Escaping Twin Flames

A deep dive into the editing of Netflix’s ACE Eddie winning documentary series, Escaping Twin Flames. We discuss when to be on-camera with an interview and when to be off, protecting yourself from the trauma of difficult subject matter, and the mission of an editor to tell stories truthfully.

Today on Art of the Cut we’re talking with one of the ACE Eddie winning editors of Escaping Twin Flames, which won the Eddie for Best Edited Documentary - non-theatrical.

Inbal Lessner, ACE, was the Executive Producer and Supervising Editor. We last spoke with Inbal for Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult “Exposed” which was nominated for an ACE Eddie in 2021.

Her other work includes the documentary, Brave Miss World, and work on CNN’s series of “decade” defining documentaries - for which she was nominated for an ACE Eddie. In addition to her documentary work, she was an additional editor on Natalie Portman’s directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness.

The other editors on the project were Martin Biehn, Kevin Hibbard, Mimi Wilcox, and Troy Takaki, ACE.

Inbal. It’s so nice to talk to you again on another documentary series. Congratulations on the success of this one.

Thank you so much.

We should point out also that you are an executive producer in addition to editing.

So I co-created this series with my partner-producer Cecilia Peck. We pitched it and Netflix commissioned it and I am an executive producer and an editor on the series.

How was it determined how many episodes there would be and where each episode would end?

Cecilia and I did the series “Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult” that came out three years ago on Starz and that was our template. That show worked in terms of shedding light and also educating and exposing the story behind the NXIVM cult, from the point of view of the survivors and following their recovery and their process to reclaim their lives. It was a pretty good template for us.

As we approached this story, our idea was to make a four-part series again but Netflix was very adamant that it had to be three. They just felt the story could be told tightly in three parts. I guess there’s an algorithm and “three is the new eight” as they say in docu-series world.

There’s been a recent trend to tell these stories in a more economical way. Long gone is the trend of 8, 10, 12 part docu-series. It just seems to be very rare now, so we had to figure out how to really take four hours of story and content down. We really thought we had enough for five but had to squeeze it into three. 

The first episode follows mostly the recruitment and allure of the group: how these women found Twin Flames Universe by searching to solve their relationship issues or looking for love that was more deep and genuine beyond your typical dating app.

They were really looking for a community and for a way to understand what is the type of romantic love they were looking for. So: how they stumbled upon this group, this couple that runs Twin Flames Universe, what was appealing to them at first, what were the positive aspects of the group.

Then slowly expose the insidious indoctrination and how they got sucked into paying more and following the group and volunteering their time and working for the group: how they get sucked into that dynamic.

2024 ACE Eddie acceptance

The second episode goes more in depth about the indoctrination and the different programs, how they were under control in very different ways. There was financial control, there was control of their daily lives. 

There was even food control with this meal program - “Divine Dish” - and then thought control. Jeff, the leader, even proclaimed he was a religious figure. He compared himself to Jesus Christ. So he was “the second coming.” Slowly, this group took over every aspect of their members’ lives, and that’s when we sort of expose the group’s agenda regarding sexuality and gender.

By the third episode you really see how the manipulation of gender and what happened in the group was “Divine Pairings.” Jeff’s now a religious leader and claims to be channeling the word of God, and telling the members who they should partner with in order to be in “harmonious union” as they called it. 

So those manufactured couples now have to be together, sometimes move across state lines or international lines to be with each other.

…Or gender lines…

Yep. They were encouraged to change their sexuality, their gender, gender identity. More than encouraged. Coerced I think. And we try to follow those members and the family members of some who are still in the group and trapped and what the family members are doing and how they’re taking action.

Then at the end you see the women who were brave enough to leave how they are reclaiming their lives and coming together to tell this story in order to alert the authorities.

Talk to me about, from an editor’s standpoint, some of the lovely moments, the pacing moments that weren’t purely dialogue. Obviously you have a huge amount of story - as you said. You thought you had five hours of story to tell. So how do you reduce that to three hours? How do you then also leave time for breath and moments of emotion and contemplation?

