Anthony’s scissorhands cut across films and a lot more
A guy like Anthony can be unreal at times. It’s hard to believe how busy he is through the day. Bump into him while he’s working and you’ll probably find Anthony editing up to four films simultaneously. And the films need not even be in the same language!
For someone who’s studied English literature because he ‘had no other major interests,’ with no family support in the industry, film editor Lewellyn Anthony Gonsalvez has an enviable success story. Who is Lewellyn? Anthony laughs, “That’s my first name! When I started working in the industry, everyone found it hard to pronounce. A director even came up to me and said, ‘what is that, lew… lee… drop it and just call yourself Anthony’. And, that’s how I decided to go with my middle name!”
Middle name aside, success has become Anthony’s second name. But if it weren’t for a computer course in his third year of college, he’s is not sure what he’d be doing these days. “I’ve always had an interest in drawing and painting, but the course really sparked off my interest in animation as well,” he tells us. Thanks to a prodding friend, who was working as editor in National Geographic, Anthony decided to give editing a shot. “It took me a couple of days to decide that editing was what I wanted to do,” he smiles.
Anthony’s career graph has been as nonchalant as the man himself. If you want to catch him in a serious mood, you need to meet him on his way to work because after the first session of editing, he’s usually busy pulling pranks on his assistants, or hanging out in some café or simply letting lose on the dance floor.
But we digress. Getting back to the story of his life, we find out that Anthony was off on a running start after a stint in Prasad Studio. He started working with some of the biggest names in the ad industry - the likes of Rajiv Menon and G V Vijay. Among corporate films, ad films, trailers and commercials galore, it was the music videos that really interested him. He also made the trailers for many of the top Tamil films like VIP and Minsara Kanavu. “I remember sitting one night in the studio and editing a whole song by myself. As it happened, the director came up to me and was totally amazed with my work,” he shares.
It was the same enthusiasm for editing songs that bagged him the editor’s cap for Kaaka Kaaka. “Gautam (Vasudev Menon) and I have been good friends, and I remember he came to me in a panic the night before the audio release with a jeep song. I edited it overnight and everyone was impressed with my work. Gautam came back afterwards and handed me the whole film,” he grins.
And edit he did! Stamping his mark in the industry, Anthony got recognition from all quarters for his work. But he’s humble as ever. “Some people say I created a trend or something, I don’t believe it; I don’t know what they are talking about! All I know is we had a lot of fun doing the film.” Since then, he has been working with Gautam on all his films, including the latest, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. Speaking of the director, he says, “We are good friends first. I normally do 80-90 percent of the edit myself and after I put it together I call him in. Usually, he goes with my judgment.
And after working on the 2007 smash-hit Shivaji: The Boss, Anthony has found another loyalist in director S Shankar, who has come back to him with the much-anticipated Endhiran. “He might look like a strict principal, but actually he’s very jovial and fun-loving. What I really like about working with him is that he’s very punctual. He’s also not the stuck-up kind. I can tell him, ‘Sir, indha shot kevalama irukku (this shot is below average) and he’s cool to take it in the right spirit,” he says. Only, Anthony is also quick to add that it is something that’s lacking in the industry.
Listening to Anthony talk about some of these problems makes you realise that being an editor isn’t an easy thing after all. “These days, most directors plan their editing pattern on the script, so half our job is done. But, more often than not, I am saying ‘this shot is not nice’ because I am thinking from an audience’s perspective. But, sometimes the director cannot reshoot the scene and we just have to use it. If the film is a hit, we get recognition, but if it’s a flop, the tables are turned on us. We are told that the editing is not ‘racy’, there is a ‘lag.’All this is not true because at the end of the day, we are not the people who decide the final product; it’s the director,” he tells us.
Anthony has also made waves in the Telugu industry, with a few top films in his kitty, including the recent Varudu. “I have many offers from there,” he tells us, “but if I go there, I’ll be only editing one film at a time. So I plan to do whatever I can from Chennai.”
But none of these things have fazed the editor and his work. From involving himself in dubbing, mixing and even effect checks, Anthony has delved deep into the core of filmmaking – attention to detail being his forte. With the release of Varudu and Paiyaa, Anthony has already completed 32 films in a span of just seven years, and has the much-awaited Madrasapattinam and Endhiran lined up. And we are not even talking of a host of other films including 2010, Quarter Cutting, Vaa and the upcoming Gautham-Ajit starrer that await his editing table.
A feat worthy of recognition. But talk about awards and recognition for his work and he brushes it off. “I have no expectations. I love being an editor and am happy with the way things are going. I do not work for awards or to be recognised.” We ask what the editor in him would like to be remembered for. Anthony is nonchalant as ever. “My work of course,” he says, before breaking into a grin, “But to be honest, it won’t affect me even if I am not! It’s all part of life – things that are here and now and you have to accept it for what it is.”