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  • A Long Time Ago, in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away

  • My Fifty Years Editing Hollywood Hits - Star Wars, Carrie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Mission: Impossible, and More
  • By: Paul Hirsch
  • Narrated by: Richard Ferrone
  • Length: 15 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (73 ratings)

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Summary

A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away is a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most influential films of the last 50 years by Paul Hirsch, a film editor who worked on more than 40 features. 

Starting with his work on Carrie, Hirsch gives insight into the production process, touching upon casting, directing, cutting, and scoring. It’s a riveting look at the decisions that went into creating memorable and iconic scenes and offers fascinating portraits of filmmakers, stars, and composers.

Part film-school primer, part paean to legendary directors and professionals, the funny yet insightful writing will entertain and inform aficionados and casual moviegoers alike.

©2019 Paul Hirsch (P)2019 Blackstone Publishing

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What listeners say about A Long Time Ago, in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away

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Not good but great

This book gives a great insight into an area of filmmaking which is nearly always underrepresented. A fascinating deep dive into classic modern American Cinema. Deep technical descriptions of editing that preserves institutional knowledge and brings the sweaty edit room to life. If you’re interested in Star Wars there’s more than enough information in this book to make it Worth the read. A singular fascinating well written perspective on new wave Hollywood.

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I tried…

I really, really wanted to like this. I’m a fan of cinema and appreciate the work, effort and time that goes into making films……but

Sadly this just comes across a little snobby at times and braggadocious.

I don’t doubt Paul Hirsch’s talent, but chapter after chapter of “and I did x, and the movie was saved” or “so I said x and the director loved it”

By 4 hours in I was already checking the timer for how long I had left.

I’m sure a lot of people will love this book, but for me it’s just not that good, contradictory and often just long.

The narration didn’t help matters and I ended up finishing the final few hours in double speed just to try and add some sort of tone/emotion to the monotone reading. Imagine the joker waking up on a last Tuesday morning and reading a book…that’s what this is.

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Book review

Enjoyed the book a lot ,however towards the end the author comes across as smug and if I may say opinionated at his genre of films he desires to do but then again he has put in the years to be that way but to put down films such as the Lost Boys and World War Z is his opinion and not a person like me that would rather go see that genre as oposed to a musical which I find adhorent

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Just a bit too Long

I enjoyed this audiobook but felt it just went on a bit too long. (Thankfully, it didn't go on too long about editing Star Wars, which I worried it might). The book is full of interesting anecdotes about filmmaking and the people involved in it, with candid takes on personalities and stars involved in the process. Although the author could, I felt, claim much more credit on what an editor can add to a film, he allows the process to do the talking and you do leave the book thinking that this editing business has a much bigger influence on final cuts than previously thought (if you thought at all about it). The narrator has a very warm and comforting voice and by the end of the book I was pretty damn envious of Paul Hirsch's career, although it does seem that there were a lot of worrying times when the next project was never guaranteed. His personal network, editing skill and a little bit of luck played a much bigger role than any ambitious self-promotion, which the author is pleased to admit. In summary, I liked the book, the narrator and the man who wrote the story, so you can't ask for much more (except a bit of editing!)

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Chock full of great stories. Recommended!

I didn’t want it to end, Paul is a fantastic storyteller and the book is packed with great advice and laugh out loud anecdotes. Top Banana!

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  • IX
  • 05-01-21

Excellent insights to a poorly understood role

Film editor has to be one of the most misunderstood jobs in movie making. For the longest time I thought it was just the person that put the bits together in the machine. It was years later before I understood their pivotal role in constructing the story, the atmosphere, creating the beats etc in a way possibly more profound than the director.

This book is an excellent read, covering a broad range of films and describes well the actual artistic processes, the thoughts, mindsets and even the politics that get wrapped up in it all. It was also interesting to discover more about the business side, financing, how people get involved in projects and why.

For any fan of film, this is a great read and highly recommended.

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  • JT
  • 21-12-20

A perfect listen

I don’t know much about editing or the stuff behind “pictures” but the passion, the story and the narration really drew me in. There was a real humour and warmth to it and I’m pleased I picked this. If you’re looking to listen to something a bit different- give this a go.

