Whether it’s a film, television series or commercial, the amount of time and labor that goes into a production is astronomical. There’s writing, funding, planning, casting, costuming, filming, scoring, post-production, marketing and finally distribution, and it takes a massive and cohesive team to pull it all off. Every production is like a massive machine, and at the heart of it all is the editor.
A skilled editor will work closely with the director to achieve the perfect cuts, and nobody is more skilled than Toronto native David Guthrie. As an editor, Guthrie is responsible for setting the rhythm of the end product, in a sense giving a cadence – a heartbeat – to the final arrangement that will be presented to the audience.
Before working on high-profile and award-winning productions such as “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” “Cold Water Captains” and “Room and Bored,” Guthrie took his first steps into film editing when he was a musician. It was while creating music videos for his band that he discovered the power that video and audio can have when edited together perfectly.
“I love the challenge of crafting a story from seemingly unrelated footage, finding a story thread. I love when you find the perfect shot that helps tell that story, or the right piece of music that just works,” Guthrie said, describing the rewarding feeling of his work. “I love that feeling, it’s a rush… Because then you know how to pace the scene correctly and how the audience will feel.”
After realizing his passion for film editing, he began working at the Toronto-based Rhombus Media production company. There, he quickly worked his way up and learned his trade from the company’s highly-experienced team of editors. After getting his feet wet in the editing world at Rhombus, he landed a role as an editor on the feature film “Billy Bishop Goes to War,” which screened at TIFF and CBC.
Before long he had proven to be such a natural that he was trusted with the enormous responsibility of working on David Gelb’s incredbley ambitious projects, one of which was the feature documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”
Centered on the man often called the best sushi chef in the world, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” initially sets out to document Jiro Ono’s daily routine running his world-renowned restaurant in Tokyo. However, the film ultimately tells two much deeper stories about the human condition. One of these is the story of a man who spends his entire life pursuing perfection, constantly coming closer but never reaching the unattainable goal. The other story centers on Jiro’s son and future heir to the restaurant, who works under his father and has spent his entire life in the shadow of a giant, knowing that no matter what he does neither he nor anybody else can fill his father’s shoes.
The film was widely praised by critics and festival-goers. “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” won the 2012 Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Documentary Film, the Detroit Film Critic Society Award for Best
Documentary, and was nominated for 11 other awards internationally. A global success, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” was an incredibly valuable and rewarding experience for Guthrie. The countless hours he spent working on the film paid off, and shortly after the film’s success Guthrie found he had established a reputation for himself as one of the most reliable and talented editors in the industry.
After leaving the “assistant” prefix behind, Guthrie’s first project as a full-fledged editor was the first season of the Canadian reality series “Cold Water Captains.” The action-packed series follows three fishing boats in the dangerous waters off the coast of Newfoundland. Guthrie had to pore through hundreds of hours of footage to decide which of it would be turned into the final TV-ready series. After carefully selecting which scenes would make it into the show, he then had to painstakingly cut and arrange it into a compelling and cohesive story to be told over the course of the season’s 10 episodes.
“This show is a monster when it comes to post production… The amount of footage can be overwhelming. That is the biggest challenge of the show by far – trying to cut compelling scenes out of hours of monotonous footage,” Guthrie said, describing the intense process of not only determining which scenes to use, but also of maintaining organization of the scenes and their place in the series. “That was a challenge too, trying to keep track of where I was in each story and how each scene developed the overall story arc.”
Guthrie’s hard work once again paid off when the first season of “Cold Water Captains” was nominated for the prestigious 2015 Canadian Screen Award for Best Factual Series. Guthrie called the nomination a “rewarding” experience after all the hours he and his team spent creating the series. Following the success of the first season, he again worked as an editor for the second season, and in the third season of “Cold Water Captains” Guthrie’s skill and dedication earned him a promotion to a lead editor position.
“I was one of the lead editors on the show and responsible for bringing episodes to delivery to the network,” Guthrie said of the new position. “It is a lot of fun getting to polish the scenes and really make them come alive.”
In addition to his work as an editor Guthrie has also written and directed two projects for television. The first, “Room and Bored,” was a TV movie which Guthrie not only wrote, directed and edited, but also acted in. “Room and Bored” was a hit with both critics and audiences, and was named an Official Selection at the 2013 New York Television Festival. The second and more recent of the two is “Beck and Call,” a pilot which Guthrie calls his favorite project to date. “Beck and Call” follows the hilarious ups and downs of two talent agents as they struggle to make it big in New York.
“Along with editing [“Beck and Call”], I am writing and directing it as well,” Guthrie said. “It has been so much fun working with really talented people, and just making stuff that we want to make… And I love working in the comedy world.”
Few people have a track record that can compare to David Guthrie’s when it comes to producing consistently stellar work while balancing so many irons in the fire. His experience and talent as a writer and director give him a comprehensive understanding of every element of the production process, and serve to strengthen Guthrie’s exceptional talent as an editor. Audiences on the hunt for the next great feature film, narrative documentary or cinematic triumph should be sure to keep Guthrie’s name in mind.