Hey, filmmakers. Did you see The Fall Guy?

It's a movie pretty much tailor-made for the No Film School audience (and they're not paying me to say this). It's a movie all about making movies, with a heavy focus on the often-overlooked stunt performers who carry some of today's biggest action.

Sure, there are fun rom-com elements in there, too, and that's all very enjoyable. But film insiders and filmmakers will probably also appreciate the IATSE shirt Ryan Gosling's character wears at one point, or the unique crew hats and jackets that pop up throughout, or the fact that characters discussoners andsplit screens. Not to mention the amazing set pieces and creative storytelling choices from start to finish. What’s not to love?

It's also just a great action movie with some genuinely amazing stunt work from the87North team and David Leitch. Frequent collaboratorElísabet Ronaldsdóttir is the film's editor, and we were elated to get the chance to jump on Zoom and chat about her work on the film.

Strap in!

The Fall Guy | Official Trailerwww.youtube.com

Editor's note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

NFS: I would love to learn more about your background and how you started as an editor. I know that you were doing a bit with cinematography.

Ronaldsdóttir: Yes. I was super interested in cinematography, and that's what I wanted to become—a cinematographer. I went to London Film School in Covent Garden. It was fun, and I enjoyed it. I focused there on cinematography. But I was also a single mom when I went to film school. And then I had another child when I came out of school. As all of us know who has ever been on set, there are a lot of people dependent on you turning up to work at the right time and staying there for very long hours. As a young mother with two kids, it was too much.

So it was kind of by accident that I got introduced to editing. It worked better for my lifestyle and I fell in love with it. But it's also just the beauty of post that you have more control of your own time. So it suited me very, very well.

NFS: Your work is very diverse. It's not only action, it's not only film, it's so many things. What I would like to focus on first is your work in action.

Ronaldsdóttir: I do very diverse types of work as an editor. In the beginning, people kept telling me, "You can't do all those things. You can't be doing films and shorts and television and documentary because no one's going to know what you're about. You have to concentrate on one genre and stick to it."

But trying different options and opportunities was what led me to my success. I came to Hollywood because a very small independent movie I edited in Iceland was being remade in the U.S. They offered me to edit the remake, which ended up being a big Mark Wahlberg movie, Contraband, which was a really exciting opportunity.

I remember on Contraband they filmed this scene with so many drones. It was the new thing. With a lot of material to go through, I was able to draw on my training from the documentary world, where you have to be very fast thinking, realizing, "Is this going to work for us? Is this going to work for us?" So everything I've done up until now, as diverse as it's been, has given me tools to work and be successful on big blockbuster action movies.

In terms of how I approach editing an action scene ... I really don't approach it in a different way than anything else I edit. ... I don't do the stunts myself—that is the stuntmen. They are an integral contribution to the film industry and I hope they will be acknowledged with their own category at the Oscars soon.

But I do feel that we need to keep emotion within the stunts. So I try to also help by carving out those emotional bits when you have actors fighting, just to keep the energy, the emotion and the story flowing. But that's not only me. It's also that I work for talented creative visionaries like David Leitch and Kelly McCormick with 87North. I help execute their vision and foundation for their many story-based action movies.

I don't mind my pigeonhole because I'm very happy where I am—but people get pigeonholed. But an editor is an editor. If you can do a music video, you can do action.

Behind the scenes of The Fall GuyBehind the scenes of The Fall GuyUniversal Pictures

NFS: I really enjoyed seeing that little flash of Atomic Blonde in the movie. Again, more of your amazing work. I'm wondering if you have anything similar in how you approach comedy, because you've done a lot of comedy, too.

Ronaldsdóttir: Yeah, but I do believe timing and payoffs are very important in everything. I always say that action is easy. It's the dialogue that's hard, and that's just something you have to concentrate on—what feels like a normal reaction between people. And when it's comedy, it's the same.

I guess you have to have rhythm and you have to have pace in your blood. It's about timing. Everything in editing is about timing.

So even if it's comedy, it doesn't have the same timing. There's a different timing. It’s kind of like horror movies have different timing than drama or action movies. So you just have to find the correct timing for it. But I've learned through the years to just give it time.

