Unreal Nature

May 28, 2015

It’s the Part You Don’t See

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:00 am

… “What are those people doing sitting in front of those little machines?”

This is from the interview with Geof Bartz in First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors by Gabriella Oldham (1992):

[ … ]

Rhythm keeps the audience involved in the film, doesn’t it?

Rhythm is at the heart of all of this. What makes a film interesting and palatable to an audience, even though they may not know it, is the rhythm of the film, the way you structure the highs and lows. What you don’t let people say [in the movie] is as important as what you do let them say; what you have to cut out to make their sentences clean and have resonance so they’re not spewing on forever. It’s the part you don’t see when you watch the film. That’s the creation of the rhythm. And that’s the part of the craft that’s really interesting, that fine-tuning, that honing, so that when you’re done, you look at the film and say, “This is the essence of those dailies. This is the essential film.” All you ever have is your own intuition and your own instincts about it. That’s the scary part and also the fun part. Since no two people are alike, each person will approach this task differently.

[ … ]

… Editing is done behind closed doors in little rooms. I’ve had this experience many times of walking by cutting rooms where other editors were working, and looking in and saying, “That’s idiotic! What are those people doing sitting in front of those little machines?” But when you’re doing it yourself and get excited about it, and there are those times, at midnight or whenever, when suddenly something comes together, it’s very exciting and exhilarating. I think that within the industry, editors are appreciated, but I’m not sure that many people understand what’s involved in editing. I remember at my father’s funeral, this woman came up to me and said, “I want you to meet my son someday, he runs a camera shop.” As if somehow the fact that he ran a camera shop and I was a film editor put us in the same field.

[ … ]

In summary, what would you like people to know most about editing?

That it exists! People don’t realize that somebody sits there and makes thousands and thousands of decisions before what they see ever gets on the screen. That they’ve gone down hundreds of wrong paths before they’ve ended up with the final film. [ … ] Editing is the last analysis. Unless you have unlimited resources and can continue shooting forever, the buck stops in the cutting room. Either it works there or it doesn’t.

My most recent previous post from Oldham’s book is here.

-Julie

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