Thelma Schoonmaker
Schoonmaker in 2010
Born
Thelma Colbert Schoonmaker

(1940-01-03) January 3, 1940 (age 84)
NationalityAmerican
Alma materCornell University
OccupationFilm editor
Years active1966–present
Spouse
(m. 1984; died 1990)

Thelma Schoonmaker (/ˈsknmkər/;[1] born January 3, 1940) is an Algerian-American film editor, best known for her collaboration over five decades with director Martin Scorsese. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including three Academy Awards, two BAFTA Film Awards, and four ACE Eddie Awards. She has been honored with the British Film Institute Fellowship in 1997, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 2014, and the BAFTA Fellowship in 2019.

Schoonmaker started working with Scorsese on his debut feature film, Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967), and has edited all of his films since Raging Bull (1980). She has received eight nominations for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing, winning three—for Raging Bull, The Aviator (2004), and The Departed (2006), both records.

Early life

Schoonmaker was born on January 3, 1940, in Algiers (then part of French Algeria), the daughter of American parents, Thelma and Bertram Schoonmaker.[2][3] Bertram, descended from the New York Dutch Schoonmaker political family,[3] was employed as an agent of the Standard Oil Company and worked extensively abroad.[4] The Schoonmakers were evacuated to the United States shortly after the Fall of France during the Second World War.[2] In 1941, the family moved to the Dutch-Caribbean island of Aruba,[2][4] where Schoonmaker's father continued to work for Standard Oil and her mother ran nursery schools.[5] Schoonmaker was primarily raised in Aruba, in a community she described as "a colony of expatriates from over the world";[5] she also spent part of her childhood in Portugal.[6]

Schoonmaker did not live in the United States until she was an adolescent in 1955, and was initially alienated and dumbfounded by American culture.[4] She settled in Ridgewood, New Jersey[7] and graduated in 1957 from Ridgewood High School.[8] Schoonmaker was interested in a career in international diplomacy and began attending Cornell University in 1957, where she studied political science and the Russian language. When she graduated from Cornell in 1961, she began taking State Department tests in order to apply for positions within the U.S. government.[4][9] Politically inclined and opinionated, Schoonmaker was opposed to the Vietnam War and supported the Civil rights movement.[5] She passed the State Department exams but failed the final "stress test" when she expressed distaste for the South African policy of apartheid, a stance which did not sit well with those administering the tests.[4][10]

Career

You get to contribute so significantly in the editing room because you shape the movie and the performances. You help the director bring all the hard work of those who made the film to fruition. You give their work rhythm and pace and sometimes adjust the structure to make the film work – to make it start to flow up there on the screen. And then it's very rewarding after a year's work to see people react to what you've done in the theater.

—Thelma Schoonmaker, on editing[11]

While taking a graduate course in primitive art at Columbia University, Schoonmaker saw an advertisement in The New York Times that offered training as an assistant film editor.[12][13] She responded to the advertisement and got the job. The job entailed assisting an "editor" who was randomly cutting frames from classic European films (such as those by Truffaut, Godard and Fellini), so that their length would conform to the running times of U.S. television broadcasts.[4]

She signed up for a brief six-week course in filmmaking at New York University, where she came into contact with young Martin Scorsese, who was struggling to complete his short film What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?. A negative cutter had butchered the film, not leaving enough negative frames to allow for hot splicing, so a film professor asked Schoonmaker to help Scorsese.[4] Schoonmaker went on to edit Scorsese's feature directorial debut, Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967).[14]

Schoonmaker met filmmaker Michael Wadleigh at NYU and later worked alongside Scorsese as an editor on his seminal music festival documentary, Woodstock.[15] This was Schoonmaker's first major effort at picture editing, and she received her first Oscar nomination for that film;[15] it also became the first documentary ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing.[16] Her use of superimpositions and freeze frames brought the performances in the film to life, and added to the movie's broad appeal, thus helping to raise the artistry and visibility of documentary film-making to a new level.[13]

The early period of Schoonmaker's career was difficult. Despite being an Oscar nominee, Schoonmaker could not work on feature films unless she became a member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild.[5] The union's entry requirements included spending five years as an apprentice and three as an assistant, which Schoonmaker was unwilling to meet.[5][11][15] Schoonmaker remarked, "And I just couldn't see why I, who had been a full editor and had been nominated for an Academy Award, should suddenly have to become an apprentice. ...And of course, they couldn't see the sense of why I, who had never been in the union all those years and had never paid dues all those years and had never served my time in their sense, should be allowed as a full editor. So it was quite understandable on both sides. It was just insane."[5]

