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The intense editing behind "Baby Reindeer"

The Netflix show Baby Reindeer has been a big hit for the streamer
2 minute read
The Netflix show Baby Reindeer has been a big hit for the streamer

The editing process behind Netflix’s Baby Reindeer is a compelling example of how post-production work can enhance storytelling, especially in a narrative as disturbing and intense as this one.

Matt Feury is host and producer of The Rough Cut podcast, as well as the Senior Director of Artist Relations for Avid, and often delivers some really interesting insights into how high-profile content is cut. His conversation with Baby Reindeer editor Peter Oliver, which first featured on the frame.io insider blog and which you can listen to in full below, doesn't disappoint either.

The tl;dr (tl;dl?) summary is that the now controversial Baby Reindeer tells the real story of Richard Gadd's life, focusing on his tumultuous and obsessive relationship with a woman called Martha who becomes increasingly intrusive and threatening. The journey explores themes of trauma, obsession, and the profound impact of stalking, showing the unfiltered look at Gadd's psychological struggle and the lengths to which he must go to get a sense of safety and normality.

Originating from a stage performance, the main challenge was to translate Gadd's raw performance into a visual format that resonated with viewers. This involved balancing the original material's authenticity with clever editing decisions when it came to cinematic techniques. And Oliver, who also went on to cut the equally zeitgeisty Eric, has some excellent insights into putting a show like this together.

Editing the narrative

Oliver worked closely with Richard Gadd (writer, star, and creator) and Weronika Tofilska (director). The 'communal' editing process ensured the story stayed true to Gadd’s autobiography while allowing room for evolution. Oliver mentioned how the voiceover changed with the pictures, reflecting the constant evolution of the narrative.


Both Richard Gadd and Weronika Tofilska on set 

The true story-based series, adapted from Richard Gadd’s one-man play, tells a story of the deep complexities of trauma and obsession. One of the challenges was to keep the authenticity of Richard's intense voice-overs. Using a multi-cam setup, the editors managed to capture various angles and reactions in a single take, keeping the raw emotion of Gadd's performance. 

Shifting tones

Playing with raw emotions meant the editing style was playing with different tones. "I love that switch from darkness to light," mentions Oliver. "You kind of fall in love with Martha. Then there are moments where you’re saying, “No, don’t do it! Don’t give her your number!”.

Non-linear storytelling

Oliver mentions the use of non-linear storytelling techniques, where using flashbacks and different transitions, helps to capture the psychological disorientation. These quick cuts were not just stylistic choices but narrative editing decisions to show the fragmented nature of Gadd's experiences.


The pacing of the series was controlled to match the highs and lows. Slow shots with minimal cuts were used during introverted and brooding moments, while rapid cuts were used during scenes filled with tension and conflict. 


Editing the Visuals


The use of light played a huge role during the production when creating the right mood. Dark and shadowy scenes used harsh, bright lights to reflect the mixed emotional states throughout every episode. Camera movements, including handheld shots and static frames, were all carefully chosen to maintain a sense of unease and immediacy.

Color Grading

Lighting was paired with tones of dark themes. Desaturated tones and high-contrast settings enhanced the visual narrative. Visual effects were applied sparingly, only to accentuate scenes that required a surreal, nightmarish quality without detracting from the story's realism. 


Lighting and color grades followed a dark and gloomy theme throughout the series

In the end, the editing of Baby Reindeer showcases how much thought process goes into post-production. It can elevate a narrative, by using advanced editing tools, real-time collaboration, and communal decision-making. The editing team created a series that captures both intense emotions while looking visually compelling. The result gives the viewers a powerful and immersive storytelling experience.

What do you think - is Martha a guilty party or lonely woman struggling with mental illness? At least she had my sympathy...

Tags: Production Adobe Editing