When director Eric Appel began working on the movie “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” a few years ago, the first person he called was Jamie Kennedy.

Kennedy, a Gorham native, has established a reputation as a creative and fastidious film editor during her decade or so in Hollywood. Appel had worked with Kennedy on a TV show called “Die Hart,” starring Kevin Hart as a comedian trying to become an action film star.

Appel says he knew Kennedy would make the film better. Plus, he already knew he loved working with her.

“She’s just fun to be around. We laughed a lot. But maybe even more importantly, I loved the cuts she was delivering to me,” said Appel. “As a director, you’re so close to the project you’re working on, when someone can show you a scene in a way that you didn’t think of, but works even better than you imagined it, that’s gold. ”

For her work on “Weird,” Kennedy, 34, won a prestigious American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Award in March, in the category of best edited feature film, non-theatrical. The film is a biopic satire loosely based on the life of Yankovic, who has made a career of writing and performing parodies of hit pop songs. It stars Daniel Radcliffe of “Harry Potter” fame and is now streaming on The Roku Channel.

It was her first feature film, though her TV credits over the past few years include “The Summer I Turned Pretty” on Prime, “Modern Family” on ABC and “You’re The Worst” on FX.  Kennedy likes the creative problem-solving involved in editing, taking raw footage and piecing it together so that it becomes a story, with a distinctive feel and pace.


“I love the feeling of making something, the feeling you get when something just works, whether it’s cutting two shots together or getting the music just right,” said Kennedy, from her home studio in Los Angeles. “I learned early on this is what I really liked to do. I’ve been lucky to have great mentors.”

Jamie Kennedy of Gorham won an American Cinema Editors (ACE) award this year for her work on the film “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.” Photo courtesy of The Roku Channel


Growing up in Gorham, Kennedy said as a youngster she had wanted to be a veterinarian, and went to a vet summer camp in Canada. But during her sophomore year in high school, she put together a PowerPoint presentation for a school function, which led to her getting a summer job at Gorham’s public access TV station, now called Gorham Community Access Media.

She recorded sporting events and produced various segments, including one on bike safety and a behind-the-scenes look at the high school’s production of the musical “Footloose.” The latter won a regional award for community programming.

“I don’t think she was leaning toward this career when she worked here, but she was just so talented and so open to learning,” said Georgia Humphrey, community media systems manager at Gorham Community Access Media. “She’s a wicked nice person. Nice people don’t always get ahead, so it’s really nice to see her success.”

Kennedy credits Humphrey as well as teachers and others at Gorham High School for encouraging her and many students there to pursue their career dreams, even if they were in non-traditional fields. A surprising number of people who were at the school around the same time as Kennedy have gone on to success in the creative arts, including Jessica Ernest, Leigh-Ann and Sara Esty and Andrew Wojtal, who have all performed on Broadway. The Esty sisters were also in the recent remake of the film “West Side Story.”


“It feels like there must have been something in the water,” said Kennedy. “I think we were all fortunate to have such nurturing and kind mentors there.”

Maine native Jamie Kennedy, who has built a career as an editor for film and TV, at her Los Angeles home studio. Kaylee Colton photo

Kennedy also said that her parents always encouraged her to follow her passion and never tried to push her toward “doing something just to earn money.”

After graduating from Gorham High School in 2007, she went to Emerson College in Boston to study film. There, she did a little bit of everything it takes to make film – shooting, directing, editing, recording sound. She used the former Cinemagic cinema in Westbrook, where she had worked for a while, as a location for some student films she made.

She spent her final semester at Emerson’s Los Angeles campus and got an internship with a production company that does promo ads for TV networks. When she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in media production in 2011, she stayed in Los Angeles to look for work.

She spent a couple years in marketing for the Disney Channel and then worked for a YouTube channel that produced celebrity news pieces. She said the latter job was “soul sucking, but did make me a faster editor.” While working those jobs, she also spent time editing short films.

She got her first major series TV job as a post-production assistant on the hit ABC sitcom “Modern Family.” She credits editor Tony Orcena and the crew of that show with supporting her and helping her to learn what she wanted to do – editing. She eventually became assistant editor on the show, and having that on her resume helped get other jobs later, she said.


After “Modern Family” she worked with Orcena again, on “You’re The Worst,” and has also worked on several other shows, including “Die Hart.” That show starred Kevin Hart and John Travolta.

“You see all this footage everyday, and you feel like you know them, but they barely know who I am,” Kennedy said of the stars she edits. “You see them at the wrap party, and you’re like, ‘They don’t even know me, nevermind.’ ”

Jamie Kennedy kept this Al Yankovic doll on her desk while editing the recent film “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.”


It was on “Die Hart” that Kennedy first worked with Appel, who said she had come highly recommended by Ryan Case, an editor and director on “Modern Family.” While working with Appel on “Die Hart,” Kennedy had learned Appel had made a YouTube video that was a parody of Yankovic’s life. She told him then, “if you ever make that into a movie,” she’d love to be involved.

With his bushy hair and ever-present accordion, Yankovic has forged a 40-year career writing and recording parody versions of hit pop songs, including “Eat It” (Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”) and “Like a Surgeon” (Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”). The film features some outrageous scenarios, including a romance with Madonna and drug kingpin Pablo Escobar forcing Yankovic to play his birthday party.

Kennedy said she was excited to work on “Weird” because she’s been a fan of his parodies since she was in high school. She and her husband, Josh Roth, have gone to several of  Yankovic’s shows. While working on the film, she kept a small Yankovic doll by her computer, for inspiration. She said sometimes she’d get editing notes from Yankovic, and would meet with him during Zoom meetings occasionally. But mostly she worked alone, taking the footage and, following a script and some performance video, try to piece a scene together.


When editing, Kennedy said she gets notes sometimes from directors or others that say something like “this take is the best,” but ultimately she makes the decision, though the director gets to look over what she’s done. Kennedy said she’s not “currently attached” to another film, but has some prospects. She worked on season two of “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” which is streaming this summer. All production of TV shows is up in the air right now until the completion of the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike.

“I go out to the picket lines because we’re nowhere without the writers,” said Kennedy.

She said she enjoyed working on “Weird” because she got to work on scenes that were dramatic, funny and musical. She said sometimes editors get pigeonholed and gain reputations for only being able to work in one genre.

“In comedy, it’s about timing and making it snappy, which is also how you cut action, so it won’t drag too much,” said Kennedy. “Musical numbers are cutting to choreography, which is lot of like action. With drama it’s about the faces, it’s almost the opposite of comedy.”

Appel said his favorite scene in “Weird” was made better because of Kennedy’s work. It’s when Yankovic was writing his first hit, “My Bologna,” a parody of “My Sharona” by The Knack.

“Jamie added this big, sweeping music score (to the scene), and the way that she balanced that with all these amazing reaction shots from the cast was pure genius,” said Appel. “It’s not exactly how I had envisioned the scene, but it’s what ended up making it into the cut because it was so good. I mean, the whole movie was full of moments like that and little choices that Jamie made, but that one sticks out because it’s my favorite scene in the movie.”

Correction: This story was updated at 4:10 p.m. on June 18, 2023 to correct the production status of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and the effects of the writers’ strike on Kennedy’s work.

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