Consequently, Schoonmaker did not work with Scorsese in a formal capacity in the 1970s;[15] however, she did make an uncredited contribution to Taxi Driver. Scorsese had decided not to edit the picture during principal photography, but to save all the editing until shooting had wrapped. Unfortunately, this left him very little time to cut the picture, as Columbia's contract stipulated that a finished cut had to be supplied by the middle of February. Scorsese brought in Schoonmaker to help. At one point, Steven Spielberg visited Scorsese and chipped in with some contributions toward the final edit.[17][18]

In the 1980s, Schoonmaker, with some help from Scorsese, was eventually accepted into the union. They worked together on the classic sports drama Raging Bull, which is widely considered masterful editing and won her the Best Film Editing Oscar.[19]

Personal life

Thelma Schoonmaker and Columba Powell at the Cannes Film Festival (2009). Columba Powell is the son of Michael Powell, a prominent film director to whom Schoonmaker was married.

She was introduced to Michael Powell by Scorsese and London-based film producer Frixos Constantine.[15] The couple were married from May 19, 1984, until his death in 1990. The couple had no children.[20]

Since Powell's death, Schoonmaker has dedicated herself to preserving the films and honoring the legacy of her husband, who directed many classic films, including The Red Shoes.[9]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Director(s) Notes
1967 Who's That Knocking at My Door Martin Scorsese
1970 Woodstock Michael Wadleigh Documentary
Assistant director & editor
Co-edited with Michael Wadleigh, Martin Scorsese, Stan Warnow, Yeu-Bun Yee, and Jere Huggins
1979 The Kids Are Alright Jeff Stein Rockumentary
Special consultant
1980 Raging Bull Martin Scorsese
1982 The King of Comedy
1985 After Hours
1986 The Color of Money
1987 Michael Jackson: Bad Short film and music video by Michael Jackson
1988 The Last Temptation of Christ
1989 New York Stories Segment: "Life Lessons"
1990 Made in Milan Documentary short film
Goodfellas
1991 Cape Fear
1993 The Age of Innocence
1995 A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies Martin Scorsese
Michael Henry Wilson
Documentary
Supervising editor
Casino Martin Scorsese
1996 Grace of My Heart Allison Anders Co-edited with James Y. Kwei and Harvey Rosenstock
1997 Kundun Martin Scorsese
1999 My Voyage to Italy Documentary
Bringing Out the Dead
2002 Gangs of New York
2004 The Aviator
2006 The Departed
2007 The Key to Reserva Short film and long-form advertisement
2010 Shutter Island
2011 Hugo
2013 The Wolf of Wall Street
2014 Learning to Drive Isabel Coixet Co-edited with Keith Reamer
2015 Bombay Velvet Anurag Kashyap Co-edited with Prerna Saigal
2016 Letters from Baghdad Sabine Krayenbühl
Zeva Oelbaum
Documentary
Executive producer
Silence Martin Scorsese
2017 The Snowman Tomas Alfredson Co-edited with Claire Simpson
2019 The Irishman Martin Scorsese
2023 Killers of the Flower Moon

Television

Year Title Notes
1979 Wings Over the World Television documentary
Co-edited with Robin Clarke and Paul Stein
2003 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Robert De Niro Television special
Co-edited with Debra Light, Adam "Chip" Pauken, Mike Polito, Ryan Polito, Martin Scorsese, and Yoram Inon Tal
2010 Boardwalk Empire Consultant (Episode: "Boardwalk Empire")
2020 The Right Stuff Consulting producer (2 episodes)

Achievements and recognition

Schoonmaker holds the record for the most Oscar wins (three) in the Best Film Editing category, shared with Ralph Dawson, Daniel Mandell, and Michael Kahn. Furthermore, she equaled Kahn for the most nominations in that category with eight.[21] Schoonmaker is the first woman to win multiple film editing Oscars.[22]

In 2012, on the 75th anniversary of its founding, the Motion Picture Editors Guild issued a list of the 75 best-edited films of all time based on a survey of its membership. Three films edited by Schoonmaker made the list—all Scorsese's directed and across three different decades—including Raging Bull (1980), which is ranked first; Goodfellas (1990), ranked fifteenth; and Hugo (2011), ranked sixty-ninth.[23] Only George Tomasini, the editor of Alfred Hitchcock's films in the 1950s and 1960s, has more appearances on this list, with four; and only Dede Allen also edited three pictures, each from a separate decade, hers particularly from the 1960s through the 1980s.[24]

