Carol’s Colleagues: Some Words from Her Admirers

Cover portrait by Wm. Stetz Copyright 2010 Stetz

compiled by Michael Kunkes

Dede Allen.

Carol is a wonderful person and a terrific editor.  She is someone that I’ve always had great respect for and whose work I’ve always admired.  Congratulations on this award, Carol; you’ve earned it!

Dede Allen, ACE
Colleague, and 2008 recipient of the Editors Guild Fellowship and Service Award

Karen Arthur.

Carol and I started out in the business together.  I met her husband, John Bailey, when I was an AFI intern on Arthur Penn’s Night Moves, and John was the focus puller.  We’d sit for hours talking about film, and he was always telling me about his wife Carol, who was this great editor.  One day I said to John, “It would be so much fun if we all made a movie together.”  One evening, I went to see a play called Legacy at the Actors Studio in Los Angeles, and I said, “This is it; this is our movie!”  I bought the rights from Joan Hotchkis, the playwright, brought them the next night to see the play, and a few months later I had raised the money and we were making the movie.  After Legacy, I worked with John and Carol again on The Mafu Cage, and though we never worked together again, we have been close friends all the rest of our lives.

Carol is from the “take no prisoners” school of filmmaking, and her benchmark of expectations is extraordinarily high.  I would always plead with her to come onto the set, and she would just say, “Editors don’t come onto the set.  For the editor, nothing matters but the film; it’s only about what happens in a dark room with the celluloid.”  She didn’t want to be hampered by anything she might experience emotionally on the set, and that was a great lesson to me.  Carol also taught me that it was better for the film if the first cut came from the editor, without a lot of input from the director.  Since then, I have never tried to influence an editor one way or the other, and when I go to see a first cut, it is, to this day, the editor’s cut.  That is a joy for me, and a delicious gift from an editor; it’s the way they see the movie based on the material they had to cut.

One of Carol’s many gifts is that she is completely non-judgmental and totally direct.  I’ve never known anyone that she couldn’t work with, whether it was a brand-new, nubile child in the business, as I was, or a veteran director.  She speaks everyone’s language, has an amazing resonance with art and music, and great taste in all things.  She’s wickedly funny and fearless, always choosing projects that are eclectic.  That eclecticism is all part of the broad sweep of life that she finds so fascinating.  She has the kind of brio that is based on a deep intellect and a reverence and understanding of life in all its milieus.  She is an extraordinary human being.

Karen Arthur  
Director, Legacy (1976), The Mafu Cage (1978)

Noah Baumbach.

The only difficulty I had working with Carol Littleton was rationing the time I’d spend asking her about all the great movies she’d edited.  Carol climbs inside the movie.  She lives and breathes it.  She has no fixed ideas in advance––she’s totally open to the movie being what it wants to be.  Her pitch is perfect; she instinctively knows how cutting a scene eight minutes in affects something 80 minutes later.  Carol taught me that we begin each movie as amateurs––she knows so much about the craft, but she re-learns it with every new project.  I feel lucky and privileged to have cut with her.

Noah Baumbach
Writer/Director, Margot at the Wedding (2007)

Carol Littleton is one of the great film editors of this generation.  Her work is eloquent and spare, never calling attention to itself, but always serving the narrative.  She is a genius at teasing the best from actors, cinematographers and certainly, in my experience, writers and directors.

Robert Benton
Writer/Director, Places in the Heart (1984), Twilight (1998)

Robert Benton.

I only worked with Carol on one film, Places in the Heart, as her second assistant editor.  But our friendship has endured since those days in Waxahachie, Texas.  We spent a lot of time together, drove up to Dallas to see movies and spent Thanksgiving together.  Carol was extremely easy to work with, patient and companionable.  I knew about her work on Body HeatThe Big Chill and E.T., so I was somewhat in awe and felt extremely lucky to have been hired by her.

Norman Buckley.

Carol taught me to think of editing as a Zen exercise, almost a meditation.  Indeed, editing became a way for me to quiet my restless mind, and my editing skills have made me a better director.  Her values and her interests in music, art, photography, politics and psychology inform her work and I learned a great deal about the work from our discussions in these areas.  She taught me the value of perseverance in a business that demands such, and how to handle the politics of the business with grace and skill, as well as introducing me to many future colleagues. Her dedication and generosity are evidenced by her wonderful service as President of the Editors Guild, raising the profile of editors and demanding the recognition that the craft deserves.  Her advocacy for the consolidation of the East and West Coast Guilds made things better for all of us.  I owe Carol a great deal and will always be grateful that she took a chance on me.  And I’m happy to have the chance here to say so.

Norman Buckley  
Assistant Editor, Places in the Heart (1984)

I have great admiration for Carol and am pleased that she is being given this very special award.  While I have known Carol and her work for many years, it was when

Donn Cambern.

she became President of the Editors Guild that I realized her dedication to the labor movement.  All you have to do to understand her commitment is talk with her, and you feel her intelligence and sense of purpose.  It was through Carol’s efforts that the Guild opened its doors for new membership opportunities.  Her presence as President raised the industry’s awareness of the Guild as she created a high bar for excellence and leadership.  She has mentored many people into an editing career and helped them develop their skills.  Carol is a true professional who brings every ounce of her knowledge to storytelling.  Her collaborative skills make everyone enjoy working with her.  The beauty of her work shows on the screen and influences many people to think more clearly as they edit their own work.  Carol clearly deserves the Guild’s Fellowship and Service Award.

Donn Cambern, ACE 

Colleague, Editors Guild Past President and 2007 recipient of the Editors Guild Fellowship and Service Award

Charles L. Campbell.

Working with Carol on E.T.was a high point of my career.  She is a most giving and gifted being.  To work with her is to be in the company of a saint.  Congratulations, Carol!

Charles L. Campbell
Supervising Sound Editor, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial(1982)

I met Carol through my uncle, David Myers, who was the cinematographer on Roadie.  She hired me for three weeks and I stayed with her for seven years before I began editing on my own.  I always remember that while we were in Beaufort, South Carolina, working on The Big Chill, Carol rescued the first of her many cutting-room cats.  She set up a cozy basket with a sheepskin for “Beaufort,” and even let him sit on her lap or on the KEM while she was cutting.  One day, while Mia Goldman and I were reconstituting film, we heard a horrible, high-pitched shriek from Carol’s room.  Beaufort’s tail had gotten caught in the spinning plate on the KEM.  He always had a crook in his tail after that.  Later, on Silverado, Carol hired the apprentice editor who later became my wife, and we’ve been married for 22 years.

Working on a film with Carol was much more than a job.  You were part of a film family, and you were an important part of the final.  We worked hard, had philosophical and political discussions, told stories and laughed a lot.  Eating was taken very seriously.   While other editors would keep assistants at a distance from high-profile directors, Carol involved everyone equally, and I can personally tell you that Steven Spielberg makes a great Matzoh brie!

