‘Mindhunter’: David Fincher and Editor Kirk Baxter’s Dance of Death

Cameron Britton as serial killer Ed Kemper in Episode 10 (Patrick Harbron / Netflix)

2014. Kirk Baxter
Film Editor Kirk Baxter

The FBI crime drama about early behavioral profiling is a Fincher Master Class in blocking and montage, with an assist from Steven Soderbergh.

Bill Desowitz
May 29, 2018
IndieWire

With Netflix’s “Mindhunter,” executive producer David Fincher delivers a gripping crime series about the early days of FBI behavioral profiling in 1977 without any grisly murders. (Fincher directed the initial two episodes as well as the concluding two.) And for Oscar-winning editor Kirk Baxter (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Social Network”), this dialogue-heavy walk and talk between agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) was a gift.

“The skill that David has with blocking scenes is what’s most enjoyable,” Baxter said. “With 25 different angles of different set ups, it’s very dense and takes a lot of man-hours in perfecting, but a walk and talk with an A and B camera, all I have to do is pick the best take.”

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ART OF THE CUT. On editing Mindhunter with Kirk Baxter, ACE and Tyler Nelson

Premiere Pro Screenshot of Mindhunter Episode 1

Steve Hullfish
December 21, 2017
ProVideo Coalition

Mindhunter is one of those binge-able shows that has people talking. I spent a few days last summer at the Fincher production facility in LA where the show is cut and met one of the show’s editors, Tyler Nelson. One of the other editors on the series is Oscar-winner, Kirk Baxter, ACE, whom I interviewed previously for his work on Gone Girl. Both Gone Girl and Mindhunter were edited in Premiere Pro. (I was not able to talk to the third editor on the series, Byron Smith, who also cut the Netflix series, Altered Carbon.)

Kirk’s filmography includes numerous collaborations with director David Fincher. He was the additional editor on Zodiac. He also edited Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. He won back to back Oscars for Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He also cut episodes of Fincher’s House of Cards.

Tyler Nelson recently cut the feature Rememory, and was the assistant editor on Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He was also an assistant editor on House of Cards and The Good Wife.

This installment of Art of the Cut is a little different. I spoke to Kirk and Tyler separately about specific episodes of Mindhunter. Kirk spoke only about his work on Episode 10, the season finale. Tyler talked about several episodes that he cut from earlier in the season, so we’ll start with Tyler’s interview and then move to Kirk’s.

The series is available on Netflix and it may be useful to check out Episode 2, 3 and 10 prior to the interview… or cue them up as you’re reading! The series has been renewed for season 2.

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Steven Soderbergh: ‘There’s no new oxygen in this system’

The American director discusses his long-awaited return to feature filmmaking with Logan Lucky.

Interview: Matt Thrift
Illustration: Robert Manning
Little White Lies

It’s been four years since Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement from filmmaking, slamming the door on his way out with an impassioned cri de coeur on the state of the industry at the San Francisco Film Festival. In the event, it turned out to be more of a working-vacation, what with his 2013 TV movie, Behind the Candelabra, and two seasons of The Knick released in the interim. Now he’s back on the big screen with Logan Lucky, one of his best films to date, bringing with it a new fight against the system with the film’s experimental distribution model. We sat down for a long chat with American cinema’s most restless workaholic, the original Sundance Kid.

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Thanks to Joe Frady