Awards and nominations

Major associations

Academy Awards

Year Category Title Result Ref.
1971 Best Film Editing Woodstock Nominated [25]
1981 Raging Bull Won [26]
1991 Goodfellas Nominated [27]
2003 Gangs of New York Nominated [28]
2005 The Aviator Won [29]
2007 The Departed Won [30]
2012 Hugo Nominated [31]
2020 The Irishman Nominated [32]

British Academy Film Awards

Year Category Title Result Ref.
1982 Best Editing Raging Bull Won [33]
1984 The King of Comedy Nominated [34]
1991 Goodfellas Won [35]
1993 Cape Fear Nominated [36]
2003 Gangs of New York Nominated [37]
2005 The Aviator Nominated [38]
2007 The Departed Nominated [39]
2012 Hugo Nominated [40]
2014 The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated [41]
2020 The Irishman Nominated [42]
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Pending

Primetime Emmy Awards

Year Category Title Result Ref.
2004 Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Robert De Niro Nominated [43]

Other awards and nominations

Organization Year Category Title Result
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards 2011 Best Editing Shutter Island Nominated
2012 Hugo Won
Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Film Industry Nominated
2020 Best Editing The Irishman Won
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Won
American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards 1981 Best Edited Feature Film Raging Bull Won
1991 Goodfellas Nominated
1996 Casino Nominated
2003 Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic Gangs of New York Won
2005 The Aviator Won
2007 The Departed Won
2012 Hugo Nominated
2014 Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy or Musical The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated
2020 Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic The Irishman Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association Awards 2020 Best Film Editing The Irishman Nominated
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 2011 Best Editing Hugo Runner-up
2013 The Wolf of Wall Street Runner-up
2019 The Irishman Won
2023 Killers of the Flower Moon Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2013 Best Editing The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated
2019 The Irishman Won
2023 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated
Clio Awards 2008 Gold Clio Award
(Beverages/Alcohol)
The Key to Reserva Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2012 Best Editing Hugo Nominated
2014 The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated
2020 The Irishman Nominated
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated
DVD Exclusive Awards 2006 Best Audio Commentary (New for DVD) The Aviator Won
Raging Bull Nominated
Hollywood Creative Alliance
(Astra Film Creative Arts Awards)
2020 Best Film Editing The Irishman Nominated
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated
Hollywood Professional Association Awards 2012 Outstanding Editing – Feature Film Hugo Won
International Cinephile Society Awards 2014 Best Editing The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated
2017 Silence Nominated
2020 The Irishman Nominated
International Online Film Critics' Poll 2014 Best Editing The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Awards 2024 Technical Achievement of the Year Killers of the Flower Moon Pending
Online Film Critics Society Awards 2005 Best Editing The Aviator Nominated
2007 The Departed Nominated
2020 The Irishman Nominated
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Pending
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards 2011 Best Editing Hugo Nominated
2019 The Irishman Nominated
2023 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated
San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Awards 2013 Best Film Editing The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated
2019 The Irishman Nominated
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated
Satellite Awards 2003 Best Editing Gangs of New York Won
2005 The Aviator Nominated
2010 Shutter Island Nominated
2014 The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated
2019 The Irishman Nominated
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Pending
Saturn Awards 2012 Best Editing Hugo Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Society Awards 2019 Best Film Editing The Irishman Nominated
2024 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated
St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards 2019 Best Editing The Irishman Runner-up
2023 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards 2013 Best Editing The Wolf of Wall Street Nominated
2019 The Irishman Nominated
2023 Killers of the Flower Moon Nominated

Honorary awards

Organization Year Category Result
American Cinema Editors 2017 ACE Career Achievement Award Won
British Academy of Film and Television Arts 2019 BAFTA Fellowship Won
British Film Institute 1997 BFI Fellowship Won
Camerimage 2009 Editor with Unique Visual Sensitivity Won
Gotham Awards 1992 Below-the-Line Award Won
Hollywood Film Festival 2000 Outstanding Achievement in Editing Won
New York Film Critics Circle 2016 Special Award Won
New York Women in Film & Television 1995 Muse Award Won
Venice Film Festival 2014 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Won