Carol’s work is seamless.  She is such a strong force, and yet her work appears invisible.  She brings life experience to her work.  She was a Fulbright scholar, and she

Bruce Cannon.

brings her love of literature, nature, music, photography and art into the editing room.  She is persistent and tireless in the editing room until she feels that a scene is the very best it can be.  Carol is also very supportive of her directors, and does everything she can to bring their vision to the screen and protect the actors’ performances.  I’ve never met anyone with such uncompromising integrity.

In her “spare time,” Carol has brought her same work ethic, integrity and high standards to her commitment to the Editors Guild.  Before she became President, it was nearly impossible to get in the union outside of nepotism or an amazing stroke of luck.  Carol created an equitable system that would allow qualified editors to get in the union.

Carol was my mentor, and she set a standard of excellence that one had to live up to.  So much of what I learned from Carol was through observation and osmosis; she taught me simply to listen to the film, and the film will tell you where to cut.  I learned that it’s not about your ego or personal style; editing is about serving the material in front of you.

Bruce Cannon, ACE
Post-Production Assistant, Roadie; Assistant Editor, Body HeatE.T., The Big ChillSilverado

I so enjoyed working with Carol on The Other Boleyn Girl and am very happy she is being honored in this way by the Guild.  Carol is a true professional and artist.  Sheis completely dedicated to her craft, and her experience and commitment to the film she is working on is amazing.  Carol is generous and fun to be with in the cutting room.  She’s very happy to share her knowledge and experience, and to take the time to pass this experience on.  She is also quick to take on new ideas or thoughts and try them out.  I feel very lucky to have spent time with Carol.  She is a true master of the craft.

Justin Chadwick
Director, The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Jeremiah Chechik.

I remember sitting with Carol screening dailies.  It was the first or second day of principal photography on Benny and Joon and I was despondent.  I was kicking myself for all the compromises I was forced to make because of the budget and schedule.  I sat slumped next to her bemoaning the fact that I was not getting the coverage I needed to make the film.  I was apologizing to her because I knew it would make her life tough in the cutting room.  But when I looked over to her, she seemed delighted.  She was as relaxed as I was tense and was thoroughly enjoying the process, scribbling her notes and nudging me and pointing at the screen.
She leaned over to me and whispered, “You know, Jer, each film is its own thing.  With its own life, and its own framework.  Each film has compromises and each film is realized with both the advantages of script, performances, budget and time.  But each film is unique.  You have to learn not to force this.  Surrender to the film you are making.  Believe it to be wonderful.  Guide yourself within its own unique style and let it embrace you.  Above all, enjoy making it.”

She probably said it in a phrase or two, but it struck me like a bolt of lightning.  Immediately, my heartbeat slowed, my body relaxed and I began to see the dailies as they were.  I began the process of enjoying the film’s every moment––making it and, above all, cutting it.  I have taken that advice along with me in all the work I have had the good fortune to direct.  Even when the days are long and the exhaustion is consuming, I hear Carol’s words as clearly as ever.

Among her many gifts as an editor, it is her amazing intuition and ability to craft the inner life of a performance from the many pieces of film that continues to astonish me.  I always know that no matter how nuanced the moment, how delicate the breath, how subtle the shade, she will see it for more than what it is.

She will make all those around her greater.  Not just the actors or directors with whom she works, but the composers, designers, writers and assistants––many of whom grow to be amazing in their own right.  I consider it a privilege to have worked with her, but an even greater privilege to be her friend.

Jeremiah Chechik
Director, Benny & Joon (1993); Diabolique (1996)

I  became Carol’s first assistant after Bruce Cannon went on to become a full-time editor.  Vibes was the first film we worked on together, and I knew right away that

Lisa Zeno Churgin.

working for this great editor was going to be an amazing, life-changing experience.  Early in my career, I would listen to the radio while I worked.  But when I started working for Carol, I stopped doing that and I would just listen to her cut film—subconsciously learning how she was developing the rhythm and structure of a scene and a performance.  As an editor, that is her gift to the world, that ability to find the essence of truth in a performance.

When I became her assistant, Carol was very open and generous about handing me the responsibility for setting up the editing room.  She delegated a lot of responsibility to me right from the beginning, and that is a tradition I’ve always carried on with my own assistants.  It shows that you have a respect and appreciation of the jobs of the people working under you.   She took the time to show me tricks of the trade and all the little things that go into being an editor.  These were rarified moments where I felt I was truly being given a gift.

As Guild President, and later Vice-President, Carol wanted to change the nature of the way in which editors were treated by the studios, as well as the ways in which the Guild itself took on new members.  She was extremely forward-thinking in terms of unionizing the workforce and visualizing the changes in the industry that are now coming to pass.  She understood how many people were truly out there who wanted to join the union and fight to get shows organized.

Because she believed that the cream of the talent would rise to the top, she became instrumental in moving the Guild down the path toward several huge changes, among them the system that made it easier for editors to join the union, the 19- and 21-day rules and the merger with the New York local.  She just did things that made sense, and set the example for me of being an involved and caring leader in the Guild.  Carol is all about quality—quality of work, and quality of life.  She is my mentor in the truest sense of the word.

I want to thank you, Carol, for providing me with an example of how it can and should be done.  With your grace, talent, humility and especially kindness, you have shown that we work best in a collaborative environment.  So it is with love and affection that I congratulate you on getting this award.  Nobody is more deserving than you.

Lisa Zeno Churgin, ACE 

Editors Guild President; Assistant Editor, Vibes (1988), The Accidental Tourist (1988)

A first, it was all about the cut.  That was my obsession.  Did it match?  Was it smooth? Did it work?  That was “BC,” or  “Before Carol.”  I was young, but the fascination with editing had been stewing for many years, from the junior high school days of purchasing 8mm condensed versions of epic features like The Bridge on the River Kwai and cutting it up with shots from Mighty Joe Young to create a film better than the sum of its parts––or so I thought.

It wasn’t until years later, while working on the third of my eight films with Carol––The Accidental Tourist––that a higher art form was revealed to me.  On the first two films, I was too nervous about getting the job done right to notice Carol’s deliberate and thoughtful process of shaping the film.  On Tourist, I saw the bigger picture very clearly and thought, “It’s the story, stupid!”

The youthful naiveté of obsessing with the individual cuts now seemed like a fledgling writer obsessing with the font.  The text may look great with its fancy serifs, but the storytelling is dreadful and unreadable.  I was able to see first-hand how Carol and director Lawrence Kasdan shaped the emotion of the scenes and, in turn, the whole film by trimming a look, dropping a line or changing the order in which scenes appear.  What a great place for a young editor to be, witnessing the shaping of the overall two-hour experience by subtle and thoughtful editing.

