In 2019, Netflix’s Ozark earned nine Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, thereby elevating it to one of the top shows in an age of exceptional television. Among its many nominations were ones for editors Cindy Mollo and Heather Goodwin Floyd for their work on one of the most riveting episodes of the show’s second season: “One Way Out.”
We used the opportunity to speak to Mollo and Floyd to find out more about Ozark’s approach to editing, their editorial collaboration, and how they put together one of “One Way Out” most important scenes, which undoubtedly helped land the episode its nominations.
The Meditative Editing of Ozark
Early on in Ozark’s history, an editing manifesto was laid out. Among the qualities the team wanted editing to prioritize, “meditative” was among the top. What that looked like in action was the willingness to allow a story, or character moment, to breathe. “We don’t cut too fast because we want to make sure every moment lands,” Mollo says.
The result is that any cut, and its motivation, is thoroughly considered by Mollo and Floyd. According to Floyd, what’s mulled over are questions like “Cutting right now, what will that get us? Are we cutting to give information? Are we cutting for an emotional moment? Is it better to stay with our character currently? How long can we stay with someone before we need to cut? Before we feel like, ‘Okay, now we’ve actually stayed too long.’ Where is that line?”
The effect of being on the right side of that line is the ability to draw the audience in, in the right way. “Let’s stay in that moment and now people are leaning in trying to figure out why we’re still in this moment,” Mollo explains. “In almost every case, it keeps people more engaged instead of disengaging them,” Floyd adds.
Putting Together an Emmy-Nominated Moment
The editors work closely with the show’s writing team who are never far away. “We have this really unique opportunity here because we are literally in the writer’s office,” Mollo says. “In the first two seasons we were in a bungalow across a parking lot from the writers. It is such a gift.” Easy access to the show’s writers also means Mollo and Floyd received early access to their Emmy-nominated episode, “One Way Out.”
They knew right it away it would be something special. “We’ve got a potential jewel in our hands,” Heather recalls thinking, especially about the material the episode would give actors Laura Linney and Michael Mosley. There would also be big set pieces, with crucial turning points for Ozark’s main characters. “It puts a certain amount of pressure on you to not get in the way,” says Cindy.
[THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS
FOR OZARK’S NOMINATED EPISODE]
The biggest moment comes near the end when Marty (Jason Bateman) shoots and kills Mason (Michael Mosley) in a violent confrontation. Afterwards comes what Floyd refers to as The Collapse of Marty. “It’s not just the turning point in this story, but in the entire Ozark story itself,” Floyd says.
Floyd and Mollo brought the impact of that turning point to life in two crucial ways. One was tied to sound effects. During the shouting confrontation Mason and Marty, Mason’s baby is crying beside him because of all the yelling, so they blended real noises from the baby on set, crying sound effects, and the episode’s score, to enhance the tension of the scene. “We had this idea that we wanted to use the baby’s crying for effect,” Mollo says, “We worked on it so much. It’s like we’re orchestrating the baby cries to increase in intensity as the theme increases in intensity. And then at some point the baby cries handoff to music, which takes us through the end of the scene,” Cindy says.
The other way Floyd and Mollo emphasized the scene’s turning point was in the strategic cutting of the moment where Marty is having a panic attack after he’s killed Mason, and his wife (Laura Linney) comforts and promises to take of the situation. During that moment, the camera lingers on both of them, Marty almost hyperventilating, before slowly panning over to the now-lifeless body of Mason.
Getting that moment’s timing right was possible because of the editing manifesto that had been in place on Ozark all along, which meant they didn’t need to cut quickly to the body to deal with impatient viewers. “I’m always grateful for the style of this show that we don’t have to keep cutting back and forth, creating energy through our editing. We can be in a camera move and feel something evolve and grow,” Mollo says. “It is taking its time so you can process what Marty’s feeling, what Wendy is feeling and you’re reminded of the body there on the floor. But it’s not rushed.” Floyd adds, “It’s one of my favorite moments in the show.”
A Winning Collaboration
Floyd and Mollo were both nominated for their editing work on “One Way Out” and as important as their editing approach was to earning that accolade, their years of collaboration also played a crucial part. For close to a decade, Floyd has served as Mollo’s assistant editor, including for the first season of Ozark. But on the second season, Floyd got her chance to climb up, eventually becoming a co-editor on the third season. “I’m cutting alongside Cindy for the first time ever,” Floyd says. “That is whole new territory for me.”
Through Mollo, Floyd had learned a lot that allowed her to bring to the editing of “One Way Out” and episodes beyond that one. “Cindy’s really taught me a lot about rhythm and cutting patterns, and how if you are cutting back and forth, you can do it in a way that doesn’t take away from either of the people’s performances and everything that’s going on in the scene,” Floyd says.
The quality of those performances, and the events that happen in the scenes, are a major source of joy for the two editors. “It does feel like such a gift to work on a show that is just filled, overflowing with talent,” says Heather. “That makes it so much easier to do your job. You can really think about story, you can think about character. You can do whatever you want with the material because you’re not tied to any sort of, ‘We don’t have this and we don’t have that, and we have to work around this problem.’ It just becomes a really enjoyable experience and, it’s not that easy to come by… and I’m just so grateful for that.”
Top: Laura Linney and Michael Mosley in Ozark. All images courtesy of Netflix.