Thank you for saying that. Obviously our first pass - when you tackle writing on a documentary like this - we first build the radio cut. Interviews are the spine of the narrative. When we build them we already try to give it some shape in terms of rhythm. So you don’t want them to be all bunched up against each other. 

You really want - especially when the story’s so outrageous - you want things to have time to land and for people to process. There’s also a lot of imagery because it’s an online cult.

Other than three meetups that we show in the series, all the activity takes place online, so a lot of our visuals are their Facebook group and Facebook posts and Instagram posts and emails and text messages and there’s so much text on the screen that you also need time to read it and contemplate it and sit with it.

So it can’t be wall-to-wall dialogue. You have to have time for the audience to understand: “Oh, this is something I need to read and I need to sit with it.” 

So it was very careful crafting of the balance between the spoken word and music and some visuals to build tone and then all the information we were showing on screen and how much of it one can even take. 

It is a particular passion of mine to figure out the rhythmic landscape of the show and to make sure there’s enough breath for people to connect and not just be assaulted verbally - that they can understand it intellectually, but then we really want them to connect emotionally with the characters and understand what they’re going through and how the barrage of the word-salad of the leaders is really impacting them.

Editing team after their ACE Eddie win with director Dr. Cecilia Peck

It’s such an emotional story and there are crazy moments and as an audience member you’ve gotta have a moment that allows you to just think about what you just heard. What drove you - in your interviews - of when to cover the interview and when to see the interview on camera?

This is a good opportunity to explain that while I’m the executive producer and show-runner in charge of post, I’m not the sole editor. We had an amazing team editing on the show. Kevin Hibbard, Mimi Wilcox and Martin Biehn and then Troy Takaki, ACE joined us at the end for picture lock. 
I was supporting and helping to edit and then also sort of stepped in at the very end to do some cutting myself. The way we approached it was not siloed episodes - meaning this was a team that together was making a three-hour film. So I actually divided the work with each editor in charge of one character arc. 

Kevin had the Keely arc - who’s our main protagonist - then he also handled Marlee, her little sister. So that storyline of Keely and her little sister Marlee and their journey from beginning to end how they found a group, how Keely was promoted to be the CEO and was an enforcer as well.

An interesting dynamic of being abused but also an abuser is a typical dynamic in cults. We were so lucky that she was brave enough and open enough to share all that with us. I thought that was incredibly special that we were able to tell the depth and the complexity of her role in that story.

Mimi Wilcox was in charge of the Elle storyline: the young woman who was pushed to engage in stalking and even went to jail, then comes out and finally leaves the group and becomes enemy number one of Twin Flames Universe. Then Martin cut the Angie storyline. 

Then I helped cut the Paula and Louise, the mother and twin sister story. Then we intertwined them all together. Only after that - when we tried to scramble all the scenes and figure out the right order on a Miro board (, then we said Kevin will be in charge of episode one and Mimi will take two and Martin will take three.

But we always worked as a team and it was important to have editors who are really good collaborators and who don’t get precious about a certain scene or a certain splice and they’re all actually feeling inspired by the collaboration, and that if episode one was out to the network to get notes, Kevin would jump in and help with episode two, episode three or wherever we needed him. 

So we were able to all jump around and be very involved with the entire series and that really was the only way to get it done in that short time span.

Avid Timeline screenshot, EPisode 101, picture lock.

It’s very interesting how you broke up the storylines and then broke up the assignments of the individual episodes. 

When do you cover an on-camera interview and when do you decide to use the on-camera interview on camera?

We’re definitely looking for a certain emotional feeling, a delivery of a line that feels genuine, unrehearsed: a twitch in somebody’s facial muscle, the way they blink their eyes in that moment. Or sometimes it’s actually right after you ask the question and you see their eyes sort of rolling and their brain turning to try to find the answer or to try to capture that memory. 

