Monday, 14 March 2011

My Job as the Editor

When I meet people in real world and tell them that I am an Editor, I am often met with a blank face. I have tried using Video Editor or Film Editor to clarify a little but still, the same blank face. Even film buffs who have a reasonable idea of how films work don't really tend to grasp the extent to which an Editor shapes the film they see so its hardly surprising that the public at large don't even seem to know what the hell we do. When you watch a film, you are hopefully experiencing a different world. Whether that world is similar to ours or in another galaxy is arbitrary, their has to be a space for the story to unfold in. The truth is that world doesn't exist. If its the bridge of a spaceship, that seems pretty obvious, but if its a bedroom inhabited by an old married couple, its existence is no more concrete. In an intimate moment, as the couple lie next to each other, perhaps after finding out that one of them is dying, the world of the film would have to you believe they are alone. But there is a camera there and a cameraman, a camera assistant (or two), a sound recordist, a boom op, a director, a producer, a few studio execs, a makeup artist, a script supervisor... well you get the point. Everyone working in post production has to trick you into believing they are alone. As an editor I choose not to show you the moment caught on film, where the AC marked the shot. I choose for you not to hear the moment where the studio exec choked on his donut. The other illusion is time. We have to make it seem as if the events you see are simply unfolding before you. When I cut from the old man to the old woman you have to perceive it as continuous. In reality it could have happened hours apart. The actors may have had lunch in-between shooting each shot, but I have to make you believe they are reacting to each other, organically and in the moment. This is the magic of editing and we underestimate it at our peril. With the onset of desktop editing is it becoming more and more common for directors/producers/executives' nephews to be the one tasked with editing. But just remember it is not being able to push the buttons that is important. It is knowing the order in which to press them.


  1. Good post man, and spot on.

  2. That's the part of it which irritates me. Because usually, if as an editor you've done your job well, then it will be seamless and the audience will sink completely into that world. Nobody walks away and says "hey, that editing was amazing!". It's a silent, thankless job. As someone with an ego, this troubles me. So instead I will continue to make IN YOUR FACE music videos. Ha.