They brought the hilarious hijinks of Mabel, Charles, and Oliver to life, and helped balance a tone that's equal parts murder mystery and comedic gold.

Today, we sit down with two of the brilliant minds behind the editing magic of Only Murders in the Building, Payton Koch and Shelly Westerman.

Join us as we delve into the world of editing this hit series, where perfectly timed cuts heighten the humor, suspense builds with each expertly crafted sequence, and the heart of the show's oddball trio shines through.

Let's get cutting!

Only Murders in the Building (Official) Teaser |

No Film School: Hi Shelly and Payton! You have both been editing episodes of Only Murders in the Building since season two, and are currently at work on the show’s fourth season. How have you seen the show’s style and language evolve over time?

Payton Koch: Hello! It’s such a joy to have been on a show for 3 years and be a part of telling this funny, emotional and heartfelt story about these strangers turned best friends.

Each season has their own specific theme and individual story while still being grounded in the roots of the show, which is community or found family. I think the show has maintained its style and language throughout the 3 seasons which is one of the reasons audiences keep coming back. It’s a comfort show at this point! But it’s always fun to hear the breakdown for each season before we start and begin to dissect the story and how certain things may be styled in a different way. Last year being Broadway, we had fun leaning into the theater/camp element.

Shelly Westerman: I love the emotional journeys. There is inherent comedy, of course, how could you not with our legends Steve & Marty. I felt like Season 3 took a big swing with the grand, theatrical elements. I loved those new visuals. Whilst remaining true to its emotional core, I feel like our writers and showrunner, John Hoffman, are always eager to take chances and try new things.

NFS: Your collaboration on Season 3, Episode 8 “Sitzprobe” utilizes a complex split-screen structure across four different storylines. How did you conceive of that approach, and what were the challenges of mapping out the different narrative threads?

PK: When we first read the split-screen sequence in the script, we knew we had to act fast in order for production to properly execute all the visuals going on simultaneously. Luckily we had the fantastic directing duo, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who were instrumental in putting the pieces together. Working with Robert, we made a title card version of the sequence before we received any footage to block out the movements and timing, then gave it to production so they knew how the camera needed to move and frame the actors. It was such a collaborative effort on all sides, and if not for the excessive pre-production planning, I’m sure we would have had a much harder time in navigating the sequence.

SW: Split-screens were written into the script, by Pete Swanson and Siena Streiber. We called them immediately, “what are you doing to us, are you nuts”. Ha! They are usually quite difficult and time consuming.

Our fabulous directors, Bob Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman, had the idea to mock up the sequence, before shooting, using title cards. We all jumped in and contributed, with our assistants Jamie Clark and Diana Hiatt helping so, so much. Bob had an idea of where he wanted images to change, we had the pre-recorded song, Diana had the idea to color coordinate the title cards so we could visually track story lines, and we worked really hard to hit all those beats and perfect our moves. We presented the sequence to Production and I think they were quite impressed! They had a much better idea of shot timing and framing.

Once we got the footage, the heavy lifting had been done, though there were still challenges to tweak and adjust images, and of course choosing Steve Martin performances was tricky. He’s absolutely stunning in every take!

NFS: Shelly – “Sitzprobe” is directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, with whom you have collaborated previously. How did your pre-existing relationship with the directing duo inform your work on the episode?

SW: It made all the difference in the world! After we laughed and caught up on our lives, I was able to talk frankly about how the season was going, what was working well, and where we could improve. We talked during pre-production and throughout the shoot, all of which gave us much more insight and clear direction.

Oftentimes we meet a director via email, we say hi on a Zoom meeting, and then we don’t talk again until the Director’s Cut. Having that previous relationship and feeling empowered to talk more freely throughout pre-and-post production absolutely made the work much better.

NFS: You both have a background working on multiple Ryan Murphy projects, including Ratched and American Horror Story. How did those experiences prepare you for your work on Only Murders?

PK: Starting my career in post-production at Ryan Murphy Television was the best thing I could have done. The day I started, I recognized the level of professionalism and high quality standards that were implemented in that camp and I knew I wanted to rise to that level. Because of my experience there over the course of five years, I was able to take the skills I learned on Avid, and in the editing room, and use them when I got the opportunity to edit on Only Murders. I felt confident in my editing style after working on suspenseful horror shows at RMTV, and was excited to use some of that style on the mystery elements of Only Murders.

SW: You come out of the Ryan Murphy environment with impeccable skills. We worked in every genre – comedy, drama, thriller, horror—you gain incredible confidence, you’re never looked at as a “genre” editor and you feel like you can handle anything.

