As a supervising film editor, it’s Hunter Via’s job to take hours of footage and help turn it into the finished product you see in the theater or on your TV. Over the course of his nearly 15-year career, he’s cut scenes featuring corrupt cops (The Shield), post-apocalyptic zombies (The Walking Dead), and Dr. Tobias Funke (Arrested Development). He’s probably worked on more scenes than he can remember, but we still asked the Film grad and 6th Annual Hall of Fame inductee to share with us a couple of the coolest ones he worked on anyway. Check them out below.
The Walking Dead: Rick rides into Atlanta.
Hunter won an American Cinema Editors (A.C.E.) award for his work on the pilot of The Walking Dead, which featured one of his most memorable scenes. Rick, after waking up from a coma, ride backs to Atlanta to find a completely abandoned, post-apocalyptic city.
“The fist episode of The Walking Dead had very little dialogue,” Hunter remembers. “It was about one man’s journey, and the world was being revealed to us through his eyes. When Rick rides up, the camera is focused on his face and he’s riding on his horse and he looks out over this bridge and sees that Atlanta is not the safe haven that he thought it was going to be. It’s a vision of the apocalypse – the freeway is jammed, buildings are destroyed, a train is wrecked – but the footage I received was of a man on a horse surrounded by a giant green screen. It was a huge visual effects shot. So much of what we do now is having to envision what a scene is going to be.”
“The sequence continues with Rick riding into Atlanta. It’s a very quiet scene, but we shot it in Atlanta on a busy weekend, so we had to edit all of the sound out. My assistant editor and I spent days adding each horse’s ‘clip clop’ as it walked through the city. We added every crow’s caw, and the sound of the wind as it went through the bus after the first walker stood up. It was a perfect example of filmmaking tricking the audience into what they were hearing and seeing.”
“Then, Rick gets attacked and rides off, and the scene goes from utterly silent to a huge burst of Romero-esque blood, guts and awesome-ness.”
Mob City: Joe Teague kills Bugsy Siegel.
Frank Darabont, the former showrunner of The Walking Dead, also directed the TNT series Mob City, a period drama about crime and Los Angeles in the 1940s.
“Mob City was straight up noir. It was dark shadows and old cars,” says Hunter. “The final episode is a great example of why I love working with Frank. Throughout the show, detective Joe Teague [Jon Bernthal] and mob boss Bugsy Siegel [Edward Burns] feuded. At the end, Joe sneaks into Siegel’s estate and guns him down. He is shot 11 times. It was to the point where his eyeball popped out of his head.”
“We slowed everything down in the cutting room, sound wise and picture wise, to the point where you see the bullet leave the chamber of the gun and break the glass and pierce Bugsy’s body. It’s an amazingly slowed-down sequence of a man’s brutal murder. This sequence is a visual effects masterpiece because it was shot in a parking lot, on location, and on a soundstage, and the visual effects layers were all added in. I remember when I first showed the sequence to Frank he said, ‘I didn’t shoot that. How did you do that?’ And I told him, ‘We made it. We made the shot.’ I would highly recommend people watch [Mob City]. It’s really fantastic television and fantastic filmmaking.”