by Jeff Niesel
Film editor Thom Zimny first met Bruce Springsteen when he worked on Live in New York City, a half-hour HBO documentary (and later a DVD) that garnered Zimny an Emmy for his editing work. That was nine years ago. In Live in New York City’s wake, Zimny went on to win a Grammy for his work on Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run, and now holds down a gig as Springsteen’s personal archivist. He’ll be at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum this weekend as part of Springsteen FanFest, a festival of sorts that ties in with the Springsteeen exhibit currently on display. “It was a great opportunity for me,” Zimny says of that first experience working for the Boss of all bosses. “I got to be part of a team. Bruce has people who have been working for him for a long time. For me, it was a special time because I realized quickly that Bruce’s main focus was the music. For an editor, that was a great treat. We had a lot of different cameras and a lot of different angles, but the important thing was being invisible and telling the story without interrupting the music. That’s been the theme throughout. We stay focused on the storytelling and the music.”
Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run enabled Zimny to work with the archives for the first time. “I ended up getting archival footage from [Springsteen friend and photographer] Barry Rebo,” he says. “You saw for the first time, a young Bruce Springsteen working in the studio. What's fascinating is that it's the same Bruce. I worked on Bruce’s last album and did a behind-the-scenes film about it. You see the same focus and commitment. You see that with a band, too.” Zimny, who calls his archivalist job a “full-time obsession,” says he’s fascinated by the things he stumbles upon. For example, he just received a Born to Run TV commercial that he never knew existed. He plans to show it this weekend. “In uncovering things from the vault, it’s always a great surprise what you can discover,” he says. “This weekend, I’ll show footage from all different years. I have a variety of younger Bruce from the ‘70s and things that fans have never seen before but will recognize. The passion and focus comes across from these clips. Zimny will be at the Rock Hall from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 14 and from 2-3 p.m. that same day. For more information, go to rockhall.org.