NEW YORK — Spotlight, director Tom McCarthy’s powerful, new drama, tells the true story of the Boston Globe’s investigation of child molestation by Catholic priests and the subsequent cover-up by the local archdiocese. The film, released by Open Road Films, was edited by Tom McArdle, marking his fifth collaboration with McCarthy, dating back to 2003 and
The Station Agent, the director’s feature debut.
Co-written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James and Billy Crudup.
McArdle and his crew spent 10 months cutting Spotlight at PostFactoryNY’s (www.simgroup.com) facility, with eight months devoted to picture editing, and two to sound, music and visual effects. The set-up included editing and assist rooms, along with offices for McCarthy and post supervisor Kelley Cribben. The main workstation was an Avid Media Composer V.6.5.4 on a 12-core Mac Pro with 16GBs of RAM. The production stored 5TBs of media on PostFactoryNY’s central Avid ISIS server.
McArdle has cut each of McCarthy’s films at PostFactoryNY. “We are very comfortable there,” he says, “and that high level of comfort allows us to focus on the work. It’s the best place in New York for editing movies; everyone wants to cut there. A lot of talented people were working on our floor — Paul Haggis, David Simon, Brian Koppelman, et al. PostFactoryNY has big rooms and a nice atmosphere. Their Avids and tech support are top-notch. It feels like a big rustic house for moviemaking.”
Stylistically, Spotlight has a similar feel to the tough, realistic dramas of the ‘70s, but more tightly wound. “The fact that it was based on real events and a real investigation influenced things,” McArdle says. “It gave it a gradual build. During the months of editing, we tried to make the film tighter so that there were no unnecessary moments.”
McCarthy likewise describes an editing process that was focused and deliberate. “It was all about pace and clarity in hopes of maintaining the tension and tone of the picture,” he recalls. “I usually take a few weeks off after the shoot and then Tom and I sit down and watch his first assembly. Then we go out for a steak and a few martinis, and wash it off. We get to work the next morning and keep editing until we think it’s ready. We do a number of small screenings along the way to push the cut forward.”
The film includes several montage scenes used to convey the scope of the newspaper’s investigation. McCarthy says they were among the most difficult sequences to cut. “The process is very tedious, going through directories and knocking on doors, that sort of thing,” he explains. “It took a while to get the pace right. We wanted to feel both the drive of the investigation and the tedium of the work. It was a fine line to walk.”
Spotlight has already received a number of positive reviews and awards.