The Art of Editing

The Art of Editing

Editing is more than just the mechanics of cutting a film. RedShark’s US East Coast correspondent, Peter Hass has accumulated some very practical advice over the course of his career as a busy cameraman, editor and producer.

An extremely important part of my editing process is note-taking. This is particularly true on larger films or projects that span long periods of time. I find that writing down my thoughts and concepts is the only way I can keep all that information and ideas straight. Recently while working on the opening reel for a new documentary I found myself stuck. After trying multiple approaches I felt as though I was still spinning wheels. I decided to look back through my notes from other projects to see if I could spark a creative fire.

I came across old notes I had made that helped me get a new start on things. These points are a combination of original thoughts and are probably casually inspired by conversations I was having with editor friends at the time.

Be up front
A very important lesson I’ve learned over the years is to put your thesis and visual concepts upfront. The screen is a sort of keyhole that the audience is peeping blindly through into the lives of your characters and story. When you’re putting your film together, you need to place yourself on the opposite side of that door and hang out in your audience’s mental space. By putting the important factors of your story up front you are setting up the context for the rest of the film.

The first few scenes of your film are very important: you are expressing what part of the filmic language you are using; what cinematic “dialect” the film will be speaking in. I like to think of …read more


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