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Editor Talks 13-Foot-Tall Sex Scene in Boots Riley Series

Editor Talks 13-Foot-Tall Sex Scene in Boots Riley Series

Editor Talks 13-Foot-Tall Sex Scene in Boots Riley Series

In the third episode of Prime Video’s I’m a Virgo, a beloved character succumbs to an injury after being denied treatment at a hospital because he was uninsured; it’s one of several of the show’s depictions of the horrors of America under capitalism, and the scene that made editor Tom Eagles want to be part of the project. “I’m a fairly recent immigrant, and I still remember the first time I had to take my son to the ER,” says the New Zealand native. “The first place they sent us was the billing department to make sure I could pay. When I [read] that episode, I remember really leaning in.” Here, he recalls connecting to and working on this singular series.

Which episode offered the biggest challenge?

Episode four was unique because half of it is this really drawn-out sex scene between a giant and a woman with superspeed [Olivia Washington’s Flora]. We decided to make it go way longer than a TV show would usually allow, and get into the awkward nitty-gritty of “How is this going to work?” The performances were so sweet and funny that it felt like it earned its place.

How did the practical effects make the work feel different?

This was such a unique project in that regard. They had two sets — one sized to make Cootie [played by Jharrel Jerome] look big and the other oversized for the “normal-size” characters — and we were able to superimpose them in the edit. It gave the show a janky feel that we talked about a lot — how janky, and is there a good versus bad janky? Where we came to was that we had to be in command of the jankiness, it had to be intentional and not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Did you have specific references for the look and feel of the series?

We talked about a lot of influences; Boots Riley creates a rich and varied cinematic world. [Director] Emir Kusturica [was one of them] for the messiness and plurality of life. We looked at Scott Walker’s scores for Vox Lux and Childhood of a Leader. In episode four, when The Hero [Walton Goggins] is dragging Cootie, it recalls Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse.

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Can you talk about the music?

I’m a big music nerd, so it’s always at the heart of my approach. While Boots was out shooting, I was hard at work temping the edit and trying to find a sound that worked for the show in the short term. It had to have the chaotic and handmade feel of Sorry to Bother You, it had to capture the innocence of Cootie and have a sense of scale and import, since it was turning into a superhero story of sorts. I assumed Boots would throw it all out, but I was gratified that some of it stuck, from Kendrick Lamar to Big Subwoofer to Ginuwine.

This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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