• A Long Time Ago, in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away

  • My Fifty Years Editing Hollywood Hits - Star Wars, Carrie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Mission: Impossible, and More
  • By: Paul Hirsch
  • Narrated by: Richard Ferrone
  • Length: 15 hrs and 48 mins
  • Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (124 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away is a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most influential films of the last 50 years by Paul Hirsch, a film editor who worked on more than 40 features. 

Starting with his work on Carrie, Hirsch gives insight into the production process, touching upon casting, directing, cutting, and scoring. It’s a riveting look at the decisions that went into creating memorable and iconic scenes and offers fascinating portraits of filmmakers, stars, and composers.

Part film-school primer, part paean to legendary directors and professionals, the funny yet insightful writing will entertain and inform aficionados and casual moviegoers alike.

©2019 Paul Hirsch (P)2019 Blackstone Publishing

Featured Article: Star Wars Behind-the-Scenes—The Best Memoirs and Nonfiction from a Galaxy Far, Far Away


It’s no exaggeration to say that Star Wars is one of the biggest cultural juggernauts we’ve ever seen, a series that continues to expand and appeal to generation after generation. Hear stories from the Star Wars universe at large in this list of nonfiction listens featuring Star Wars cast memoirs and biographies, works of cultural criticism, and insightful podcasts.

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What listeners say about A Long Time Ago, in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away

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A fascinating look “behind the curtain”..

A great longitudinal look at the development of a film editor and his career. It is peppered with fun and insightful morsels from films, both hits and disasters.

The performer was an excellent choice, it was easy to imagine that the author was reading his own work.

Very enjoyable audio book.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic Book

Loved everything about this book. I happen to be a filmmaker, so I knew first hand many of things Mr. Hirsch addresses in the book, but even people unfamiliar with moviemaking will find this book a fascinating peek behind the curtain, as well as a wonderful account of a life well lived telling stories.

3 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!

Paul Hirsch describes himself as, “having a charmed life” while talking about his extraordinary career. This book is a wonderful mix of the technical side of editing and the personal relationships you form in the business. Along with that, the stories behind so many legendary directors, actors, and films we’ve come to love are all unique and very entertaining. This is a must for any movie fan and I highly recommend it

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A must for any 70’s/80’s film nerd

Confession: I’m a big De Palma fan, and this book delivered on some great stories from Paul & Brian’s collaborations. My only wish is that Paul had gone into more detail on putting together keys scenes on Raising Cain and Mission:Impossible like he did with Carrie. His description of constructing the finale in Carrie is wonderful. Another highlight are the stories of working with Barnard Herrmann.

It leaves you wanting more, which I suppose is what a great editor would want. Maybe there will be a sequel??

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Excellent, coherent and transparent.....

Unlike many Hollywood bios, this one, by arguably the finest editor of the '80s, is transparent and humble and resonates truthfulness that is refreshing and informative. Hirsch's love and respect of and fascination with his particular field is apparent through the telling of his own interesting narrative while the grudges and bitterness that is usually present in many of these types of bios is noticeably absent. Well worth the time.

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Very Enjoyable!

Having spent many hours in a Avid Bay shaping storylines this book was an obvious choice.

It delivered too! His ascend in Hollywood working on Star Wars and Ray were especially interesting as was the times he went to London working on the score for various films. It was neat seeing the many connections and people who disappointed Paul. It’s also a little sad the friends you make only to realize many decades later many are short term when you run into them or they pop up as you ended up never seeing them again. Although this book is in my wheelhouse; I finish it by thinking anyone who loves Hollywood and movies just a little bit will enjoy this book.

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Amazing...for the Film Buff

A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away is astonishing. What one can learn from a book sometimes is amazing. I didn’t go into this audiobook looking to learn anything. However, Paul Hirsch demonstrated just how important editing is to a movie. Some people just slap things together and hope for the best. But a great editor will look at every frame as if they are puzzle pieces and put them exactly in the right spot. Whether it’s cutting out an entire subplot of a film or something so minuscule as putting a line of dialogue from later in the picture in the beginning - editing is an art and Hirsch is its Picasso.
Paul Hirsch has been doing this for 50 years and has some great stories to tell along the way. His interactions; from the great Bernard Hermann to helping out the up and coming directors of today like Duncan Jones are all fascinating to a film buff such as myself.
In addition, Hirsch is humble beyond measure. He has become friendly with some of the truly great Hollywood artists and never once has he lost sight of the end goal: make the movie the best it can be!
The only qualm I have with the audiobook is the narrator and his habit of stretching out the last bit of every sentence. For instance: it seems as if he’s saying Star Warssss instead of just Star Wars. It’s totally a minor nitpick, but it’s very noticeable.