You actually see it in their faces as they go back and try to relive that moment or go back in their memories. It’s interesting, some interviews we cover completely other than maybe the “button” of it or the beginning of it. 

I mean you always want to make sure you connect the voice to a person and that you remember who they are because we have multiple characters. So that was a challenge. How many of them do we introduce and when can we track each one and still have a connection to each one even though there are multiple people to get to know and care about.

You always wanna know who’s talking to you, at least in our show, you wanna know where the voice is coming from, identify it, see the face, really understand it. But then you wanna be in their world, you wanna see what they’re seeing, you wanna feel what they’re feeling. 

For that, you really need those images from their online world, from their meetups, from all this evidence that we gathered for two years before we even started production. I remember when Cecilia filmed the main interview with Keely in her mobile home. 

I was monitoring it via Zoom and I was completely glued to the screen. I knew we had something really, really special. I just knew there’s nothing like this on television and I’m interested and I wanna watch this woman’s face as she’s telling this story.

There are moments where she’s not connected to herself - she’s just remembering it and because it’s so traumatic she has to have a barrier from her emotions to the facts. You can read that on her face and then the few moments where she really is connected and feeling it, obviously those jumped at us. 

You see in episode three when she’s finally able to talk about her role in some of the abuse that was happening and how the cult leaders used her to abuse other members who were below her in terms of ranking, and I think reckoning with her role in the abuse and how she was able to get there and really believe that it was necessary and in the members’ best interest, and then seeing how she was able to finally wake up and recover from that is a fascinating human psychological thriller. 

Whenever that reflects on her face, especially those moments of when they woke up, it’s really fascinating to watch their faces and eyes and facial muscles as they recount those stories.


You could really see it on Keely’s face when she owned it, how painful it was for her to accept her part in that.

But the series had to go there. We felt it was our duty as filmmakers, storytellers, journalists to make that part of the story, to not gloss over it. To say, “Yeah, she was part of this manipulation and abuse but much like India Oxenberg in NXIVM, that’s because there was a hierarchy of command and Keely was being used as a tool by the cult leaders and did the dirty work that they didn’t want to do themselves, or as a way to remove themselves from legal responsibility. 

This is how most high-control groups and cults work. It was important to expose that and to allow her to own up to it but also to make amends. She meets with Angie in the last episode in a very, very emotional scene where she has the opportunity to apologize in person and they kind of unpack together how they felt when they were inside the group and what’s lingering after that.

It was brave for Cecilia Peck, our director, to confront that and go there with Keely and everything that means in terms of offering mental health support and really understanding what that means to ask a subject to confront those very difficult feelings. 

Our entire editing team were more than excellent editors, they’re incredible humanitarians. They’re good humans. And they took very seriously that responsibility that was in their hands and the trust that the former cult members put in us to tell their stories respectfully, with dignity, with accuracy, and with compassion. 

So all of our editorial arguments and conversations were around that. How do we tell this with the most ethical consideration and compassion for the former members and the family members that agreed to expose themselves in this series?


One of the emotional moments that I thought was so incredibly revealing and painful was when Marlee and Josh are on stage in episode two. Marlee looks so sad. You can tell by her eyes she doesn’t wanna make eye contact. It was brutal.

I think it was important to us to say this is not just some bizarre group with eccentric rituals for your at-home pleasure and entertainment. This is criminal. So we took this very seriously. 

Every single screenshot, text message, piece of video was vetted by multiple teams of lawyers and it’s all true to the original evidence. Obviously, sometimes we highlight a certain part of a text or we do some graphic treatments to make it TV-friendly in terms of how it’s seen on screen. But everything is the absolute truth and we couldn’t take it lightly. 

There’s humor - don’t get me wrong - there’s humor. There’s lightness in the storytelling and humor is really important when you tell dark, difficult stories. I always insist on lacing my shows and films with as much humor as I can, but the crimes are serious and the abuse is super serious.

When you see Marlee and Josh on stage in the Toronto meetup and Jeff’s asking her, “How happy are you?” “Oh I’m so happy.” and you see in her face that she’s feeling the exact opposite of what she’s saying and it’s so telling. 

