I was crushed to read that Norm Hollyn passed away this weekend. He and Lou Stathis were among my first friends in fandom. We connected through fanzines while in college at opposite ends of the country, USC for me, SUNY Stony Brook for Norm (then, Hochberg) and Lou. I’d seen their fanzine Xrymph mentioned in Arnie Katz’ Focal Point and we started trading. I wish I could say I was doing Prehensile by then, but in truth I was probably still doing the execrable New Elliptic, so it’s almost unbelievable that they actually read it, let alone gently critiqued it in occasional letters. We hung out at the 1972-1974 Worldcons, and I visited them in New York.
Of course, the way life works, it has been years since I talked to Norm although he wasn’t far away, having become a faculty member at my alma mater’s School of Cinematic Arts after working for several decades as a film editor. He was the author of two important books on the subject, and a popular mentor. It was shocking to read on Facebook that he died a few days ago while lecturing in Japan, from a coronary embolism and subsequent cardiac arrest.
Norm flew out for L.A.Con in 1972 — he came with me to the first Hogu Ranquet. The following year I rendezvoused with Norm and Lou at Torcon 2. We were equally new to fandom, trying to forge an identity in it and make friends. I visited them in New York after Discon in 1974, driving up from Washington D.C. before returning to Ohio for graduate work in Bowling Green’s popular culture program. I had that carefree, broke-student quality of denying even my VW Bug’s most outrageous mechanical problems, like the rear tire that wobbled uncontrollably whenever it hit a bump, but could be put in order simply by braking to a stop. I hadn’t thought to mention this to Norm and Lou until we were on the Cross-Bronx Expressway, swooped into one of its elephantine potholes and started to shimmy violently. We stuck with public transit the rest of the week.
By the time I really was publishing Prehensile, Norm had also started another fanzine, Regurgitation Six, with a title designed to leave some wondering what happened to the first five issues, at least until they received Regurgitation Six #2.
Norm went from Hochberg to Hollyn when he married for the first time, he and his spouse merging their names into a new surname.
Norm finished his studies at Stony Brook in 1974, graduating with a degree in theater arts. Now came the hard part – getting a job in the film industry. His persistence paid off, as The Hollywood Reporter summary shows:
Early in his career, he served as an apprentice sound editor on Bob Fosse’s Lenny (1974), an uncredited apprentice editor on Sidney Lumet’s Network (1976), an assistant music editor on Milos Forman’s Hair (1979) and an assistant editor on Alan Parker’s Fame (1980).
I heard him speak with pride about his work as music editor on The Cotton Club (1984), and soon many would recognize him as the editor on Heathers (1988).
He also was film editor on the 1993 Oliver Stone-produced ABC miniseries Wild Palms and on It’s Pat: The Movie (1994).
During the next phase of his career as a writer and a teacher, Norm passed on his professional knowledge to the new generation. His book The Film Editing Room Handbook, first published in 1986, is regarded as a standard in the field. In 2009 he followed with The Lean Forward Moment: Telling Better Stories for Film, TV, and the Web. He published nearly 100 articles in magazines and peer-reviewed journals.
He joined the faculty of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, rose to full professor, and in 2013 became the first to hold the Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Editing, . He served as President of UFVA, the largest association of production-based cinema university professors. He taught workshops all over the world – in Europe, the Middle East, India — and the very last time, in Japan.
His survivors include his wife, Janet, and daughter, Elizabeth.