‘The story is in place, but it’s not what you think it is.’
By Alison Rooney
Don Kleszy, whose CV details his work as senior editor, post-production supervisor and occasional producer, has worked with Pandora’s Promise director Robert Stone on numerous occasions.
“I shouldn’t say worked with — they really are his films,” Kleszy, a Depot Docs committee member, noted, “but it’s been deeply involving, as it really has been just the two of us making these movies. He’s a historian, really. For instance his film Guerrilla, while ostensibly about Patty Hearst, is really about a media frenzy. His films are kind of like looking at stories you think you know from a different angle … In a lot of them, the story is in place, but it’s not what you think it is … It’s always interesting to work on a film like this, which took about a year. You get so enlightened on the subject matter.”
With Pandora’s Promise, Kleszy emerged from the process with an altered perspective. He “grew up protesting at Seabrook [power plant, in New Hampshire] in the ’70s — where we had the standard left-wing view that nuclear energy is bad. Working on this project has been an education for me — learning the facts about nuclear power and energy use, and how renewables fit into that scheme … The film is quite specific in being ‘not supportive of present-day technology’ in terms of nuclear power plants. Its point of view is that a technology was rushed to market in the wrong way,” he explained.
Kleszy’s other documentary work, much of it produced for PBS’ The American Experience series, includes Guerilla, Oswald’s Ghost and Earth Days, each directed by Stone. In these and in his current film, Last Days in Vietnam, directed by Rory Kennedy, there is extensive use of archival footage, a storytelling medium Kleszy says he favors. Released in fall 2014, Last Days in Vietnam has already earned Kleszy a “Best Editor” award from the International Documentary Association. It is currently under consideration for an Academy Award nomination.
Press notes for Pandora’s Promise indicate that Kleszy “studied music and experimental film at Vassar College. A pianist by training, he became involved in the Boston music scene, writing and playing with the local punk funk band Sons of Sappho. He began his film career there, directing, shooting, and editing verité style music videos for Treat Her Right, and later, the cult phenomenon Morphine. His video Thursday, a bleached film journey through adulterous paranoia with live analog effects, was awarded best video at the 1994 Boston Music Awards. He eventually moved to New York City, where he worked first as an online effects editor, and more recently, as a commercial editor and animation supervisor. His clientele has run the gamut from Nam Jun Paik to M&M’s candy.”
In his own description, his work “encompasses a variety of short- and long-form advertising, corporate, dramatic and documentary work.”