Diane Brunjes: The Clark Sisters: First Ladies Of Gospel

Picture Editor Diane Brunjes discusses the NAACP and Critics Choice Awards nominated The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, the unique challenges of editing a music movie and learning her craft from some of the best editors in the world.

The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, a DGC Ontario Production, is nominated for Outstanding Television Movie at the NAACP awards, taking place on Monday, March 22. The TV movie was also recently nominated for a Critics Choice Award. We caught up with Picture Editor Diane Brunjes to chat about making “Clark Sisters,” the unique challenges of editing a musical movie and about learning her craft from some of the best Editors in the world.

How did you become involved with The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel?

I first met with Director Christine Swanson and producers Steve Solomos, Holly Carter and Loretha Jones on the set of Clark Sisters, and we quickly found ourselves on the same page with a natural rapport. This movie was clearly a labour of love from the beginning, and I was impressed by the commitment to telling an authentic and entertaining story to the highest standards. Getting nominated last month for Best TV movie by both the Critics Choice Awards and the NAACP was a great honour.

Can you speak more about your experience of editing the film?

With 14 songs and six principal actors in most scenes, this was a big editing job, but we had a great post team (Michael Beard as Post Supervisor and Bethany Kaster as 1st Assistant Editor) that went above and beyond at every stage. A highlight for me was crafting the scenes about creating and composing music. The movie’s opening scene is an ‘aha!’ moment of creative genius that called for a frenetic style of editing. For a later scene of the final song, the director shot ‘lots of good pieces’ and trusted me to intercut a more spiritual, classical composition with a church performance.

You also recently edited the Salt ‘N Pepa film; what are some of the unique challenges of editing a music film?

Both movies were based on iconic performers, but they had quite different approaches and editing styles. The common factor with any musical number is that it still functions as a dramatic scene within the narrative. Clark Sisters filmed all the songs end to end with the actors singing live, and I cut those performances down to approximately one minute per song. Sony’s Salt ’N Pepa had several large music montages that wove in and out of concert performances, dramatic scenes, and music video recreations. Salt ‘N Pepa director Mario Van Peebles and I had a lot of fun embracing the style and energy of 90s hip hop.

What do you love about working in Toronto?

I’ve had the great pleasure of working in Toronto film and television since 1995, starting as an assistant editor and working my way up to editor, learning my craft from some of the best filmmakers from Canada & around the world. From all of them, I learned something about the story, filmmaking, creative editing or technical post-processes, and I continue to draw from those diverse experiences every day as an Editor.

Where do you turn for inspiration when you need to get the creative juices flowing?

I’m definitely inspired by what my friends and colleagues are creating, so I try to keep current with what’s on our screens. Randomly watching videos on Vimeo or Vevo is great for fresh approaches. If my Director (and/or showrunner) in pre-production keeps referencing a film or artwork or piece of music, I’m absolutely going to absorb that inspiration.

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