‘Clock’ Editor Alexandra Amick On Female-Driven Horror Films & The IRL Horror Of Reproductive Rights

‘Clock’ editor Alexandra Amick

It’s no secret that the state of reproductive rights and freedoms in America is a horror show right now. With the overturn of Roe v Wade last June through the Dobbs Supreme Court Decision, the horrific onslaught of news stories about women being denied life saving abortion care as well as every day healthcare has forced us as a nation to take stock of the norms we have come to accept without further investigation.

As if all of this wasn’t shocking enough, along comes a horror film that is based around the idea of a biological clock, showcasing a female character grappling with forces outside her own control who are seeking to take away her autonomy.

Aptly named ‘Clock’, written and directed by Alexis Jacknow, the story follows a woman desperate to fix her broken biological clock when faced with pressure from friends, family, and society to have children.

The film, which premiered on HULU April 28, was edited by Alexandra Amick, who went through an interesting journey of her own while working on this project. When she signed on to edit ‘Clock’, Alexandra noticed the rise in female-focused stories in the horror genre. A prominent theme that she considered was how women’s stories fit so well within a genre meant to scare people. She also realized that she, and many women, found themselves feeling seen within the film rather than feeling scared. She leaned into these themes and used them to help her tell the story.

Alexandra had a unique and intimate perspective on the making of this film, which explores the female experience and the decision to have children through the lens of the horror genre. She actually got pregnant during the post production process of this film, so while she was exploring these themes in the film, she was also confronting them in real life!

She collaborated very closely with director Alexis Jacknow. They had numerous conversations about pregnancy and the decision to have kids or to not have them, which helped strengthen their partnership and tell the most authentic story. We had the chance to speak with Alexandra about her experience working on ‘Clock’, why stories about the female experience are so effective in the horror genre, and how her role as an editor was instrumental in supporting the director’s vision and the film’s exploration of these themes.

Can you first tell us where your career in film began, and what made you become an editor?

I’d wanted to be in film from a very young age and very quickly learned that I wanted to be an editor while attending film school at Florida State. I think it speaks to the way my mind works. I’m very organized and efficient, which you have to be if you have any hope of remembering or finding “you know, that one take that the actor did that one time..” I’m also very visually creative when it comes to story. In the most simplified version of it, I look at editing as writing with pictures. When I think of a story, I see it. So for me, editorial is where I thrive.

You worked on the new HULU film ‘Clock’, which is a horror take on the idea of a woman’s biological clock running out. What attracted you to this story?

When I first read the script I thought, “This is so weird!” in a good way. Alexis Jacknow, the writer/director, wasn’t pulling any metaphorical punches. The movie is all about biological clocks and fertility, and she’s got her main character, Ella (Dianna Agron), sucking on frozen eggs and spooning caviar throughout.

I then thought, “This is so layered.” Alexis came at the issue of potential parenthood from so many angles. Career, family, inheritance, marriage, friendship, on and on. It’s such a multifaceted and complicated issue, and she was ready to shine a light on all of it.

I think what ultimately made me want to work on Clock was how the entire issue was approached. The film never says, “Don’t have babies.” It says, “Have babies if you want to have babies. Don’t have babies if you don’t. But this is your choice and only you should be the one to make it.” It felt true to my own feelings on reproductive choice and my own experience. I actually was pregnant during the last stages of post production, and I never thought the film was at odds with my own life and choices.

The current landscape of women’s rights and reproductive rights are certainly a horror show IRL, but this is not an area that is often seen through the horror lens. How can this genre benefit from more female driven stories and themes?

To lean into the horror metaphor – women’s stories are kept in the dark. We are half the population of the planet, yet our experiences are not discussed because they are seen as embarrassing, or inappropriate and taboo. What else does horror explore within topics that are hidden away? Should we be scared by women’s issues? No, but that’s where we are.

The horror genre is perfect for exploring those fears and bringing these ideas to audiences that may not have been exposed to them before. The genre has always had the ability to start conversations, and more female-driven stories and themes will only help add to the draw and complexity of the films within it.

How do you as an editor work with the director on shaping the vision and overall aesthetic of the film?

I view working with a director as a very intimate relationship and continuous conversation. There needs to be true collaboration, and you cannot have that without trust.

In order to foster that trust, I like to approach things through this lens: My job is to bring the director’s vision to life. Yes, I should bring a unique point of view to the project. I should introduce things that the director hasn’t thought of. But this is their film, so I try to start that conversation with a question like, “What are you hoping to get out of this scene?” Or “What do you think the audience is meant to feel right now?” Or “Where are we in this character’s journey?”

