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Tom Cross ’93

Graduating from Purchase with a degree in visual arts, Tom Cross ’93 went on to pursue a successful career as a filmmaker. In 2017, Cross received his second Oscar for editing the critically acclaimed La La Land. He won best film editing for Whiplash in 2015. Both films are directed by Damien Chazelle, who is nominated for best director.

He also edited 2019’s First Man, also directed by Chazelle.

La La Land is a retro-Hollywood musical featuring Ryan Gosling as a struggling pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress. The film follows them as they meet and fall in love in Los Angeles.

While Whiplash also featured a story about musicians, Cross found working on a movie musical more challenging because, in addition to considering factors such as emotions and story, he had to consider how the music lined up with the cuts.

“You have things to consider like lip-sync,” said Cross in a recent interview for Below the Line. “Damien was very adamant that everything should feel organic. The emotion should feel authentic. Most audiences really scrutinize lip-sync in musicals more than they scrutinize the spoken dialog in non-musicals. We really had to work hard on that. When characters broke into song, we had to make sure that felt correct.”

Tom Cross  began his career editing commercials and was assistant editor on Ang Lee’s Ride with the Devil, Wrong Turn by Rob Schmidt ’90 (film), and the HBO series Deadwood. His other feature films include Joy, Time Lapse, and two Travis Fine films, Any Day Now and The Space Between. His upcoming film is Scott Cooper’s western, Hostiles.