Think of a dark room. The whir of a reel. Clicking and ticking. A man named Michael Kahn performing analog film editing. Cutting, splicing, marking: all mechanical and tactile. Analog film editing, they call it now, but it was a cutting-edge job when Michael started working the entertainment industry. Like many early film-workers, Michael Kahn happened into media production and learned the trade of film editing. He cut his teeth as an assistant in television studios, learning editing techniques at a rapid speed. He was promoted to Editor quicker than usual and is often referred to as the editor of Hogan’s Heroes.
Word of mouth carried Michael into the film industry, which lead to a career-altering relationship with Steven Spielberg. Together, Michael and Steven cut Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the two young creatives formed a working foundation over honesty and new ideas.
Three films brought Michael Kahn the most recognition: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan. Each of these three movies earned Michael an Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Film Editing. The Academy has honored Michael with eight total nominations, making him the most-nominated editor in Academy Award history.
When in the cutting room, Michael Kahn is always looking for the story. In multiple interviews, he plainly says that an filmmaker must feel the story to create a captivating image. When working with Steven Spielberg, Michael first understands the director’s point of view, watched the dailies, and then looks for other angles. It is a collaboration of story and shots between director and editor which has yielded such thrillers as Jurassic Park and Twister. Michael has worked with many other directors, receiving accolades for his work on Fatal Attraction and Lincoln. These examples are merely a sample of the vast filmography attached to Michael Kahn’s name.
A man named Michael Kahn did analog film editing most of his career was built on cellophane film editing, of which he is considered the fastest and the best, Michael Kahn has shifted work to digital processing using Avid and an assistant editor. His recent projects include Ready Player One and The Post, both involving Steven Spielberg. In half a century of film editing, Michael Kahn has cut nearly 70 films.