<I>Girls State</I>: Editor Amy Foote
May 22, 2024

Girls State: Editor Amy Foote

Girls State streams exclusively on Apple TV+ and follows 500 high-school girls, who must build and elect their own government during a week-long camp. The documentary is a follow up to the Emmy-winning documentary, Boys State.

Amy Foote (pictured), ACE, edited the project, and says she was approached by directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, who saw her previous verite films Father Soldier Son and The Work

“We had never met, but I had seen Boys State and one of their other films, The Overnighters, and was a huge fan of both films, so when they said they were looking for an editor for Girls State, I said yes in two seconds,” Foote recalls. “It was a no brainer.”
The editor began screening footage in the fall of 2022, and the edit lasted nearly 12 months, including screening the raw footage, which took over two months. 

“I edited on an iMac using Avid’s Media Composer, connected to a NEXIS server,” she explains. “Even though the film was shot almost entirely over the course of one week, I had an enormous amount of footage to wade through.”

The production followed multiple girls with between six and nine cameras. The dailies consisted of single camera footage, as well as multi-grouped footage with nine cameras rolling.    

“It was a huge undertaking for the assistant editor (Peter Bowman) to get the footage synced and grouped so I could watch all the camera angles at once,” Foote explains. “The directors and I decided that I would first edit an assembly without using any of the sit-down interviews with the girls in order to get a sense of how much the story could be told in the footage alone. My first assembly was nearly five hours. After screening it once, we cut it down by two hours pretty easily and then started the real job of crafting the film. We ended up using key pieces of interviews throughout, but overall, we wanted the film to feel immersive and observational.”

Foote says one of the first issues she had to figure out was who the main characters were going to be and how all of their different stories could interact with each other. 

“Unlike Boys State, which was entirely about the election for governor, the girls in Girls State not only ran state elections, but they built a judicial branch culminating with an all-female Supreme Court,” she explains. “Some of our main characters were running for Governor, and others were going for the Supreme Court, so we had to figure out how to keep both these storylines alive and how they could intersect.” 

One of the challenges the team faced was remote editing in different time zones. The directors were based in San Francisco, while Foote was in Brooklyn.  

“We figured out how best to work together long distance, but some of the most generative times were when we were altogether in Brooklyn or San Francisco,” she shares. “I’m not opposed to remote editing, but there is nothing like being in a room together. I also feel strongly about having an assistant editor on-site as well. Remote assistant editing seems very isolating and not conducive to learning the craft, which so often comes from just being around the creative conversations and learning by osmosis. I was lucky enough to have an AE on-site as well as Pax Wassermann as the consulting editor.”