There was a soundbite from her that reveals even more of what she was feeling behind the scenes, but you see it all in her face and it’s heartbreaking that she was pushed to move across state lines to Utah where she’s never been, to partner with a man she didn’t know who was 11 years older than her, who had a criminal history, was on probation at the time and had mental health issues. 

There was a lot of abuse while she was there in Utah living with him. And if this is not a clear case of sex trafficking, I don’t know what is. It was obviously done so that the leaders could publicize Marlee and Josh as being a success story for their organization and help sell more subscriptions.

So they had a financial gain from this marketing trick and it’s all at the expense of 19-year-old Marlee. It’s a really troubling story. It took us a while to gain her trust. 

Originally, we didn’t have her participation. She wasn’t in the series in the beginning and finally decided that it was worthwhile and that she was gonna tell her story on her terms with the right support. So we added that story and the series got even longer so it was even a bigger challenge to cut it back down to three hours. 

But I find her to be the heart of the story and she’s so expressive. You see her in the first meetup in Brooklyn and the second meetup in Toronto. When she comes on the screen she has this beautiful magical aura about her, and so much pain underneath.

There’s evidence of innocence lost for sure. Some of this was really hard to watch. How do you edit things that are really hard to watch and protect yourself from the psychological impact of that?

Thank you for asking this question. Over the years, people ask me a lot because if you look at my IMDB, you see that - in the last 20-plus years - almost all I’ve done is documentaries about holocaust and genocide and war and sexual assault and cults and racism and sexism and all those not-very-happy topics. 

I guess it’s my niche - Dark is my niche - and I have developed coping mechanisms. I really am able to compartmentalize the storytelling from the trauma. I know there’s an impact. I know there’s a price I’m paying personally, but at work I really try to break it down to the story elements: “Okay, this is the A story, the B story. This is the conflict.

This is the resolution. This is the tension. What is the purpose of this scene?” I don’t wanna say it’s clinical, but I do get clear-cut about what the story has to do and then once that’s built and I watch either what my editors do or a string-out or the final episodes when I sit back and watch, that’s when I allow my body to feel it, and then I register where it’s hitting me in my gut or in my ribs or in my throat or in my skin or how am I processing this emotionally.

Then I have to sit and translate it back into the work, into the editing notes. But you know, I go to therapy to talk about it. Physical exercise is super-great to get some of that out. I started kickboxing recently. 

Any kind of a walk when you’re feeling overwhelmed or even just in need of a new editorial idea - that seems to help. I try to separate my home, family life, personal life from my work life as much as I can. It’s not always easy, especially when you’re also the executive producer and it’s not a 9-5 job. It’s more involved than that. 

More than anything I feel a sense of mission and a sense of responsibility to tell these stories. It’s more than a job, it’s a calling. 

The more you do these type of films and shows and you see the impact of those stories in the world and you hear from people who watched these stories and it impacted them and it changed them in some way or they learned something, it really invigorates you to do more, so I keep seeing that when I have difficult days or difficult moments on the project, I close my eyes and imagine the end goal and, “Okay, this will be out in the world and it will do what it needs to do and I just have to go through this pain to get there.” 

I’m so glad this conversation has become more acceptable and prevalent in the documentary community and that it’s more standard-operating-procedure to offer mental health support. Not just for the crime victims on the screen - the survivors on the screen - but also for the production staff and post-production staff. It’s not easy because it’s second-hand trauma with a long exposure. 

So it’s not just something terrible that happened to you and then you tell the story. Most of us documentary editors are empaths and we’re trying to feel it and put ourselves in the shoes of the people whose stories we tell and to go through that emotional empathy day in and day out and hear those stories again and again for either four months or six months or three years. 

It’s a lot of pain you’re processing, so it’s good to be able to talk about it more and to come up with industry standards for it. I’ve been in situations where that wasn’t the case and people didn’t understand why they’re having nightmares or are compelled to reach for their phone to play a mindless game in the middle of the workday. 

