Edit This!: 'My All American'
Issue: November 1, 2015

Edit This!: 'My All American'

My All American, the latest offering from writer/filmmaker Angelo Pizzo ( Rudy, Hoosiers), which stars Aaron Eckhart and Finn Wittrock, tells the story of Freddie Steinmark, an underdog looking to make a difference on the football field. After suffering from a game-related injury, Steinmark receives a shocking diagnosis and is then forced to face the greatest challenge of his life. Post recently had a chance to catch up with the film’s editor, Dan Zimmerman, who reflects on working with Pizzo and on cutting those all-important movie football moves.

“I first learned about My All American from my agent, who called me and said that he knew this producer who was looking for an editor on the independent movie, and ‘they need someone quickly. Do you want to read the script?’ Of course I replied, ‘Yes,’ as I was just finished with another project and looking for the next. I received the script one hour later, and in an hour and a half, I called my agent and told him, ‘I have to do this movie! I don’t care what you have to do, get me an interview with these guys!’ About three hours later I was on a Skype call with Angelo and [producer] Paul [Schiff], and I aggressively pitched myself to them about hiring me on the project. They had told me that they were about two weeks away from principal photography and the very next day, thankfully, they told me I got the job.” 

What was your understanding of what filmmaker Angelo Pizzo was looking for with the editing style on the film?

“So after being hired, I spoke to Angelo about a half dozen times before production started and he had told me that he wanted this movie to be in the vein of Rudy and Hoosiers, in that he wanted to make a “timeless movie” that didn’t do anything too unconventional in the way of cutting style that would take you away from the story of Freddie. I totally agreed but knew that with the amount of football he had planned to shoot, that it might be difficult.”    Editor Dan Zimmerman, right

What did you find most challenging about editing this film?

“The fact that this was a movie about such an iconic individual and keeping the story very much exactly how it really happened was super important to Angelo and myself. So, I would say it was that and the FOOTBALL! I knew that in the script there were a lot of important games/practices that were vital to Freddie's story, so trying to figure out a way of preserving all that and keeping the focus on his life with his faith, family, friends and love interest was a tall order. Like any great story, there are a ton of little stories that make it up, and football in this case was just as important as all the rest, so the challenge was to get the football looking as real as it is. Having played college football myself, I am very critical of how the action of football plays are performed and cut, and I have to say that I was extremely impressed with how identical the football in our movie lines up to the real plays that happened. That is all due to Angelo’s drive for making this movie emulate the exact events that really happened. These players really were hitting each other, going 100 percent and I believe it shows.” 
What system did you use for editing and why?

“I used Avid Media Composer on this feature. I have used many other programs in the past but have found a renewed comfort in Avid. It is bulletproof and proven, so I wanted to go with a system that I knew better than any other.”

Were you happy with the final version of the film?

“I have to say that no matter what movies I have worked on, or will work on, I will always look back on My All American with the utmost fondness. My love for football and inspiration is what I emotionally connected to about this movie more than any other project I have done. I am so proud of the work that I did, but more than that, it was the tremendous work of everyone who was involved with the film, as it seemed like everyone attached worked from a place of passion. It was truly the most enjoyable experience working on a project. I know that anyone who sees it will feel the same. I also have to say working with Angelo was a thrill. He is truly one of the greats! He is kind, passionate and so collaborative to work with, it was an honor and pleasure to come to work every day. I really can’t say enough about the experience and the final product other than it was my dream job come true.”

For more on My All American , check out our INTERVIEW with director  Angelo Pizzo.