<I>Falling For Christmas</I>: Editor Kristi Shimek
Issue: November/December 2022

Falling For Christmas: Editor Kristi Shimek

Editor Kristi Shimek recently cut the Netflix holiday film Falling For Christmas, starring Lindsay Lohan and Chord Overstreet, which premiered on November 10th. She also edited the new Peacock series Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin, which is a spin-off of the popular Pitch Perfect movies, starring Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland, Flula Borg and Jameela Jami.

Both Falling for Christmas and Bumper in Berlin are comedies, so Shimek spent time crafting the performances and timing to create the funniest version of the projects, while also leaving space for audiences to track the story and emotion. 

Photo: Kristi Shimek

Shimek’s credits also include Inheritance, starring Simon Pegg and Lily Collins, and the second season of NBC’s Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist. Here, she provides insight into her career as an editor, as well as details on her recent work.

Kristi, tell us a bit about your background. 

“I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that loves movies, so we were going to the theater and watching movies on television a lot when I was young. As a teenager, I was always borrowing the family video camera to make my own little movies, but I had never really thought of it as a career path until I had a teacher in high school who recognized my interest and got me connected to my first feature film set the summer before I went to university. I absolutely loved it and pursued film studies in school, where I found my love for editing. 

“I produced and edited indie features with my husband, who is a director, for quite a few years, but when we decided to move to LA, I was able to focus on my real passion of editing. Since being here, I’ve been fortunate to meet so many incredible producers and directors who have helped me get onto projects I couldn’t have even imagined seven years ago.”

How did you get involved in editing Falling for Christmas, and where did you work on it? 

“I had done a few Christmas comedies with a long-time producer friend of mine, David Wulf, and when he was brought on as one of the producers of Falling for Christmas, he reached out and set up an interview with the dynamite couple who were spearheading the project, Michael and Janeen Damian. I felt like I immediately connected creatively with the Damians, and I was excited to work with them on such a stellar project that had such an amazing cast. 

“The team was shooting in Park City, Utah, which has incredible snow and Christmas vistas, while me and my assistant were back in LA working from home and working completely remotely throughout the entire process. 

“During production, I would send little scenes, and bits and pieces, to Michael and Janeen each day to chat about where we were at, and then once production was done, we met on Evercast every day to go over each scene and continue tailoring the movie.”

What were some of the specific needs of the project? 

“Working remotely the last few years has been so interesting because I think it has really revealed how many ways there are to do things now, and we were totally remote with Falling for Christmas. 

“On the technical level, we shot on two Alexa Mini LFs (plus two Red Komodos on stunt days) and the footage would be received by the lab and then the DNXHD proxies and bins would be uploaded to me and my assistant, Matthew Jensen, via Aspera. Matt would start the downloads every morning, and then we used Resilio to sync our Avid projects and hard drives, because we weren’t working over the same network. This ensured that we were receiving the same thing and also that we weren’t overwriting each other’s work while in the editing process. It was also helpful when one of us would bring in any new piece of media, because it would automatically write to the other person's drive without having to stop focus and start a download or upload.

“We were using Pix for dailies reviews and output reviews, and then I was using Evercast for live sessions with Michael and Janeen so that we could look at and change things in the cut in realtime together. 

“As far as creative needs, I think this project has a great balance of comedy and heart,and so we were always looking at the story through that lens to ensure that each scene left us loving these characters more and more, and we were always trying to maximize each scene emotionally.”

“We were also always working to stay flexible, talking about different ways to cut things and try things, as well as different pieces of music that would fit or needed a re-work. We wanted to be open-minded about the possibilities that each scene had to offer, and I think it served the movie really well.”

Photo: Kristi Shimek

Which editing system were you using and what media formats were you working with? 

“Editing system: Avid Media Composer 2021. Media formats: DNx36HD 1920x1080 proxy. We were finalizing 2:1 (and they were shooting Arriraw 4448x3096) so we had them send us the proxies with no letterbox burnt in so that we could reframe when we wanted to.”

What were some of the interesting or unique challenges you faced on a few specific scenes in the project? 

“One of the things I absolutely love about Falling for Christmas is that there are different types of comedy in it  — physical, dialogue and more — and it was really fun for me as an editor to get to work with each scene and massage it into the cohesive whole. The performances are stellar and were an absolute delight to work with, and so it was really just finding that sweet spot where everything landed in the most optimal way, and I found myself smiling at the screen as I was working with the scenes. 

“This film also has quite a few stunt scenes. I’ve worked with stunts before, but this movie has such an array of different types of stunts, and I always love finding that perfect balance of how long to hold a shot to get the maximum effect. Working with pieces of action is such a great exercise too, because it breaks up the rhythm and pace of the other scenes in the film as well. Stunts and action always seem to keep me on my toes in the editing room, and I really enjoy that part of the process. 

“Beyond all of the physicality, there is a really gentle, emotional side to the film as well, and I absolutely love working with the softer sides of characters and performances. I think it is what connects our film to the audience and I love finding the balance between the humor and the heart that makes us fall in love with these characters, and helps you believe that the characters are falling in love with each other.” 

Where can we follow you on social media?

“Instagram: @kristishimek 
Twitter: @kristi_shimek  
Facebook: @Kristi Shimek 
Website: www.kristishimek.com”