The Secret To Being A Successful Editor

For the last few weeks I have been happily ensconced in a tiny editing suite, working away on THE BREAKUP PROJECT.

And when I say “editing suite,” I mean our home office, using Final Draft Pro on our Mac.  At home.  The best place in the world to work. Except that my cat doesn’t understand that I’m working, and insists on sitting on my lap, which makes it difficult to reach the keyboard. She just sits there, impeding me, offering no useful advice on transitions or jump shots, but expecting a producing credit anyway.

You may remember in my recent post about dressing for directing, I stressed that the most important choice a director makes is footware. Directing is all about movement – standing, sitting, quickly fleeing when an actor starts asking questions about motivation. Footware is paramount.

This is not true for an editor. The sartorial demands of editing are very, very different than those of directing. I don’t even wear shoes when I edit. Shoes mean nothing. Give me a nice pair of white socks and I’m good to go.

Editing is all about sitting. Sitting, sitting, and sitting. In editing, the waistband is what’s important. An adjustable waistband is the editor’s best friend. It must be loose and flexible, just like your creative concepts.

For this project, I’ve been very happy with the Supreme Pant from Lucy. GREAT elastic waist, with a nice drawstring that allows for precise customization. I usually pair the pants with a comfy hoodie or t-shirt. Something simple, that doesn’t interfere with the artistic flow.

Editing is tedious. You go over and over the same material a thousand times, looking for the exact place to start and stop – the exact, perfect frame.  You try a hundred different combinations, changing the order of shots, moving, revising, changing, changing, changing. The tiniest alteration can take an actor from angry to innocent, from stuttering to confident.

Editing is like sculpting – you start with a mountain of material and carve away frame by frame, to reveal the perfect performance.  You are Pygmalion, and your project is Galatea. And when you are done, the entire world will fall in love with your creation, just as you have. Because you are the master, and if your elastic waistband has been loose enough, you will produce a masterpiece. 

2 Comments on “The Secret To Being A Successful Editor”

  1. Ahhh… the editing chair. The rest of us “post” people need to be very grateful to you for giving some insight into an obviously important choice editors need to make. Clothing. I’m actually not kidding. As we wait for the 5 frames here, the innocuous scene change there, we all want nothing more than the editor to be able to focus in. You have a very hard job and the decisions you make affect the very essence of the project.

    If you’re not comfortable then, in my experience, our jobs are that much more difficult. The rhythm of the scene gets blown. The composer then has to insert odd metered bars and multiple tempo changes with big cymbal/wind chime transitions to match the “uncomfortable” flow. The sound supervisor has to get additional people (NOT IN THE BUDGET!! – see Producer comments below) to have more FX choices, more backgrounds built, on and on.

    You see, you are unbelievably correct as it all come back to “comfort” and that, you see, is where your cat comes riding in for the rescue. We are told, told and told repeatedly it’s NOT all about them – well, it simply is. The proof of the necessity for a producers credit is scientifically proven from the cats and producers correlation of the inexplicable “nine lives” syndrome. How either group does it no one knows. Here is a rough outline to help you out that has worked for me in the past.

    An Associate Producer credit (for the cat only) gets you a day or two uninterrupted – “Executive” Producer many more days, as they’ll have a multitude of social engagements to deal with where they will be exhausted from having to figure out how to talk at length about how the film would NOT have been even Conceived! without them.

    Your cat is working hard on your lap. Many times mine has added that little extra to a cue by jumping up at the perfect moment to add a cluster chord with an atonal downward arpeggio counter line that makes the cue. His “ability” is uncanny. Our fight, though, is over BMI and treats.

    Well I’ve gone on long enough here. The best to your editing and even more so, here’s to you and yours and all of ours comfort!


  2. Oh, and don’t forget, in summer, you get to edit, well, semi naked!

    Editing with the seasons, fashion, and comfort. It’s all there.


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