[Podcast] Ep97: Legendary Editor Carol Littleton on Surviving 40+ Years In Post

Academy Award nominated film editor Carol Littleton has edited such legendary films as E.T., The Big Chill, Silverado, The Accidental Tourist, Grand Canyon, Benny & Joon, and The Manchurian Candidate…just to name a very select few. She has watched the Hollywood post-production industry evolve from the days of film editing until today’s reliance on 100% digital technology.

Not only has Carol lived through the evolution of technology, but she has also lived through over 40 years of working long hours under intense deadlines on some of the biggest films in the history of cinema, and she has not only survived but thrived. She is vibrant, positive, energetic, and still incredibly healthy at this stage in her career. And in this episode we chat extensively about the choices that Carol has made throughout her career to place her health & well-being first, and how that has translated to better performance in the edit suite.

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Topics of Conversation:

  • Carol’s journey into the film industry
  • Working with Steven Spielberg and editing E.T.
  • The evolution of the editing process from film to digital
  • How being thorough with dailies can save you time in the long run
  • Adapting the physicality of film editing to the digital work space in order to enhance cognitive functions
  • How to combat the artificial “busy-ness” of the film industry
  • Learning to avoid being sedentary and use your energy efficiently
  • Mentally tying your diet to you productive output
  • Finding small ways to physically tax your body and refresh your mind
  • Turning your work into exercise
  • Making healthier choices with the 80/20 rule
  • Why leaving your computer for meals can greatly improve creative output

Useful Links:

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Carol Littleton IMDB

Optimize Yourself Program

Fitness in Post Amazon Link

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Athletic Greens

Guest Bio:

Carol Littleton, A.C.E. is one of Hollywood’s most talented and successful film editors. Her editing career spans 40 years, with more than 40 feature films to her credit. Littleton received an Academy Award nomination in 1982 for Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: the Extraterrestrial. Other films she has edited include Places in the Heart, Tuesdays With Morrie (Emmy Award for editing) and the restoration of Erich Von Stoheim’s 1926 classic, Greed.  In 1994, she edited CHINA MOON, the directorial debut of her husband, noted cinematographer John Bailey, A.S.C. Ms. Littleton has two other passions in life: music and nature.  Throughout her college years, she played oboe in various chamber groups and orchestras and still has an abiding love of concert music.  Her formative years growing up in rural Oklahoma, gave her an intimate love of nature. Healthy, hands-in-the-dirt gardening and lug-soled hiking are the perfect antidotes for the dark editing room.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, the show notes were prepared by Jakin Rintelman, and this show is executive produced by Kanen Flowers. We are a member of theTHAT STUDIO podcast network.

The music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Dorian Cheah from his brilliant album ARA.

Zack Arnold is an award-winning film & television editor (Burn Notice, Empire, Shooter, Glee), member of the American Cinema Editors, a documentary director (GO FAR: The Christopher Rush Story), and creator of the Optimize Yourself program (formerly ‘Fitness In Post’). He helps ambitious creative professionals like you learn how to more efficiently manage your time, energy, and attention so you can maximize your creative focus and minimize procrastination, depression, and burnout. After all, what’s the point of killing yourself for the sake of your career if you don’t have energy to spare for the most important people in your life?