Editing: <I>The Favourite</I>
Issue: January/February 2019

Editing: The Favourite

The Favourite is receiving considerable Oscar recognition this awards season, tying Vice with 10 nominations. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite’s nominations include those for “Best Picture”, “Cinematography”, “Directing” and “Film Editing”. 

The film takes place in early 18th century England, where a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne, and her close friend, Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), governs the country while tending to her ill health. A new servant, Abigail Masham (Emma Stone), arrives and fills a void as the Queen’s companion. Their friendship gives Abigail a chance to fulfill her ambitions as an aristocrat.

Filmmaker Lanthimos has worked with editor Yorgos Mavropsaridis on several of his projects in the past. The Favourite was shot on 35mm three-perf film and was edited on an Avid Media Composer set up TVC Soho. Here, Mavropsaridis takes a moment to answer questions about his work on this film and how the two effectively collaborate.

How did you get involved in the project?

“We had discussed the project with Yorgos Lanthimos when it was scheduled to begin a year earlier, but then it was postponed and we stared work on The Killing of a Sacred Deer. When Yorgos started shooting The Favourite, I had to stay and oversee the final stages of the post production for The Killing of a Sacred Deer and could not get involved in the assembly edit. When the film was assembled and after two months in the edit after the shooting finished, in July 2017, I was invited to London to start work on The Favourite and completed the final cut in January 2018.”

What was the directive in cutting this film, and what were your initial discussions with the director? 

“I have been working with Yorgos Lanthimos on all his films and by now we have developed a method of work that helps us find and articulate the particular narrative language of each one, in a world that I describe as ‘Lanthimic’, pertaining to the creative idiosyncrasy of Yorgos. We don’t usually discuss much, Yorgos first wants me to interpret what he has put there in his decoupage without discussing about it. After that, we sit together and make notes, big and small, to be addressed with each successive edit.”

Is there a scene that you are particularly proud of or would call attention to? 

“I’m usually aesthetically pleased with the whole final outcome, when after a very long process, the puzzle has been hopefully solved and the many possibilities have become the final edit. I could mention many scenes, each with its challenges and the ways we found to make it functional in this ‘Lanthimic’ universe. 

“I will mention, as an example, the dance scene between Abigail and the Queen. The particular experiment was to take out the sync sound of the dance and create a musical rhythm using the sounds of the scene following (pigeon shooting) as a counterpoint to the image and as a premonition for the next antagonistic phase of the relation between Abigail and Sarah.”