The gravity of the Oscars: Mark Sanger on winning for co-editing Gravity

We catch up with Mark Sanger, co-editor of the Oscar-winning drama Gravity, in Dubai for the Cabsat conference.

The Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron, right, and Mark Sanger with the award for Best Film Editing. Courtesy Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP
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Chris Newbould

You'd think the man who'd just won the Oscar for co-editing Gravity – which won seven Oscars, six Baftas and seven Critics' Choice Awards – would be entitled to sit back and bask in the glory for a bit.

Instead, we found Mark Sanger at the Cabsat conference in Dubai this week, just eight days after his win.

“I love to travel and see how the film industry is around the world,” he explains. “So when [editing equipment manufacturer] Avid suggested bringing me out here, I jumped at the chance. I think there’s going to be a real seismic shift in the way films are financed and where they are filmed, and being here has been a real eye-opener and a joy.”

Sanger seems remarkably blasé for a man who just won an Oscar, though he admits the reality may not have fully hit him yet.

“When it actually sinks in that I have an Oscar I’ll probably be able to say more – but, of course, it’s great,” he says. “It’s not only fantastic that I won an award last weekend but, because of the collaborative nature of film we worked on, it was fantastic to see so many of us up on the stage, really humbling.”

The film took about three years to make and, having spent much of that time locked in a dark room with the director, I wonder if Sanger had predicted he had such a hit on his hands.

“We knew it was a unique film, but when you’re engaged in something so deeply for so long, you have no way of knowing whether an audience will engage with it,” he says. “Plus we had finished it months before its release, so we’d all moved onto other things. When it finally came out, the initial reaction at Venice was nice – we realised that people were engaging in the cinema experience we’d spent all that time working on, but we could never have predicted how much. Amazing.”

So, has Sanger’s phone been ringing off the hook with new offers since the win?

“There are offers,” he admits. “But it’s all about making the right decision on what is creatively the most interesting thing you can do, but also what is best for your family and paying the bills. I do have a wider range of choices following the win, but it’s still all about making the right choice. And having some sleep, which I don’t seem to have done since the Oscar.”