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Five Minutes With Dana E. Glauberman, ACE

Olivia Broadley
Mar 19, 2024
5 min read

Dana E. Glauberman, ACE is one of the most successful editors working in the business today. She has enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with director Jason Reitman on seven feature films, including Juno, Up in the Air and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Throughout her career she has refused to be pigeonholed into a particular genre having cut everything from comedy to drama to satire and sci-fi.

After graduating college with a degree in film, Dana honed her skills working as an assistant editor on TV series including Northern Exposure and Dr.Quinn, Medicine Woman, and feature films such as The Birdcage and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, to name just a few. Thank You for Smoking put her on the map and launched her career as a solo editor, however she is one of three on Creed II, and an additional editor on both Mark Waters’ Mean Girls, and Todd Phillips’ War Dogs.

Her work on The Mandalorian landed her a fifth ACE Eddie nomination, along with a Primetime Emmy nomination, and led to further shows in the Star Wars universe including The Book of Boba Fett and the recent Ahsoka, for which she earned a sixth ACE Eddie nomination for “Part 4, Fallen Jedi”.

We are delighted that Dana shares time with us to talk about how she works, her fears for the future of AI and advice for editors wanting to follow in her path.

You’ve had a great career – can you tell us what inspired your journey to being an editor?

As a kid I loved doing jigsaw puzzles. I would lay all the pieces out on our dining room table and get lost putting them together. As a teenager, I found photography which led indirectly to pursuing a degree in Film Studies at UC Santa Barbara. In the one film production class that I took, we would do everything from write and cast, to direct and produce Super8mm movies, but what I loved the most was editing. It really just reminded me of my childhood with putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Because of that, I followed my heart so after graduating, I cold called a bunch of different production companies, finally landing work as a Production Assistant at Hearst Entertainment in Los Angeles. During many months there running errands all over town, I met many people who helped me along the way to become an assistant editor. I feel so lucky to have met and been mentored by the late great Arthur Schmidt, ACE on several films, as well as Sheldon Kahn, ACE and Wendy Greene Bricmont, ACE for whom I assisted on many Ivan Reitman movies.

Through my experience on the Ivan Reitman projects, I met Jason Reitman, who hired me to edit his directorial debut Thank You for Smoking (2005) which he also adapted as a screenplay. That was the film that launched my editing career and landed me an agent.

Were you at all daunted or challenged by an industry which was and arguably remains male dominated?

As a teenager, a friend of the family warned me that cinematography was a more male dominated part of the industry, and it did scare me a bit going that route. When I got into the business, there were plenty of both male and female editors but it did seem that there were some stereotypes, such as a man was more likely to be hired for action movies or huge budgeted shows. Thankfully that has changed, as there have been positive strides over the years toward greater diversity and inclusion in all the guilds. 

I think there is a genuine understanding that everyone is hired to tell a story whether it’s action, comedy, drama, musical, etc. Filmmaking in general is a collaborative art. But a key to being an editor is to enjoy spending many hours a day in a room with someone. You have to like, trust, and respect the people you are collaborating with, as you are often spending more time with these people than your own family.

You mentioned jigsaws but of course there is only one way to put that puzzle together and there could be hundreds of ways to cut a movie or TV show. What is your process at arriving at the final picture?

There is no right or wrong way to cut a scene, or an entire show or movie for that matter. But the process is ultimately a collaborative one where we are trying to bring the director’s vision to the screen. My process is to look at every frame of footage of every single take. Back in the days of shooting on film, only selected - or circled - takes were given to editorial because of the cost of printing. But with shooting digitally, we usually get every take that was shot. You can call me old school but I try and look at it all. Where some might focus on the last couple of takes to use, there are often beautiful nuances within a performance that you can find and use from take 3, for example, that you don’t necessarily have in take 7. It could be a reaction, a twitch or sparkle in the eye, a smirk, or even a line that was delivered a little differently. So, I assemble the scene or the movie in the best way I see fitting the story. 

But the most enjoyable part of the process for me is to sit with and collaborate with the director, as that is our time to get as close as we can to his or her

vision. And the most satisfying part is seeing the final product and releasing it for the world to see, whether on the big screen for a feature film, or the smaller screen with an episodic show.

Do you think working remotely has an impact on the creative process? (For better or worse)

I personally prefer going to an edit room for a number of reasons. First, I appreciate the separation of work from home. And second, the pandemic was very isolating for so many and I just like being around people. I want to be able to call my assistant into the room and get feedback face to face. It is much harder to read the room when you are streaming the session.

That said, I am in favor of a hybrid work pattern. There are definite advantages to working from home in terms of work/life balance. Assembly is generally a solo process and could be done remotely. But when you want to show somebody a cut, I find the experience more real when doing so in person, rather than when staring at somebody on a computer. I also like the buffer of the commute, driving home in particular, during which time I can decompress from the day. Working from home has never given me a true feeling of separation when my home office is under the same roof as where I live.

How do you feel about the role that Generative-AI might AI fit into your work or that of your peers going forward?

AI scares me on a number of levels, namely the threat of taking jobs away from people. As far as the editorial process is concerned I do not see how AI can help. I’ve had many conversations with people who say that AI could help speed up the assembly process - which might be true for some. But even so, I am not sure how a computer can beat a human’s sensibilities and the skill of an editor in choosing the right performances, the right beats, and the pace of the storytelling. Even if AI could be prompted to spit out a dozen different versions of a scene in seconds, I feel that it would take way more time to review those versions and to fix things, than it would for me to watch every take and use my own judgment.

Creative talent and diligence are at the heart of a successful career in editing. Do you have any advice for those who aspire to a career in editing?

Be honest, be truthful, be patient, be a collaborator. Show interest in what you want to do and don’t be scared to take ‘no’ for an answer. There is a lot of rejection in this industry and you must be strong enough to understand, and to deal with that.

You can follow your favorite editors on social media and reach out to them. Our work often goes unnoticed, and in many ways, that’s how it’s supposed to be. But don’t hesitate to reach out to your favorite editor - whether through social media or through their agent - and tell them what you aspire to do, and what you enjoy about their work. It will be very much appreciated, and you might just hear back.

I also believe in the importance of starting at an entry level position and working your way up the ladder. Many think that by having editing tools on their laptops, and being able to edit short videos for various social media platforms makes them an editor. But there is a lot more to editing than cutting pieces of video together. Being an editorial/post production PA in a live edit room is an important route to getting where you want to be because you can learn so much. I’ve been in this business for many, many years and I still learn new things on every project that I work on.

I have had a few people start as Production Assistants in my edit room and move up the ladder to assistant editor and now have successful careers as editors as well as visual effects editors. Some of those names include Harry Yoon, ACE, Maria Gonzales, Omar Hassan-Reep, and Erika Robbins, just to name a few. They all went above and beyond while working for me, and proved that they deserved the promotions. And in turn, deserve much continued success in their careers.

Good luck to everyone!

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