Why is this happening to me? Well, because you’re dealing with trauma on the screen for 10 hours a day. It’s not easy and it’s okay to talk about it and figure out together how we can support people who do that work.

Inbal Lessner, ACE

You’re part of a documentary group that advocates for that, correct?

We talked about it last time I was on your show. I’m actually not as involved now as I have been a few years ago. But at some point I was on a mental health committee for the Association of Documentary Editors and we try to increase the awareness and offer different methods of support for people working in documentary editing when they’re facing difficult subject matters or just the way the work impacts their personal lives. 

There’s much more awareness now than there’s been in past years. What was easy for me to answer 10 years ago is not as easy today. I’m now working on a film about very recent traumatic events and it’s even more difficult than other films. 

So 20 years of experience doing this may have just worn me thin to the point where I can’t do this anymore. Time will tell. You think you develop a hard shell but sometimes maybe the shell gets thinner.

There are several illustrated graphical animated moments throughout the film. How did you determine that you needed those and then what did you do while you were waiting for them to be animated and the graphics to be done? Did you just use scene cards or what’d you do?

Cecilia and I started using these animated recreations in “Seduced.” We knew we didn’t want to film typical recreations for this show as well and that we wanted this animated treatment. But we also wanted to try something a little different. There were some stories that we didn’t have footage for. 

We didn’t have photos or video clips and we knew there were cornerstones of the narrative that we couldn’t do it without. It wasn’t strong enough for the interviewee to just be on screen. I’m sure you know Steve, but the way people talk is not the way we necessarily want to edit them on screen where they sound coherent and clear and they say all the right words in the right order. 

So sometimes you have to help them a little bit to make sure the story makes sense and flows and has a good rhythm.

So it’s not like we could just put them on camera for a minute to tell the whole story without any visual support, so those are the moments we chose to animate and we worked with amazing artists at Yukfoo Animation Studios, a New Zealand/Australia-based company. 

The time difference was a real challenge, but they came up in the development phase with some ideas for looks and styles, and I told the editors: “Whenever we have a story we don’t have the material for, go wild, just put whatever comes to mind on a slate. 

Don’t just put a slate says ‘animation to come.’ Try to imagine with us what could that look like? What would you like to see here?” So we would talk about these things and we would change those slates probably 50 times.

We would do the export of that clip and show it to the animation company and they would bring something even more unexpected, because what you can do with animation, you can’t do with live action footage. You can be nuanced. 

You can be allegorical. You can have suggestive and abstract visual ideas, sort of like an abstract painting. We knew in episode one and the beginning of episode two, we would use them for everybody’s recounting of their love stories and their “twin flame stories.” 

Those would always be animated and there’ll be some magic to it where you felt the warmth and the allure. Then - if you notice - the color palette starts changing as you go on with the series. It becomes colder and bluer in the online world.

It’s always cold and distant when we talk about the M.A.P. program - which was a very dangerous Mind Alignment Process - a psychological manipulation tool of the group. We use the animation in a very creative way to show how they insert a certain bad memory or the possibility of a bad memory that wasn’t there before. 

But somehow it colors the whole perspective of somebody going through this almost hypnosis-like ritual. It shows a wave going into her head and then something gets colored darker and then the wave coming out of the other side of our head is now dark and the stain is growing - the dark stain. 

So it was really fun to find those visual manifestations of the indoctrination and of the abuse. How do we tell that in a visually interesting way that couldn’t be really done in any other way but animation. We love those segments. They’re only two or three minutes of the whole series, but they really stand out.

It really feels like much more than two or three minutes. If you’d asked me to guess I would’ve tripled that number. 

What kind of writing was there apart from the editing itself or was the writing synonymous with the editing?

I think the writing is always synonymous with documentary editing and I wish it was a standard procedure to give all documentary editors writing credits.

At the premiere. Inbal Lessner, Zoe Vock, Mimi Wilcox, Cecilia Peck

That’s Walter Murch’s absolute belief.

