From ‘The Walking Dead’ to ‘The Mist:’ Why Hunter Via Loves Editing Horror

Hunter Via has always been a big horror fan. There’s a giant Evil Dead poster in his living room, and posters from other horror films line his hallways. After he’s finished with work today, he’s looking forward to going home and putting up some monsters around the house for Halloween.

It’s no surprise then that the 2000 Film grad loves that he gets to work as an editor on projects in that genre. In his decade-plus career, his name has appeared in the credits for The Walking Dead, Mob City, Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn TV series, the 2007 sci-fi horror flick Steven King’s The Mist, Mother’s Day (directed by fellow Full Sail grad and Hall of Fame inductee Darren Lynn Bousman), and more.

“I’m a big fan of horror movies,” says Hunter, who will be inducted into Full Sail’s Hall of Fame early next year. “I don’t enjoy torture movies that are just killing people for the sake of killing people. I like real horror – tension and suspense. I like to watch them and be a part of making them. It’s a lot of fun for me.”

Hunter’s role as an editor involves taking hours of footage to the cutting room and piecing it all together to tell a compelling and suspenseful story. He has to hone in on all of the footage, the sound effects, and the music to focus on what the story is really about. He’s involved in the filmmaking process from pre-production to post, working closely with the director to execute his or her particular vision for that episode or film. When it comes to horror, that editing work relies heavily on building tension in a scene, which sometimes means what the viewer doesn’t see is much scarier than what they do see.

“In horror, it’s that sound or that moment when you see somebody seeing something horrible and you’re like, ‘What is it? What is so horrible that they’re seeing?’” says Hunter. “And then you reveal it. That’s one of the fun things about editing in general: being able to control time. When should you reveal that there’s a bomb in the room? Or when do you show the gun? It’s all about that tension.”

As technology continues to advance, the ability to work more closely with the visual effects and sound design teams in post-production has made the horror editing process more fun for Hunter.

“What really works for me is when you’ve got a scene that’s dark and scary, and a guy with a flashlight is going through somewhere creepy, and you can hear the sound of glass crunching under his feet, or a scuffle of something off in the distance,” says Hunter. “Those things were never in the script, but those are the unseen elements [that add suspense]. I think that’s the fun part.”

Hunter’s horror resume is impressive: he’s edited the zombie apocalypse on The Walking Dead and gangsters being brutally murdered in Mob City, another TV series from former Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont. He’s worked with supernatural monsters in The Mist, sadistic family members in Mother’s Day, and vampire murders in From Dusk Till Dawn. He’s currently at work on the second season of the CW drama The 100, another suspenseful, post-apocalyptic drama.

“Violence and mayhem is my thing,” says Hunter. “I’m not a violent person; I don’t know what the draw is. Maybe it’s because I get to go and have fun doing things with my Avid that I would never do in the real world. I enjoy horror. I’ve made a career out of doing horrible things to people.”