“Best of Enemies” fulfilled a dream for its co-editor and associate producer, Triangle native Eileen Meyer.
Meyer was “super into film” as a teen, working at a video rental store and the art-house Chelsea Theater in Chapel Hill while attending Carolina Friends School in Durham. “And I would bring home every film that got into Sundance,” she said.
This year her first feature-length documentary, a five-year labor of love, became one of those films.
Meyer, 33, who was born in Raleigh and grew up in Durham, was living in Memphis when a friend, Robert Gordon, asked her to join “Best of Enemies,” his project with co-director Morgan Neville about the 1968 debates between William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal.
“I didn’t even know who these guys were,” Meyer said from Los Angeles in a phone interview. “I was coming from a younger generation and knew nothing about the history.”
So one of her roles, she said, was to help answer the question: “Why do we want to watch two old white men yell at each other?”
The film’s relevance quickly became clear to her.
“All of these issues they’re talking about are the same issues we’re talking about now,” she said. “This was the beginning of that kind of fireworks that get ratings for news networks.”
Although this is her first feature-length film, Meyer got a quick taste of the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in 2012 as co-editor of a short film called “The Thing,” made by her friend Rhys Ernst. She was associate producer of “Rehearsing a Dream,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007 as a documentary short.
The hardest thing about “Best of Enemies,” she said, was every editor’s challenge: what to leave on the floor.
“We had researchers go out and find every TV show, every interview that Buckley and Vidal did,” she said. “We had tons of incredible stuff. With two directors and two editors, it was really a collaborative process.”
And everyone had to give up moments they loved.
“We had to kill our babies in the editing room.”
Frederick: 919-829-8956. Twitter: @Eric_Frederick