Unreal Nature

May 14, 2015

Once this Heart Is Located

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:49 am

… All editors live by what is in the footage, not what the scriptwriter or director hoped would be there.

This is from the Introduction to First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors by Gabriella Oldham (1992):

… Editing involves not merely a theoretical consideration of the effect of one shot upon another, or a linear rendition of a script, or a mechanical measurement of frames. It is all that and much more — rhythm, instinct, emotion, psychology, art — and it draws from the total talent of one person, the editor, who collaborates with the director to create a cumulative sensory event.

For starters, editors organize minutiae, intensify subtleties, heighten emotions, and blend countless elements of image and sound to create a film.

[ … ]

… In both documentary and feature worlds … editors learn to become unaffected by the preconceptions (or the contagious human excitement) of location shooting and unhindered by the responsibilities (or preconceptions) of the director. All editors live by what is in the footage, not what the scriptwriter or director hoped would be there. Editors know they are rewarded for their patience during the grueling chore of watching dailies when special takes leap out at them — a character’s glance, a pattern of light, an emotionally charged image. Such footage offers itself as the core of the film, the “heart” around which less compelling material will revolve. Once this heart is located, the film seems to become a living, breathing entity to the editor, despite all its anticipated challenges and problems. Initial feelings of inadequacy and helplessness — “Where can I start?” — which plague nearly every editor, finally drop away. At that point, editing transcends the mundane and ventures into the realm of art.

-Julie

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