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Walker, Lesley


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Keen to work in the arts, Lesley Walker fell into editing by chance. Her first job was in a film lab, where she worked as a runner, negative cutter and receptionist. In this capacity she got to know many film editors. Walker's next job was as cutting room secretary and assistant editor at a company producing commercials and Children's Film Foundation films. Over the next ten years she assisted John Bloom and Tom Priestley.

Walker has edited commercials, worked occasionally for television, and taught at the National Film and Television School, but her primary focus since the late 1970s has been editing features. She has worked with directors as diverse as Mike Leigh, Derek Jarman, Richard Attenborough, and Terry Gilliam. Walker has also worked as a film doctor, but will only do so if both producer and director request this, because she believes creative ownership ultimately resides with the latter.

Walker considers one of her main responsibilities to be shaping the dramatic arc of a film, ensuring that its overall narrative development is properly measured and integrated. Close attention to the minutiae of actors' performances is also high on her list of priorities. When it is appropriate to the material Walker also "quite likes mistiming and not necessarily matching shots up… I will mess around with, shall we say, convention… I cross the line, actually, in The Fisher King [US, 1991]… Although the audience doesn't quite know what you've done it actually makes you sit up and think something's happened, but it hasn't."

One example is when Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) chases fantasist Parry (Robin Williams) across a park. At one point rapidly edited shots of Parry running alternately from screen left to right and screen right to left are inter-cut with equally rapid shots of him dashing past Jack. The shots of Parry are 'mistimed', effectively crossing the line, since it would be impossible for him to repeatedly turn around so often and so quickly. Rather than endow Parry's movements with logical continuity Walker's editing shifts him partly into another dimension where normal rules of coherent space and time do not apply.

Roy Perkins/Martin Stollery, British Film Editors: The Heart of the Movie (BFI Publishing, 2004)

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of All or Nothing (2002)All or Nothing (2002)

Bleakly funny film about a cab driver's dysfunctional family

Thumbnail image of Letter to Brezhnev (1985)Letter to Brezhnev (1985)

Fresh, lively romance about love across the iron curtain

Thumbnail image of Mona Lisa (1986)Mona Lisa (1986)

Neil Jordan's unlikely romance set in a vicious world of pimps and prostitutes

Thumbnail image of Tempest, The (1979)Tempest, The (1979)

Derek Jarman's wildly imaginative version of Shakespeare's play

Thumbnail image of Meantime (1983)Meantime (1983)

Memorably bleak Mike Leigh film about feuding East London families

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