NFS: John Hoffman is an iconic showrunner in his own right. What is the collaborative process with him like while cutting together episodes of the show?

PK: Working with John Hoffman is the true cherry on top of OMITB. Since this is our third year now together, there is a level of trust on both ends with us and John. We are in constant communication while they are shooting and always feel comfortable to reach out to him if we are struggling somewhere or feel production needs to shoot any additional footage.

As for the editing process, John will receive the cut and usually send paper notes before hopping on PacPost Live for an editing session. We’ll watch alternate takes, play with music and tone, but mostly it’s just like hanging out with a friend. It’s such a joy and one of the many reasons we keep coming back to the show.

SW: We spend a lot of time laughing and catching up, it’s joyous. Then we get down to work. John is phenomenal in that he sees things like an editor. If I have a cut that I’m struggling with, he will undoubtedly have a note, I’ll exclaim “I KNOW!”…with a laugh, then we’ll figure it out together. I love it. We’ve developed trust, which means I can work with confidence and security, knowing that when something isn’t great (yet), I won’t be judged harshly. He asks for our opinions and we listen to what he’s looking for. Listening is key. The alignment of sensibilities is key. We both have that with John.

NFS: Your relationship as co-editors seems like a truly special one, as you have also formed a unique mentorship. Payton—how has Shelly’s guidance shaped your approach as an editor?

PK: I am so lucky and grateful to have Shelly in my life as a mentor figure, and friend. When I started as a post-production assistant in the Ryan world, meeting Shelly was a true highlight and we immediately knew we shared similar ideals in workflow, style, and personality. She has taught me so much about the craft and really emphasized the importance of nurturing relationships, staying organized, and proactive behaviors.

For example, something I always do now when watching dailies is listening to everything that’s being said before action, in between resets, and after cut, because sometimes there is additional insight into what the director’s vision is which helps us as editors understand their intentions for the scene. Without her guidance and continuous belief in me as an editor, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

NFS: Shelly—your credits include such iconic films as Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail and Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine. How did those collaborations shape your sense of humor and storytelling today?

SW: Working on Velvet Goldmine with Todd Haynes as my very first film experience was like starting at the top of the mountain! Though we edited digitally, we screened on 35mm workprint. I had my hands on every frame and I implemented every single picture change. By the very nature of that work, you absorb rhythm, pace, every little thing was imprinted into my heart and soul.

That sounds very dramatic, and though it was a huge amount of work, it was absolutely dreamy. Masterclass is how I would describe what it was like being with Nora Ephron every day. She was both tough and charming, her exacting nature and impeccable wit a reflection of her honest humor, which always made a point.

NFS: Payton—you have an impressive filmography for such a young editor. What advice do you have to aspiring picture editors who want to work on a hit comedy series like Only Murders in the Building?

PK: Thank you so much! I’m proud of the work I have done since I started my professional career and am so excited for future projects to come. Something I always say to aspiring editors or to anyone who wants to work in the industry, is to tell people what you want. If a producer or director knows you are passionate and want to do this job more than anyone else, chances are you will get an opportunity. My advice would be to reach out to anyone who inspires you and start a dialogue. I got my start by spamming a producer with emails and finally got a meeting that led to my first PA gig!

NFS: Only Murders in the Building features a star-studded cast, with even more stars making cameo appearances in seemingly every episode. Who have been some of your favorite cameos across your time editing the show?

PK: One of my favorites from Season 2 was Shirley McClaine. Watching her come onto set was so magical and seeing her engage with Steve and Marty was so beautiful and sweet, it made my heart melt watching these legends work. And then of course in Season 3 with Meryl Streep. Editing her performance of “Look For the Light” at the end of episode 3 was an experience I will treasure forever. I’m so proud of that sequence and will never forget the many tears that were shed when people watched it for the first time!

SW: It’s a bit more than a cameo, but who doesn’t adore Paul Rudd? And Meryl Streep of course!

NFS: Finally, what can fans expect from the show’s upcoming fourth season?

PK: Season 4 is coming together in a really fun way. There is a subtle return to Season 1 and of course with Jane Lynch’s Sazz being the victim, there’s lots of emotion as she was a beloved character on the show and someone who meant something to the trio, especially Charles. I think fans will love the mystery this season, it’s suspenseful and fresh, tons of new characters and red herrings, each episode will keep you guessing and wondering, who did it???

SW: I love Payton’s answer! A lot more cameos and so much fun.