The late director Sydney Pollack with actor Dustin Hoffman on the set of “Tootsie”. Editor William Steinkamp received an Oscar nomination along with his father Fredric Steinkamp for cutting this legendary screen comedy.
“Editors need to understand actors,” said Oscar nominated editor William Steinkamp when we sat down for the latest episode of The Road to Cinema Podcast. His long time collaborator, director Sydney Pollack, was a true actor’s director having studied extensively with Neighborhood Playhouse impresario Sanford Meisner. We learn some wonderful lessons that Pollack passed down to Steinkamp. Steinkamp has cut some of director Sydney Pollack’s most acclaimed films. Among them, the classic Dustin Hoffman gender bending comedy “Tootsie”, the 1985 “Best Picture” Oscar winner “Out of Africa” starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, and the legal thriller “The Firm” starring Tom Cruise.
Steinkamp guides us through many of the essential points that every editor should know. This includes understanding an actor’s performance, script, music, pace, continuity, and a thorough understanding of the collaboration process with a director.
Steinkamp also cut the Martin Brest directed “Scent of a Woman”. A film that won Al Pacino his long over due “Best Actor” Oscar for playing a blind, retired colonel who takes his young, disillusioned caretaker on a wild trip through New York City. We’ll learn how the film was sculpted in the editing room as well as how Al Pacino discovered his character through many different takes with director Martin Brest.
One of my personal favorites from Steinkamp’s filmography is “The Fabulous Baker Boys” written and directed by Steve Kloves with terrific performances by Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The Bridges brothers also play brothers in the film whose nightclub piano act is livened up by a new singer played Michelle Pfeiffer in an Oscar nominated performance. Steinkamp also received an Oscar nomination for editing the film.
Check out the audition montage below which was cut by Oscar nominated editor William Steinkamp. Listen to episode #10 of The Road to Cinema Podcast to find out what influenced the cutting of this dynamic montage.