I’m totally with Walter on this. It’s interesting that he said - in your last interview with him - that in fiction we have -and I’m butchering his actual quote - we have few events, but a lot of coverage, and in documentary you have a lot of events, but no coverage. 

That’s definitely right in this and as well as all the other documentaries I’ve done. You work with a lot of events - a lot of information - and distilling it down to a narrative that makes sense that goes from A to B to C, that somebody can track and follow intellectually and emotionally.

There’s writing every second. It’s not writing something out of nothing but it’s writing something out of something. So it’s taking every character interview and finding the core beats that make up their story, finding a way to write it all into one integrated story when you interlace all these characters together.

In terms of actual writing - meaning putting pen to paper, we had to write a full scene-by-scene outline before we shot anything. That got submitted to Netflix for approval. Cecilia likes to be very prepared for interviews, so we help her write all the questions. 

Sometimes we imagine what the answer would be, but we don’t dictate it. We are often surprised and integrate new information that comes up in interviews into the story because people remember new things once they sit in front of the camera or they reframe it a certain way. 

So we leave a lot of room for discovery in the interviews, but we definitely write a lot of questions going into it. And Cecilia does an amazing job prepping and allowing herself to be really present and respond to the story as it’s unfolding. Then every time we had a rough cut done, we would transcribe it and distribute that document.

Then my father tragically passed away while we were editing, so on the plane, you know I took the transcript - which, at that point was a three-hour episode, and on paper I slashed it down to an hour-and-a-half, then to an hour. 

So the writing can be done even outside of the editing room in terms of reshaping, distilling, cutting down. Then a lot of writing being done on the storyboard level by changing the order and deciding what the storyline is gonna be. That’s definitely a lot of writing decisions.

You mentioned the great Walter Murch quote about documentary having lots of scenes but very little coverage. I was thinking of one great moment where the mom gets a text message from her child in the middle of the interview and how you’re trying to stretch that moment out. You’re trying to have it have as much impact. Can you talk about building a moment like that mom getting that text message from her child?

The bigger context is that family alienation is something in common with all high-control groups that we’ve seen and followed and studied and it’s a really, really heartbreaking element of the manipulation, ‘cause once you cut somebody off from their family and their loved ones and the people that can offer them other points of view about what’s happening to them, then they’re completely malleable and susceptible to undue influence. 

Cecilia and I really care about their stories and wanted to do it justice. This mom who’s introduced in episode three, Debbie, talks about falling out of touch with her child. That she’s been trying to reconnect with her child and send him a text message. 

And we go somewhere else and when we come back to her, she’s talking about something else. This really happened in real time. When the mom was talking about sending the text message, Cecilia said, “Well why don’t you just send it now?” 

She did, and as they went along and talked about something else, all of a sudden the phone vibrates and she looks at it, and she says, “I got a text back!” So figuring out how to use the dailies to make you feel that you’re there and it’s happening in real time. 

And even though there are two cameras rolling and it’s obviously a set with lights and crew in a home - we’re not a fly on the wall - but within that context of a sit-down interview, this was a spontaneous, genuine moment. 

They kept rolling and she read it and we take our time to show it. We stripped down the music. There’s nothing there, then slowly the music comes back in and afterward we picked up a shot over the shoulder showing the closeup of the screen. 

So that allowed us another angle in addition to the two cameras: the wide and the close that were on her. So we had that insert, we just kind of let it play. Then the most debate was about the moment that follows. At the end of her interview she gets up and spontaneously she got a hug from the two other moms that were there because she really broke down reading the text. She had not heard from her child in so long.

And to get that text was so emotional for her that when she got up she was just sobbing. The other moms were so moved because they’re also cut off from their children and they wanted to offer her support and command her bravery. There’s a lot of things happening behind the scenes you’re not even aware of as you’re watching the show, but it’s all very human and complicated.

