My Editing Process…

I’d like this to be an ongoing post about how I approach editing one of my films. First, all the disclaimers about being an authority…I’m continually learning how to edit. And I’ve come to the conclusion that, like painting a picture, it’s something you have to learn for yourself – by, well, editing a whole lot!…

For me, editing is extremely challenging – with incredible moments when something magical happens. When individual parts of the production come alive, and then larger sections start to coalesce.

It’s one thing to edit a “job”, whether it’s a training film or promo for a business. There are a bag of tricks that anyone with experience can pull out and put together a view-able product assuming well-structured content, writing, and directing. And there are visual and sound effects, flashy editing, what have you, that can jazz up a production – particularly where the production is weak in the aforementioned areas. This kind of editing is to me a craft – no put-down intended. It allows you to get a job done and put bread on the table – and that’s OK.

But, for me, if you’re working on a personal piece you have to dig deeper. You have to edit by the gut. You have to re-invent the editing, story-telling process for every single project. When I say “you” I mean me specifically, but the “you’s” out there I’m sure will understand what I’m saying.

My approach is to look at the footage over and over. I log it of course, but I watch it and re-watch it until it’s in my longer term memory. This gives me the ability to have little flashes, or images pop into my head when I’m taking a shower, taking a walk, etc. I like letting things perk. And, of course, I keep thinking about my subject. What is it that really hits me – what’s that one wonderful thing the film is about.

The film I’m editing now, From “Talking To Playing”, was shot in New York city back in December. For the first month after filming, I looked at the footage and then got drawn into the holidays. The second month I looked at the footage, cut together the narrative, and felt that the project was hopeless. I was thinking about the production all the time, worrying mainly. Not because I didn’t have a wonderful subject or good interviews and footage, but because I couldn’t find a way into the film…I hadn’t boiled down what I wanted to portray that would be the essence of the film. Month 3, I edited the first seven minutes. I was starting to feel good. Then I got on a roll and rough cut fourteen additional minutes in a little over a week. And the momentum continues now because I know what the film needs, the film-subject has seen the draft edit and is behind me, the wind is at my back and I’m inspired…and I think that’s where a person has to be in order for the magic to happen…

I’ll continue this subject from other angles in a future post.

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