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Film Editing - page 4

There are always unforeseen problems; maybe some scenes are overwritten and say more than they need to say. If you've got good coverage you can still create a perfectly smooth flowing scene that serves its purpose. Of course it will be much shorter than it started out to be. The director's skills are honed in recognizing a good performance and knowing how to move from take one to take two, three, four, etc. It is very important that he elaborates on a specific idea to refine it through each take. 

At the end of the day editors and directors are trying to accomplish the same thing. Their collaborative success comes from a deep understanding of one another; a mutual trust and belief, that together they are creating the best film possible. 

Creative decisions made by the editor, especially at the assembly stage, are crucial; they will largely determine if the movie will "play." Carol Little tries to follow the director's lead, but many decisions must be made on her own. The parameters vary according to the director's instructions. Many directors prefer to use the same editor in project after project; a shorthand develops between them, an instinctive communication.

There are times when an editor can take a bad script and make it better, but it's very difficult to make a good script bad. A well-written story is very difficult to turn into a bad movie. There are times when through a good editor's vision they can take a not-too-well-written story and make a much better story out of it, usually by what they leave out as opposed to as what is put in. 

You also have to realize there are all kinds of work in LA: commercials, documentaries, television films, long-format television films, short-format, series, mini-series, features, on and on and on.
The audience never knows what is left out, they know what they see on the screen and how the story is told. The editor as storyteller as a very important function that is part of the scope of motion picture making. But he is not the most important part of the team. He is definitely one of the team that makes it work. A motion picture, as opposed to any other art forms, is a team experience, not a job by one person. 

Believe it or not, living on different coasts may actually make a big difference in how you perform as an editor. "There are a lot of editors who work on both coasts, and I know people who have bad feelings about it because they have been blocked from joining either the LA local or, in my case, the New York local. But as we begin to realize that we can take charge, we can find a way to make it more workable for everyone, those feelings are becoming diffused. We've now had two years of talks with New York. Those feelings of "us" and "them" are slowly changing to ideas of "we" together.

The biggest difference I've found in New York, quite frankly, is the level of serious commitment to film. I think because the competition is fierce in New York, there are very few jobs, and in order to survive you have to be very, very committed. In LA, there are a number of editors who see working with film as a great job and are not that committed to film other than the paycheck. 

You also have to realize there are all kinds of work in LA: commercials, documentaries, television films, long-format television films, short-format, series, mini-series, features, on and on and on. The work is more restricted in New York. The other difference I've found is that because New York is a small community, it's somewhat inbred and the system of networking is not as familiar as in LA. There's a lot of networking and cooperation in LA because, while there is competition, it's not quite as severe."

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