EDUCATION IN EDITING
I am in the process of editing ‘What About Molly?’ for what might be the 6th time now. Yes, that’s right, from start to finish, re-editing the picture. Each time learning something new and honing in on my skills, this time around has been different. Something has changed, likely within me, to where I’m seeing the film in a new light.
A weird phenomenon happens when you’re making a film. You write a script and it speaks to you, telling you to make the picture. It’s a piece of literature that you love and adore. Something you desperately want to see brought to life. Thus, you make the decision to move forward with passion and make your film.
Next comes the actual filming of what you wrote. It’s fucking magic. Maybe the best part of the process. The lights, the camera, the collaboration, working with actors to see your vision come to life. There’s nothing like it. You gather your footage, download it to your editing machine and give it a quick watch. Jaw dropped and blown away, you continue moving forward.
With all your footage in the can, this is where the phenomenon happens. You edit the picture, and you fucking hate it. Not just one scene or another, but the entire thing. How? How can this be possible? How can you hate something that you loved so much? It really makes no sense. At its core, it’s the same story, the one you fell in love with. So why the hate?
SEEING THE BLEMISHES
As an editor, you really focus on the blemishes of the picture. Shots are out of focus, a performance is weak, continuity issues and the like. With all the moving pieces, there is always something that can go wrong in a shot and trust me it does. By focusing on the blemishes, you no longer get to see the beauty in what you created...hence the hate.
Aside from the blemishes, you cut the picture together as best you can, avoiding the issues or cutting around them creatively. You do this over and over and over. Each scene, you cut, you watch, you cut, you watch and you cut. Rinse and repeat until you’ve seen the thing a million times. No wonder you hate it. It’s the bane of your existence.
As you progress through the scenes, your editing gets faster and faster. Not because your skills have improved, but because you just want to get through the monotonous process as quickly as possible. This makes your cuts weak and your edit turns out looking like shit, forcing you to hate it even further.
By the time you finish editing the film, you’ve seen it 2 million times. You know every inch, every issue, every blemish, every flaw. There is no beauty left. You officially hate everything you’ve created. So what is one to do next? That’s right...edit it again.
EDITING MULTIPLE TIMES
As we all know here at The Failed Filmmaker, there is growth in failure. If you want to grow as a writer, you need to write. The same applies to a filmmaker. If you want to improve on your craft, you need to make movies. An expensive proposition, but a necessary one if you want to improve. The same applies to editing.
The beauty about growing as an editor is that you have the footage already. The expensive part is done and you have hours of material at your disposal. If you don’t use it and reuse it, you’re not getting your money's worth.
Each time you edit a scene, it’s going to turn out different. Rarely will you get the same edit twice in a row. You see the shots differently than before and you figure new ways to work and rework scenes. The blemishes start to fade out of focus. You know where they are, you’ve accepted them and you’ve moved on. They don’t affect you as they previously did.
On this second pass, you slow down the process, accepting the monotony as a necessary part of the process. This improves your cuts, adding strength to your scenes, and adding strength to your film. At the conclusion of your second pass, you watch the film and begin to hate it a little less. Now what should you do?
The third time you edit, the process starts to become enjoyable. The world slows down further and you see the film with a new lens. You actually start to impress yourself. You start to fall in love with your story once more. You’re reminded of the love you once had. The reason why you started all of this.
The fourth, fifth and sixth pass show greater improvement yet. Like I said, what’s the point of having all of this footage if you’re not going to utilize it to edit, fail and grow? Get the most out of what you shot.
The hate you have for your edit is nothing more than a wall you need to break through. You need to step away for a few weeks, place your attention elsewhere and then come back with a clear mind. Re-edit the film and you WILL see it through new eyes. The hate will start to fade.
You just put in all this time and money to get footage for your film. If you don’t use it and reuse it, you’re not making the most of the opportunity. Not only will you learn and grow as an editor, you will learn and grow as a writer, director, producer, sound designer, etc. You will improve as a filmmaker.
There’s growth in failure so why not fail quietly, in the editing room, before failing publicly when your film is released? Remember, failure is a good thing. Failure is growth.
- The Failed Filmmaker