When do we have complete control over a film? What part of the overall filmmaking process can make or break your film? What process do I not place enough weight on? There is a quote by Walter Murch that sums up editing: “The only time one is able to exercise control of the the film is in the editing. The images themselves are not sufficient. They’re important, but they’re only images. What’s essential is the duration of each image and that which follows each image: the whole eloquence of cinema is that it’s achieved in the editing room.” Over this last week as I have poured over all this footage from weddings, a couple music videos and a few corporate projects and I have had the opportunity to really reflect on the whole editing process. The clips that I have captured are just one piece of the final product. They are just moments in time and by themselves, they are disjointed and incomplete. Once they are placed together in that one certain sequence, for a certain duration, that is when a special story begins to unfold. This where I really have control over a project.
I normally struggle with editing...not the process, but the time spent in this process. I often neglect the time editing actually requires. I edit projects to get them done, to check off a project from a list, to free up an evening and enjoy the great weather away from the dark office. Over the last two weeks I have been working to change my view on editing. I have come to understand the importance and weight that editing has on a project. It can literally make the difference between a good video and a great video.
Now staying focused on editing and allowing yourself time to edit can be tough. I have created three rules and I have in place for editing.
1. Time limit
Give yourself a time limit. Edit for an hour or two, then take a break or go for a walk.
2. Switch It Up.
If I find myself becoming bored of a certain project, I switch projects. I seem to always have multiple projects on the go and this seems to work well. I used to only be able to work on one project until it was completely done, but this allows me to keep my brain fresh in a new project.
3. Set A Goal
I do this a lot when I edit larger projects. For example, for weddings I like to edit a rough assembly cut of the highlight reel. This may take a few hours, but I feel good after I have reached that stage. Then the next day I will come back and make a first cut in an hour or so. This method helps me feel accomplished in the days work. I look back at the day and see what I have finished. It also allows me not to work too fast. I know for that specific day that I just want to get to a certain point on the project.