So they had this moment of of embrace. For a while we debated how much of it and whether it even belongs in the show. I think we went through a few versions of it and I love where we ended with it. You get to experience her struggle with the loss of contact with her child and the possibility that they could get back in touch. 

We actually had another scene that got left on the cutting room floor. That mom goes to Dr. Adair, our transgender expert, and she asks Dr. Adair how to approach her child and how does she deal with even the pronouns and what can she say because in her heart she believes the transition was under coercion. But her child is identifying now as a transgender male.

Dr. Adair tells her you have to meet your child where they’re at. That’s who they are now. You have to accept it for any communication even to begin. We really love the scene. Netflix felt it was a little too “broccoli.” They have this idea that their viewers like chocolate-covered broccoli, so if you’re going to educate somebody, you need to do it with…

…A little sugar, a little honey…

Yes, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Avid timeline screenshot Episode 102

That was literally my next question! What scenes dropped to the cutting room floor late in the process, and for any scenes that dropped out and came back, why did they get dropped out and why did they come back?

When you work on developing a show like this for two years - like Cecilia and I have, along with Morgan Poferl, our supervising producer, then you go through the year of filming and cutting, you’re so in this story, that we were trying to remain open to notes. 

We’re trying to remain open to our very, very talented executives at Netflix. If they told us to cut something, Cecilia might say, “No, we can’t cut that.” I would say, “Well let’s try it.” I was always open to trying it. I also knew there wasn’t a lot of time to debate this back and forth. 

The only way you can know for sure is to just try it. There were a lot of things we cut and then we were missing too much and said, “Okay, I understand why you wanted to cut it, but I think I can bring it back elsewhere or I can bring it back in a new context.”

With the interviews, they’re so long that you can pick short sections from it. But also anytime you see a scene of a conversation - let’s say between Dr. Lalich and Keely, which was on the chopping block for a while - we weren’t sure we were gonna get to keep it, but they met and spoke for a couple of hours. 

So you can play it 500 different ways depending on what part of the conversation you choose to include. In narrative you have scenes that go away and come back, but it’s rare that you can tell a scene 500 different ways. It is what it is. 

They didn’t ad-lib and roll for two hours to see what they get. They kind of know where the scene starts and ends. But in our case, if another editor took a crack at it or we just went back to the transcript - the raw - we could really make a new scene that said something else.

That started one way and ended up another way. The Keely/Dr. Lalich scene, with Janja Lalich the cult expert at the end of episode three is a scene that went through many iterations. I really loved coming into it from Keely finding her own voice and starting to speak publicly on TikTok against the group.

I was told to cut the TikTok scene so many times that I knew - unless I nail it really quickly - I’m not gonna get to keep it. So in 10 seconds I had to establish that Keely is speaking out on TikTok, Dr. Lalich notices her TikToks, she approaches her, so we had to show this Instagram text exchange. Then Keely writes her back and they meet. 

So you had to distill all these months of Keely being outspoken and the multiple conversations between them. Then finally Keely coming to meet Janja [Dr. Lalich] for the first time in person and gets to understand and forgive herself for her role as a deployable agent that the cult leaders used in order to abuse other members. 

All that had to somehow be communicated in two minutes. I think that was a big challenge and that little transition - I’m very proud of that scene with TikTok to the text message to her coming up the stairs. You just understand that these two women are going to have a meeting of the minds that’s gonna be very emotionally impactful and sets Keely on a new trajectory of making amends and reconciling with herself.

Amazing! Months of true story boiled down to seconds on screen to tell the most emotional part of the story. Inbal, I could talk to you about this forever. I love chatting with you about documentary. Thank you so much for joining us. You also have another documentary that’s out now, correct?

Yes. Along with my partner-editor Ben Kaplan, I edited “Stormy” about the one and only Stormy Daniels. That came out a couple weeks ago on Peacock and I’m very, very proud of it. It has gotten some good attention as Trump is getting ready to face Stormy in court.

Inbal, thank you so much for your time. I hope we get a chance to chat for that secret project you alluded to earlier in the interview.

I hope so too.