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HomeCraftsEditingTreehouse Editor Peter Tarter Makes Feature Debut with Chasing Shakespeare

Treehouse Editor Peter Tarter Makes Feature Debut with Chasing Shakespeare

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Chasing Shakespeare
Chasing Shakespeare

Director Norry Niven’s Chasing Shakespeare, which debuts this month at the Dallas International Film Festival, is a love story about a young Native American woman’s search for her destiny and her widower husband’s attempts to reunite with her after her death. Based on a screenplay by James Bird, the film features Danny Glover, Graham Greene, Chelsea Ricketts, Mike Wade and Ashley Bell, giving audiences an emotional, dreamlike experience.

A Texas native, Niven shot Chasing Shakespeare in rural regions of his home state. Although produced on a modest budget, the director says that the production benefitted from an exceptionally dedicated cast and crew, and serendipitous circumstances that he described as a magic that defies logic. “If you were lucky enough to be on set during the filming, you saw it,” Niven recalled. “It rained when it needed to and was sunny when we needed bright skies. On the night of our rooftop Tempest scene, when it was supposed to have an electrical storm in the script…we had one on set, a storm so powerful that it struck my family’s house, leaving us without power for days.”

The charmed nature of the project carried through to postproduction. Niven chose Peter Tarter to edit the film. Tarter is a Dallas-based editor known for his work in commercials. He recently founded the commercial editing company Treehouse, but he had not previously edited a feature. Niven was impressed by his narrative skills and obvious enthusiasm for the project. “Peter dove in head first…with reckless abandon because this is what he loves—telling stories,” Niven said.

Tarter’s initial cut of the film ran nearly three hours, so he and Niven worked their way back through the story, looking for ways to trim and hone. “I started taking out side stories that didn’t move the story forward,” Tarter recalled. “It was very hard to do because I was literally cutting characters out of the movie.”

Niven added that Tarter heightened the ephemeral quality that time has in the film by cutting action during shifts from flashbacks to current time. “Peter knew the story completely and could feel the characters throughout his process, which brought so much more to the screen than any ordinary film cutter could have,” Niven said.

Tarter developed a deep emotional attachment to the film. “I identified with the sensitivities of saying goodbye to a dying parent,” he said. “Being there in the room, watching as they try to hang on, but also relieved that it is over.”

Tarter believes that many people will share his response to the film’s timeless narrative. “It’s a beautiful love story,” he said. “People from eight to 80 can watch this film and enjoy it. There’s not a lot of cursing, not a lot of sex…it’s just pure love.”

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