For each of its three seasons, Ted Lasso has picked up two nominations for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Single-Camera Comedy Series. A.J. Catoline, ACE and Melissa McCoy, ACE earned their third consecutive bids for the penultimate and final episode of the season, celebrating the personal and professional gains of the team in two highly memorable installments.
Below the Line spoke with Catoline and McCoy, who warmly shared the pleasure they’ve had working together with their assistant editors for the entire course of the show. They reflected on the chance to say goodbye to the show even though it might eventually continue in some format, but how they feel they’ve done it justice if this is truly the end.
They also compared themselves to the series’ main character as Americans working in a sea of Brits, learning expressions along the way and working in collaboration with Ted’s portrayer Jason Sudeikis on making the most of the footage they had to create the most compelling scenes for the final edit.
Below the Line: I’ve had a lot of different conversations with other departments recently from this show. They’ve all made it sound like it’s really fun. Did you guys have the same experience, or was this just miserable from start to finish?
A.J. Catoline: It was, yeah, quite an amazing journey. Without a doubt. Just amazing that it came to season three and not lost on me at all at Mel and I have gotten nominated now three times, and with our whole editing crew, including our assistant editors Alex Szabo and Francesca Castro. We just had such a blast as a group, for sure, in post.
Melissa McCoy: Yeah. I think the one thing we kept saying towards the end of the season is how lucky we all feel, when we were reflecting that it’s coming to a close. It was just like, wow, we got to do something special that meant something to people. I’ve never had the amount of people reaching out from, not only industry people, but non-industry people, that the show means so much to them and that they want to find the editor. That’s amazing! It’s amazing that it touched somebody so deeply that they’re like, who’s in the dark room putting that together? Because nobody thinks that usually, so that’s been really special too, and to do it with the group of people that we did it with.
Somebody pointed out to me, I’ve never seen the same editor for the whole run. It was amazing that it was the two of you, and it’s really the four of us. We call ourselves the OG crew. Me and Frankie and A.J. and Alex, and we really, this season especially, coalesced to be like, okay, let’s go back to the roots of season one. What do we want to accomplish in season three here? It was a special journey. We had a lot of fun.
BTL: I can’t help but notice that, unlike most of the people I’ve spoken to, you both sound like you’re from the United States. A lot of the onset crew is British. You’re exporting this British experience, mainly for American audiences. Is that relevant at all?
Catoline: We wanted to go to London. Right, Mel?
McCoy: Yeah, yeah, we tried our hardest.
Catoline: We wanted to see if Jason would move the editing bay to London. But it makes sense that he didn’t because editing for Jason is his own thing. He talks about how he writes Lasso once before and then every day on the set. And then he rewrites in the cutting room. So yeah, we couldn’t go to London, unfortunately. He just would have not had time to be there. We could have followed him around on our laptops maybe. But yeah, it’s an American show first and foremost that took a very cheeky hello to British culture and to soccer. It’s been beautiful cutting their incredible accents, and they’re just such a great cast, and I’ve learned so many great words from them, especially from Keeley’s character, all the silly things she says. I’ve loved cutting this British cast and they’re great. Phil Dunster too. I’m so glad he got nominated for an Emmy. He deserved it in season three. My goodness. The absolute best arc I think of any character in the cast this season.
McCoy: Yeah, we were kind of Ted in a way, and it taught us a lot of stuff. We’d have conversations sometimes too, about well, this would be the way a Brit would say it. For example, in the finale, Jamie goes to say Nike offered him this big one-er shot, and he’s talking to Keeley, and he says “Nike” because that’s how they say it there. We had a big discussion, Jason and I about, do we have him split the difference and kind of do a little bit of an “e” for the American audience? There were little things like that where we would learn ourselves and then try to do a hybrid. By season three, we’re doing the real Ted Lasso, where it’s little bit of both sides blending together. It was fun.
BTL: You mentioned that Jason rewrites the show constantly. How much does that affect your work?
Catoline: Obviously, this is very well-written, but he comes up with new ways to approach something that’s not necessarily scripted. He’ll give us a lot of the backstory about what a character is feeling in that moment and the looks that we want to go back and forth. Like cutting Roy and Jamie and Keeley in Jamie’s bedroom in 3.11. There are a lot of subtle looks if you really wanted to use for the way Roy looks at Keeley when she takes his hand away from him.
There’s definitely meaning he gives into it and in writing. And then sometimes, yeah, he is rewriting. A lot of montages this year, the Zava montage example, that thing had so many iterations. He brought out index cards. This was for Mel too and her montage in 3.12. He’d just move the cards around and figure out how that that montage is going to come together in a way that wasn’t scripted. There’s definitely rewriting we do with him in that sense.