Every director that has worked with Carol should know that the best version of the film they made was ultimately presented to audiences because of her intuitive sense of story, her loyal collaboration, and her masterful craftsmanship.

After 25 years and eight films working with Carol, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about editing; but the real growth has come from being her friend.  Carol’s unassuming manner, her easy welcoming charm, her smart and considerate advice, and her unflagging enthusiasm for life has very clearly inspired me personally and professionally.  Thank you, Carol!

Raul Davalos, ACE
Apprentice Editor, Silverado (1985); Assistant Editor, Vibes (1988), The Accidental Tourist (1988), White Palace (1990), Benny & Joon (1993), China Moon (1994), Wyatt Earp (1994); Co-Editor, Dreamcatcher (2003)

Jonathan Demme.

Carol Littleton?  She strides down the hall and into her cutting room after screening the latest version of her current work-in-progress, with the director––mind awash with the enormity of the excitement, challenges, questions, fears, puzzles, opportunities, etc., generated by the screening––trailing, maybe a little overwhelmed, behind.  So much to address!  So little time!  Where to begin?

Littleton places her mug of tea and slice of cake just so in front of the blank screen and takes a seat in her high-tech swivel-backed gliding editor’s chair.  The chair rolls Carol up into position in front of her space-center console, with no apparent effort on her part.  She flicks on the technology and an image from the movie appears on the screen.  Littleton starts moving cursors and pushing buttons, quietly humming a melody that’s hard to place, but sends a subtle, reassuring message.  The director looks on as she says to the world of cinema at large, “What do you say we try something a little like this?” Another push of the button, and the Littleton magic is flowing.

So that’s where to begin––by getting back to work.  But it must be said, as any lucky member of the Littleton Inner Circle Club knows, it doesn’t feel very much like work when you find yourself inside Carol’s cutting room, which, after all, is actually the thrilling and action-packed portal into Carol Littleton’s ever-so-brilliant mind and oh-so-generous heart.

The evidence of what happens when this particular heart and mind are applied to the art of taking a raft of moving images and sounds and then fashioning them into a motion picture is there for all to see with a glance at Carol’s eyebrow-raising filmography.  Storyteller, filmmaker, humanist, humorist, leader, collaborator, teacher, friend, continent trekker.

Constantly inventive, tireless and inspiring, Carol passionately searches for the very best possible way to pull everybody’s best efforts together to create the finest movie imaginable.  And it is an indescribable blast and honor to take that privileged journey with her.

Jonathan Demme
Director, Swimming to Cambodia (1987); Beloved (1998); The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Bob Marley: Stay with the Rhythm(2010); Writer/Director, The Truth About Charlie (2002)

I first met Carol Littleton on the second movie I produced, Places in the Heart, filmed in a small town in Texas.  She worked out of a garage and was very accepting of her below-modest surroundings––except for people who smoked in her work area or who put drink containers on her editing machine.  In constant presence, however, were her cats, who could do no wrong.

She was very generous with me, a neophyte, and shared knowledge and technique of editing.  Since I had begun my career in book publishing, I was very concerned with story.  Her understanding of character and motivation was vast and her application of that understanding in editing was an invaluable contribution.  I have worked with her again since then, and seen that although editing techniques and machines have been upgraded, she has remained a staunch practitioner of what story and characters must render in a film.  Her work is an outstanding concomitant to the director’s intentions.  And that is movie perfection.

Arlene Donovan
Producer, Places in the Heart (1984), Twilight (1998)

I was one of Carol’s assistants on Silverado, sitting in for Bruce Cannon, who was on another film.  There were tens of thousands of feet of film coming in, which Joan

Dody Dorn.

Giammarco––the other assistant on the film––and I had to prepare for Carol.  All day, every day, we would madly sync, code, log and prep KEM rolls.  Finally ready, we’d roll the latest batch of dailies into her room, wipe the sweat from our brows and say, “Well, that should keep her busy for awhile!”  Or so we thought.

A couple of hours later, Carol would come out of her room, looking all chipper, and say “You girls want to come and take a look at the scene?”  Joan and I would look at each other in a panic, thinking, “Oh no, what do we give her now?”  She would just fly through the material!

Well, of course, we did look at the scene, and when you are still learning, you can say some pretty silly things.  Thankfully, Carol would listen to our comments, take them seriously and address each one openly––the same way she approached the material at large.  I really appreciated that.  Her respect for the alchemy of script, director, camera, production design and actors all coming together was acute.  If something in a scene did not add up, she would go back to the script and search for what the director and writer had been going for.

A lot of what happens with editing can’t be articulated, but Carol’s willingness to share her process with us was refreshing and inspiring.  I will always consider Carol a mentor.

Dody Dorn, ACE  
Assistant Editor, Foley Editor, Silverado (1985)

Carol is a gifted artist, but what I admire most is the way that she communicates and connects with people.  She’s a wonderful storyteller, but she’s also better at listening and remembering than just about anyone I know.  She’s generous and curious, confident in her opinions but gentle in sharing them.  She’s diplomatic, she’s funny, she’s kind.  Perhaps it all comes naturally to her––I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her ruffled––but not me.  I work on these things, in life and in the cutting room, inspired by Carol.  I feel lucky to know her.

Kate Eales
Assistant Editor, The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Tom Fleischman.

I  first met Carol in 1983 on Places in the Heart, and we’ve worked together on eight films together in all.  When we met, I was still new to my craft as a re-recording mixer.  Having done all of my work in New York, it was the first time that I had worked with a Hollywood editor, and Carol had just finished cutting E.T.  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous, but she put me right at ease.  She asked me if I wanted the picture marked up for scene changes.  I had to ask her what she was talking about, and she very patiently explained that most mixers in Hollywood like to have visual cues for the picture cuts for timing purposes.  I had never heard of that and found it very interesting, but the effect of that little conversation was that it immediately made me feel like Carol respected me and that I was a part of the team.  I was also immediately struck by the warmth and respect that she showed her co-workers as well as her dedication to her job.

The thing that I’ve always enjoyed about working with Carol is that she has a way of communicating the wishes of the oft-absent director that is clear and understandable.  At the same time, she has always allowed me to experiment with ideas and techniques that strike me in the heat of the moment.  In Places in the Heart, they were having trouble getting a visual effects shot of a tornado that looked acceptable, since this was 1983 and CGI was in its infancy.  We were running out of time and Carol decided to cut around the problem and try to make it work with sound.  So we had a tornado scene with no tornado and she told us to have fun and make it sound like there’s a tornado off camera.  Everyone was running around with their hair on fire but Carol was cool as a cucumber.  There was no drama, just confidence in her crew.  It inspired us to have fun with it and come up with something that worked.

