Meet Martin Pensa, ACE, Our 2020 Spotlight Academy Member

It’s a filmmaker’s dream to be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This dream is not easy to fulfill, however, Martin Pensa became the first alumnus of The Los Angeles Film School to receive an Oscar® nomination. In 2014, he earned the Best Film Editing nomination for Dallas Buyers Club. The Oscar® ultimately went to Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger for Gravity that year but Pensa’s editing work is solidified in Academy history. It is our honor to introduce Martin Pensa as our 2020 Spotlight Academy inductee.

Martin was born in France and moved to Montreal, Canada at the age of six. Filmmaking has been part of Martin’s life since he was a young kid. His dad worked as a post-production supervisor, so Martin grew up around entertainment. At 10 years old, Martin auditioned for a theatre play to be the king’s page in Antigone by Jean Anouilh. From that moment on, Martin got other gigs in radio plays (Le Petit Prince), some TV and mainly a lot of dubbing jobs on movies and TV. Fun Fact: Martin was Elijah Wood’s french voice on a couple of his early movies!

Martin had his heart set on moving to Hollywood to pursue film editing, writing and directing. This is around the time Martin started studying film at The L.A. Film School. After graduating in 2002, Martin scored a few PA gigs. From there, his interest in post-postproduction took off. Martin remained focused and consistently edited projects, which led him to work on movies like Wild (2014) with Reese Witherspoon and By the Sea (2015) starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

A sneak peek at our Spotlight interview with Martin:

Prior to landing the editing job for Dallas Buyers Club, Martin started his own commercial editing company with a close friend. When editing a film, Martin pays close attention to the actor’s cadence and relies more on the flow of each scene rather than the individual images on the screen. This tactic is a perfect example of how an editor creates the pacing for a film to captivate the audience’s attention. Martin developed his editing style over the years working independently and as an assistant editor. His meticulous editing work imbues every film he contributes to, which has helped further his career in the entertainment industry.

3 Questions for Martin about film editing

What’s your process when starting to edit a new film?

I dive straight in and go with my gut. I try to cut scenes right away. This gives the director new ideas when I’m able to cut while they’re on set.

What challenges did you encounter while editing Dallas Buyers Club?

“Dallas Buyers Club” was shot all digitally and had a lot of long takes. It was Jean-Marc Vallée’s first entire film shot in digital. He discovered while shooting half of his previous film “Café de Flore” in digital how much freedom and creative control this technique gave him. There was also little time to shoot and a very small budget. The film was shot with only practical lights. As an editor, this made it hard but I felt so lucky and proud to be working on that movie.

Is there a filmmaker who you would love to collaborate with?

I’ve been lucky to work with Ericson Core on “Togo”.

Ericson Core is an American director and cinematographer best known for his work on “The Fast and the Furious” (2001) and “Point Break” (2015).