Editor Joe Bini discusses how he helped craft a visually striking, subjective film by experimenting in the edit. This is the third feature in our Special Issue on You Were Never Really Here.
At 90 minutes, You Were Never Really Here is pared down to the bare essentials: not a frame is out of place; every shot has a purpose. Editor Joe Bini intricately weaves together a dense tapestry of visual information, immersing us in the unravelling mind of hitman Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), creating both distress and suspense.
I talked to Bini about the different ways he experimented with the footage, cutting dialogue scenes versus image-based scenes, and being aware of ‘emotional time’.
Immersing us in Joe’s subjective headspace
Seventh Row (7R): How did you approach immersing us in Joe’s subjective headspace?
Joe Bini (JB): I always try to do things that make me look at the rushes in a different way. And when I say ‘rushes’, it’s not just picture: we consider sound design to be rushes. We consider music to be rushes. We like to get them as early as possible. [Sound designer] Paul Davies has worked with [director Lynne Ramsay] her whole career, so he’s providing sound from the very beginning.
Say I have scene 15, whatever that is. I have some sound for it. Here’s the images that are supposed to be in the scene, and the scene is supposed to be where X and X happens. That’s the starting point. Then, I like to immediately say, “What else is possible?”
Want to read the whole of our You Were Never Really Here issue as soon as it’s available, including our member exclusive interviews with sound designer Paul Davies and producer Jim Wilson? Become a Seventh Row member now and you’ll also gain access to free eBooks and our entire back catalogue of content.
Editing documentaries is a difficult and under recognised job: It requires culling through mountains of footage to shape a narrative. Our Documentary Masters eBook explores how different directors approach this process in different ways, e.g. Frederick Wiseman meticulously watches back all his footage, whereas Gianfranco Rosi tackles the edit more instinctually.
If you enjoyed this editing-focused interview with Joe Bini, then look out for our next interview with an editor in a few weeks: Jonathan Alberts will discuss his work on Lean on Pete for our Special Issue on the film. In the meantime, read our interview with Andrew Haigh on his previous film, 45 Years, where he touches on his approach to editing.