John Benton Travers

Obituary
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1959 - 2016
John Travers, Prolific Hollywood Film Editor, Writer and Director, Dies at 57

John Benton Travers, who over three decades edited numerous films and wrote and directed screenplays, died on Tuesday at his home in Hollywood. He was 57.

Mr. Travers was an authoritative figure in Hollywood -- known for his encyclopedic knowledge of film and focused working style. He often stretched the editor's role, rewriting scripts and directing and shooting "pick-up" scenes to strengthen the story structure and fulfill the director's cinematic vision.

"He made amateurs look like professionals," said Kent Hagen, who shared an editing studio with Mr. Travers on Hollywood Boulevard. It wasn't unusual for him to work through the night. During free time he wrote screenplays and filmed events as a volunteer for Grauman's Egyptian Theater.

Devotion to the creative arts ran in the Travers family. Born in New Orleans, Mr. Travers was the son of late novelist Robert Travers and half-brother to the late Mary Travers of the famous folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary.

Raised in Westport, Connecticut, Mr. Travers earned a film degree from the University of Bridgeport and began accruing prizes for dramatic storytelling and capturing the exquisite texture of a moment through cinematography, special effects and editing. He won the Student Academy Award for his short, "Jenny," in 1986, the American Cinema Editors Student "Eddie" Award (First Place), the New England Film Festival and Nissan/FOCUS awards, and a nomination for the Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel award.

Landing in Los Angeles in 1986, Mr. Travers launched his professional career at Cannon Films and Roger Corman's New Horizons, assisting future Academy Award-winning editor Zach Staenberg ("The Matrix"). With co-writer Alice Horrigan he became an Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting finalist for "Conversations in Public Places," which he directed and was released as "Deep Down," starring George Segal.

Mr. Travers lived in an apartment in the Hollywood Hills by Yamashiro Restaurant, with sweeping views of Los Angeles. He worked on myriad films, documentaries, trailers and television shows. Many gained recognition, including the short, "Night Train," honored at the Canadian Independent Film Festival.

Most recently Mr. Travers wrote and edited "Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story" (directed by Steven Barber and Matt Hausle), about the man who led the U.S. Army's last cavalry charge during the 1940s Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

He collaborated with John Summa to direct and co-edit "The Resurrection of Victor Jara," winning the Vermont International Film Festival's Ben & Jerry Award in 2015. Honoring the acclaimed folk singer who was brutally executed by the Chilean dictatorship in 1973, the documentary includes interviews by Mr. Travers with Pete Seeger, Bono, Peter Yarrow, Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins and other musicians and will screen at Havana's 38th Annual International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in December.

Mr. Travers is survived by nieces Alicia Travers Bonney and Erika Travers Marshall, and second cousins Mary Jane Williams and Jim Duke. His many friends in Connecticut and Los Angeles will miss him dearly.
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Published on NYTimes.com from Nov. 7 to Nov. 8, 2016