Master Gardener follows the journey of Narval Roth, a horticulturist with a dark and troubled past. Written and directed by Paul Schrader and starring Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, and Quintessa Swindell, the film dives into complicated questions about redemption, forgiveness, and love through the story of Roth (Edgerton) and the apprentice he takes on (played by Swindell). Master Gardener premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month and saw Schrader presented with an Honorary Golden Lion for his work.
On the tail end of the movie’s premiere at Venice, we sat down with editor Benjamin Rodriguez Jr. to discuss his process using Premiere Pro, and took a peek into the life of an editor.
How and where did you first learn to edit?
I learned editing in undergraduate school back in 2003. We made and edited short films with mini DV cameras, and I was instantly hooked. I love the combination of technology and creativity and was amazed that I was able to make movies—something I had always dreamed of doing.
How do you begin a project/set up your workspace?
I started this film working remotely at home. I’ve been doing other projects at home since the pandemic started, so I have a little editing suite in the guest bedroom already set up.
Tell us about a favorite scene or moment from this project and why it stands out to you.
There’s a dinner scene with Sigourney, Joel, and Quintessa that is just wonderful. The scene starts off very pleasant but then rapidly starts to shift. Every time I watch it, I’m mesmerized by what Sigourney is doing in it.
What were some specific post-production challenges you faced that were unique to your project? How did you go about solving them?
I needed to be able to edit from home and then at the Jacob Burns Media Arts Lab in Pleasantville, NY. My assistant was mostly remote, so I wanted to experiment with cloud-based editing. We used a service called LucidLink which enabled us to have a central cloud storage that we could access from anywhere.
What Adobe tools did you use on this project and why did you originally choose them? Why were they the best choice for this project?
Premiere Pro was the main tool and the best choice because of its integration with LucidLink. Using Productions made it pretty seamless for my Assistant Editor and me to be in different places. We were still able to work together without having to import media separately or email projects back and forth.
What do you like about Premiere Pro, and/or any of the other tools you used?
I love the intuitiveness of Premiere Pro because it’s so easy to figure out how to do something, and I find working in Premiere Pro lets me be as creative as I can be.
What’s your hidden gem/favorite workflow tip in Adobe Creative Cloud?
I would say my favorite workflow tip is Productions, having just started working with it.
Who is your creative inspiration and why?
I get my creative inspiration from all types of art. Films provide an endless amount of inspiration and the material I get to work with also gives me that spark.
What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to face in your career and how did you overcome it? What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers or content creators?
I think anxiety is the toughest thing that I’ve had to manage. In this business, it’s very easy to get discouraged, but the best way to get through it is learning and working hard. I have wonderful mentors that have helped me navigate through this world and given me great encouragement. I would say to aspiring filmmakers to work hard and take risks. I don’t think I would have gotten to where I’m at if I didn’t take any risks or challenged myself.
Share a photo of where you work. What’s your favorite thing about your workspace and why?
We had a good-sized editing room so I would say the space we had was my favorite thing about our workspace. Also, Paul’s eye patch!
Credit: Editor, Benjamin RodriguezMaster Gardener, presented by KOJO Studios, premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival on Sept. 3, 2022.