Spotlight on UNDER THE BRIDGE Editor Garret Price (AFI Class of 2005) – American Film Institute

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Spotlight on UNDER THE BRIDGE Editor Garret Price (AFI Class of 2005)

With the recent debut of UNDER THE BRIDGE starring Oscar® nominee Lily Gladstone and Emmy® nominee Riley Keough, we sat down with the show’s editor Garret Price (AFI Class of 2005) to learn more about his career and his work on the drama based around the real-life murder of Reena Virk. An extraordinarily versatile artist, Garret has directed award-winning documentaries and edited incisive narrative and documentary features, as well as acclaimed television series. His credits include ABOUT ALEX; LOVE, ANTOSHA; JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE; NASHVILLE; ENDINGS, BEGINNINGS; DAISY JONES & THE SIX; TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS and the upcoming Apple TV+ series SURFACE. We spoke with him about his experience at the AFI Conservatory, the unconventional process of editing UNDER THE BRIDGE and his advice for up-and-coming editors.

AFI: What inspired you initially to pursue editing and led you to the AFI Conservatory?

Garret: It was in post where I really found my passion for storytelling, putting images to music and getting to have so much control over the story. After I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, I was back in Dallas assisting on corporate videos kind of wondering what I was doing with my life. So I applied to AFI and the next thing I knew I got the call. I came out to LA, interviewed and got accepted which was kind of the beginning of it all. At AFI, I threw myself at every project possible. You get to work with so many different people on so many different projects in the editing track, and you really get to hone those skills and learn together what it means to collaborate in filmmaking, which I loved.

AFI: In addition to editing, you also directed LOVE, ANTOSHA, centered on the late actor Anton Yelchin. Can you talk about how you first became involved?

Garret: Drake [Doremus] and I were really close friends at AFI and over the years we were always trying to find a way to work together and then finally it happened with LOVE, ANTOSHA. Anton’s parents reached out to Drake initially because of his relationship with Anton from the film LIKE CRAZY and wanted to explore this idea of him making a doc on Anton. Drake felt that he was way too close and didn’t think he could be objective as a director, but he told them he had a buddy who had experience in documentary that he thought would be the right fit. At first, I was a little hesitant to accept the job because I had found a home in cutting scripted, but then I met Anton’s parents, learned more about him as a person and I just felt compelled that this was the right choice to make this film, and it absolutely was. We worked on it together – Drake as a producer and me as a director – all switching from our normal roles. It opened this new gateway to the career that I have, which is a bit non-traditional where I direct documentaries and cut scripted shows and films. It’s been exciting to play in both worlds, and I came to the realization that there’s no reason that I can’t do both.

AFI: One through-line I noticed is how music-centric so many of the projects you’ve worked on are. Can you talk about how music informs your process as an editor?

Garret: The first thing I fell in love with about editing is that I can add music to images and invoke an emotion and a feeling. I started my scripted career on NASHVILLE, which is a very music-centric show, where I learned not only how to cut performances, but also how to cut dramatic beats happening during a performance. On the doc side, I worked as an editor on Amy Berg’s Janis Joplin documentary, then I did the WOODSTOCK ‘99 documentary as a director and now I’m doing a new music documentary for HBO. It all culminated with editing DAISY JONES, which is basically a music show cloaked in a documentary. It felt like everything I had done had led up to it, and it was a really great experience making that show.

AFI: What resonated with you about UNDER THE BRIDGE and how did you first join the show?

Garret: I love that UNDER THE BRIDGE is a show that’s a mystery that turns into a character-driven drama with a lot of emotional stakes. It was really important for [creator] Quinn [Shephard] and the other writers to give a voice to Reena, the victim in all of this. I’ve tended to steer clear of true crime because I think it can be a very diminishing genre. But what was so exciting about this show is they really wanted to give Reena a voice. We wanted the victim and her family’s story to be told. They are people who have dimensionality, and they are not just a catalyst to tell a crime story. This was really the compass of the show to give Reena a point of view in every scene and a lot of it was done editorially.

Originally, they started post-production in Canada where the show was shot, and they were cutting simultaneously as they were shooting. As they were about to wrap production, the strike happened, so editorially they only got through the first three episodes. Hulu decided after the strike to bring post back to LA which is where I came in. A lot of times you don’t have assemblies of all the episodes already laid out because you’re cutting as a show is being made. With a show like this that is so steeped in mystery and non-linear storytelling, there are always timeline jumps, so we had the chance to lay out the whole series and look at it together as a whole versus episode to episode and really see all the threads. It was a real advantage to be able to work this way.

AFI: Do you have a particular genre or collaborator that you would love to work with in the future?

Garret: I love working with first-time filmmakers as well as more experienced artists. Even with first-time filmmakers, I’m always learning. And if I’m not learning or challenging myself, what’s the point? Even dipping my toe into the true crime genre with UNDER THE BRIDGE, I found things I liked about it that I didn’t think I was going to. Currently, I’m cutting a thriller, which is a little bit different for me too. I’ve had a nice little home working with Hello Sunshine over the past couple of years. I think their storytelling and limited series are so interesting with these really strong female-led projects. It’s a real, conscious effort now in production to have the right people telling the story which I think is really important. I’m just here to help bring those visions to life and whatever contribution I can make is great.

AFI: What advice do you have for up-and-coming editors who would like to follow a similar path?

Garret: I always tell people to approach every project with a humble confidence. I see a lot of people get stuck in their heads, but there’s a reason you’re in that chair helping bring this vision to life. The people who hired you and want to collaborate with you saw something in you. At the same time, don’t be overconfident. When I jump into projects, it’s all based on the script for me first and foremost, if it feels like I can actually add something to it, and then, secondly, it comes down to the collaboration because so much of it is working with people. It’s really important that we are all on the same page and that we respect each other’s visions of what we bring to a project. After doing this for over a decade, you learn what works and what doesn’t. You learn how to take notes, and what a note means, and what the note behind a note is. I can’t stress enough to trust your instincts. We all instinctually can tell a story. Be open to learning new things and what comes from people going back and forth and trying out ideas together is beautiful. I think that’s how the best art is made.

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