The invisible art of editing

September 27, 2016

 

 

Editing is like trying to cook a meal. If you did a good job, people are happy, say nothing, and will probably forget the whole experience within a day. If you did it badly, it stands out like a sore thumb and people are vomiting for days. Congratulations, your terrible meal will go down in history and no one will ever eat your food again.

 

Being an editor is one of the most thankless jobs in the industry. If your work stands out, it most likely isn't for a good reason. If you did your job right nobody notices a thing. This is why editing is often referred to as the invisible art. The goal is get your cuts to flow together like water, each shot connecting to the next seamlessly. Even a jarring jump-cut needs to be called for. I don't know any editor who edits by math or a frame count, we edit by feeling. A term I like to use is motivated. Every cut needs to be motivated, it has a purpose for being there. You need to be able to defend every choice you make as an editor because most likely someone will challenge you on it. Any edit that takes your audience out of the moment is a catastrophic failure on the part of the editor. 

 

"With great power comes great responsibility" - Over quoted? Yes absolutely, but in this case it fits pretty well. Not only is being an editor a thankless job it is also one of the most stressful. An enormous amount of pressure is placed upon the editor because you are the final author of this story. If the director planned, wrote, and shot a movie to be an action film but the editor wants it to be a comedy, the movie will end up being a comedy. As an editor you have the power to change the world, or at least your projects world. With every keystroke you will either make a break a movie. Oh and by the way, since you are the final step in completing a film, the almighty time crunch will be where you live. Every delay or schedule hiccup through the entire process of creating a movie will ultimately come out of your allotted time to edit. A pretty daunting task for most people, but for some it is too exhilarating to be doing anything else with our lives. 

 

I remember when I was still a junior editor at my first real job in the industry. Incredibly thankful for the experience I gained, but it was a really tough job. Huge expectations and never anytime to do it, tons of overtime most of which I never got paid for. One time I was working on a massive project in which I was supposed to edit 6 complete videos for a company EVERY WEEK (with no end in sight at the time), and I had just put the finishing touches on video number 30 something. So I showed it to one of my co-workers. We watched the piece together and at the end he turned to me and said, "That gave me goosebumps". That comment fueled me for the rest of the project.

 

God speed editors. May everything we edit, touch someones life.

 

 

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