List of film director and editor collaborations

This list of film director and editor collaborations includes longstanding, notable partnerships of directors and editors. The list's importance is that directors and editors typically work together on the editing of a film, which is the ultimate step of filmmaking during which the dozens or hundreds of hours of raw film "footage" are pruned and woven into the final film. Film critic Walter Kerr has argued that editing is comparable in its importance to directing itself, and should be credited as such; he wrote "At the very least, it seems to me, the editor's credit should be rescued from its place near the bottom of the list, an area we may call Oblivion. And I don't mean the editor should be given a mere half-a-leg up, nudged one inch higher in the Pantheon of creative people who do things. The best he ever gets now is fourth or fifth spot, somewhere after the principal photographer and two or three screenwriters. Second position is where he belongs, and no lower, if we're still going to hold him to also-ran status."[1] Quentin Tarantino has been quoted as saying, "The best collaborations are the director-editor teams, where they can finish each other's sentences," and that his own editor, Sally Menke, was his "only, truly genuine collaborator."[2]

Crediting the editing of a film is made more difficult by the fact that the relative contributions of the director and the editor vary enormously. At one extreme lies the old Hollywood studio system; as described by Lizzie Francke, this was the "period when the editor was often left to his or her own devices in the cutting room. The pressures of production turn-over during the hey-day of the studio system often meant that the director could not be around to supervise since they were on to their next production." Editors such as Margaret Booth (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios) and Barbara McLean (20th Century Fox) worked nearly autonomously.[3][4][5] At the other extreme lie "auteur" directors who personally edit their own films. Akira Kurosawa both directed and edited many of his best-known films (cf. Seven Samurai (1954), Kagemusha (1980)); Hiroshi Nezu, Kurosawa's production chief, was quoted as saying, "Among ourselves we think that he is Toho’s best director, that he is Japan’s best scenarist, and that he is the best editor in the world."[6] The Coen brothers are a contemporary example of filmmakers who produce, direct, and edit their own films; they humorously credit "Roderick Jaynes" as the editor of their films.[7]

Criteria for listings

The following list of notable director and editor collaborations does not attempt to parse the relative contributions of the individuals. The collaborations on this list have each extended over a decade or more, and have produced at least one film nominated for an Academy Award or BAFTA Award in one or more of the following categories: as best film, for best directing, or for best editing. One such film is noted for each collaboration. The restriction to Oscar-nominated or BAFTA-nominated films does exclude most directors and editors whose films are not in English. The dates listed for each collaboration are based on searches of the Internet Movie Database.

35 years and more

Thelma Schoonmaker and Columba Powell at the Cannes Film Festival (2009). Schoonmaker is among the deans of film editing; Columba Powell is the son of Michael Powell, a prominent film director to whom Schoonmaker was married until his death in 1990.

3034 years

2529 years

John Ottman has had a long collaboration with director Bryan Singer, and is also noted for his musical scoring of many films and television programs.

2024 years

Photograph of a man's head. He is smiling slightly, has white hair, and is wearing glasses. He is wearing a sports jacket and a white shirt with an open collar.
1990 photograph of Robert Wise, the editor of Citizen Kane (1941) and the director of West Side Story (1961).

1519 years

Joe Bini and Werner Herzog in 2008, following the release of the documentary film Encounters at the End of the World

914 years

Stephen Mirrione has received Oscar nominations for his editing of films directed by George Clooney, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Steven Soderbergh.


  1. Kerr, Walter (March 17, 1985). "Films are made in the Cutting Room". The New York Times.
  2. Seif, Dena (February 19, 2007). "Editors pick 'Babel,' 'Departed': 'Office,' 'Wire' win at ACE Eddie Awards". Variety.
  3. Francke, Lizzie (April 30, 1996). "Invisible hand in the cutting room". The Guardian. p. 14. Obituary for Barbara McLean.
  4. For many years at MGM the director of a film did not necessarily supervise its editing. Margaret Booth, a distinguished editor herself, supervised the editing department under the patronage of the studio's head Louis B. Mayer.
  5. Gomery, Douglas (2000). "Margaret Booth". In Pendergast, Tom; Pendergast, Sara. International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers, Edition 4. St. James Press. ISBN 978-1-55862-449-8.
  6. Richie, Donald (1998). The Films of Akira Kurosawa (3 ed.). University of California Press. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-520-22037-9.
  7. Coen, Joel; Coen, Ethan; Allen, William Rodney (2006). The Coen Brothers Interviews. University Press of Mississippi. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-57806-889-0. Q: What's it like working with Roderick Jaynes? Coens: (they finally laugh out loud, yuk-yuk-yuk) He's getting harder and harder to deal with! Roderick Jaynes is a pseudonym we use for doing the editing ourselves, because we cut our own movies.
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