(Editor of "The Making of PREDATOR" for the Special Edition DVD


- So, how did you get involved in editing the making of PREDATOR?
- My good friend, Ian T. Haufrect, was producing the project, through Jeffrey Schwarz, at Automat Pictures. I had recently left Sony Pictures, so it was perfect timing for both of us.

- When and how long did you work on this project?
- This was back in August of last year [2001]. I think it took us 3-4 weeks to rough cut, then 2 weeks for changes and onlining
(including wait time for legal, etc.) for a total of 90 minutes of material. The interesting part, for both of us, was that we were able to edit the project entirely out of my home, using Final Cut Pro and my rickety old 400mhz G4.

- I know that Jeffrey Schwarz started out as a feature film editor. Was this of any advantage when working with him?
- Jeffrey was (and is, as I am currently working for him again on MEN IN BLACK 2) our Executive Producer on the project. This meant that, although he had the final word on the cuts, he left the day to day operations to Ian and I. Jeffrey is very good at letting us find our own vision, then finessing that vision when the time comes. It was (and is) a very rewarding experience working with an Executive like Jeffrey.

- What was the primary focus of the making of PREDATOR? On what elements did you put the emphasis?
- We began with a story outline that was changed slightly once our materials came in. PREDATOR was a movie whose importance many people may not have realized at first, but became readily apparent in hindsight. There were so many interesting people involved. It was not only McTiernan's first studio picture, but it was the film that Arnold really came into his own as a star. It was a continuation of Joel Silver's magic touch, and was the film debut of Gov. Jesse Ventura. Last but not least, it starred LETHAL WEAPON writer Shane Black, months before the movie was made. He even referenced it in his interviews! ("Yeah, Joel's producing a movie I wrote, called LETHAL WEAPON, it's going to be made later this year...") The process of making the film was extraordinary. They encountered tremendous obstacles, not only in shooting the film, but in the design of the creature. It's common knowledge now that the final creature was not the original. We were able to get footage of that original creature, as well as interview the principals on what transpired. Overall, we wanted to show a film crew that triumphed over odds, and to communicate some of the joy of the process.

- Was there any PREDATOR documentary made at the time?
- We knew of a typical press piece done back in the 80's, but that was it. Apparently, AMC [American Movie Classic] did a doc immediately following ours. We saw it when it came out and some parts were almost comical; when we did our interviews, most of the principals had to jog their memories back to 1986, but when we saw the AMC piece, they were using almost the same delivery! So we definitely got there first. But I should give kudos where it's deserved, the AMC piece was well done.

- From what material did you work? Archives material or new material?
- A combination of all. We conducted new interviews with John McTiernan, Shane Black, Bill Duke, Carl Weathers and Producer John Davis. Producer Joel Silver was busy with THE MATRIX 2. Executive Producer Larry Gordon wanted to be a part of it, but first Aaliyah's passing (she was cast in THE MATRIX 2) and then September 11th happened, which made it difficult for him to participate... For the rest of the cast and crew we did not interview, we had the original EPK interviews and footage that was shot on set in 1986. We also had access to deleted scenes, stills and some original predator test footage from the vaults. Vaults in the plural here, as Ian had to dig in 3 separate buildings for everything! But he found some gems that we were able to get in the disc. It was pleasantly surprising how much material was found. Usually, with such a relatively older title, not much has been kept by the studios. I guess we lucked out. Originally, we were slated for just a 30min documentary. After we saw how much material we had, we successfully petetioned for additional featurettes and eggs.

- How tricky was it to blend footage of such varied origins and qualities?
- Not too tricky. We don't make any bones about it, we just mix them together! The only truly new material was our interviews.

- Did you incorporate sketches and drawings in the making of, too?
- Stan Winston was very nice and allowed us to shoot some of his original concept designs for the creature. It's in there.

- What about the music? Did you reuse Alan Silvestri's original score?
- Actually, we were required by the studio to use only the official Alan Silvestri score.

- I noticed some common practice in several making of's I saw: to insert short clips of the movie in which the dialogues perfectly match what is about to be said (or was just said) in the making of (for example, in the making of TERMINATOR, clips of characters talking about the Terminator, mixed with interviews of the cast and crew members evoking the James Cameron persona... hence, a comparison is made between the two of them...). Did you use that kind of "interaction" in the making of PREDATOR?
- Yes... And no... We did do that, but in my opinion, mainly for section breaks and occasionally comic effect. We wanted a smooth piece and we wanted to convey a sense of fun in the process.

