From ‘Maid’ to ‘Pam & Tommy’: Annette Davey on working in a new age of television

'Pam & Tommy' (Photo by: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

Two of the most talked about limited series of the past 12 months share an Australian connection in being edited by Annette Davey.

Netflix drama Maid and Hulu’s 90s sex tape saga Pam & Tommy were both cut by the Adelaide native, whose career in film and television has spanned three decades, two of which she has spent in the US.

Despite the clear differences between the two — one being an examination of poverty while the other has its foundation in decadence — Davey like the way in which they each explored a less obvious perspective.

“I was really drawn to Maid in lots of ways because I really care about the material and I think it’s important to see those kinds of stories,” she told IF.

“I think [creator] Molly Smith Meltzer and [producer and director] John Wells had a really good handle on how they wanted the material, which was not to sort of villainise the guy, necessarily, and to also show that you can get out of those situations. I think lots of women have experienced that.

“With Pam & Tommy, I didn’t really know much about [the situation] because I was in Australia when all of that happened, but then I read the scripts, and I thought they were really fantastic.

Annette Davey.

“I felt they really favoured Pamela’s point of view a lot, which I was surprised by, but I thought was great because, in some ways, I do think it affected her in a different way than it affected Tommy.”

Davey’s career path has had its own share of twists and turns.

After moving to Sydney early on to pursue a career in film, she went to the unemployment office, where she was told that there was a position available in a government grant program to train 18 women in all aspects of filmmaking.

It was while at AFTRS that Davey came under the guidance of the school’s head of editorial Rhonda Macgregor, who encouraged her to pursue editing.

Upon graduating, she linked up with another mentor in the form of Academy Award-winning Italian editor Gabriella Cristiani, for whom she was invited to work in the US.

“There’s a ton of Australians who live here and I was fortunate in that I got an agent very quickly — on my second visit — and then I went to see a lawyer and talk to him about what my options were,” Davey said.

“He suggested I apply for a green card because I have enough credits. I went back to Australia and got all the information and paperwork sorted to file straight away when I got back.

“Going back and forth was very helpful, because I got to know a lot of people and I figured out how to make things happen.”

Those ‘things’ included more than 20 film and TV projects throughout the ’90s and 2000s, including the Battlestar Galactica series and Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film Waitress.

Davey has moved more into the episodic through the past decade, contributing to Hung, Transparent, Glow, and UK/Australian co-production, The End.

She said while she enjoyed both mediums, it did seem like these were “the great years of television”.

“When I first started editing, I was mostly interested in movies, and I sort of concentrated on movies for a while, but then television started to get really interesting,” she said.

“I feel like the stories are very creative and in some ways, I feel like they are more willing to take risks in their approach.

“There’s really fantastic work being made in the TV world, so I do like to flip between them.”

Margaret Qualley in ‘Maid’ (Image: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix © 2021)

Davey also divides her time between New York and LA, having worked on Bill Pohlad’s upcoming Donnie and Joe Emerson biopic Dreamin Wild, starring Casey Affleck and Zooey Deschanel, on the east coast last year.

From there, she went to the Dean Craig comedy The Estate, set to feature Toni Collette, Anna Faris, and Kathleen Turner, and is also set to work on the third film in the My Big Fat Greek Wedding franchise, which has just completed shooting.

Davey said her selection criteria for projects may have changed throughout the years, but mostly came down to whether she responded to the material after reading it.

“[Editing is] a very big commitment which I like and enjoy very much but you don’t want to be working on something you don’t like.

“So I try and be very careful and find things that I care about and that I’m interested in.

“I’ve been lucky in that I’ve found a lot of those in the last 5-10 years — I don’t think that is just me, I think there are more interesting projects around now.”