The answer the director gives provides me with a path to use my own personal style and voice to serve their purpose. Depending on their answer, I can then say, “Okay, I’m not feeling what you want me to feel right now, but I think this is how we can get you where you want to go,” or “Yes, great, I am feeling that, and this is how we can make it even better.” It’s a much more productive conversation that leads to a better movie on all fronts.

What were some of the discussions you and director Alexis Jacknow had while working on ‘Clock’, whether about the film itself or real life themes?

What didn’t we talk about while working on this film? Like I said earlier, I view the director/editor relationship as a conversation, and in many cases that conversation needs to extend beyond the film. Our personal life experiences help shape and inform how we present a story, and Clock is absolutely no exception. We discussed how we’ve felt like the main character, Ella, pressured by many sides to have children when we can often list a great many reasons why we may not want them now or ever.

We talked about our relationships with our friends, our spouses, our parents. We talked about how Roe v. Wade was overturned while the film was being made and how we now have less rights than when we were born. We talked about how one of the horrors of the film is how Ella never feels like she can talk about her struggles without judgment and how we’ve felt that in our own lives.

No two people’s experiences are the same. Having these conversations allowed us to bring a depth to the material that it wouldn’t have had without them.

A prominent theme you considered was how women’s stories fit so well within a genre meant to scare people. How have you found yourself feeling seen within the film rather than feeling scared?

I think that when women watch a horror film centered around issues they face in real life, their reactions are much less “Yikes!” as they are “Yep!”. One of the previous horror films I edited, The Wind, is about women’s isolation and terror and men not believing their experiences. When it was released, women reached out to me and immediately began the conversation by saying how they knew exactly what it felt like to be ignored, gaslit, and labeled as hysterical rather than credible. Of course they found the film scary, but first, they found the film relatable.

I’ve had similar conversations about Clock. Friends relate to Ella’s joy in her childless life, and women who do want kids but in their own time relate to the pressures of family and friends asking when it will happen. Even my very kind labor and delivery nurse who asked me what I do and what I’m working on to distract me said, “Oh, I want to see that,” when I told her about the film. No matter where women find themselves on the spectrum of wanting kids, they can relate to this film.

During the post production phase, you learned you were pregnant! Was this a very meta moment for you? How did this impact your outlook on the project?

It was a very meta moment for me. I’d spent the better part of five months inside the brain of a woman who doesn’t want children, only to become pregnant myself. Ella’s not wrong in any of her reasons for not wanting children: the very reality that I was then facing. She’s a career-driven woman in a demanding field where taking care of a child would be extremely hard to balance, and so am I. In the film industry, it is difficult to balance personal and professional life. And while I chose to have a child and brought this struggle into my life, I don’t think that struggle should be quite this hard. We should take a hard look at the industry we love and allow for more life choices to work within it.

Then, the Post-Roe world had a big impact on me. Immediately, I had to think about when the film played at any film festivals. Would I be safe going to the state where they were? If something happened to me or the pregnancy while traveling, would my life be viewed as important enough to save? Also, pregnancy is rough! It was not always beautiful bump progression pics and precious 4D sonograms. There was often pain, confusion, and unexpected expenses. Being pregnant myself only reinforced my stance that those who are pregnant should choose to be pregnant.

When I found out I was having a daughter, it made me even more proud of having worked on Clock. I helped create something that says directly to my own child, “I believe in your right to forging your own path and writing your own story in life.” She’ll just have to be a bit (a lot) older before she gets to watch it.

What do you hope audiences will think about after watching ‘Clock’?

I hope audiences will feel seen in Ella’s struggles throughout the film, but what I really want is for viewers of all genders to feel confident in their life choices. Ella loves her life, but waivers and gives up what she loves so much to have what other people think she should want. And without spoiling too much, she doesn’t end up with anything the way that it should be because she doesn’t trust herself and bends to others. Viewers should let Ella fail where they will succeed and stride confidently into a future of their own design.

What is next for you in the pipeline?

The latest horror film I edited, Lovely, Dark, and Deep, written and directed by Teresa Sutherland, will be premiering later this year at a film festival I’m not yet allowed to announce. After that, I’m looking forward to working with more amazing female filmmakers to bring their stories to life.

You can stream ‘Clock’ on HULU now, and see more of Alexandra’s work on major film and TV productions by clicking HERE.