If you like the distinct look of Sleepy Hollow, one of the many folks you can thank for that is Scott Gamzon, one of the editors who helps piece FOX’s supernatural action-drama together. Scott spoke with BFTV recently to discuss his favorite sequence that he’s put together, and the art of editing.
What would he consider his Sleepy Hollow highlight? “There’s an episode called ‘Necromancer,’ where the Headless Horseman was captured and they’re figuring out a way to interrogate him. They use Andy as a necromancer to basically channel the voice of Headless,” Scott told us. “We learn in that episode that Headless…he was a friend of Crane’s engaged to Katrina.
“In a flashback sequence, Crane has a swordfight with his friend [known as] Abraham at that point, which was a pretty fun thing to cut,” he continued. “There’s a sequence of moves that Abraham does to actually take down Crane – and later on in the episode you can see there’s a sequence where Crane is now having a swordfight with Headless, and we watch as the exact same moves are done.”
Yet as TV fans know, there’s so much more shot for every episode than just the forty-odd minutes that we see every week. That’s how we get stockpiles of deleted scenes on the DVD versions. So has Scott ever had to edit out something that he really loved? “All the time. We call it ‘killing babies,'” he joked. “There’s always something that you love.
“Particularly in television, there’s only a certain amount of time we have to tell a story. We’ve been very fortunate on Sleepy Hollow, that pretty much most of what we shoot ends up in the show.”
Prior to editing for Icabod Crane and company, Scott was part of the editing team on another fantastic FOX action show, Human Target. He edited several episodes in HT‘s second and final season, and we asked him to compare and contrast that experience with this one.
“What’s interesting is Human Target didn’t have nearly the kind of visual effects we have on Sleepy Hollow,” he said. “Human Target definitely had some really fun action sequences, much the same way that we do in Sleepy Hollow. And there was a certain degree of humor as well. One of the big differences is, one of the big ways we get people into Sleepy Hollow is Crane’s fish out of water story. Both were really fun shows to work on, though.”
What does Scott think you need to know about the life of an editor? “[The] first thing is that our shows are about 40 minutes long. You’ve got 42 minutes to tell a story,” he explained. “Of that 42 minutes, I might have to go through three to five hours of footage.
“Any time there’s a change in an angle or you go from a wide shot to a close-up, that’s a choice that an editor is making,” he continued. “At what point do you go to a close-up? Am I cutting [to] this close-up because now the character is telling us something that we really want to listen to?
“And also the pacing of the show. Sleepy Hollow, by design, is a very fast-paced show,” Scott added. “But when we get to an important reveal or an important emotional moment, we’ll slow it down.”
All of that amounts to a lot of detail-oriented work with every episode. But ultimately, if Scott and his fellow editors are doing their job well, you won’t even know that they’ve done it. “When you’re watching at home you generally don’t notice any of that,” he told us. “We call it the invisible craft.”
Sleepy Hollow returns to FOX for season two at a later date; season one is available now on demand.