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‘Wednesday’ editor reveals the one song Tim Burton demanded stay in the show
We spoke with Wednesday editor Jay Prychidny about how he worked with Tim Burton to give the show its unique look and sound.
Netflix’s series Wednesday, which focuses on the Addams Family’s titular daughter, has become an unequivocal hit, beating out the fourth season of Stranger Things to become the streaming platform's most-watched television premiere.
The show follows Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) as she goes to the boarding school, Nevermore — an academy that teaches those with supernatural tendencies. While Wednesday isn’t initially pleased about being there, she soon settles into her new school as she faces attempted murder, kidnapping, and a decades-long mystery that may threaten the existence of Nevermore itself.
The series, which had Tim Burton in the director’s chair for four of its episodes, is told from Wednesday’s point of view, and Burton and editor Jay Prychidny wanted the show to reflect that in every way possible. “I always approached it straight from [Wednesday’s] perspective and how she saw the world,” Prychidny told SYFY WIRE. “I tried to think about how Wednesday would cut the show — the way she delivers dialogue is very sharp, it's very precise, and I tried to mirror that in the editing of the show as well.”
Given Wednesday’s macabre tendencies, there’s a gothic sheen over the whole series. The show, however, also has comedic moments cut throughout it, giving a story about dark and deadly things a lot of life as well. SYFY WIRE also talked with Prychidny about how he struck that balance, including what his inspiration was for that memorable dance scene at the Raven Ball. Read on for those details, before or after checking out Wednesday's moves one more time below.
Prychidny and Burton worked hand-in-hand throughout the shooting process, including on set in Romania. Prychidny would cut scenes for Burton almost every day, with Burton giving feedback that also informed how the rest of the shooting would go.
What Burton liked, however, wasn’t always what one might expect. “You kind of go into it with an idea of what a Tim Burton movie is and what a Tim Burton thing feels like,” explained Prychidny. “But it was interesting because really quickly you’d find that if it felt like a Tim Burton thing, he wouldn't want to see that — he wants to see something unexpected.”
Music, in particular, was something that Burton had strong opinions about. “We tried all kinds of different musical things,” recalled Prychidny. “He brought very strange choices, from John Carpenter and Carrie and other unusual musical choices … I also brought strange rock pieces and Mexican horror scores to try to give it a different kind of tone.”
One song that Wednesday plays on her cello, however, made it to the final cut solely because of Burton’s love for it. “At the end of Episode 3, there's this cello cover by Metallica,” Prychidny explained. “I was just looking on YouTube for different cello covers of pop songs, and I found that one, and I put it in, and I cut the sequence to that piece of music. And Tim just loved it and would not hear of changing it … I thought maybe Danny Elfman would write something like an original cello piece for Wednesday. But when that piece was in, Tim was just completely behind it — at one point, even the band wanted to change to a different orchestration of it. And he was like, ‘No, no, it must be the original!’”
However, perhaps the most viral moment of Wednesday's first season was Ortega’s dance moves. That whole sequence was also Burton’s favorite to shoot, and Prychidny — who has cut dozens of dance numbers in his career — found it one of his favorites to cut as well. “You're really trying to highlight the performer as much as possible,” he said. “There's a temptation sometimes in dance scenes to do flashy editing or cutting on the beat … but I often like to cut on the offbeat and give the performer the chance to really hit the beat on-camera. For whatever reason, that just feels very impactful and dramatic to me to do it that way.”
Prychidny had a particular inspiration, however, for Wednesday’s performance: the music video for Michael Jackon’s "Thriller." “[Jenna Ortega’s] movements were inspired by 'Thriller,' and I was obsessed with 'Thriller' when I was a kid,” Prychidny said. “That was definitely the inspiration for me in starting the way it does — just holding on her face with the choreography starting off-camera … that definitely for me is a reference to how the 'Thriller' dance starts.”
You can check out the first season of Wednesday right now on Netflix.