DUNE TM 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved

Meet Joe Walker, the Editor Behind Villenueve’s Dune

Joe Walker, ACE joins Steve Hullfish on Frame.io’s Art of the Cut for first-ever video episode: “If nothing else, Dune is one massive work of rhythm for me.”

Today, the team at Frame.io is delighted to bring Steve Hullfish’s acclaimed series Art of the Cut to video with Dune editor and long-time member of Villenueve’s crew, Joe Walker, ACE, who’s worked on such films as SicarioArrival, and Blade Runner 2049

TM & © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

Earlier this year, Frame.io announced it would be the new home to Art of the Cut, Steve Hullfish’s podcast series that has become one of the most essential and well-respected resources in the industry. Over the last decade, host and internationally respected producer and editor Steve Hullfish has taken listeners into the cutting rooms of hundreds of major films and TV shows. In the latest edition of Art of the Cut, Steve sits down with two-time Oscar nominee Joe Walker, ACE, to discuss his fourth collaboration with director Denis Villeneuve on the highly anticipated sci-fi blockbuster Dune

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Below are some highlights from Steve and Joe’s conversation. Visit the Frame.io Insider blog to watch, listen, or read the complete Art of the Cut episode. 

HULLFISH: We were talking about your relationship with Denis and how you edited this during COVID. There’s a very interesting interview that I found on the web where he says he can’t edit without you being in the same room, and that you need to be like a band. Can you talk to me about that relationship you have with him and why he can’t just be on a Zoom call or some other remote solution?

WALKER: We started off in Budapest together and I was there on set, and then afterward we moved back to LA and worked in the office, and then the pandemic hit. We had to close down and everybody ended up working in garden sheds, spare bedrooms, and mother-in-law flats across town. Denis was in Montreal and we worked remotely. I had to get used to seeing the front of his face, which isn’t something I was very used to. I’ve sat to the left of him for so long that the right-hand side of his face is like the dark side of the moon, but anyway I got used to that.

In fact, it was interesting to me that I had the opportunity to actually read a scene on his face while he’s watching it rather than look at the scene, which I already know because I cut it. I could look at him reacting to it, which is a very quick and honest way of working out what he’s thinking. I can almost tell what he’s going to say.

HULLFISH: Did you read the book before you started editing?

WALKER: It’s so funny because I’ve met so many people on this project who said, “Oh my God, I read Dune when I was 12 or 13 and it’s a really seminal book.” For me, I didn’t actually pick it up until Denis started talking about it. We were in the middle of Blade Runner 2049 and he mentioned it by saying, “You should read the book and tell me what you think.” So, I read it and I was very engaged. I’m a late adopter. 

I think it’s a magical book and I think it’s very timely for a book written in the late sixties. I could totally see why it captivated Denis. It has so many themes that he’s interested in. Environment and the relationship between women and power is a big ingredient.

I think a very typical cinematic thing is simplicity and economy. We were looking for that in the cut, but also paying our dues to the book and also to the depth of that imagination that Frank Herbert originally had. It felt important to always pay attention to the detail and never let it pass by.

HULLFISH: How do you maintain objectivity?

WALKER: The best thing is weekends. Our industry is in need of that for numerous reasons, but the reason I most need it is to get away. Alcohol is definitely beneficial as well. [laughing] I was cutting at home, and I’m not going to say—hand on heart—that I didn’t occasionally have a whisky late at night while cutting Dune [laughing] but for me, working at home was fantastic.

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