Ep. 15 – Defining Goals, Working With Good People, and Editing “The Queen’s Gambit” with editor Michelle Tesoro, ACE

February 9, 2021

The Queen’s Gambit is one of my favorite shows from 2020, so it was great talking to Michelle Tesoro, ACE, who edited the hit series, on episode 15 of the Hollywood Editing Mentor podcast. 

Cutting-edge film and television picture editor Michelle Tesoro, ACE is an industry rising star, known for seamlessly weaving narrative through the artful and elegant editing of a visual story. 

Her most recent works include Netflix’s Emmy-nominated series When They See Us directed and produced by Ava Duvernay, and Netflix’s hit limited series The Queen’s Gambit directed by Oscar-nominated Scott Frank.

Tesoro’s versatile slate also includes Focus Features’ biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg On the Basis of Sex starring Felicity Jones, Bold Films and Participant Media’s Shot Caller starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Netflix’s Emmy-nominated series Godless, directed by Scott Frank, and starring Emmy-winner Jeff Daniels, Michelle Dockery, and Merritt Weaver, Golden Globe-nominated show House of Cards, and the HBO’s series The Newsroom.

The Cinema Guild’s SXSW Grand Jury Prize-winning feature film Natural Selection, earned Tesoro the 2011 SXSW Award for Best Editing.

Michelle and I talk about her path to editing high profile TV shows, how she benefited from the ACE Internship Program even though she didn’t get it, getting opportunities by being nice and having a positive attitude, the importance of working with good people, her experience being the sole editor on a limited series, and how she eventually met and got to work with Scott Frank.

Michelle also takes us into the cutting room of The Queen’s Gambit and shares how she prepped for the series, her approach to editing the chess matches, how she found the show’s rhythm and pacing, her collaboration with Emmy-winning composer Carlos Rafael Rivera, and much more!

Other topics Michelle talks about in episode 15 include:

  • Growing up in Chicago and having an interest in the Arts from an early age
  • Michelle’s experience at NYU film school and how she developed an interest in editing
  • Michelle’s first job after graduating from NYU and what she learned from it
  • The struggles of finding work in NYC and making the decision to move to LA
  • The importance of knowing what you want
  • Moving to LA and starting from scratch
  • Respecting the process of moving up the career ladder
  • Getting opportunities by being nice and having a positive attitude
  • Putting out good energy to get connected with the right people
  • The benefit of having the sound department early on in the editorial process
  • Finding the right music for The Queen’s Gambit
  • Working with Scott Frank in the cutting room
  • What Michelle has learned throughout the years about working with directors
  • Setting goals and making sacrifices to achieve them

Original Music: “Apollo’s Haze” by Jesusdapnk
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