Press > Escape From
L.A. > Exclusive Interviews > Edward A. Warschilka (Editor)
How did you end up
the editor for six John Carpenter (Director/Co-Writer/Co-Composer) movies?
I had been working for
a number of years
as Mark Warner's first
and on Big Trouble in Little China that was my role
addition to being the liason between editorial
and the VFX (Visual Effects) house. Back then in the days of
celluloid the VFX would come in dribbles
and scenes needed to be constantly updated with new versions of
the VFX shots
and that would cause picture edit changes. It was like having
at the same time
and I drove back
a lot. I'm not even sure we had fax machines
at that time.
After filming was over John wanted to come in
and work on the end battle sequence
and Mark Warner
and Steve Mirkovich had their hands full with other scenes. I
was promoted to editor
and worked with John exclusively for that huge sequence
after that moved on to other scenes. I had really enjoyed my
time with John
a lot from him then
and through the following years.
After Big Trouble I had gotten
a call from John
and Sandy (King) (Associate Producer/Script Supervisor) to come
work on They Live which if I remember correctly was
already under way. I was on other project that I didn't feel I
abandon so it wasn't until Body Bags that we got
How did you and John
Carpenter prepare for this project and what kind of discussions or disagreements
did you have during the editing?
You would think that would be the situation before
a bigger studio production. The truth however was that up until
right before that I was finishing up
another show. Even though John
and I had done
a couple shows together
at that point the studio wanted
a very well-known
and respected editor to cut the show. By the way, someone I too
admired. I didn't think I was going to get
a chance on it but remember saying that I'd love to help out in
any capacity I could. Maybe
a second editor if one was needed. John never told me how it
all worked out but the other editor ended up being otherwise
along with John endorsed me. John
also was knee deep in the thousands of production decisions
leading up to the beginning of photography. This was the first show the two of
us worked together using the
digital editing system although I had used it before for
someone else. Back then we
still had film dailies that we would conform to match the digital edit so we
could take it to theaters to run for testing. Another benefit of the Avid is
that with our tight schedule I could go out to set with VHS copies of cut scenes
for John to get feedback and notes.
The show was for the most part shot
and so I would occasionally go out to set during their lunch
and run cut scenes with John
as we went
Avid made that possible so much quicker
and easier. I remember one time going out because I wanted to
try something different with the basketball scene
allowed me to do
alternate version unlike if I had been editing on celluloid
a KEM (Keller
Elektro Mechanik). The
alternate version didn't make it but John
allowed me to try. But
after that sometimes when he'd talk
a scene during dailies/rushes he'd finish by teasing me in good
fun, "Oh, that's right, you're going to go off
and do what you want
There weren't any disagreements.
What kind of challenges did this movie provide to you and
which were the
hardest, funniest and most
problematic scenes or sequences
to work on?
The schedule was definitely the most
challenging aspect. It made it so much harder getting the time devoted to the
visual effects teams.
one point we had to bring in
another editor David Finfer for
an insurance claim because when the night battle
at the end of the show was shot they couldn't use charges in
the guns because of complaints from the neighbors of the studio it was filmed
at. No, that scene wasn't filmed
at Paramount. David put together the first pass of the battle
for me so that they could start to process the claim that would pay for
all the gunfire to be
added later by
a VFX company. I
always regret that David didn't get credit for that but he
and I became the best of friends
and worked on
a couple of more shows together.
The end battle in Anaheim took a lot of time and
the poor actors had to pantomime shooting guns with no charges in them.
How long did it take to edit the movie?
Started shouting December 11, 1995 and sent
it to the negative cutters June 12, 1996. Then came mixing, color timing and
print mastering ending about July 16 and had a press screening July 19.
Were there any significant changes or different cuts done
and were there any scenes or material that you and John Carpenter wanted to keep but had
to drop at the very last second so to speak?
Not that I can still recall.
John Carpenter has said that he would
have wanted more than only nine weeks of post-production time to work on the
movie. He only had one day to look
at his rough
cut before it had to be sent in to Paramount for release
as well. Do
you feel the same way or
you satisfied with the final cut? If not, what would you have liked to have done
about the schedule. Projects like this especially with fantasy
and VFX need more time to develop
and polish. Story
and structure have their demands
as VFX roll in
adjustments have to be made to
accommodate it. I remember the tidal wave surf scene which had
been discussed one way
and the VFX just wasn't working out
and we were
already on the mixing stage before I re-cut the
action to work with what they were
avid surfer back then I was unhappy with
it. They could have used more time. Back then Paramount was known for their
short editing schedules. I had worked on 48 Hours
and both had similarly tight schedules WITHOUT the VFX.
What's your favorite memory or memories of working on the
My favorite time on all of John's shows was
when the shooting ended and he came into the cutting room to work.
We'd open the belly of the beast
and then had fun discovering where it
I enjoyed working with John. I
a lot of love
and respect for the man. He
a few others have been wonderful mentors.
I learned a lot from John and have always been thankful for the time I got to
spend with him.
What do you think of the movie personally?
It's fun, it's campy and a statement of
living here in L.A. Nowadays it's prophetic with the pandemic virus hanging over
our heads. Of course our virus had a different name but just as deadly!
What are you currently doing and what do you
enjoy doing in your spare time?
just finished working on Season 2 of The Twilight Zone and like so many
others waiting for the day we can go outside and continue our lives. I've been
trying to play the guitar for the last 47 years. Still do every morning. Still
suck. I've always been a water rat. I was a competitive swimmer and still get in
the pool for workouts, a scuba diver, surfer, sailor and ocean kayaker. I'm
slower now and less energetic so more time for roasting coffee and pulling shots
and capps for me and the missus (who I met on In the Mouth of Madness).
Thank you for your time, Edward.