McCoy: Day-to-day, when we were getting our dailies in, you know what the bones of the scene would be. What was so fun is opening your bin and being like, what did they discover? What little joke or how were they going to tell it? Sometimes they found a bit of comedy in the blocking or they added a joke, and you can tell that they wrote that that day. It was like, oh, I didn’t read this part of that, but it did something that either called back or tied it together. It’s just something really smart or funny or unexpected that you would always be delighted by. Because you’d read the script and be like, this is great, and then you’d watch the scene and they’d have added, I guess Jason Magic is what I’ll call it. A little sprinkle of something and it wouldn’t be big sometimes, or sometimes it would, but it would just elevate the scene. And you’re like, wow, this went from good to really good, or special.
To add to the season being exciting, that was the most exciting over the three seasons, just watching that get better and better as the cast got more into their characters and more into the show and the world we were creating. All the Easter eggs and callbacks, those were just really fun to discover, I think for them and then for us to discover on the day of the dailies. You’d just get it and you’d be like, oh, and we’d run into each other’s rooms and be like, remember, in your episode in season two, they’re going to make a joke about it here. That was really fun.
Catoline: Yeah, Jason loves callbacks.
BTL: You incorporate a lot of footage of game play as part of this. It could be sort of uninteresting if it wasn’t done in the right way, but you do feel like you’re rooting for them just like you’re rooting for the characters. Is it a challenge to incorporate that footage in a way that feels like it’s part of the narrative?
Catoline: I love how we’re not a show about football, but those scenes have to be really special and intense. We have great directors and casts, and Phil and Cristo play so good, so they do a lot of the plays. You’d think the game angle, just the technical part of it, can be boring, but when we get down to the field level, and I like how our show does that, you just really feel that emotion. Like Phil walking off the pitch in in 3.11 was just so beautiful. He did a couple takes of that, and I could see that Jason was having him try different emotions, one where he walks off with tears in his eyes at the end, and we used that. The football is definitely a part of it and a lot of the effects there, it’s all over greenscreen. At first, you have to imagine what it’s going to be when they have the beautiful visual effects at the stadium and the sound. It can be daunting, but then we know it builds into something really great.
McCoy: There’s always the play, and they get it right, technically, but there’s always something a little bit extra to the play. This is the play that, well, in season two, Cristo killed a dog. There’s always some subtext under the play. Or, this year, the callback to season one where Jamie finally embraces being the decoy and having Sam make the goal-winning kick. We ran that in practice, and he didn’t want to do it season one. It’s making sure to land those moments. It’s not the action, it’s what does that action mean? That’s been fun. It’s not sports for sports. It is a little bit. It’s impressive, those kind of plays, but it always has something to do with the story that’s helpful. You’re always playing with that. to.
We have a great second unit director who shoots all that football stuff for us a lot of the time, and he’d be like, I’m in the action of it all. But we have to also tell what’s going on up in the stands and how Rebecca is relating to it, or Sam and the coaches and that kind of stuff.
Sometimes you have to find the line of, people are invested in what the play is going to do, but you also have to tell the story of what everybody’s going through. Especially this season, we had so many storylines, what’s happening up in the box and what’s happening with the coaches and what’s happening on the field, in the pub. There are a lot of like stories you’re juggling in the midst of the action, which was like a beautiful puzzle. Sometimes, you’re like, I don’t have anywhere to go, and then you’re like, let me see. I could steal a reaction from the pub guys and come back and we can pick it up at this great piece of action. It’s great to have so many options and, when you start it, it’s overwhelming, A.J. and I did a lot of rewriting in the editing. We’re like, we could tell this story and we could tell it this way, and Rebecca – oh, what about Rebecca’s reaction now to that?
Catoline: Going around the horn. Jason likes to check in all those locations and they’re all filmed on different days, with different energy and in different places. The dugout is filmed on a different set, and they do it great, but it’s up to us, and that’s where we really dig in to make it cohesive, to feel like it’s completely flowing. We do a lot of stuff with our sound team. They’ll have the crowd swell and then come down for lower or further shots in the sequence. Checking in with all our characters when we’re bouncing around, it all flows together.
McCoy: And this season too, we were more in partnership with the Premier League than ever before. So sometimes the stadium itself became its own character because. Man City, all these places have their own identity. That was a fun thing we had to learn about. I’d go on YouTube and be like, what do they do at West Ham before a game. Sometimes, we’d pull those chants for reference, and then it was up to our sound team, because you can’t just steal that sound, so they had to try to recreate that with a few people and a loop group. Season one, nobody knew who we were, and now, season three, they’re like, yeah, we’ll be on Ted Lasso. We didn’t have that luxury in season one. That was another great thing that we got this season, really feeling like people were excited to be a part of it, so we were bringing in more of the football culture into the world of it that we weren’t able to do before.