State and academic honours

State and academic honours for Thelma Schoonmaker
Country or organization Year Award or Honor Ref(s)
Canterbury Christ Church University 2007 Honorary Fellow [44]

See also

References

  1. ^ Colby, Matthew (January 15, 2015). "Thelma Schoonmaker's Favorite Scorsese Moments". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "The Thelma & Bertram Schoonmaker Story" (PDF). Lago-colony.com. p. 563.
  3. ^ a b Meuel, David (2016). Women Film Editors: Unseen Artists of American Cinema. McFarland. p. 157. ISBN 9781476662947.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Marlow, Jonathan (October 6, 2006). "Thelma Schoonmaker: A Personal Journey with Scorsese and Powell". GreenCine.com. Archived from the original on December 13, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Rafferty, Terrence (November 30, 1982). "His Girl Friday: Thelma Schoonmaker Cuts Things Down to Size". The Village Voice.
  6. ^ Anderson, Hamish (November 22, 2011). "The Woman Behind Martin Scorsese". Elle.
  7. ^ Presinzano, Jessica. "Celebrities, politicians and athletes who call North Jersey home", The Record, October 11, 2017. Accessed December 21, 2023. "Famed musician Nelson Riddle went to Ridgewood High and Oscar-winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker called the village home."
  8. ^ Herzog, Laura. "Alumnus joins a 'distinguished' group", The Ridgewood News, October 12, 2012. Accessed December 21, 2023, via Newspapers.com. "There is Thelma Schoonmaker (Class of 1957), a Hollywood film editor who has won three Academy Awards for her work on Raging Bull, The Aviator and The Departed."
  9. ^ a b Daniel Aloi, "Thelma Schoonmaker '61 to talk movies Nov. 19 at Cornell", cornell.edu; accessed February 26, 2018.
  10. ^ Shoard, Catherine (August 1, 2005). "Long-lasting love through a lens". The Daily Telegraph.
  11. ^ a b Nguyen, Lan N. (March 15, 2005). "The Last Temptation of Thelma". iVillage Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 22, 2006.
  12. ^ Thelma Schoonmaker Profile, Turner Classic Movies Film Article; retrieved February 5, 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Hollywood Outstanding Achievement in Editing Award Honoree – THELMA SCHOONMAKER". Hollywood Film Festival. August 2000. Archived from the original on October 31, 2006.
  14. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 21, 2013). "Thelma Schoonmaker remembers her first Scorsese collaboration: 'Who's That Knocking At My Door'". Uproxx. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d e Robson, Leo (May 9, 2014). "Thelma Schoonmaker: the queen of the cutting room". FT Magazine. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  16. ^ "NOMINATIONS AND AWARDS IN OTHER CATEGORIES FOR DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILMS" (PDF). Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 27, 2023. Retrieved December 28, 2023.
  17. ^ Sangster, Jim (2002). Scorsese. Virgin Film.
  18. ^ Kowalski, Eileen (November 14, 2001). "Tina Hirsch". Variety.
  19. ^ Talty, Stephan (September–October 1991). "Invisible Woman". American Film.
  20. ^ Chris Tilly, "Thelma Schoonmaker Q&A" Archived January 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, TimeOut.com, September 26, 2005.
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  22. ^ Eiseman, Selise (January 1, 2012). "Oscar's Women". Cinemontage. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021.
  23. ^ "The 75 Best Edited Films". Cinemontage. May 1, 2012. Archived from the original on March 24, 2023.
  24. ^ "75 Best Edited Films: By the Numbers". Cinemontage. May 1, 2012. Archived from the original on June 10, 2023.
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  26. ^ "The 53rd Academy Awards (1980) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  27. ^ "The 63rd Academy Awards (1991) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  28. ^ "The 75th Academy Awards (2003) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  29. ^ "The 77th Academy Awards (2005) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on June 1, 2017. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  30. ^ "The 79th Academy Awards (2007) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
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  32. ^ "The 92nd Academy Awards (2020) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
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  35. ^ "The 44th British Academy Film Awards (1991) Nominees and Winners". British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
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  37. ^ "56th British Academy Film Awards". British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Archived from the original on March 14, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
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  39. ^ "60th British Academy Film Awards". British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
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  43. ^ "Thelma Schoonmaker - Emmy Awards, Nominations, and Wins". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Archived from the original on March 3, 2021. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  44. ^ "Honoraries". Canterbury Christ Church University. Retrieved August 15, 2023.

Further reading