face-to-face From the runaway hit Kakka Kakka to the upcoming Kochadaiyaan, Editor Anthony’s filmography reads like a wish list. nikhil raghavan snips his long story short…
If his father had his way and he had succumbed to family pressure, Lewellyn Anthony Gonsalvez would have become a priest. But fate had other things in store for ‘Editor Anthony’. Growing up in Perambur, one of the three heartlands of the Anglo-Indian community in Chennai (the others being Royapuram and Pallavaram), Lewellyn was brought up on a traditional diet of Western music and English films. But, secretly he loved Tamil films and songs. “When dad was not around, I would sneak into my neighbour’s house and watch Oliyum Oliyum on DD. While studying in college, my friends and I would go to watch many Tamil films. I suppose this laid the foundation for what I would be doing later in life,” says Lewellyn.
A deep interest in drawing and sketching, coupled with an affinity for computers, prompted Lewellyn to do a three-month course in animation. “Sometime during this phase, I met Anna Lockwood who was freelancing with Avid at Real Image. She saw my interest in film-related technology and animation and suggested I take up editing as a career. I joined TeleTape and then moved to EditPoint, all the while getting accustomed to working on Avid. At EditPoint, I learnt everything by trial and error. I think that has given me the confidence to tackle anything without reservation.”
By now, Lewellyn had developed a large clientele of ad filmmakers who were thrilled by his editing skills and his willingness to innovate. “This is where I ran into people such as Gautham Menon and Rajeev Menon. At that time, Rajeev was making Minsara Kanavu and he suggested to AVM’s Guhan that they upgrade their editing facility by installing Avid and hire my services. That’s when I moved to AVM.” Lewellyn went on to do the trailers of Rajeev’s Minsara Kanavu and Kandukondein Kandukondein, as well as edit many of his ad films.
While at AVM, Lewellyn encountered a problem. “Many in the film industry were finding it difficult to pronounce my name. So, I adopted my middle name, Anthony, and got dubbed as ‘Editor Anthony’. Close friends shortened it further to Anto!”
Is there a particular technique he adopts? “I listen to a brief narrative of the storyline. More importantly, I watch the rushes to get an idea of how the story evolves. I then use my judgment and piece the scenes together. In many instances, you will find different versions or angles of the same scene. Directors do this to ensure that at the editing stage we are not short of options. But, once a director understands my style of editing and when he makes his next film, he will cut out unnecessary footage. There are instances when he does a rough edit of his film and I watch the whole thing as an audience would. Then, I exercise my editing skills to refine the product.”
Anthony has an impressive line-up of films to his credit, the most important ones, according to him, being Kakka Kakka, Manmadhan, New, Ghajini, Sivaji, Enthiran, Nanban, Paiyya and Madrasapatinam. “Right now, I am working on Thandavam, Maatran, Neethane En Ponvasantham, I, Kochadaiyan and Suseendran’s next film.”
Having worked with a cross-section of directors, who does he think has influenced him the most? “The director who does not try to influence me at all is the best; which means, he knows I understand his style of filmmaking. For instance, when I edited the jeep song in Kakka Kakka for the audio release function, Gautham Menon said that he never expected the sequence would turn out the way it did, when he shot the scenes. This made him entrust the entire film to me for editing. I took it up as a challenge although I had not done a full-length feature film till then.”
Lewellyn literally lives in the editing suites of FrameWorks, his office at Raja Annamalaipuram, and goes home (Perambur) only during weekends. “To commute the distance daily would be stressful; besides, the time could be well-spent doing creative work in my office. Moreover, for filmmakers, deadlines are important. Staying put in my office gives me the freedom to work on several projects simultaneously with the help of my 12 assistants, most of whom are trainees; they keep changing — experienced ones go on to start their own ventures or work with others, and new ones fresh out of college come here for internship,” says Lewellyn, who at 38, is a mentor to many and a friend to every director in today’s world of feature films.