Carol has made me a better mixer because she always pushed me to make it just a little bit better, and taught me that I could push myself.  She has also been a model for me of how to be a better person.  In all the years I’ve known her, I can’t remember ever seeing her lose her temper––and we have shared some very tense and uncomfortable times.  Carol has always been someone I’ve thought of as kind, wise, the epitome of professionalism, and a dedicated and active Guild member.  I’ve worked with many of the editors and sound editors that have trained under her over the years, and I know that she has had a tremendous impact on the lives of all of those fortunate enough to have worked with her.  Congratulations, Carol!  This is so well deserved.

Tom Fleischman, CAS  

Re-Recording Mixer, Places in the Heart (1984), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986), Swimming to Cambodia (1987), Beloved(1998), Twilight (1998), The Truth About Charlie (2002), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Margot at the Wedding (2007)

Carol was instrumental in my getting every break I could possibly have gotten in my career.  When I moved to LA from New York and couldn’t even get an interview,

Mia Goldman.

she was the only person who would take my call.  Years later, she recommended me for my first feature as an editor, Choose Me.  Working with Carol, first as an apprentice, then as her assistant, was the best training any editor could ever have, because she has the ability to look at any challenging situation on a film––be it political or work-related––and know exactly how to deal with it with wisdom and professionalism.

Carol has so much passion for her work.  Sometimes I thought, “Carol doesn’t need anyone to help her,” because she would be in the cutting room every morning at 6 a.m., already working.   Even after she started cutting Academy Award-winning films, her behavior never changed.  As she became more and more respected, she just became more and more generous.  Carol is very unpretentious with an acute intellectual sensibility; a je ne sais quoi that is a very rare combination of modesty and a very strong will––without any kind of arrogance at all.

She also has always had a very classic approach to the relationship of the editor and director.  She taught all her assistants to respect their directors, and to be flexible and sensitive to their needs.  And in turn, any director that worked with her understood how crucial her taste and insights were in helping to shape the film and the performances.  Her understanding of film history is encyclopedic; when she first met with Larry Kasdan to discuss Body Heat, he said that Carol was the only one who used the words “Film Noir” when talking about the script.

When Carol ran for President of the Guild, her explanation to me was simply, “I feel that I need to give back,” which was such a beautiful way of putting it.  Carol believes very deeply in the integrity of the craft of editing and wanted to strengthen the Guild by helping the membership at large in any way possible to deal with a whole new range of issues.  It was great to have an editor of her caliber devoting so much time to labor concerns.   I think that in this economy, the Guild might not be in the strong position it occupies today had it not been for her guidance at that time.  She and Guild Executive Director Ron Kutak drove that progressive train that is still moving forward today.  And it is one of the many reasons she so richly deserves this award.

Mia Goldman, ACE
Apprentice Editor, French Postcards (1979); Assistant Editor, Roadie (1980), Body Heat (1981), The Big Chill (1983), Silverado(1985)

Michael Grillo.

As a producer or a director, what do you look for in an editor? Talent. Intelligence. Strength. A trusted partner. A soulful, generous and giving collaborator. A great sense of humor. Someone that’s grounded, but can look outside the box. Someone that treats the audience with respect.  Someone that makes you better than you have ever been. Someone you want, need, have to have by your side during good times and bad.

Actually, you want Carol Littleton.

We have worked on six films together with director Lawrence Kasdan.  Her work speaks for itself.  Not one to settle for mediocrity, she brings out the very best in others.  A giving mentor, fabulous filmmaker and such a great friend.  A truly unique and special person.
Congratulations, Carol.  Until the next one.

Michael Grillo
Assistant Director, Body Heat (1981), The Big Chill (1983), Silverado (1985),  The Accidental Tourist (1988); Producer/Assistant Director, Grand Canyon (1991); Executive Producer, Wyatt Earp (1994)

Both on the screen and in the cutting room, Carol creates a world one wants to be a part of.  She inspires the greatest loyalty in her directors, but also inspires this loyalty in the whole team.  As we know, post-production can be grueling, with impossible deadlines, ridiculous hours and schedules that last anywhere from six months to a year or more.

Carol is a true leader, for whom no detail is too small, and no person unimportant.  She creates an atmosphere that is highly efficient and inclusive, and that brings out the best in everyone: the sound team, the visual effects team, the composer, editorial, the mixers and all the support staff.   Carol equals top-of-the-line quality.   When one hears that she is doing a picture, one knows the film will be the best it can be—and that the working experience will be completely constructive and probably even fun.

Ilona Herzberg
Producer, The Truth About Charlie (2002); The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Tina Hirsch.

The great thing about going to a movie Carol has cut is that you know she was in complete control of the footage.  Her style is assured and graceful.  I’m positive I’m going to see the best of the finest material.   And I know that I won’t need to fasten my seat belt.

Tina Hirsch, ACE

There are few genuine icons in our industry.  Carol Littleton is one of them.  I have had the honor and pleasure of collaborating with Carol

James Newton Howard.

on four movies––all with writer/director Lawrence Kasdan.  As a composer, I can tell you the picture editor needs to be my best friend, and Carol is as good a compadre as it gets.  Her intelligence and insight, joined with a keen and sophisticated sense of music, combine to make working with Carol always a pleasure and a learning experience for me.  Congratulations, Carol, on this well-deserved honor.

James Newton Howard
Composer, Grand Canyon (1991), Wyatt Earp (1994),  Mumford (1999)  Dreamcatcher (2003)

Carol and I met in 1973 when she was one of two editors and I was the runner at Post Time Editorial, a TV commercial editing house.  Through a series of events, I became her assistant.  I worked with her for five years, and then she decided to try feature film work. As an editorial team, we were lucky enough to get our first project, Karen Arthur’s The Mafu Cage.  In short order, we started editing Willard Huyck’s French Postcards, famous as the film from which Debra Winger was cut.  Later, we formed an editing company in Hollywood called Flatrents, and were business partners for 16 years.

I tell people that I learned from one of the best editors in the world.  Carol is multi-disciplined and diplomatic, and has a wonderful depth of knowledge that all rubbed off on me.  She really gets how the tone of a story can be manipulated by shifting character and performance during the editing process.

When I was Carol’s assistant on Alan Rudolph’s Roadie, I remember very clearly sitting behind her while she was totally engrossed in her work at the KEM.  I saw that she had a master shot on the wing and a close-up on the center console, and I would hold both sets of trims so that depending on what shot she chose, I could solve either problem.  Just as she started to say, “I need…,” I would give the trim to her and she was amazed how I knew which shot she wanted.  In those quiet moments looking over this great artist’s shoulder, I learned how to focus on how editorial decisions are made.

