- Hi everyone. In this episode of the Filmmaking Forum Conversations course we're gonna discuss one of the most important relationships in the filmmaking world, and that is the one between director and editor. We're gonna dive into different working strategies between director and editor, as well as talk about the importance of adding multiple perspectives to a project, the alignment of visions during the creative process, and much more. I hope you enjoy. - The idea that one person has all of the answers and one person can be the only holder of the perfect film inside, is frankly an idea that the best directors who I've worked with disagree with completely.
The really good directors are ready to change anything because something that made sense on the page now all of a sudden, you see the actor do it and you realize you don't need four of those lines because it's actually said in terms of body language and performance. Camera move says something that maybe duplicates what a line of dialogue does, and if you've got this concept stuck in your head, then you're gonna make a far less interesting film if you can't see that some of the things that were your initial ideas are duplicated.
- I think it's ultimately the director gets the final word, but I think the editor has to have the space to say, I think there's a better way, and let me show you, so that the editor has the time and the space to cut his or her way, and say, okay, you say your way is better, but look at this. And I think if it's better, it's obviously gonna be better. So I really think the editor's responsibility is to be able to stick to her or his guns, but prove it by showing how it's gonna work, how it's gonna look, how it's gonna sound, how that cut's gonna make a difference.
- I do think that the idea of having someone who's more than just someone who watches your cut and says, oh yeah, that's not working, but someone who can come to the table with really good alternate ideas, let's call that person an editor, might bring a much higher level of work to your film. - A good director hires an editor because they want someone else's eyes, another perspective. And you're gonna have clashes and differences.
I think what's important is, in the process while you're deciding, do I want to do this film? The director's deciding, do I want to work with this editor, it's important that you sort of have the same aesthetic in a way or you understand the overall vision of the film, and I think once you're on the same page there you're gonna both have different ideas about how to get there, and I think that's what makes working with an editor so valuable, because you're gonna have different thoughts and different ideas, and when you try those things out together you're both gonna think of totally new things that you wouldn't have thought of by yourself.
And that's what makes a film so collaborative. It's the same way that you hire a DP because you know they can pull off your vision and you also know that they have their own fantastic artistic sense and visual sense, and they're gonna bring that to your film. - The editor should be aware that initially they are working on the film with their interpretation of what they think the director wants, then it's very important to allow the director space to try anything they want, and offer creative contributions if the director is interested in hearing your ideas, or if you want to fight for a particular idea.
But then there's a point in the process where effectively the audience is right, and you start showing the film to the audience and you listen very carefully to where they are confused, or bored, or finding the pace slow, and the director is, very experienced directors listen carefully to the audience and will collaborate with an editor to try and find solutions to the problems that they're learning about when they screen the film.
- There's really three different types of ways to approach an editor in terms of a filmmaker. There's the type that comes in with very specific notes and here's everything I want, I want this shot here and then I want you to cover it this way, and here's very detailed of exactly what I want. There's the other type that gives a little more leeway and says, okay, I got some idea of what I want, I know what I want to do here, why don't you take this part and run with it. And then there's the other type that says, you know what, I don't even know. I got something in here, I don't know exactly what it is, can you, here, take this and work your magic, and what that allows somebody to do is that allows somebody to really bring their own creative process to it.
And I also take all three different approaches, it really depends on the projects. - You want to facilitate their vision as best as possible. Editorial, when it comes down to it, is a service job. We are here to kind of facilitate their vision, and we have our own input, we have our own ideas, we have our own opinions of what we think are good and what may work best, but ultimately we're kind of answering to somebody higher than us, and so if I've done something different than what the director wanted, I stand behind those decisions, I think they're strong and rooted in fundamental film language or theory, but they may want to just try something else.
- I think it becomes a very trusting relationship so that if we do disagree about something, I think we both are very respectful of each other and say, okay, if I say, I think we should do this, the question I'll get is, okay, why? Can you explain it? And so I'll explain my ideas of why this could be a better solution to a problem and then I'll say to the director, why do you disagree? And they'll give me their ideas about why it's not a bad resolution, and then, more often than not, while we're sort of talking the whole thing out we come up with more of a combined answer to something, something that just wouldn't have happened without sort of that little push and pull from each other.
- I have a process, actually, that I've coined method editing. What I'm really good at is immersing myself in whatever world the director wants to create. So if I get on a job, the first thing I do is I will interview the director and say, I want to understand, let's say that they were the writer and the director, I will say, what music did you listen to while you were writing the script? What are your favorite scores that are within this world? What five movies did you watch when you were putting together your storyboards or figuring out who your cinematographer was gonna be? And basically I just crawl into the brain of the director and get a very clear picture of, this is the world they want to create, so I want to be faithful to that, but at the same time they didn't just hire me to be a keyboard monkey and push buttons.
They're basically paying me to use my opinions. That's what an editor does is chooses the things that they like all day long, so you're paying me for my opinions, and I want to make sure I'm bringing that but still within the overall framework of what the director or the producer really want more than anything. So that's kinda my approach to working with the director or producer to keep all of us on the same page, and I've yet to submit an editor's cut where somebody would say, oh my god, this is not even remotely the direction I thought we were going. It's always like, oh yeah, this is where we want to go, now let's make it better, because I go through that process.
- Advice for novice filmmakers entering the industry
- Finding, enhancing, and tweaking your story
- Experimenting in filmmaking
- Solving problems and troubleshooting your film
- Changing your approach or finding new angles
- Communicating and collaborating on set and in the edit room—and with clients
- Working on different genres of film
- Teaching and mentoring new filmmakers