For a short-and-sweet indie, shot on the cheap – and shot pretty much in secret – Frances Ha took an unusually long time to put together. And Jennifer Lame, a Merion native, was there in the editing room, literally putting it together.
The film, which stars Greta Gerwig as a single, late-20s New Yorker trying to figure out what to do with her life, opens Friday at the Ritz Five. Most of it was shot in New York City and thereabouts, but there was ”the Paris chunk” (Frances flies there for a weekend) and “the Sacramento chunk” (Frances flies there for Christmas) and other chunks that extended what should have been a six or seven week shoot into something much longer and more involved.
“It really took a year, but that’s so not normal,” says Lame, on the phone from New York the other day, where she’s been busy editing the new Baumbach/Gerwig film, The Untitled Public School Project.”It’s because of the way they shot it that it took so long…But that’s atypical. The one we’re doing now is going at a normal pace.”
Lame, 31, has been passionate about film since she was a kid. “I was such a movie geek. And I was a video store geek -- which I guess you can’t be now,” says Lame, who would hang at the TLA Video in Bryn Mawr, now, sadly, defunct. “And my dad would take me to movies a lot.”
Lame went to Episcopal Academy (M. Night Shyamalan’s alma mater), and then on to Wesleyan University, where she studied under documentary editor Jacob Bricca (Lost In La Mancha). Her thesis project, "Bobble," was a doc about a store run by hippies, running afoul of the straight-laced locals. The 8-minute short was culled from more than 20 hours of footage, and the process of putting a cohesive narrative together clinched it for Lame. She was born to edit.
Apprenticeships with the editors of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Sidney Lumet's, final, fanstastic film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, followed. And then assistant editor gigs on television and film. She was recommended to Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg editor, Tim Streeto, to work as an assistant and co-editor on Frances Ha. Streeto dropped out to do Boardwalk Empire, and there she was in the editing room, alongside Baumbach. In addition to The Untitled Public School Project which she’s cutting with Baumbach now, she’s set to edit While We’re Young, the director’s bigger fall film, starring Ben Stiller, Amanda Seyfried and Naomi Watts.
“Working for a writer/director like Noah is an editor’s dream, because they are so invested in the editing process,” says Lame. “I was never someone who was like, `All I really want to do is direct.’ Whereas most people in this industry do secretly want to direct…. Watching the footage and collaborating with the director, that’s more fun to me than being on set, and I still feel involved during the production. … Directing is just not something I could ever see myself really loving.”
And editing, clearly, she loves.