A lot of people would leave the business after a few lean years, but Carol inspired me to stick with it through the highs and lows, no matter what happened.  I feel very blessed to have her as one of my mentors.

Gib Jaffe, ACE  
Assistant Editor and Sound Editor, The Mafu Cage (1978); Assistant Editor, French Postcards (1979), Roadie (1980)

Lawrence Kasdan.

When I met Carol Littleton 30 years ago, I was looking for a woman to edit my first film, Body Heat.  The sexual nature of the screenplay convinced me I should have a strong female perspective throughout the process.  As a bluffing novice, I was making up ideas like that as I went along.  I didn’t know any better.

I wildly underestimated the influence Carol would have on me from that day forward.  In the course of doing eight films together, she has been my teacher, moral touchstone, slave driver, confidante and friend.  She has pushed me along on an endless quest to find a better solution, a fresher approach, a re-evaluation of all the decisions made up to that moment.

She once said to me, “Everything about a movie is theory until the editing.”  I was taken aback.  The screenplay was theory, the trucks, the locations, the actors, the burritos?  All theory?  But I came to understand how correct she was.  No other aspect of the production meant much until two pieces of footage were joined, creating something new and unanticipated.  It worked, it didn’t work, it worked but it wasn’t necessary, it didn’t quite work but it felt right anyway.

I’ve been fortunate to work with other great editors, but it is Carol who shaped my ideas about cutting.  Her influence and values have been spread across the film business through countless protégés, assistants and trainees.  She is unstinting in her drive to help others progress their careers.

When choosing an editor, a director is choosing a partner and compadre to travel on a difficult journey––someone who will see every aspect of the director’s nature, strengths and weaknesses.  Most of all, one is looking for an artist whose taste matches up in an invigorating way with one’s own.  In all the important aspects of movies and life, Carol’s taste is impeccable.  She is the perfect companion.  I’ll never know any better.

Lawrence Kasdan
Writer/Director, Body Heat (1981), The Big Chill (1983), Silverado (1985), The Accidental Tourist (1988), Grand Canyon (1991), Wyatt Earp (1994), Mumford (1999), Dreamcatcher (2003)

I was relatively new to directing when I worked with Carol on a comedy I directed in the late 1980s.  Like a lot of young directors, I veered wildly between feelings of

Ken Kwapis.

complete confidence and total panic.  When the lights dimmed for my first set of dailies, I could not have been more anxious.  The room was full––this was a time when people actually came to dailies––and for the first couple of takes, there was dead silence.

Then, Carol laughed.  I will never forget this moment.  Her laugh––big-hearted, generous, honest––did several things at once.  It completely put me at ease.  It let me know that she embraced the film and its characters, and it sent a signal for others––there were more than a few cool customers in that room––to do the same.  And, finally, it announced that here was someone who led with her heart, a fact that was confirmed day after day after day during our time together.

Ken Kwapis
Director, Vibes (1988)

I was a recently arrived New Yorker, still trying to figure out LA, when a friend invited me to accompany him to dinner at Carol and John’s house in the East Hollywood hills.  There were several memorable and important components to the evening; one being that Carol made chile rellenos that were not only spectacularly delicious, but the first taste of Mexican food I ever had.  Second, and also quintessentially Southern Californian, was the view of a horrendous wildfire in Malibu that we could see clearly from their house; huge flames leaping visibly many miles away on this windy night; quite unforgettable.

The great pleasure of the evening, though, was meeting Carol.  I liked her instantly; she had truth and curiosity in her eyes, was full of good and friendly cheer, and, exotically for me, she was from Oklahoma.  Talking with her, it was immediately clear what great joy and seriousness she had toward her work.  I have been inspired by the range and quality of the films she has done––many of my great favorites––and I acknowledge and admire how the grace and integrity she brings to everything is critical to the success of those films.  She is a unique gift to filmmaking.  Congratulations, Carol, and thank you.

Lynzee Klingman, ACE  

Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Carol can always hear the music of a scene––its language, visual tone and rhythm.  She knows the best takes for performance and understands your intentions as a director.  She’s incredibly intelligent and intuitive.  There are scenes in The Anniversary Party that Alan Cumming and I never touched from Carol’s first assembly.  She knows what is funny in a scene and why, and she’s tireless even when things get tiring.  And always, she is generous.  Helping young editors and sharing screen credit is something that is very important to Carol.  I’ve learned so much from her about filmmaking.

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Co-Writer/Co-Director, The Anniversary Party (2001)

My first meeting with Carol embodied four of the five virtues of the Fellowship and Service Award: professionalism, collaboration,

Marty Levenstein.

mentorship and generosity of spirit.  It was 1985, and I was assisting editor Jill Savitt on a feature in New York.  Jill had been Carol’s assistant on a number of films and Carol came by the cutting room to watch our film, answer questions and share her thoughts.  She was respectful, unassuming, open-hearted, candid and very helpful with her comments.

A year later, Carol asked me to assist her on Jonathan Demme’s film of Spalding Gray’s Swimming to Cambodia.  Two stage performances were filmed with three cameras each, giving us dailies from six cameras and two separate sound tracks.  We wanted to be able to edit as if we had one performance with six cameras.  Carol let me figure out what we needed to do in the cutting room to work this out and sat in on meetings that I conducted with production staff prior to the shoot.  She asked questions like everyone else, but always allowed me to set procedures and run that part of the show.  Over the years, she has never wavered in that regard.  She respects each individual on the staff, and allows them to do their jobs in the best way they can.  She is quick to point out things she would like to change, but leads by example.  She puts her best into her job and expects others to do the same.

I’ve assisted or co-edited with Carol on four films and have always enjoyed that first coffee in the morning when we would discuss current events, movies, plays and books, and then slowly turn the conversation to the work at hand: the politics of the film, what we needed to accomplish that day and what everyone on our staff was doing to help us reach our goal.  Carol is acutely aware that the editing process is becoming more and more depersonalized and her door is always open for anyone on the crew to come in and chat.  She is interested in her crew members’ lives and careers and is quick to offer advice and a knowing ear.  She has a rule about everyone sitting down to lunch together whenever possible.  On one recent movie, we had a table set up in the hall for this purpose.  Even the director would eat with us when he was free.

There is life outside the cutting room and Carol believes that putting work aside and out of mind is a healthy necessity.  The best antidote to a pressured mind is a long walk and a wonderful dinner.  I have fond memories of walks in Griffith Park and elsewhere, and sharing food together while working out intricacies of the job or just being friends.

Marty Levenstein  
Assistant Editor, Swimming to Cambodia (1988), Margot at the Wedding (2007); Additional Editor, The Manchurian Candidate(2004); Co-Editor, In the Land of Women (2007)

White Palace was my first American film, and I felt that I needed to have an editor who was very strong performance-wise, and who could work with humor and drama.  When I was talking about editors with my producer, Mark Rosenberg, he asked me who I wanted, and I said I wanted Carol Littleton.  I knew her work with Larry Kasdan, and once I met her, I felt a lot of empathy with her and it felt very comfortable.