Catoline: Brendan Hunt is our football guru, by the way. We’d always go to Brendan.
BTL: Yes, back when I spoke with him, he clarified that he’s the only one who actually cares.
Catoline: Yeah, he tells us that. We learned so many rules about how the full time clock has to stop at ninety in the stadium and only continues counting on television. But we threw it back in to Brendan too, because Jason really wanted to have tables of where Richmond is in the season. You see a lot during the Zava montage and later on throughout other episodes. Jason would want this for the story, and I’d go back to Brendan, and be like, what place is Richmond in? And Brendan’s like, oh, damn it, now I’ve got to do a whole fantasy league season to figure out, are we up on the Wandering Wolves or Newcastle? But he did it. He got all those stats correct.
McCoy: This season, we had so many extra layers we were worried about, like text messages. Our fans were pausing and there were discussions on Reddit, so, in addition to everything else, it’s like, oh gosh, we’d do a game clock pass. There was a lot of stress in that way. Season one, we didn’t have that. We were like, we don’t have anybody going to watch this and now we were like, the details. We really tried to care about everything, but it’s hard to do that in. It’s a TV show. It’s a moving picture. Just go past what their text history is.
Catoline: Yeah, exactly. But the fans love it, and that’s what’s so rewarding about so many hours in editing this show. Jason’s a Saturday Night Live guy, so he doesn’t mind working late. Knowing how much the fans love it is what gave me the energy and the rest of our team to keep going.
BTL: In speaking to some of the creatives, they always said back in season one that it was supposed to be three seasons. There’s nothing official about this being a series finale now, even though it really is, and there’s some talk about spinoffs. But the montage of everybody in the last episode really does feel like a goodbye. Was that difficult or emotional to assemble?
McCoy: The whole finale for me was so bittersweet. I’m with everybody where you’re like, maybe, maybe! Nobody has said anything. Jason always said three seasons, so it was like, if this is it, then this is it. I really would cry at different things in that. Every time I would work on the locker room scene when they’re building the believe sign back together. There was just something where I was like, oh, he wrapped this up so beautifully. I think none of us really anticipated that it was going to end. We were in the machine for so long, and then when you when we were putting together that finale, there was something in us that we were like, I don’t know if we were ready to do it, but we just buckled down.
There were some late nights where we had to just send this off and do it right. We had a lot of 2ams. We worked a whole Saturday and had our music editor with us as we were because that song is really difficult to extend or shorten. You know that song so well, so we really felt like we had to do our due diligence with that end montage. It did feel like a goodbye.
But we’ll see. A.J. and are both like, we don’t know anything. I’m going to operate on that level. If I get a call about something, then I’ll be happy, but I’ve also been like, okay, I have to process the end of this show, because it’s meant so much to me. That’s what my job has been since the show ended, processing what it meant. I don’t know how you do that with something that’s changed your life.
Catoline: Yeah, it’s been absolutely life changing.
BTL: It’s an impressive feat, if you have audiences that really want to keep going and you want to keep going, but you’ve delivered something that, if this is it, then this is it. That’s a really wonderful thing, especially if you’ve changed people’s minds. Well, I do want more, but I’m happy with how it ended. I’m not going to want more, I’m just going to be happy with what I got.
McCoy: Yeah, but also, in a way, we’re wrapping everybody up, but in a way, it was also, look at how much more this team could accomplish. We could do a women’s team, and Roy is going to have his growth as the main coach, and Nate coming back into the fold and what that means for him. There are places we could go. That’s what people are looking at. They’re like, huh.
There’s more story we could tell. Obviously, that left a lot of doors open, but it also, in a weird way, closes a lot of doors because you’re like, this is pretty satisfying. I think that was the brilliance of Jason, when he looks in the camera, it’s like, it’s up to you. You take what we did here and you can put that in your real life, that sort of thing, which was such a beautiful sentiment. But then also, look at all the story that is still to be told for these people. It’s not an ending. They’re not not getting off the island. They’re moving forward.
Catoline: Also, the music, not just Cat Stevens, but we have a couple of great ending songs that were written for the show. The Ed Sheeran one that Mel uses, and Sam Ryder’s Fought and Lost. What a beautiful song that is. That just felt right, under 3.11, under that that last shot, we will see you here same time, same place next year. It goes right before the truth bomb scene that started back in season one.
We know that that’s the obligatory scene that Ted and Rebecca have to have every season. That felt like a real closing, beautiful song. Props to Tom Howe also for getting nominated for that, a great composer. He did so much good music for our show, and that one was a real happy accident. He wrote it and didn’t know exactly where it was going to go in the season, but he really felt it fit right in to that spot.