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Slam Dunk Editing on HBO's Winning Time

5 minute read

Top 10 quotes from the fast-break editing team on the creative freedom of playing loose.

Like Magic Johnson’s no-look passes, championship teams are built on hard work, trust, talent — and let’s face it — artistry. The six-person editing squad behind HBO's Winning Time, a drama series depicting the rise of the Laker dynasty in the 1980s, is just that. The unbeatable team includes Oscar-nominated editor Hank Corwin, ACE (think of him as Coach Riley), and an all-star lineup of Jessica Hernández, ACE, Max Koepke, Felicia Mignon Livingston, Juliana Rodzinski, and Jeremy Weinstein.

Take a half-time break and check out the best shots from their buzzer-beating Art of the Cut interview that highlights what it was like work on a show where editing choices run the gamut of plays. It's showtime!

Top 10 Quotes

It didn't matter if it was the Super 8, the Ikegami, the 35mm, or if it was out of focus or in focus or zooming. If it emotionally made you feel right or was what we needed, we had the liberty to use it. There were really no rules dictating what camera we had to use or in what way to use it, which is really liberating for an editor. — Max Koepke

john-c-reilly-quincy-isaiah-jason-clarkeCredit: HBO

We were able to experiment everywhere. There was one scene where Jerry Buss is doing his hair as a toupee, and in that scene, he says, "I’m a math guy." I asked my awesome assistant Anna to try and find stock footage of a kid who's doing math wrong. We found a kid adding 4 plus 6 is 11. So when he says that, we cut to that kid doing math wrong. It gives you an internal bit about who Jerry Buss really is. I don't know why I free-associated that, but sometimes it worked really well, and sometimes it was just silly. — Jessica Hernández

bird-magicCredit: HBO

I’m older than these guys, so what I try not to do is make value judgments on their cuts. I might not have put in the dog humping at the end of that scene, but that's a value judgment. The scene itself and the thinking behind it was as valid as anything I could come up with, so it wasn't in my purview to change it. — Hank Corwin

brett-cullen-john-c-reillyCredit: HBO

As editors know, sometimes you're in the editing bay cutting, and you think, "Okay. I feel this, but I don’t know if anybody else does." So in episode nine, it's the scene with Kareem and Spencer Haywood, where Spencer Haywood basically talks about his very difficult childhood growing up in the segregated south. It got very personal for me because it was something that I related to as what my grandmother told me about how she grew up. I understood those emotions that Spencer Haywood was talking about, so I wanted to make sure that came across. — Felicia Mignon Livingston

quincy-isaiah-solomon-hughesCredit: HBO

One of the things that Hank really pushed us to do is be bold and don't be afraid to make mistakes. The worst that's gonna happen is they say no, or you get called silly for doing something. Don't be afraid to expose yourself to rejection because if you swing for the fences and you don't hit it, then you're okay, but sometimes some really great things come from those big swings. — Jeremy Weinstein

quincy-isaiahCredit: HBO

The purest form of editorial is light and the absence of light or sound and the absence of sound. If you have someone laughing, and then you cut it off, it's very abrupt. It's jarring. You become acutely cognizant of the fact that someone was laughing as opposed to having it just be smeared in there. You're making a point. You’ve got to be very judicious as to how you do these things. — Hank Corwin

sally-fieldCredit: HBO

In all of our episodes, you can almost see uniquely our voice on them, and I think it allows for a bag of tricks or a bag of skills. For example, the female editors might notice if the female characters aren't receiving as much attention or shown in a certain light. So we strive very hard to make sure that there's a balance to that. —Jessica Hernández

adrien-brodyCredit: HBO

We all were experimenting with hard cuts in and out of music. A song can get you into a scene for 10 seconds if you can cut out of it or it can come in halfway through. We were all thinking of less traditional ways of using music, and in the end, that's why there is so much music because it's being used in so many different ways. — Max Koepke

quincy-isaiah-solomon-hughes_1Credit: HBO

One thing I found with this kind of cutting is it's very subjective, and it may be purposeful to me, but to someone else, it may seem absurd or gratuitous. You're always going to take heat for this kind of editing. This is the converse of the transparent art that editing is supposed to be. It's editing to make a statement. — Hank Corwin

john-c-reilly_1Credit: HBO

Whoever we are and whatever we bring to the table, we have to try to empathize with our characters. I think it's one of the hallmarks of being an editor. You can get away with being antisocial as a director or a director of photography, but you certainly can't as an editor. — Hank Corwin

Want more? Read the full AOTC interview and listen to the full pod

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