EXCLUSIVE | 'Pam & Tommy' editor Annette Davey on why tonal shifts were important for show
Editing is one of the most important aspects of the entertainment industry. If a movie or a TV show is not well-edited, it can break the flow of a project and end up being a mediocre project. However, individuals like Annette Davey make sure that quality content is given to viewers and she doesn’t leave a stone unturned in editing a movie or a TV show in a way that would satisfy everyone.
Davey, who has worked in a lot of high-end ventures, stunned everyone with Hulu’s ‘Pam & Tommy’, a biographical drama series that revolved around the infamous sex tape of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee Jones, and also talked about how Pamela was the one who faced the wrath of journalists and lawyers while Tommy got away with mostly everything. The show received universal acclaim and the actors, Lily James and Sebastian Stan, garnered a lot of praise for their performances. Meanwhile, the editing of the show was also something that nabbed all the eyeballs and with the EMMY season coming up, ‘Pam & Tommy’ is certainly one of the frontrunners in the Editing categories.
Davey, who worked as an editor on Netflix’s ‘Maid’ as well, began her career in Australia. In the early 90s, she began editing short movies and went on to work on feature films as well. As of now, she has worked on more than 60 projects in her career, including ‘Dark Harbor’, ‘Battlestar Galactica’, ‘Blue Bloods’, ‘Hung’, ‘The Big C’, ‘Transparent’, ‘GLOW’, ‘The End’, and ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’.
MEAWW caught up with Annette Davey and discussed how difficult it was for her to work on such a series that had so many tonal shifts. Also, she opened up about her feelings on the Academy’s decision to take out Best Film Editing from the televised part.
MEAWW: Before talking about 'Pam & Tommy', we would love to know about you. How did you start your editing journey? Was becoming an editor always the first choice or did you want to do something different in the entertainment industry?
Davey: That's a very good question. I grew up in Australia and to work in the film industry was sort of a bit of a, you know, dream that you had out there that I didn't ever really think would happen. But at some point, I decided to get serious about it. And I actually moved to Sydney, which is one of the largest cities in Australia. This is kind of a funny story. I went to the unemployment office and, they said, oh, what do you wanna do? And I said, oh, I wanna work in the film industry. And usually, that would be the end of like your conversation, you know, they'd just be like, see you later. And we have no jobs for you. And they said, ‘oh, we have a job’. And I was like, ‘really?’ They're like, yeah, there's one position left on this job that is basically training 17 young women, all of our aspects of filmmaking. And they said, okay, you can go for the interview if you want. And there's only one position left. So I went for the interview and it was this incredible opportunity where somehow someone had gotten a grant from the government. So to pay, to train women in all aspects of filmmaking, the job lasted for six months. Every day we had like, you know, DPS come or sound recorders or production designers. And they would teach us, you know, the basics of each kind of craft. And then they also got us money to make a movie. So we also shot a movie between us all, which was pretty funny, because it was very hard to write a script for 17 people. So eventually they said, okay, we'll just everyone do what they want and we'll just try and edit it together.
So it was during the process of editing, which was a big process because it was an unconventional piece that I really started getting interested in editing. And then the person who was the kind of editing mentor took me aside and was like, you know, you should really think about this as a career. You know, I think you have the right sort of personality and you know, I think you have some natural ability. And so that was what really. And then she became my mentor for a long time.
MEAWW: You have a stellar resume. From BIG projects to movies, but what was that one thing that, you know, made you excited for editing?
Davey: Well, first of all, I love the fact that you can do it in isolation. You know, I'm very happy to be put in a room and just sort of let go wild, you know? Um, and also everyone, it's the only job I've ever found that I cannot think about anything else while I'm doing it. When I'm editing, I'm so absorbed that the hours go really fast. And I've always loved movies. I've always loved music. I've always loved reading. So it kind of brings together all those elements. So for me, it was a, a nice natural fit, you know.
