Aaron Marshall: Cutting The Handmaid’s Tale

Picture Editor Aaron Marshall on what it’s like to cut one of the most successful TV drama series to come out of Ontario.

Ahead of the Season 3 premiere of The Handmaids Tale we caught up with Picture Editor Aaron Marshall to ask him about what it’s like to cut one of the most successful TV drama series to come out of Ontario:
One of the scenes I am the proudest of editing is from Ep 211 (Holly) in which June is hiding in a country house, about to go into labour. She spends the entire episode alone save for the Waterfords arriving, unexpectedly, to look for her. Concealed in an attic at the top of an atrium above them, June quietly loads a shotgun and trains it on them as Fred and Serena have a gut-wrenching fight below. It was beautifully written and expertly directed, the scene is so tense, so emotional and so revealing all at once. I am very proud of how that one turned out.

The most satisfying part of editing TV Drama is the depth. As an editor the dive is that much deeper, and the payoff that much more rewarding. You’re living it. You’re immersed in a particular world and its characters and helping shape that world as you go. When it really works, it can be incredibly satisfying.

The biggest challenge of editing a show like THT is simply trying to live up to the quality of the work that’s preceded me and to the quality of the material that comes in for an episode. If there was ever a show for which you need to elevate your game, this is it.

On what it’s like to edit a show with some pretty heavy story-lines

I absolutely react emotionally to an episode and that’s a good sign that things are moving in the right direction. I think any editor should be using their emotional compass to help shape the show and maximize the viewer’s reaction.

His advice to Editors just getting into the industry and hoping to one day edit on a big budget TV drama series

Meet as many people as you can. Don’t be afraid to approach industry people to introduce yourself (by email, at parties etc). Try to get a job as a post PA, assistant, whatever. Just try to get into a post environment and make yourself invaluable, one way or another. As a junior assistant learn to cut sound. Learn to cut music. Learn how to do temp VFX. Cut versions of scenes for yourself to teach yourself. Impress the people you work for and work will follow.

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