We had a very open and collaborative relationship.  Right at the beginning, she had a couple of comments on the script where she felt transitions were missing, so she was already visualizing problems that might arise in the editing room.  When we started watching dailies, I learned something that I had never learned when making movies in Mexico: the importance of the editor’s presence during dailies.

In the first couple of days of production, she expressed concern with the pacing of one of our actors’ performances, saying that there were many pauses that were going to force her into cutting back and forth too much.  Well, she was right, and I was able to use her feedback and correct the problem before we got too deep into shooting.  It was an interesting eye-opener for me, and it was a pleasure to work with an editor who was so rigorous and meticulous.  I hope we get to work together again, Carol.  I’ve tried!

Luis Mandoki
Director, White Palace (1990)

Craig McKay.

I am pleased that Carol Littleton is being honored for her service to our Guild and the greater film community.  We are friends and have known each other for many years, but in all that time, we’ve only worked together once, on The Manchurian Candidate.  On that job, I found Carol to be a brilliant, dedicated, hard-working, generous, sincere, funny, honest, charming and down-to-earth person.  Of course, I knew that already, but what I didn’t know was how great a dinner date she was—and there were lots of late dinners!

Okay, so now let’s talk editing!  The first thing I experienced was Carol’s legendary talent.  It was amazing—her grasp of story, character and performance, all whipped together with a vast knowledge of music that always resulted in an exceptional scene that played on every level.  She’s got the stuff!  We were in sync and I had the joy of working with a person who was truly molto simpatico.  But what I also witnessed first-hand was Carol’s ability to give.  She freely gave her time and energy to anyone who needed it,especially aspiring young editors.  I saw that Carol clearly loved her work and that her work loved her back.

Thank you, Carol!  We are indeed privileged to honor your service to the Guild and to all of us.  And thank you Gib, for introducing me to Carol.

Craig McKay, ACE

Co-Editor, The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Most film editors are really good people.  They have to be.  Carol is a cut above because she genuinely and truly cares about everything and everybody.  No matter what was happening on a film, she just did a great job and let the pieces fall where they may.  If I were a director or producer, Carol is the first person I would call because she is all about what the picture needs, not what she needs.  I am so glad this is happening for her, and I know she appreciates the honor.

Donald O. Mitchell 
Re-Recording Mixer, The Accidental Tourist (1988)

In 1997, when I got a call to interview with Carol for an apprentice position on Robert Benton’s Twilight, I was so excited.  I was aware of her amazing credits and leadership in Local 776.  She was already a legend then!  Listening to Carol recount her experiences when I was first starting out was such an education in itself; she is a master storyteller and truly enjoys passing on her vast knowledge of filmmaking.

I was lucky to have been a part of the crew on her next few New York movies and continued to marvel at her artistry, patience, hard work and love for all aspects of editorial––including timing lights and wedges!  I have so many fun memories of those Jonathan Demme pictures: Five of us commuting up to Nyack together on Beloved…our band of seven, “The Co-Workers” on The Truth About Charlie…the “Manchurian 9” who still make the effort to reunite whenever we can wrangle it…

The level of dedication Carol brings to her work in the cutting room, as well as for the Guild, has inspired so many of us.  It is why she is so deserving of this award.  Congratulations, Carol!

Beth Moran  
Apprentice Editor, Twilight (1998), Beloved (1998); Assistant Editor, The Truth About Charlie (2002), The Manchurian Candidate(2004)

I was a very young sound effects mixer when I met Carol on Silverado, and she was very adroit at letting me find my own way to figuring out how the sound should be,

Kevin O’Connell.

rather than telling me how it should be.  Carol taught me that sound wasn’t about having the loudest gunshots or horses, but about how to use sound to help tell the story.  She also has the patience of a saint.  A lot of people would have gotten very aggressive with a 23-year-old guy sitting at the mixing console, but Carol knew that and always gave me the time to learn what I needed to do.

I’ll always remember the time she and her husband John invited the entire crew to their place in the high desert, and driving through 25 miles of dirt road to get there.  They were such great hosts, and we all camped out like Daniel Boone in the mountains.  People just don’t do that nowadays.

I’ve mixed 166 pictures, and Carol is in my all-time top five of favorite picture editors.
Carol, thank you for being such an inspiration to me throughout my career.

Kevin O’Connell   

Re-Recording Mixer, The Big Chill (1983), Silverado (1985), The Accidental Tourist (1988), Grand Canyon (1991), Wyatt Earp(1994), Mumford (1999), Dreamcatcher (2003)

Suzana Peric.

The year was 1998.  The film was Beloved, directed by Jonathan Demme.  When I was first faced on this film with the prospect of working alongside Carol Littleton, the flutter of nervous anticipation was unbearable.  I knew her work very well; I could even guess her hand in a film without seeing her name.  That seemingly invisible signature permeates all of the films she has touched.  How does one stand up to such excellence?

The day of our meeting arrived.  It was to take place in Carol’s editing room.  The butterflies in my stomach were restless.  And then…it was the smile that did it.  Or maybe that piercing look, straight into my eyes.  Not stern, rather playful, ready to test my sense of humor.  All that nervous anticipation evaporated, replaced by a tremendous joy to be in her company.

Carol, I realized by the end of the film, is a master team player and a master storyteller as she navigates the film into the essence of the story being told.  She gives you her confidence, she expects your devotion to the film, she demands your point of view.  Working alongside her, as I have done in the years to follow, has made me rediscover something about editing that I had almost forgotten: grace and dignity.  It is my honor to celebrate this exceptional person, this exceptional artist: Carol Littleton.

Suzana Peric 
Music Editor, Beloved (1998), The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Carol is an editor who, unlike some, has a deep feeling for music and how best to use it in film.  She was very supportive, intuitive and a great person to work with on

Rachel Portman.

both Jeremiah Chechik’s Benny & Joon and Jonathan Demme’s Beloved.  Sincere congratulations!

Rachel Portman

Composer, Benny & Joon (1993), Beloved (1998)

Paul Rabjohns.

I first met Carol when I was hired as music editor on The Anniversary Partyin 2001.  The warm family atmosphere that I walked into in that cutting room was in stark contrast to the tension and pressure of some of the films I had been involved in previously.  It was a special time with a wonderful group of people.  How many films are there where you all meet for breakfast, go for a hike and then start work?

Having recently had the good fortune to work with Carol again, I realize that this sense of family, a feeling of being part of something special, was no accident but something that Carol naturally engenders in her projects and the people around her.  I have been mentored by Carol, not in a formal way, but by a sort of intellectual osmosis.

