Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Emily the editor

As I thought about my next film project I started to piece together a crew in my head. I was going through my mental rolodex, trying to find all the DPs I know (2), all the sound guys I know (1), all the gaffers I know (1), all the composers I know (3), all the PAs I know (378), and all the editors I know (3).

And then I stopped a bit on that editor thing.

Game Night was filmed in September. And I plan to shoot again in September or maybe sooner. And I don't want to spend another year waiting for somebody else to edit the film.

The main reason I had someone else edit Game Night is that I didn't want to practice editing on something that cost me a grand to make. I wanted it done by somebody who knew something. And that has been the bane of my existence ever since.

If I'd bought an editing program when I shot the film I could have learned how to edit my own stuff by now.

So the lightbulb zapped me in the face and yesterday I ordered a copy of Avid so I can use my Game Night footage to teach myself how to edit.

But Avid is eight hundred bazillion dollars! you say.

Nope. Not if you're a teacher. Just like I got MovieMagic at a steep discount, I get Avid for like 90% off or something if I can prove I'm an educator. Just like I get a discount on car insurance. I guess they have to do something to make up for the fact that I spend all day putting up with your children.

Just kidding, I love your children.

Anyway, it's time this lady learned to do something for herself. So pretty soon I will be adding Editor to my list of qualifications. I have no idea how to edit so I hope I don't suck.


  1. Editing is one of the best ways to figure out if you know how to shoot or not.

    If you've given yourself lots of coverage it's a breeze (relatively). If you don't have any coverage it's ridiculously difficult.

    When you're writing you design the pieces, directing you create the pieces, editing you have to put them all together.

    Even if the design is good, if you have the wrong pieces, you're screwed.

    That being said, it is fun. If you're really anal you'll probably be good at. Sometimes the difference between bad and good is one frame.

  2. I was head copy editor of my college paper. That's a pretty anal job.

  3. For what it's worth...based on your writing,
    I think you can do it. I think you are going to do well. I think you are going to shock yourself.

    Good Luck

  4. Rock on Emily. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions during the editing process.

  5. I think a do-it-yourself attitude is always a good bet. And though it'll be a bumpy start, I'm sure you'll end up more satisfied than you are with your current situation.

    BUT, at the same time -- and this isn't discouragement AT ALL, just a framing device -- editing is often one of those things that people don't give enough credit.

    Editing is not just putting the pieces together. It's just not.

    Otherwise there wouldn't be people winning awards and there wouldn't be movies that have a perfect rhythm and movies that are eternally bland or awkward.

    There is an rhythm and grace to editing. I got really good at it after years of editing my own stuff. But I'll never be as good as my friend Mark who edited my last two movies. And I have no idea why.

    I think you'll do great, and things will run more smoothly for you and it'll speed up your progress to getting where you want to be.

    But don't expect it to come quick, and don't discount the artistry in it. (Not that you necessarily are doing that.)

    But, also, as an editor once told me (and had an embroidered thingy stating such above her editing bay):

    "Serendipity is an editor's best friend."

    So do it, and hopefully good things will come.

  6. The most important thing to learn is color-correction\telecine. Avid has pretty good plug-ins for it and while you're at it you may as well get Adobe CS3.
    Once you get correction and balance, the snipping of the clips is rather easy.
    Avid may have some limitations though as to what HW you can use for audio.

    Sony Vegas is the least expensive, most full-featured NLE and would be a few hundred with a teacher's discount.

    If you're serious though you may want to get a small external sound module for better audio editing.

    MAudio (sister company to Avid) has some for around $300. Check out

  7. IMHO

    Now that it looks like you're going to take a whack at editing(and I take editing as seriously as I take screenwriting)...

    I look at your photo, and I'm thinking (hmmm) with a great haircut and goatee...

    I'm just saying.

    Why not?

    Do something different...but kick-ass!

    But maybe not. I go too far sometimes.

  8. I'm not really sure what that means, dude, but I have no desire to Photoshop my own pictures to make me look like a dude.

  9. "I'm not really sure what that means, dude, but I have no desire to Photoshop my own pictures to make me look like a dude."

    I'm not talking about " *look* like a dude."

    I'm talking about *becoming* a dude. And standing at that window. Looking out at that snow. And then figuring out how to shoot yourself whilst you do that :)

    IF you do it, why not go all the way!

    Like Eddie Murphy in HARLEM NIGHTS (writer, director, starring).


    Oh no, no, no.

    Real haircut.
    Real goatee (save some of the hair from the haircut).
    And Really...kickass!

    But again, my imagination stretches to way on out of this world.

    Too much?

  10. You're a strange dude, huh?

    As tempting as that idea is, I think I'll stick to my actor who's already a dude.

  11. Not really strange.
    Look at how awesome Travolta was in HAIRSPRAY.
    And we can go back in time to TOOTSIE, if you like.
    I just see an opportunity to make a *slamming* film here.
    I was just reading about "movies with the best twist". Among them was THE SIXTH SENSE (of course.)

    I know that you're not going to do it (ie, become a man for art's sake.)

    But if you did, and really committed to the character, that would be one hell of a twist.

    Oh, and BTW: I'm not a dude. I'm ALL woman. But you know what...I have given myself a wonderful idea. Now I just need to write the script.

    Let's see...

    Logline: It's about a guy who...

  12. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Adam's comment above highlights exactly what I was going to add:

    "There is an rhythm and grace to editing."

    I was an Avid editor for more than a decade and modesty aside, I was very good at it. One of the reasons was because I had a good internal rhythm-and-grace thing going... and I don't know how to teach it, either.

    You've either got it, or you don't.

    Which doesn't mean those who don't can't do a serviceable job.

    But I think the best editors have it.

    You know when you've got a good rhythm going in a scene or sequence?

    Look for that -- better yet, *feel* for that -- when you start cutting your stuff together.


  13. And following on the heels of my comment on the last post, I'm certainly no expert, but I have done some editing, and have taken some classes in the art thereof. So if you want some free (and only moderately effective) advice, let me know on that front too!


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