Thoughts on Editing
Lately, I have been looking over the profiles of people who work with film editing professionally. I stumbled upon editor's Scott Edward's bio, where he described his engagement with post-production in this sentence:
‘I realised that the best way to indulge my passion for storytelling was to combine it with my fondness for cramped windowless rooms and pursue a career in editing’.
Due to various associations, editing does hold a somewhat inferior position in the process of filmmaking, doesn't it?
Understandably, the features of the workflow are very different - after stimulating shooting experience you find yourself locked in a studio, where you suddenly face loads of footage and endless technicalities.
Before stepping into the field of filmmaking, I generally assumed the same. However, since I got to learn and practice more, I came to realise that this process is just as spontaneous and exciting as filming.
The editor is the one who has the power to arrange the footage into a linear or non-linear narrative. But more importantly, the editor has endless creative freedom to saturate that narrative by making small and subtle editing choices. I refer to them as moments that click, meaning that some sort of chosen arrangement falls so well together, that it results in heightened emotion.
By combining the footage, the editor creates glimpses in time that reveal something either very vulnerable, unique or contradicting about the subject. Whether it is a choice of transition, colour scheme, or pacing, the editor has an ability to be playful with highly impactful and manipulative visual language.
Such editing choices often help to increase the emotional and intellectual engagement of the audience, as it provokes distinct feelings or suggests a layered meaning to the moving image.
Here are two very short examples of unusual editing choices that helped to elevate the story and remained memorable after watching the film (in my personal viewing experience):
Garnet's Gold (2014) - Ed Perkins
In one of the scenes, Garnet Frost arranges a date with a beautiful woman in hopes to escape his loneliness. Garnet's date doesn't show up and he is caught sitting alone in a local café. A filmmaker Ed Perkins focuses on his face and experiments with this odd ‘jump cut’ that comes together with nostalgic music. From that point in the story, Garnet’s journey appears more significant and relatable as the sad realisation is communicated through editing.
Animus Animalis (2018) - Aistė Žegulytė
The documentary touches on the relationship between people, animals, and objects. It reveals the culture of hunting, shows the process of taxidermy, and documents animals living in the wild. This unexpected edit of a taxidermy object suddenly 'coming back to life' mirrors the ethical dilemma of the film.
So, therefore, if I had to compare a bliss that happens while filming something special and excitement of coming up with something creative in the edit, both would carry the same significance.
If you see it this way, then a cramped, windowless room doesn’t appear so unattractive anymore. You start appreciating the isolation, as it gives you sharper focus to make those subtle decisions that magnify the impact of the film.
Scott Edward's personal website https://www.scottedwards.tv/