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Fascinating insight into Hollywood production

This is a great book for those interested in the behind the scenes action, or if you're thinking of pursuing a career in editing.

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Editing an enigma

Paul Hirsch has written an amazing in site to Paul’s work abd an interesting insight to the life of a film editor

Brilliant !!!

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From one film editor to another, salute!

I bought this book as I’m also a film editor and wanted to learn about the legend, Paul Hirsch. He’s rubbed shoulders with the greatest and remains grounded.

It did not disappoint in his anecdotes and is explained in a layman’s style suitable for anyone with an interest in the film industry. It was interesting to hear his approach to specific cuts which are now ingrained in film history.

The performance is well read and I can imagine Paul speaking in this way.

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  • E. Terrell
  • 12-05-21

Enjoyable listen for fans of film and film Editing

I listened to all 15 hrs of this over the course of a month or so. I have to say, the beginning was a lot more interesting, hearing about how he got in the business working alongside Brian DePalma and then of course editing the first two Star Wars films. After a while though it gets a bit repetitive, though never outright boring. Some of the films he made later on he barely mentions at all, assuming no one cares. I wanted to know more about Raising Cain but he pretty much glossed over it. It started to get a little more interesting at the end though as his role changes a bit. Overall, an enjoyable listen with a good presentation.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Parker Posey
  • 17-12-20

Very Enjoyable!

Having spent many hours in a Avid Bay shaping storylines this book was an obvious choice.

It delivered too! His ascend in Hollywood working on Star Wars and Ray were especially interesting as was the times he went to London working on the score for various films. It was neat seeing the many connections and people who disappointed Paul. It’s also a little sad the friends you make only to realize many decades later many are short term when you run into them or they pop up as you ended up never seeing them again. Although this book is in my wheelhouse; I finish it by thinking anyone who loves Hollywood and movies just a little bit will enjoy this book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Paul D Lindgren
  • 24-11-19

A fascinating look “behind the curtain”..

A great longitudinal look at the development of a film editor and his career. It is peppered with fun and insightful morsels from films, both hits and disasters.

The performer was an excellent choice, it was easy to imagine that the author was reading his own work.

Very enjoyable audio book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 12-12-19

Fantastic Book

Loved everything about this book. I happen to be a filmmaker, so I knew first hand many of things Mr. Hirsch addresses in the book, but even people unfamiliar with moviemaking will find this book a fascinating peek behind the curtain, as well as a wonderful account of a life well lived telling stories.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-08-21

A must for anyone with passion for editing

This book for me was a game changer for me. Talk about an inside education. I was inspired and could not put it down. I was disappointed when was over. I'd love to meet Paul and I'm hoping if he does any lectures or appearances I'll hear about it. I searched him online with no avail. Really really loved it. I stumbled across it while searching audible for books about editing. I had not know Paul's name but his body of work is world famous. I know him now personally it feels. Can't thank him enough.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Coronnalvr
  • 26-10-21

behind the scenes

as a movie fan, this was my first look at a different role in movie making very interesting.

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  • Brian J Davis
  • 14-10-21

For a fellow Editor, this book is priceless

There’s not many books about film editing that are so entertaining and enlightening. As a fellow editor, this is priceless because we don’t get many opportunities to share our experiences, and to hear similar experiences from a great one with such amazing credits and talent, is so affirming and inspiring. This book made me smile a lot and made me think about some of my personal approaches to film editing and collaboration. Really great book!

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  • mark
  • 08-09-21

Fantastic!

If you are a fan of the film industry and enjoy pulling back the curtain on a boat load of film classics, then I cannot recommend this audio book more. The narrator has a major Tom Waits vibe, which may take a moment to adjust to but I thought he was great. One previous reviewer stated that they would have liked more detail on some of Paul’s later “lesser” films and I actually agree with that. Not sure if he just felt we wouldn’t care as much or was wearing down a bit, but that minor issue aside this was a great book! Highly recommended!!!!!

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  • BillyS
  • 11-07-21

Fabulous story

Very well told and insightful! And the performance is fantastic. If you are a film buff this one is well worth your time!

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  • Thomas J. Terence
  • 05-06-21

Great, funny, sad, basically all the emotions!

This is just a informed and illuminating book about a little understood part of the filmmaking process.