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Working with an Editor

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  • Working with an Editor

    Hi, i am a filmmaker and i usually edit my own films. But i know that most people get an editor to do it for them. I was wondering, how does the editor know which shots/takes are good and which ones are bad, which order to put them in and what the look should be?

  • #2
    Good takes/bad takes are ideally noted by the script supervisor. If you don't have one, then I presume the assistant director or a PA would do it.

    The director would sit down with the editor to discuss the look and feel of the movie, before even hiring the person. The amount that the director physically sits with the editor varies by project/people. But they would certainly be closely involved in at least the first one or 2 cuts of the movie.
    Screenwriter and script consultant:


    • #3
      I am just going by my own experience so far, but a lot of times I find that choosing which takes are bad or good, based on the entirety of the take is a bad idea. Like for example, almost any 2 seconds of a take can be good. Like let's say you want to cut to a reaction shot a certain time. You don't just go to "the good take" to get a reaction shot. You look through all the takes to see which reaction is the best. The best reaction shot, could even be on the take that is the worst for anything else, accept that one part is usable.

      I worked with an editor who did this, he would only take footage from "the good takes". He would decide on a good take, based on if the WHOLE take was good, and forget about all the little nice bits and pieces of other takes. This caused their to be a somewhat poor edit, cause I felt a lot was missed out on. I recut a lot of the movie myself later, and it was better, cause I borrowed from every take, instead of just a good whole one or two.


      • #4
        Good notes during the shoot can include things like "good reaction shot" so during editing you know which takes to go to when you're looking for the reaction shot. This can smooth and expedite the editing process.
        Screenwriter and script consultant:


        • #5
          In the absence of notes from the set, the editor would use his or her own sensibility. I'm editing a feature that had almost no organization on set and I use my own judgement when selecting takes or parts of takes. The footage itself may suggest how it'll be cut together.

          I also come from the Hollywood system where the editor would get about 3-4 weeks after the wrap to put a rough-cut together--without director interference. In a Hollywood movie, of course, we had notes from the set, a lined script, etc. to guide us. Once that's screened for the director and producer, the director comes in every day and works with the editor to shape up the movie cut by cut. Depending on the director, they may actually replace every piece of film with another take from the same set-ups.

          Don't underestimate the script, either. In my feature case, I refer to the script to see what's important in each scene...then use those cues to make decisions about the editing. If there's a storyboard, that's handy, too. I found, though, that many scenes hadn't actually been shot per the script--so I had to make a new scene from the footage available. The director and I actually met when we worked in the editing room of NightMare on Elm Street part 5 a zillion years ago, so he trusts me more often than he trusts himself.

          I get general notes about this scene or that scene and follow his directions or create a compromise. But it's not like he just turns it over and I do what I's a collaboration. As it should be for you. By using an outside editor, you get fresh eyes--and a fresh perspective.

          Kurt Hathaway
          VikingDream7 Productions
          Video Production & Editing