MEAWW: So now coming back to, ‘Pam & Tommy’. What a phenomenal show and people absolutely loved it. How did the show come up to you and what was your initial reaction when you got to know about this crazy story?
Davey: Well, it's funny, because I grew up in Australia, so I wasn't really aware of the whole ‘Pam and Tommy’ phenomenon, but I remember my agent actually pitched it to me and I was like, you know, that could be interesting. And I knew Hulu was a good platform to be involved with and I know some of the producers. They were good as well. All the people involved seemed really good and you know, very professional and interesting. So I thought, okay, that's a really good sign. And then my agent sent me, I think the first six scripts and I read them on. I was like, oh my God, this is incredible. So then I was very enthusiastic and I did a zoom interview with 10 people and I don't even know if I ever met any, I met some of the post people in person. I never met Seth Rogan in person, but I had a lot of zoom meetings with him. I did not meet the show creators in person, nor did I meet Craig Gillespie in person. I feel like I have because you know, we spent a lot of time on zoom together.
MEAWW: So you know, it was regarded as the first sex tape that went viral on the internet and changed many things. How much you actually knew about the events that took place? If not, was it challenging for you to work on those minor details?
Davey: I knew about the sex tape. I had no idea that it was stolen. I was in Australia during all of this and you know, I was quite young, so I didn't really pay much attention. And that's what I really loved about it. When I read the episodes, I was like, ‘oh my God, someone stole it from their safe in their house and like released it without their permission. I was kind of thinking more like a Kim Kardashian sort of scenario, you know? And when I read that, I was like, oh my God, that's really fascinating. I really felt for Pam in that scenario because they obviously didn’t intend to get the tape out in public. So I thought that was really interesting. And it also, it did sort of create those sex tape phenomenon. So inadvertently, it did sort of start that whole thing, you know, but I don't think it was ever intended to be like that. So I found that fascinating, and the fact that it was like a disgruntled sort of worker in the house who did it, you know, (laugh), it was kind of crazy.
MEAWW: It is a very sensitive subject because it involves a lot of stuff that is real and no one actually knows the real truth about it. Also, the tone shifts a lot during the series. So how did you approach a show that went from being humorous to something that hard-hitting?
Davey: I actually liked the fact that the tone shifted because I feel like it's quite well done and that it sets you up for this amazing ride. Like I worked on the first three episodes as well and uh, you know, I really enjoyed them because I felt like a, it was really fun. And I felt you really felt the kind of love between them, even though they hadn't known each other very long. I do think their emotions were very genuine. So I think you kind of need that in order to sort of take a more serious turn and really see what it did to these people. It was, you know, that's what I liked about the show. It wasn't just, oh my God, they're like crazy rock stars and, you know, TV, actresses, and Playboy bunnies and you know, they've got a sex tape. It sort of acknowledges all of that and has fun with it. But then, you know, you see the sort of aftermath, especially I think for Pamela because you know, it is very different to be a woman involved in that scenario.
MEAWW: You talked about Pamela, and during the series, we saw how the makers of ‘Baywatch’ just wanted the actress for her body and how she looked. And I believe the sixth episode was the changing point. The way Pam's past is shown is something that blew everyone’s mind. So how different it was for you to tackle that episode? Was it challenging because the tone shifted so quickly?
Davey: The most challenging aspect in that episode was I wanted to do the best job that I could for it because I really felt it was an important episode because I really feel that that's when you really understand the impact of what it does to her. And I wanted to take that really seriously and you know, really kind of be able to deliver that shift. You know, that it's not just fun and games, that it really affected her enormously. And it's not fun to be a woman who's objectified all the time, no matter. Even if you are giving permission in your professional life to do that, it's still your private life. No one should be treated in that way. I felt very strongly about all these issues. That was really important for me and I kind of treated like more like a drama.
(To lend an easy-to-read experience for our readers, the original interview is split into multiple stories. Stay with us as we update our site with more of Davey's valuable insights on her career)