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Editing war stories

I realized near the end that, as a struggling editor, I've been listening to this book as though Paul Hirsch is a Ken Burnsian civil war soldier writing his letters and memoirs from the front lines trenches, faded sepia lettering of editing notes cross faded with Hirsch working at his moviola, only missing a lone violin to warble and close out each chapter.
The narration feels akin to voice acting- descriptive, flowing and evocative.
personally found the BTS narratives riveting and enlightening.
loved it, will definitely repeat.

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Like you were there! A great book of so many hits

From giving you the sense that you were there, to the education that you would have received with such an in-person experience, the book does a fantastic job of taking you everywhere the author went, enjoying the successes and failures as if they were partly your own. A great listen!!

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A wealth of information on the film industry throughout the years from the editor’s angle

Paul Hirsch dives directly into his work as a film editor over the years, featuring stories from when editing early Brian De Palma projects with Robert De Nero during the New Hollywood Renaissance of independent filmmaking back in early 70’s New York, to stories about working on Star Wars ranging from the Lucas Ranch in Marin County California, to working on set in London to breaking onto working on Hollywood sets as well. Hirsch fairly looks at the ups and downs which his success has given him. He remembers the flops just as much as his successful projects. He also explains the importance of a good director/editor relationship. This is an ever-changing industry, and Paul Hirsch does a real good job at putting a continuity to life as an editor which jumps form working on Steinbeck editing tables to Avid computer software. He has a great respect for the editing craft. I highly recommend this book for folks interested in filmmaking or film history.

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  • Hugo Menendez
  • 02-13-21

Chock full of great stories. Recommended!

I didn’t want it to end, Paul is a fantastic storyteller and the book is packed with great advice and laugh out loud anecdotes. Top Banana!

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  • IX
  • 01-05-21

Excellent insights to a poorly understood role

Film editor has to be one of the most misunderstood jobs in movie making. For the longest time I thought it was just the person that put the bits together in the machine. It was years later before I understood their pivotal role in constructing the story, the atmosphere, creating the beats etc in a way possibly more profound than the director.

This book is an excellent read, covering a broad range of films and describes well the actual artistic processes, the thoughts, mindsets and even the politics that get wrapped up in it all. It was also interesting to discover more about the business side, financing, how people get involved in projects and why.

For any fan of film, this is a great read and highly recommended.

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  • JT
  • 12-21-20

A perfect listen

I don’t know much about editing or the stuff behind “pictures” but the passion, the story and the narration really drew me in. There was a real humour and warmth to it and I’m pleased I picked this. If you’re looking to listen to something a bit different- give this a go.

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  • Francesca D.
  • 09-17-20

Fascinating insight into Hollywood production

This is a great book for those interested in the behind the scenes action, or if you're thinking of pursuing a career in editing.

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  • T. M. Howsam
  • 02-28-20

Editing an enigma

Paul Hirsch has written an amazing in site to Paul’s work abd an interesting insight to the life of a film editor

Brilliant !!!

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  • Acky
  • 01-05-20

From one film editor to another, salute!

I bought this book as I’m also a film editor and wanted to learn about the legend, Paul Hirsch. He’s rubbed shoulders with the greatest and remains grounded.

It did not disappoint in his anecdotes and is explained in a layman’s style suitable for anyone with an interest in the film industry. It was interesting to hear his approach to specific cuts which are now ingrained in film history.

The performance is well read and I can imagine Paul speaking in this way.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-29-20

Great for film fans, not too technical

This book is both informative and insightful. Covering the realities of the editing process and how it shapes a film, along with intriguing insights from Hirsch, as he was up close with famous filmmakers making many big hits and some notable misses. It may seem dry at first as you work out the author’s perspective, but it’s definitely worth sticking with it as it becomes progressively more and more riveting. I’m off to rewatch the films covered. First up is Blow Out, with its scenes weaving the analog film and sound gear in with the drama.

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  • Kaitlyn
  • 02-04-20

Great book about movie editors life!

Loved the book. If you're into film making and want to know how a movie editor can bring a movie to life. This is the book for you. I have learnt a lot about Paul Hirsch! Sir, you are now one of my heroes.
The narration is on point as well.