- You worked on both THE ONE and PREDATOR, so I was wondering: what are the differences (if any) between creating a making of for a new movie versus an older one?
- A couple. Newer movies have more of a wealth of footage, especially now with DV being the form of choice for behind the scenes shooting. Also, older movies tend to be less of a priority with the executives, so there is generally more leeway in the subject matter. Remember, most of these projects are not initiated by the director or actors, but by executives in the tall buildings. DVD's are still product!

- Did you edit any other supplemental materials for the PREDATOR Special Edition DVD? (I mean, other than the main documentary) Seems to me there will also be 7 vignette-type features on the DVD... What is the reason of breaking the material all down into these featurettes instead of doing something like a one-hour long piece?
- Well, as I already said, originally, we only planned for one half-hour documentary. But, after Ian got all the footage, we realized that there were so many stories here that we shouldn't limit ourselves if we can. To Fox's credit, they approved the additional featurettes and easter eggs. Also, structurely speaking, the additional featurettes and eggs are stories that didn't fit the arc of the larger piece and/or deserved to be on their own. For example, the makeup process was very interesting, but to place it in the larger piece would have thrown the pacing off, so we gave it its own berth.

- Was there any stuff you couldn't finally include/incorporate onto the making of (for whatever reason)? I assume you weren't able to use everything Ian found during his detective work and treasure hunt...
- (sigh) Yes. We couldn't include a lot of Van Damme in the original predator costume for legal reasons, but trust me, we put in as much as we could.

- Did the making of have to be approved by the studio? I ask this, because we all know that PREDATOR was a very troubled production. Hence, could you (and did you) cover every (unpleasant) aspect of the production (including, for instance, the dismissal of the first director attached to the project --Geoff Murphy-- or the extensive reshoots in Mexico...)?
- The making of was approved by Fox Domestic Home Video and the interviewees involved. The "trouble" was a part of the history of PREDATOR, so we felt obligated to cover it. Happily, there seemed to be little bad blood remaining. Most of our interviewees gave us great comments. Larry Gordon would have been a great interview as he was in charge of the studio at the time, but alas for events... I didn't know about Geoff Murphy though. (Huh, learn something new everyday.) We mentioned Van Damme's involvement, but he did not grant permission for his image to be used, so his part was trimmmed.

- Allegedly, the first cut of PREDATOR was about 167 minutes (almost 3 hours long!). Is this plausible?
- Plausible? Yes! Whether it was or not, I don't know. The first cut contained essentially the first 2/3'rds of the movie; up to Arnold's fight with the Predator. This was done to convince the studio that it had a viable picture, and to commit more funds to hire Stan Winston and complete the project. So, the first cut, like the final cut, contained no direct on shots (reveals) of the creature.

- Also, while on this subject, Stuart Baird has publicly said in several interviews that he worked as an uncredited "cut doctor" on PREDATOR... What would that mean?
- Don't know.

- Do you think about the audience when editing a making of?
- Yes and no. At the beginning, I look at all the materials and try to discern the story there; you open yourself to what story the footage wants to tell. Usually, after rough cut, we begin to nip and tuck and finesse. At that stage, we think flow and structure and stamina of the audience. After all, there is only so much a person will submit to seeing in one pass. If a story point is deemed too racy for the audience, we'll cut it early on, but I would think it's safe to say that we make a story we ourselves would want to see first.

- What are the main differences between editing a making of, editing a feature film and editing a trailer? I know you worked on the 3 media...
- Different approaches in material. A making of is approached like a documentary. A story needs to be found and either cleared away from the chaff, or assembled from the elements. In a feature, you are beginning with a script, so although the footage make force a change in directions, you are going into it with a firm agenda (a doc would/could/should be a looser agenda). A trailer is even tighter. The shorter it is, the harder it is. You're trying to accomplish a definitive goal within a finite time. Every shot, every cut counts and is part of the overall effect.

- I have to ask this (and I am assuming that you watched it several times!), what did you think of PREDATOR? And do you see it in some new way/light, now that you have worked on its making of?
- Much greater respect for the film. I had not really watched it since I was a boy. It's a really well made, taut emotional thriller. Totally deserved the box office it got and is underappreciated now. I think it's one of the best roles Arnold's done. I like it more than TERMINATOR (for Arnold).

- Do you have any info on the official release date of the Special Edition?
- I hope soon! You guys in Europe will get it sooner than me!

- Last but not least, can you let any details slip about the easter eggs?
- That wouldn't be fair, no?

© 2002 - The John McTiernan Central