It has been inspiring to work for someone who approaches the art of filmmaking with such clarity of vision, sensitivity and talent.  I laugh when I think of how often I would show Carol music cues and she would say, “Well, why don’t you try this…” and then having a forehead-slapping moment and thinking, “Of course! That’s how it needs to play!”

Carol has a natural spark that I have seen effortlessly ignite enthusiasm and a passion in myself and the team to do the best possible job.  Each time I have worked with her, I have approached my next project with a real shot in the arm and tried to keep that spark alive.

We recently celebrated Carol’s birthday on a mixing stage in Hollywood.  When she finally forgave us for springing it on her, it was great to hear her reminisces about some of the amazing films and experiences with which she had been involved––all told with modesty, a sense of wonder and that distinctive infectious laugh.  Countless times, having finished a meeting with Carol or a conversation about life in general, I hear that little voice in my head say, “Paul, you know, you really should try to be a little bit more like Carol.”

Paul Rabjohns, MPSE
Music Editor, The Anniversary Party (2001), The Rum Diary (2010)

When Carol came on board for The Rum Diary, my first film in 17 years, she hadn’t seen a frame of footage.  We sat there, she and I, and looked at 162 hours of film

Bruce Robinson.

over the next two weeks, while she made notes.  At the end of it she said, “Yes, yes, let’s do it!”  And that was how we got going.  I was immediately enchanted by her; she is an amazingly calm and cultured woman.

I am in awe of Carol in many ways.  Her special love and knowledge of music is, I think, what informs her ability to make lateral choices like a musician in an orchestra or ensemble—knowing precisely when to come in to the piece.  Editing, at its best, is a weird kind of visual music, and Carol has that instinctive smell and feel for the rhythm of a scene.  Her feel for performance is also spot-on.  I am totally into dialogue; the nuances of a line can make the difference between getting a laugh and not getting a laugh, and she has a fabulous ear.  A lot of people don’t know the difference between saying “My father was a tailor,” or “My father was a tailor,” for example, but Carol can really hear dialogue and completely understands comedy.

Ultimately, Carol is a master of léger de main; a wizard of her craft with an extraordinary arsenal of abilities.  On one scene, for example, we needed to cut back to an actor within a scene, but in one shot, he had his hat on, and in another, he had his hat off.  I went away, came back in half an hour, and miraculously, the guy no longer had a hat on.  For her, there is no such thing as an intractable problem.

But the thing I love the most about her is that because I am English, I am addicted to curry, and it’s very unusual to find an American who can eat a “chicken brimstone” for lunch!  Congratulations, Carol, on this wonderful honor.

Bruce Robinson 
Writer/Director, The Rum Diary  (2010)

One thing that we have all known––and movie-going audiences have known––for years: Carol is a prodigiously talented editor.  All of her films evince a unique editorial sensibility, a touch that is hers.  As varied as they are in subject and scope, there’s a very particular attention to environment in all her films, a clarity of storytelling, and an abundance of nuanced performances.  And also, there’s wit.  In each of her films, there’s Carol.

Simply put, no one has eyes like she has.  No one has ears like she has.  No one understands and illuminates the ebb and flow of a story the way Carol does.  Like the very best editors, and the best storytellers, Carol’s work erases the narrative seams.  She constructs stories in such a way that we can’t imagine things unfolding in any other way––and we don’t want to.

The directors with whom she collaborates appreciate her intelligence, her instincts and the strength with which she executes their shared vision for the film.  They know that she’s brilliant at parsing details––determining which small elements are extraneous, and which comprise the fabric of the movie.  Actors love her for the facets she finds in their performances.  Producers love her because we know how incredibly capable and rigorous she is about the work.

Carol does the thing that we all strive to do when we set out to make a movie: She brings the story and all its elements into stunning focus.  Congratulations, Carol, and thank you for sharing your gifts with all of us.

Scott Rudin

Producer, Twilight (1998), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Margot at the Wedding (2007), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

When Carol came to New York to edit Places in the Heart, she hired me as her assistant, beginning our 25 years as friends and colleagues.  I was fortunate enough to assist her again when Brighton Beach Memoirs brought her back to New York.  Later, when she called and asked me to co-edit a film with her, to say I was thrilled is an understatement.  Having the opportunity to work alongside my longtime mentor was a dream come true.

I have gained much from observing Carol’s expertise and skill.  There is a musicality to her editing.  She is a truly gifted storyteller.  Watching Carol solve problems, make choices, and draw on her diverse artistic interests was an invaluable lesson.  She not only understands the art of editing but the politics of it as well.  Quite simply, she is a role model.  Editing is a passion for her, and it shows.

It is easy to speak of Carol in superlatives, from her generosity of spirit and her tireless work for our Guild and its members, to her loyal and enduring relationships with her directors and collaborators.  Although Carol’s career has been laced with moments of film greatness––the reveal of E.T., the phenomenal cast and music of The Big Chill, and my personal favorite, William Hurt breaking down the door to get to Kathleen Turner in Body Heat––to me, she is first and foremost a loyal and dear friend.

As Carol often says, “Less is more,” so I will edit myself and just say that after a lot of thought and reflection, I am pretty sure that when I die I would like to come back as one of her cats.  Congratulations on your award, Carol!

Jill Savitt, ACE
Assistant Editor, Places in the Heart (1984), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986); Co-Editor, China Moon (1994)

Carol, we’ve been friends for 25 years.  You were the first person I met in the film industry and to this day you remain the most outstanding person I know.  As I see it, you and I are musicians who share a love of film and so we continue chiseling away at our craft these many years.  Your breadth of knowledge is vast.  With each film you complete, you add to an accomplished body of work

Thank you for being so generous with me in my beginnings; the guidance you offered kick-started my career.  Your time as President and then Vice President of the Editors Guild was a most constructive and helpful period.  You opened up a new world of “digital” to many of us.  Your guidance afforded us the opportunity to learn and grow into all the new technologies.

I guess my one wish is that we will one day actually work on a picture together.  Meanwhile, I’ll continue to appreciate you and look forward to our never-often-enough catch-up visits.  You are all that is right and great about this business.  You are the best and this honor by the Guild is so richly deserved.

Ellen Segal, MPSE
Music Editor, Colleague

When I first met Carol, I was an apprentice editor she was being forced to hire by my producer/uncle, Bill Finnegan.  I had no idea that an editor wouldn’t want the producer’s niece in the cutting room.  One of the favorite stories Carol likes to tell is how she planned to fire me after a week, then how we ended up working together for over 12 years.

