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Mike Hill, Oscar-Winning Film Editor, Dead At 73

Filmgoers may not know Mike Hill by name, but it's likely most have seen his work. The editor notably made 22 consecutive movies with director Ron Howard, beginning with 1982's "Night Shift" and ending with 2015's "Heart of the Sea." Unfortunately, Hill passed away on Thursday, January, 5, at the age of 73 from cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (per Deadline). He is survived by his wife LeAnne, daughter Jesica, and son-in-law Brandon. 

On top of his work for Howard (done with editing partner Dan Hanley), Hill also worked behind the scenes cutting up pictures like 1989's "Pet Semetary," as well as TV's "Cagney & Lacey." Through his versatile work with Howard, Hill ultimately won an Oscar for "Apollo 13" and earned four other nominations for the pictures "Frost/Nixon," "Cinderella Man," and "A Beautiful Mind" (via IMDb). He and Hanley also took home a BAFTA for editing 2013's "Rush," another Howard-directed movie. 

Mike Hill definitely made his mark in Hollywood — who else can say they edited "Pet Semetary" AND "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"? And wIth his death, he leaves behind numerous collaborators, namely Howard. The director released a statement following Hill's death, celebrating the editor not just for his work in the movies, but also as a friend, family man, and basketball partner. 

Ron Howard remembers his editor's family and corner jump shot the most

Ron Howard mourned his longtime collaborator through a statement, highlighting the positive life Mike Hill carved out for himself and his family in Omaha, Nebraska. "He was a gifted and lauded film editor, but he was even prouder of his family and the life they built together in Omaha. Mike was a highly intelligent and creative guy who lived his life with honesty, integrity and a great sense of irony and wicked humor. He also had pretty good corner jump shot as I recall from our 3-on-3 basketball days," Howard said (per Deadline). 

Hill's work with Howard also involved his co-editor Dan Hanley, and the two were so well in sync that they would typically deliver a cut of Howard's movies to him less than a week after the wrap for principal photography. Take note that this was back in the days of cutting actual film.

"I admire some of these guys [working alone] on these big pictures. We're putting in some pretty good days, and I'm thinking, how the heck do they get through all that film on their own? I'm amazed by it," Hanley said in 2000 to CineMontage while the pair were working on "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Hill's experience cutting pictures before teaming up with Hanley and Howard provided perfect training too as he was splicing up classic Hollywood material. 

Mike Hill began his career placing commercials in classic movies

Mike Hill began his career cutting commercials into classic pictures like "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "On the Waterfront" for a local TV station in Nebraska (per Deadline). Hill's work eventually led him to an apprentice position at Paramount where he met Dan Hanley. According to the editors, their work was almost immediately seamless as they could pass scene after scene between each other, sometimes not knowing who cut what.

"We fell into a rhythm right from the get-go," Hanley told Editors Guild Magazine. The partnership went on for so long that the pair moved out of film and into digital together. Hill described their workload as still similar to the days of old as digital allowed Ron Howard to shoot more coverage, something also enabled by having not one, but two editors piecing together his footage.

"I can do so much more, I can experiment more, and not have to worry about cutting the print. Ron has us do multiple versions of some scenes, just because we can," Hill told Editors Guild Magazine. 

The duo continued challenging themselves over the years, with Howard always guiding them to radically different genres. When accepting a BAFTA award on behalf of Hill and Hanley in 2014, Howard revealed "Rush" was considered by the editors to be their most challenging movie yet. It was their second-to-last collaboration before the trio sadly came to an end with 2015's "Heart of the Sea."