muses that the tears evoked by the film is the response of a generation “weeping for a dream; weeping for a part of ourselves that was idealistic.” 2001: Nominated, Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film, Comedy or Musical, Shanghai Noon. 1979: Nominated, BAFTA Film Award, Best Film Editing, Star Wars. 1978: Won, Oscar, Best Film Editing, Star Wars; Nominated, Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film, Star Wars. 1977: Won, BAFTA Film Award, Best Film Editing, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. 1976: Nominated, Oscar, Best Film Editing, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Nominated, Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. 1975: Won, BAFTA Film Award, Best Film Editing, The Conversation.
Written by Mary Ann Skweres