“It’s Kind of a Love Story but Not a Romantic Love Story”: Editor Annette Davey on Together Together
Nikole Beckwith’s surprising romantic comedy Together Together lacks an actual romance. Matt (Ed Helms) decides to have a child despite being single, so he seeks the help of gestational surrogate Anna (Patti Harrison). The two strike up an unlikely friendship, a purely platonic relationship between two self-described loners who gradually learn a thing or two about love. Editor Annette Davey tells us about crafting a unique story using tried and true genre conventions and how to stay authentic amid the editing process.
Filmmaker: How and why did you wind up being the editor of your film? What were the factors and attributes that led to your being hired for this job?
Davey: I had worked with one of the producers previously and he contacted me directly to see if I was available. The film had already been assembled so I watched the cut and I read the script and met the director and really liked the project. It was a story I had not seen before and I was very excited about the uniqueness of this story.
Filmmaker: In terms of advancing your film from its earliest assembly to your final cut, what were goals as an editor? What elements of the film did you want to enhance, or preserve, or tease out or totally reshape?
Davey: I wanted to make sure that you really felt all the complex emotions portrayed in the film and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t too obvious or sentimental but at the same time emotional and moving but also funny where possible. It’s kind of a love story but not a romantic love story and these are not emotions or circumstances that we see on the screen very often so I really wanted it to be authentic and true.
Filmmaker: How did you achieve these goals? What types of editing techniques, or processes, or feedback screenings allowed this work to occur?
Davey: We had two in person screenings and one digital screening. We used questionnaires at the large screenings and this feedback was very helpful. We circulated the cut with the producers on a regular basis and this also was very helpful. The film is edited in a fairly classical straightforward way, with little to no intercutting but what was quite involved was ensuring that all the emotions were playing and registering within this style.
Filmmaker: As an editor, how did you come up in the business, and what influences have affected your work?
Davey: I started my career in Australia, I went to the Australian Film & TV School and worked in Sydney before coming to the US. I was invited to work in the US by an Academy Award-winning editor and this was a huge opportunity for me. I have always loved Italian cinema and it was an Italian editor who lead me to the US and I feel between growing up in a different country and my time working with an Italian mentor gives me a unique approach to films.
Filmmaker: What editing system did you use, and why?
Davey: We used Avid and mostly this is the major system used in editorial. I have worked on Avid a lot so feel very comfortable with this system.
Filmmaker: What was the most difficult scene to cut and why? And how did you do it?
Davey: The most difficult scene to edit was the opening. We wanted to establish the style of the film from the very beginning, but there was a lot of back and forth about how should this play out without feeling too lengthy. Eventually I came up with the idea to intercut the opening company credits into this scene which gave it more variety and helped establish that this was the opening sequence.
Filmmaker: Finally, now that the process is over, what new meanings has the film taken on for you? What did you discover in the footage that you might not have seen initially, and how does your final understanding of the film differ from the understanding that you began with?
Davey: I think the film has very deep and resonating emotions, especially with the final shot as it is. I find it to be very emotional staying with Anna as she experiences the loss of what has just happened, this realization and feeling played more for me each time I watched the movie. Again I think it’s a very complex scenario and I feel as though this is captured very well in the final sequence of the movie. Nikole Beckwith, the director of Together Together, is an extremely talented director and has made a really nuanced, beautiful film and I am so happy that I got to take this journey with her.