“We had to let it go,” declared producer Anthony Bregman almost 20 years after the film’s release.
According to producer Anthony Bregman, the original editor of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” had to clear his mind after suffering a “nervous breakdown” during the chaotic production.
Bregman revealed:Hollywood Gold” podcast host and fellow film producer Daniela Taplin Lundberg (“The Kids Are All Right,” “Honey Boy”) that the unusual tactics behind the 2004 drama led to an editor (whom she did not name) being let go early in production . Valdís Óskarsdóttir eventually stepped in to finish the cut.
“All the shots went to our editor, a traditional editor who won an Oscar and he’s like a big editor. He was lucky to get it, but it was nothing like what he was used to,” Bregman said. “Because we had all the footage, the editor’s assistant couldn’t organize the footage folders in a traditional way. So the first day’s recording was not cut after 10 days. We also thought, ‘That’s really cool, it looks so good,’ but we had no idea if it could be cut.”
If production were to continue the same way on the film starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Bregman noted that it would be estimated to go almost $1 million over budget on the film alone.
“Both Jim and Kate got really upset about it, and the editor did too, that we basically had a nervous breakdown and had to let her go,” Bregman continued. “We didn’t have an editor. Jim and Kate at one point said, “Can you come to Kate’s trailer?” And they said, “We’re really worried that this movie won’t make any sense.” And we say, “What are you talking about?” And they say, “Did you see the scenes?” And we say, “Yes, the dailies are incredible, they’re so good.” And they say, “No, no, no. Did you see the cutscenes? And then we hadn’t seen anything cut, our editor had a nervous breakdown, we didn’t have an editor because the recording was so chaotic and crazy.”
The late producer Steve Golin was instrumental in assuring Winslet and Carrey that production could continue.
“(Golin) was masterful at it. He basically said, “Look, I’m going to be honest with you.” And I was like, ‘Oh boy, this is where the movie falls apart,'” Bregman recalled. And Steve says, “That’s incredible. The scenes are incredible. They matched perfectly. We’re making something we’ve never seen before. And they say, “My God, I’m so relieved to hear that!”
Editor Valdís Óskarsdóttir won a BAFTA for the film, directed by Michel Gondry and co-written by Pierre Bismuth. Óskarsdóttir previously told IndieWire that she would never work with director Gondry again.
“He’s French, I’m Icelandic; we are both stubborn and so it was full of arguments. When it comes to editing, I’m very, very stubborn – and if the directors don’t suggest something brilliant, I don’t listen to them,” Óskarsdóttir said in 2012. “Michel is very sweet and kind, funny and can be creative. – and then it can be a pain. But I think I might be a pain in the ass – probably more of a pain in the ass than Michel… He’s not the most patient person I know.”
Óskarsdóttir added to the initial shot of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “I love it. I got everything I needed and more so I was very happy with the material and that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it was amazing what Michel did – the effects he could do with the camera. It was very exciting.”
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