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Editor Hughes Winborne Talks Getting the Rhythm Right on “Fences”

Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures.

Hughes Winborne, ACE, is an Oscar-winning editor (Crash, 2005) who has cut more than two dozen feature films including Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade, The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds, and Guardians of the Galaxy. His latest film is Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Fences.

HULLFISH: Hughes, we have something in common. I have just been cutting a film with Mykelti Williamson in it and he’s in Fences, too.

HULLFISH:  I agree.WINBORNE: Mykelti’s great.  His performance in Fences is so endearing. He is reprising his role in the play on Broadway. The play is amazing. The film, as far as the dialogue is concerned does not stray from the play as it as presented on Broadway. Like the play, the movie is all about the words, and so the editing has to be fairly precise and discreet. It’s a tricky thing.  A lot of people don’t appreciate the challenge of putting together a film so driven by dialogue.

WINBORNE:  The first half of Fences is primarily dialogue. The Help was of the same ilk. Two hours and eighteen minutes of talking. Keeping an audience’s interest for that long is challenging.  It requires making sure that the dramatic tension sustains so the audience will climb on and stay for the ride.

With Fences it’s a matter of getting the rhythm right because the rhythm is very precise. You get caught up in this rhythm. This may seem weird but it’s a bit like listening to a great song.  It doesn’t really matter if you miss some of the lyrics. If you’re getting the rhythm and the tone, you’re probably feeling emotionally what you need to understand the film.

Read the full interview at ProVideo Coalition.