A tip of the hat to Neil Travis

Neil Travis
Neil Travis

The name Neil Travis may not ring a bell.

But Kevin Costner is a household name.

They both won Oscars in 1990 for their work on Dances With Wolves. Travis won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing while Costner won for Best Director. And Dances with Wolves won for Best Picture.

I have never edited or directed a movie. But after needing more than 2 1/2 hours Thursday to piece together for the first time a nearly 2-minute video, Travis and every other Oscar-winning film editor has a new fan. Especially those who won in the era before computer editing.

As a novice, editing an entire feature film — to say nothing of being good enough at it to win an Oscar — are as unimaginable as personally taking a stroll on the moon or traveling back in time.


At this point, I must thank Dave Metz, a friend and subscriber of this blog, for patiently taking time to teach me some editing tips. It would have taken much longer to complete the video without his help and it might not have been finished at all.

And I wanted to have the video to include with this package about the 10th anniversary of the pediatric dental clinic operated in Muscatine by the University of Iowa College of Dentistry & Dental Clinics. An open house is being planned for 3-5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, at MCSA, 312 Iowa Ave. Many people are working hard to plan the event. I’m just trying to help promote it.

That’s what prompted Thursday’s attempt at shooting and editing video — something I’ve been wanting to try since MCSA — the nonprofit organization that runs the homeless and domestic violence shelters in Muscatine — bought a new Nikon D3200.  As you can see, the video is sometimes a bit jumpy, the editing a bit jerky.

But everyone has to start somewhere and it was really fun to finish this first project.  It’s proof that you’re never too old to learn new things. In fact, it’s just the latest of many things I’ve learned at MCSA, a small organization where everyone wears a lot of hats.


 Also, I know a bit now about Neil Travis, who died in 2012 at age 75. Dances With Wolves was among the more than 25 films he edited in a career that spanned more than four decades. His other film credits included Cocktail, No Way Out, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

For Dances With Wolves, he is credited with editing the original “rough cut,” which was more than five hours long, down to 181 minutes. His ‘”Indian name” during the filming of the movie was “Over-the-Hill.”

Dances With Wolves has been a favorite ever since I first saw it. But everyone who has watched it would  have been over the hill afterward if not for the work of Neil Travis.


Take a look at the new MCSA video: