Episode 058: Editing Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult with Inbal B. Lessner, ACE and Gillian McCarthy

Today’s episode is the master series that took place on January 12th, 2021, Editing Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult with Inbal B. Lessner, ACE and Gillian McCarthy.

Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult is about women by women. It had women in all key positions, and they took great care in creating an environment for the cult survivors who shared their stories, in which they felt supported before, during and after filming. We discussed the ins and outs of shaping such a complex and sensitive story and the challenges that Inbal and Gillian came across in the edit suite.

Inbal B. Lessner, ACE is an Emmy® and Eddie-nominated editor and producer. On her latest project, “SEDUCED: Inside the NXIVM Cult,”  which she co-created with her filmmaking partner, Director Cecilia Peck, she takes on the roles of Lead Editor, Writer and Executive Producer. This four-part documentary series, premiering on STARZ, follows one young woman’s perilous journey through the dark and criminal world of NXIVM, the notorious self-help-group-turned-sex-slave-cult. 

Inbal and Cecilia Peck’s last collaboration was the Emmy-nominated feature documentary Brave Miss World, which debuted on Netflix in 2014. It is the story of an Israeli beauty queen, who was raped seven weeks prior to her winning the Miss World pageant, and her crusade to reach out to fellow survivors while trying to keep her own rapist behind bars. 

In 2019, Inbal edited and co-produced “The Movies: The Golden Age,” executive produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog. This was the latest in her 4-year-long collaboration with the team that produced CNN’s Emmy-nominated “Decades” series. Inbal has edited seven episodes in the series and was nominated for an ACE Editing Award for “The Nineties: Can We All Get Along.”

Inbal’s editing credits include ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (Netflix Original, Dir. Kelly Duane), nominated for an Outstanding Documentary NAACP Image Award, and Autism: The Sequel, (HBO, Dir. Tricia Regan), a follow-up to the Emmy-winning Autism: The Musical (2007). She edited and co-produced the internationally acclaimed, award-winning, I Have Never Forgotten You, about Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.  Inbal also directed the docudrama Night Bites and was second-unit producer on the HBO/ARTE documentary Watermarks.

Over the course of her career, Inbal has worked in the cutting rooms of directors such as Davis Guggenheim (Teach), R.J. Cutler (“American Candidate”), Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge (A Lego Brickumentary), Jeremy Simmons (“Transgeneration”), Tracy Droz Tragos (Be Good, Smile Pretty) as well as Natalie Portman’s feature directorial debut (A Tale of Love and Darkness). 

Inbal began making films when she was in high school and later produced training films for the Israeli Defense Forces.  At NYU, she was the recipient of the prestigious, merit-based, WTC Johnson Fellowship, awarded to one student filmmaker a year.  Since moving to Los Angeles, Inbal has edited hundreds of hours of non-scripted network and cable television shows. She was also a Visiting Professor at UNCSA Film School, and a mentor in the Karen Schmeer Diversity in the Edit Room Program.

Gillian McCarthy is an accomplished editor whose creative style combines compelling storytelling with a cinematic sensibility.  Her feature documentary credits include the Oscar-nominated Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, Girl Rising, and Above and Beyond: 60 Years of NASA. Her television credits include work for ABC, PBS, Showtime, STARZ, Discovery and OWN.  She learned her craft working in the most precise form of visual storytelling, the television commercial, editing countless national campaigns in New York and Toronto.  A dual American and Canadian citizen, she lives in Los Angeles.

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A special thanks goes to

Jane MacRae

Alison Dowler

Hosted and Produced by

Sarah Taylor

Edited by

Sarah Taylor

Main Title Sound Design by

Jane Tattersall

ADR Recording by

Andrea Rusch

Mixed and Mastered by

Tony Bao

Original Music by

Chad Blaine


Sponsor Narration by

Paul Winestock

Sponsored by

IATSE 891, Integral Artists, VPA


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