I was always a fan; I saw The Big Chill seven times and can remember exactly where I was when I saw Body Heat.  But as I worked with Carol, I became a bigger fan––seeing her cut and navigate political situations.  She never gives up on a film, but always pushes it to its ultimate best, remaining interested in every detail until the last print comes out of the lab.  This is something she instilled in me to expect of my work.

What she has taught me is that editing isn’t technical; it is sensation, observation and something that is hard to talk about but easy to feel.  Editors don’t just cut physical film, they manage it, guard it, protect it and finally let it find itself.  This is the same way she operates as a friend—never judging but always guiding, seeing you as you will be and letting you find it for yourself.

As someone who considers herself a main beneficiary of Carol’s generosity on all fronts, I am very excited that she is receiving this award; she deserves it.

Suzanne Spangler
Apprentice Editor, White Palace (1990); Assistant Editor, Benny & Joon (1993), Wyatt Earp (1994), Diabolique (1996), Twilight(1998), Beloved (1998); Co-Editor, The Anniversary Party (2001), The Truth About Charlie (2002)

Steven Spielberg, left, Kathleen Kennedy.

Carol embodies the spirit that E.T. inspired when he says at the end of the film, “Be good.”  She has been very, very good in everything she has done, from the edit bay to her personal dedication to the artistry and the craft of editing.

Steven Spielberg 
Producer/Director, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Kathleen Kennedy
Producer, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

When they’re young, all editors try to imagine what kind of editor to be once they become established, and what kind of “career” to go for.  Do we pursue blockbuster movies?  Do we choose our jobs based on the filmmakers involved?  Or do we go for smaller, more intimate projects.  I met Carol when I was relatively young and just starting out, and she seemed to have been successful in choosing to do it all!  She had edited E.T., but when I met her she was working on Swimming to Cambodia.  Movies big and small, documentaries and fiction.

Carol is at ease with both intellectual and technical challenges, and while being extremely serious, her smile is the thing that I remember most, and the loyalty and affection of her crews over the years is quite legendary.  It has been a pleasure to follow her body of work, and to watch someone who is not just dedicated to her craft, but dedicated to making everyone around her feel appreciated in their own contribution.

Camilla Toniolo
Assistant Editor, Swimming to Cambodia (1988)

I cannot think of my career without thinking of Carol Littleton.  I met Carol on Places in the Heart.  It was my second job as a film apprentice.  Carol taught me how to tell a story with film.  She introduced me to the rhythms of dialogue, emphasized the importance of sound, shared her love of music and showed me how integral all were to the process of storytelling.  Her passion and dedication inspired me to become the best that I could be in the job, whether as an apprentice, an assistant or an editor.

After Places in the Heart, Carol and I never worked together again, but I have gone to see every film that she has cut and it keeps me close to her.  Through the years, I have called Carol for advice and help.  She has given me her time and guidance.  And as the years passed, she has treated me as a colleague…an equal.  I of course, will always see her as a mentor.

Barbara Tulliver.  ACE  
Apprentice Editor, Places in the Heart (1984)

Shortly after relocating from Los Angeles to New York, I was fortunate enough to be hired as the sound supervisor on Jonathan Demme’s remake of The Manchurian

Paul Urmson.

Candidate and to work with Carol Littleton and Craig McKay.  At one point, after filming had wrapped and early discussions of sound had started, I was able to sit and closely watch Carol and Jonathan work for an extended amount of time, from raw footage through the first cut.  To watch these master filmmakers work and see their process was, for me as a sound editor, a rare opportunity.

Since then, I have worked with Carol on several films, both narrative and documentary, and we have become friends and co-conspirators.  I am constantly amazed at her aesthetic sense regarding every aspect of movie storytelling, be it the visual, performance, rhythm, pacing, music or sound design of a film.  That she takes a keen interest in things outside of work, and in the lives of her crew and the people around her, and brings that world of experience to her work, I find truly inspiring.

She is one of those people who just loves the craft of filmmaking and storytelling and enjoys being involved in every aspect of it.  I always learn from watching her work.  Being in the cutting room with Carol is also an amazing amount of fun.  Her wicked sense of humor and wit make some of the more insane aspects of film post-production hugely enjoyable.  She is that calm in the eye of the storm.

Working with Carol has been a privilege, an honor and among the most rewarding experiences of my career.  I can only hope we collaborate on many more.

Paul Urmson

Supervising Sound Editor, The Manchurian Candidate (2004); Sound Designer/Re-Recording Mixer, Margot at the Wedding(2007)

Jim Weidman.

Every time I get together with people I’ve worked with in the past, we reminisce about old war stories and commiserate about the impossible tasks we’ve been asked to accomplish.  We recall screaming fits from directors, or battles with editors, or late turnovers that are supposed to miraculously appear on the dubbing stage the next morning.  I don’t have any of these stories with Carol.

Anytime I’ve worked with her, she has made sure everything runs so smoothly that I have no memories of anything ever going wrong.  There was one time when I overheard her on the phone with a title house and she said, “That won’t do…that just won’t do at all.”  She hung up the phone and asked me if she had been too harsh.  That about says it all.

Congratulations, Carol.  See you at Natalee Thai.

Jim Weidman
Music Editor, Grand Canyon (1991), Wyatt Earp (1994); Supervising Music Editor, Mumford (1999), Dreamcatcher (2003)

I’ve known Carol going on 20 years or so.  I joined her crew on location in Santa Fe as an assistant editor on Wyatt Earp when Raul Davalos went on paternity leave.  She was already “Carol Littleton.”  Her then-assistant, my good friend Suzanne Spangler, said that Carol was great, and the experience produced some of my most treasured memories with friends that I happened to work with.

I can go on about how great an editor Carol is, or that she’s devoted to the craft and gives her all to each and every project—that’s all true; but what’s really striking about Carol is her wonderful spirit.  Because Carol grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, I gather Okies to be towers of strength––welcoming, honestly curious, incredibly kind and lovers of chocolate.

She has tremendous stamina, be it for the work before her or walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.  She opened her cutting room up to a Cutco knife salesman and after we all sat around and heard his funny pitch, she bought a set.  She bakes some awfully tasty Christmas cookies that my kids and I look forward to decorating every year.  Carol puts as much careful thought to the worm farm that feeds her magnificent garden as to a scene that goes through many incarnations.
From the get-go, you have a sense that everything and everyone matters to Carol.  I have the privilege of being part of her past and present crews and can say that Carol Littleton is actually pretty great, and deserving of this award and all it signifies

Ofe Yi   
Assistant Editor, Wyatt Earp (1994), Dreamcatcher (2003), In the Land of Women (2007)

About Michael Kunkes 56 Articles
A longtime contributor to Editors Guild Magazine (the predecessor to CineMontage) and the Guild's website, Michael Kunkes was a freelance writer and editor specializing in post-production, production and and animation. He passed away in March 2010.