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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Native has key role on HBO's 'The Jinx'

By Matt Shortall - staff writer

Zac Stuart-Pontier looks over video on an editing machine.
Zachary Stuart-Pontier has seen and experienced much in his young life, but it's doubtful anything will ever match spending months in the presence of a man suspected of multiple murders.
The Sullivan County native just finished work on the hit HBO documentary miniseries “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”
Directed by Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling, the series profiles an eccentric and reclusive billionaire suspected, but never convicted, of three separate murders in New York, Texas and California.
“Bob was just such an enigmatic presence,” said Pontier of Durst, “you just don't know what to make of him. It was thrilling to sit and watch this sort of verbal and mental chess match between Bob and Andrew.”
“It's definitely the longest amount of time I'd spent on a project,” added Pontier.
“I lived and breathed that project for four years. There was this joke in the editing room about having ‘Bob fatigue.'”
In the weeks after the HBO documentary premiered, Durst was indicted in New Orleans on weapons charges and is expected to be extradited back to California to face questions over the death of Susan Berman in 2000.
“It was a roller coaster of a ride, with plenty of ups and downs,” Pontier summed up his experience.
Road to Filmdom
Pontier grew up in Narrowsburg and went to school in Honesdale, Pa. He currently lives in New York City.
Pontier graduated from the NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 2006. Since then, he's played the part of editor and producer on numerous film projects, including “Catfish,” directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” directed by Sean Durkin, and “Beautiful Darling,” directed by James Rasin.
Pontier was chosen as one of Filmmaker Magazine's “25 New Faces of Film” in 2010 and won an award for his editing of “New York Export: Opus Jazz” in 2009.
It was on the set of Catfish that Pontier first worked alongside Jarecki and Smerling, who were producers on the film. Pontier had no idea that would lead to an offer to work on the set of “The Jinx.”
Regarding his craft, Pontier said, “Truly good editing is the editing that you don't notice. That means that the various parts of the story are so well put together that it's absolutely seamless.”
Editing is all about good, cohesive story telling, something Pontier is no stranger to. His mother Laurie Stuart was and is publisher of the River Reporter, and his father Glenn Pontier was editor there for many years.
Zac used to work at the paper in his younger years. Starting out as a writer and reporter may have equipped Pontier with some of the skills that have become so vital to him in his career as a film editor.
“I think I still have some of that reporter's sense in me,” said Pontier. “When you're working on a story as crazy and immersive as this one became, there's a certain amount of excitement -- a high, if you will - in digging deeper and uncovering new information. I like the opportunity to be a detective.”
Although Pontier fell in love with the editing process while attending NYU, he's beginning to move back into a directorial role, making music videos for friends and gearing up to direct a short film this summer.
If he could find enough time, Pontier would like to both edit and direct. “One of my favorite parts of editing is being forced to make something out of only what I am given,” said Pontier. “I enjoy the challenge of that restriction and wouldn't want to give that up. At the same time there are a few stories that I feel very passionate about being able to direct personally someday.”

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