Q&A with Rachel Simmer

Following the release of Neil Young’s latest concert film “Barn,” we caught up with editor Rachel Simmer about her ongoing collaboration with Daryl Hannah, the force that is Neil, and what’s next for her.

Q: How did you end up cutting 5 Neil Young concert films?

A: Lost Planet was finishing the Paradox film when the director, Daryl Hannah, asked about creating a “floating people” effect. We spent the day together, filming, brainstorming, filming, and compositing. It quickly dawned on me that Daryl had no shortage of ideas, which led to our collaboration on more of the films – a short film she directed, and also music videos and concerts. The footage just kept rolling in; Neil has a massive amount of archived material that I consider an editor’s dream, so it worked out for all of us.

Q: What kind of creative direction were you given for each one?

A: I appreciate the amount of creative freedom that Neil gives me. I have the ability to try out different ideas, while I usually receive “more of this” type feedback. After an initial first cut, you never know, we might work on it for weeks, or it might already be done. On to the next!

Q: How would you describe the collaboration with Neil? Who else was instrumental throughout the projects?

A: “Like a hurricane.” An unpredictable journey worth going on! Neil comes and goes like the wind. People start moving, phones start ringing, as if you can almost feel it in the air when he’s heading your way. Daryl is also a creative force in a lot of these. Collaborating with her inspires a lot of thoughtful and beautiful elements in my work. Not to mention Gary Ward, Madi Emenheiser, Neil’s engineering and archive teams, and the crucial role they play in the process. With so many moving parts, it certainly takes a village.

Q: Do you have a favorite concert film or Neil Young song?

A: I have favorites in all categories! Experiencing so many shows spanning so many years, there’s no way to decide on one absolute. Each one is a favorite in its own right.

Q: What makes cutting a concert film different from commercial or narrative work?

A: Volume! From beginning to end, Neil’s concerts deliver an experience of raw human emotion through sound. You don’t need to see it in order to feel it, but you do need to turn it up.

Q: How long have you been at Lost Planet?

A: I interviewed at Lost Planet 5 years ago and instantly felt its unique, creative vibe. Since then, I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with such talented and wonderful people.

Q: You’re now working on “Cameraman,” a documentary about legendary cinematographer Robert Richardson. What has that experience been like?”

A: This film is an inspirational journey into the heart and mind of a unique and legendary cinematographer that shows the inspiration, pain, and loss behind the scenes that contribute to such profound work in the film industry. With insights from numerous well-known collaborators that span decades, his story is unlike any other and I continue to look forward to uncovering the depths one man will go to for such limitless cinematic expression.