Editor Sebastián Sepúlveda recently collaborated with director Pablo Larrain on the new Fox Searchlight film Jackie, which stars Natalie Portman as the former First Lady. The film paints an intimate portrait of that period of 1960s American history, as seen through the eyes of Jacqueline Kennedy. The story immediately follows her husband JFK's assassination and her struggle to maintain his legacy.
Sepúlveda has worked with director Larrain in the past, including on his 2015 film, The Club. “I came here to Chile for a holiday, and Pablo invited me to give feedback about the film, Tony Monero,” Sepúlveda recalls. For
Jackie, Sepúlveda spent five months cutting the feature, which was shot using a combination of Super 16mm film and video formats.
“Some parts were shot in 16mm, and the black & white White House parts were shot on video,” notes the editor. He began his cutting in France, working at Why Not Production in Paris, where he spent two months before moving back to Chile. “In Chile, I worked for two weeks at home and then we moved to a studio.”
Sepúlveda says he normally cuts in Final Cut Pro, but for Jackie, he moved to an Avid system. “[In France], everyone is working in the production studios on Avid, so we used Avid Media Composer V.8. For me it was good to work again with the Avid because I used that eight or 10 years ago.”
Asked to pick his favorite scene, Sepúlveda (pictured) says, “I love the scene of the second White House tour, when the journalist talks about the monarchy, and there is a flashback to where Jackie was in the room. She presented the piano and then the music stops and we go to a public concert. I love that scene because it is very uncommon. You have these normal flashbacks where the journalists are stalking the main character. Then you have the flashback to when JFK was alive, and then, with the music, you move back to a year ago when Pablo Casals leaves the room. It's not practical at all and I love that because with the music you can go to other points in the timeline. Music allows you to go in a non-chronological way. I love that scene because it's very elegant and very fluid, but we don't think about the timeline.”
Jackie opened in theaters this month. Natalie Portman, who's already won an Oscar for her role in Black Swan, very well could receive a nomination for her portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy. From an editing standpoint, is Sepúlveda thinking about awards season?
“Not at all,” he states. “It's the last thing that we discuss. We are building a beautiful, organic object, and we never discuss those kinds of things. You can't think how thousands of people [will] review your work. You have to do your own work and be proud that…I love movies. It's a passion. When you love movies, you don't think of awards.”