We don't cut too tight on comedy, and it's an old truth that comedy is best in the wide shot.

NFS: The Fall Guy is very meta. You have the oner in the beginning, and then you have the split screen. But one thing I thought was really interesting was the use of intercutting.

Ronaldsdóttir: All the intercutting was done after the fact ... we are telling a love story. The first intercutting in the beginning is done for two reasons, mainly. One is that I don't like repetitions. And us knowing that he is a valet is kind of boring when Gail starts telling us on the phone that he is a valet and he starts telling her he is a valet. So we intercut that to minimize the repetitiveness of it, but then also to emphasize his decision to go to Australia and help Jody out. And that was emphasized by him being put down at work, and then driving off to Australia almost in that fancy car.

We did this again and again and again, mainly to keep Jody and Colt—even though they were apart—keep them together as much as possible. Keep them in the same energy.

NFS: What was the most challenging sequence for you in this film?

Ronaldsdóttir: Sequences can be challenging for many reasons. Sometimes, things don't go as planned on set. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's just time. And so that's always something you have to be prepared for on any movie.

If it's a small-budget movie or a big blockbuster, something's going to happen on the way where you have to be on your toes to figure out, “How can we get this working?” But nothing was super challenging.

There's a lot of gold on the editing floor, which is always heartbreaking. A lot of stuff that never made it into the movie. But we are brave, which I like. You have to be brave making movies, and brave in the sense that you have to be able to kill your darlings and leave stuff behind for the greater good of the story.

Behind the scenes of The Fall GuyBehind the scenes of The Fall GuyUniversal Pictures

NFS: I know that it's a collaboration, but do you have any more insight on how you arrive at those decisions? How do you decide what to leave behind?

Ronaldsdóttir: Well, through dialogue with the director, the producer, and with the studio. Then we do test screenings, and you might learn through test screening that this is a bit too long, we need to cut it down. Or this is a bit short, we need more of this. So you kind of fine-tune the movie after the test screenings. It's all in collaboration.

And that's the beauty of this art of filmmaking. The community you live in while you're making it, and working with the people you work with, and the people you communicate with every day.

I think it's important for everyone who's interested in films and making films: you have to be honest all the time. That does not mean being mean, because mean has nothing to do with being creative. Just be honest and put your heart in it.

NFS: Is there a sequence on the film that you're most proud of?

Ronaldsdóttir: Well, I'm very proud of the trash/car/karaoke sequence. I'm also very proud of how we landed the opening of the movie, both with the introduction to stunt people, but also the intercutting between the valet and Gail on the phone with Colt. That was fun, and I like when we are allowed to be brave because it is a very extreme intercut in many ways. But we are working with people that are brave, and they are willing to experiment that way. So that was fun.

NFS: It is an interesting way to learn, and to see him make that decision. I like that it's not totally linear. Is there a common mistake that you see beginning editors make, and how can they avoid it?

Ronaldsdóttir: Well, it's something I battle with myself all the time, and I have to remind myself of it all the time that you might have a sequence and you think it works, but you have to go through it again and in a vicious way. Even if you just think, “What is the shortest version of this sequence?” And even if you think, “Oh, what if it's even shorter?”

It doesn't mean it's going to end that way. It just means you learn more about the scene you're working with. You learn more.

“What is the essence of that sequence? Of that scene?” So just do it even just as an exercise. “What is the shortest possible version of that scene?” Because sometimes we tend to just sit too long.

We always have to remember that the audience is not carte blanche. They come with a lot of knowledge to the theater. So you have to be willing to use their brain as well. “What does that character need to say? What does the audience already know without us telling them?”

NFS: Is there anything you wanted to discuss that I didn't ask?

Ronaldsdóttir: Only that I hope people go and see it in the movie theater because I think it's an amazing cinematic experience, especially seeing it with other people. It's that kind of a movie. It's so beautiful. It's shot byJonathan Sela, directed byDavid Leitch. It's just stunning. It's a stunning cinematic experience.