“The Old Man & the Gun” Combines Classic Film Look with Modern Editing Workflow
Robert Redford as “Forrest Tucker” in the film THE OLD MAN & THE GUN. Photo by Eric Zachanowich © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved.
by Margot Nack
posted on 10-01-2018
At the age of 79, Forrest Tucker came out of retirement for one last chance to live out his dream job. Unfortunately for law enforcement in Pompano Beach, Florida, Tucker was best known as a bank robber and prison escape artist. Tucker’s exploits and 65-year criminal career were brought to national attention by David Grann, who wrote a profile for The New Yorker in 2003 entitled “The Old Man and the Gun”.
Such an unbelievable but true story was destined for a big screen treatment. On September 28, 2018, audiences across the U.S. will get a chance to see Tucker’s story brought to life in the crime comedy The Old Man & the Gun, starring Robert Redford. Director and writer David Lowery, known for the 2016 Disney adaptation of Pete’s Dragon and the critical hit A Ghost Story, brings his lyrical sensibilities to the story, providing a sense of reality and grounding to a fantastic tale.
Robert Redford and Director David Lowery on the set of THE OLD MAN & THE GUN. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved.
David not only writes and directs, but he also has more than two dozen editing credits under his belt. As a result, he deeply understands how a talented editor can help shape a story and mold every look or every snippet of dialogue into an emotional punch. For The Old Man & the Gun, David reunited with veteran editor Lisa Zeno Churgin. Oscar nominated for her work on The Cider House Rules, Lisa has honed her talents on titles such as Reality Bites, Dead Man Walking, The Wedding Planner, and House of Sand and Fog.
“Editors are storytellers first and foremost,” says Lisa. “I love the feeling that comes from sculpting a moment just right.”
David and Lisa first worked together on Pete’s Dragon. As an editor, David understands both the creative and technical challenges that come with editing, and he suggested that they edit the effects-heavy movie using Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
“David seemed really excited about Premiere Pro for its flexibility and for its seamless workflows with Adobe After Effects CC,” says Lisa. “But while I’ve worked with almost every non-linear editing system used in Hollywood over the past 40 years, I’d never cut a film in Premiere Pro. I told David that I wanted to use a more familiar system for our first collaboration, but I would be happy to learn Premiere Pro if we ever worked together again.”
Robert Redford as “Forrest Tucker” and Sissy Spacek as “Jewel” in the film THE OLD MAN & THE GUN. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Learning a new workflow
When time came to start work on The Old Man & the Gun, David reached out to Adobe, who connected Lisa with an Adobe trainer that quickly got her up to speed.
“I had a great time working with Adobe,” says Lisa. “After so many years in the business, I’ve figured out systems and tricks that keep the footage organized and help me wrap my head around what’s needed for each scene. The Adobe trainer suggested little tips such as customizing my setup with a programmable keyboard to better suit how I work.”
“Even more importantly,” adds Lisa, “Adobe seemed genuinely interested in hearing how editors use their product. I could tell them about the features and workflows that I like to use when I’m editing a movie, and they took that feedback to engineers so that they could make the next version of Premiere Pro even better.”
David paired Lisa with assistant editor Mike Melendi. Mike got his start on Adobe Premiere Pro, and as a veteran user provided valuable assistance that helped Lisa quickly adapt to the Premiere Pro workflow.
“I think one of the biggest benefits of working in Premiere Pro is the flexible workspace,” says Mike. “You don’t have to be constrained by the software’s vision of how an editor should work. Lisa and I had different workspaces so that we could each do the best job possible of bringing David’s story to life.”
Old-school film, digital production
Because much of The Old Man & the Gun takes place in the 1970s, David found inspiration in filmmaking techniques of the 70s. The crew shot the movie on Super 16mm film, giving scenes an authentic visual texture while providing a slightly bigger image on the negative. After a vendor developed and scanned the film, Lisa and Mike got to work with editing in Premiere Pro.
Casey Affleck as “John Hunt” and Tika Sumpter as “Maureen” in the film THE OLD MAN & THE GUN. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved.
Lisa studied films such as Downhill Racer and Two-Lane Blacktop to better understand the editing philosophy of that age. “It only took me a short time to feel comfortable with Premiere Pro,” says Lisa. “Once I learned the basics, the technology behind it disappeared and I could focus on creative storytelling.”
The crew also stuck to visual effects that were available during the 1970s, such as wipes, simple composites and split-screens done as traditional film opticals. Mike did temporary effects and compositing for the 75 visual effects shots using After Effects. Filters helped to remove film grain from the footage and then add the grain back in once effects were complete.
In the Premiere Pro timeline, Lisa could treat After Effects footage like any other shot, editing and moving the footage as needed. Once the visual effects vendor delivered the final After Effects files, Mike used the Dynamic Link to update the footage and apply edits in seconds.
“With his experience as an editor, David understands how to play with scenes to get the best emotion from the story,” says Lisa. “He could give very detailed notes about how he wanted me to adjust the footage and try a different take on the scene.”
“It was a real pleasure working on The Old Man & the Gun,” says Mike. “Working with an A-list editor like Lisa and a filmmaker like David was an honor, but the story was the true highlight for me. I’ve watched The Old Man & the Gun probably 100 times during the editing process, and it’s still so much fun to watch. I can’t wait for people to see it on the big screen.”
The Old Man & The Gun is based on the true story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), from his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Wrapped up in the pursuit are detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who becomes captivated with Forrest’s commitment to his craft, and a woman (Sissy Spacek), who loves him in spite of his chosen profession.
The Old Man & The Gun will be released by Fox Searchlight Pictures on September 28, 2018.
Download Hollywood Config Files & Share Yours
You too can use Adobe Premiere Pro like a pro. Lisa Zeno Churgin shared her config file with us, which you can download — it would be a crime not to! Find the file here and instructions below. And to raise the stakes like Robert Redford’s character, we also want to share workspace templates used by Vashi Nedomansky (editor of Deadpool 2,_ Gone Girl_, 6 Below). Check out his Blockbuster project template to stay organized, and to manage as much as 24 hours of footage, use his Pancake Timeline! Be sure to share your workspace on our social pages for a chance at some cool giveaways too!
HOW TO USE AND SHARE ADOBE PREMIERE PRO CONFIG FILES
Professional Adobe Premiere Pro config files can be downloaded here:
Config file of Lisa Zeno Churgin (editor of The Old Man and the Gun, Pitch Perfect, The Cider House Rules, Gattaca)
To try out Lisa’s config file, place it in the following location:
FOR MAC USERS:
FOR WINDOWS USERS:
And to allow others to use your config, share this file from your computer:
FOR MAC USERS:
/Users/[username]/Documents/Adobe/Premiere Pro/7.0/Profile [username]/Layouts/UserWorkspace1.xml
FOR WINDOWS USERS:
Topics: Creativity, Video & Audio, How I Cut This
Products: After Effects, Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud