2018 • Film Editing • Backstage

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91st Oscars Transcript: Film Editing

SPEECH BY: John Ottman
FILM: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

A. Well, this is bizarre. It’s like mission control or something.

Q. Congratulations.
A. Thank you.

Q. I understand that the first part of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY that was shot was the Wembley Stadium part at the end of the film?
A. Yes.

Q. Did that mean that that was the first bit you had to attack, and was that the most challenging part of the film for you?
A. Yeah. I got to worry about that for a year and a half, tossing and turning in bed. And I always refer to that sequence as the Death Star sequence for BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY because if it didn’t work, the whole film would collapse. So fortunately, I was able to tinker with that for a year, and so, yes, it was it kept me up at night for sure.

Q. So as a USC graduate, you’ve obviously had a lot of support from people all around with great education and all that. So how have you been able to translate all the support that you received into such a masterful film where you have to combine both the music score, the editing, all of it, all together into good cinematography?
A. You mean how much support when I went to school there?

Q. Yeah, sure.
A. Well, I mean, I guess support in general, whether it’s school, throughout your life and all the people, all your friends and family and teachers and so forth that encourage you, and they believe in you, I guess that keeps you going. And even in really, really trying times where you think it’s never going to work out, you just keep with it. And I guess that makes all the difference.

Q. You just talked about the Wembley scene. Was that actual footage of the crowd?
A. No. That was we had probably about a thousand extras on our biggest day, which is, of course, a drop in the bucket for that kind of scene. It was one giant field. And then we basically took individual people and scanned each of them, 360 degree scan, and each person would do all the gyrations of each song and sing the song, and then we would duplicate them, of course in the crowd, and change their clothes and so on. But it was all original footage, basically real people, but placed in there, so it was kind of pseudo CGI. And the stadium itself, of course, was CGI.

Q. What I want to ask you is throughout the season, you obviously became really tight with the team that made BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY.
A. Yes.

Q. And also you in the last couple of weeks became very close with the other editors. I saw you with Barry and Patrick and the others.
A. Yes.

Q. Could you just talk about the experience and just the people in general?
A. Yes. Just now it’s weird. You kind of are numb to this whole thing, but the tension is building for the experience, the whole campaign and whatever, and then the moment that happened, I just got extremely emotional, shaking the hands of my fellow editors, because it just simply dawns on you of all the agony they’ve been through as well and then all the agony I went through that whole year. And then it just wells up, and I was hoping I could keep it together before I went up on the stage. And then, yeah, referring to the crew and cast and the film, like I said in my speech, there was just sort of this love that permeated the whole production, really. I know this sounds really, really artsy fartsy to say, but it’s actually true. We just all believed in the film and we all believed in each other. So I considered this crew my friends.

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