Yesterday - Saturday 29th June, was the first ever EditFest in London. The EditFest is a day's worth of talks organised by the American Cinema Editors - and has previously been held in Los Angeles and New York.
I took some notes and made some very ropey audio recordings, and would like to share some of the quotes from the day here. Each session was 90 minutes long, so what's below is only a very very small fraction of the insights shared during the day by the guests - and doesn't at all represent the more personal discussions that attendees were able to have with the panellists between sessions and during drinks afterwards.
Overall it was an absolutely amazing day, and I hope they come back next year (as has been hinted).
DISCLAIMER - While I have tried my absolute best to preserve the context and intention of the quotes given, they may not be wholly accurate. Some words and sentences have been removed or paraphrased for clarity, interest, brevity, or because I can't make out what what was said from the recording.
Small Screen, Big Picture – Panel with Television Editors
Moderated by Gordon A. Burkell founder of Art of the Guillotine
- Frances Parker, A.C.E. (Game of Thrones, Rome)
- Kristina Hetherington (Room at the Top, Birdsong)
- Oral Norrie Ottey (Generation Kill, Game of Thrones)
- Kate Evans, A.C.E. (Buddha of Suburbia, The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall)
KH - To me, performance is through the eyes, I respond to what I feel when I'm watching it and I'll make a note of that. And then it's the overall feel of the scene. And I'll look in the script and I'll say where's the value of this scene, how am I going to shape this scene?
OO - My editing room needs a sofa, because once I look at the rushes I need to have a lie down [to think]. It's about finding the nugget. You try and get the best out of that material. It's story, story, story - and then, if you can shape the drama around the story.
On building the suspense when cutting a horror film:
KH - I tend to just follow the script. I started cutting horror films because I'd cut dialogue and period dramas for over 10 years, and I was offered a horror film after Girl With a Pearl Earring, and it seemed like it would be a change, it would be nice to cut an action movie rather than a dialogue movie. Sound is absolutely essential, but that's the sound designer's job. But it's always a lovely surprise when I see it dubbed.
On working with actors' performances:
KH - Sometimes you have to throw away what may be the most amazing part because it's just too much [emotion].
From Dailies to Delivery – Editing Features
Moderated by Mick Audsley – Harry Potter and the Goblet Fire, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
- Chris Dickens, A.C.E. (Les Miserables , Slumdog Millionaire)
- Tracy Granger, A.C.E.(Still Life, Frank)
- John Wilson, A.C.E.(Day of the Flowers, Billy Elliot)
- Eddie Hamilton, A.C.E.(X-Men: First Class, Kick Ass 2)
On the move into digital, and the impact on editing and screenings:
Are scripts important?
EH - I love reading scripts. I tell all my friends who are writers to send me scripts. I feel like the more scripts you read, the better you get at reading scripts. I listen to my gut feelings about scripts because I trust my instincts so strongly that I feel that if there's an issue in the script that if it's not addressed before the shoot that will bite us in the arse in the cutting room, which they always will, then I try my hardest to point them out and say "this is a big problem in the script, you should seriously consider fixing this". In terms of choosing jobs, I mean, let's be honest there's a lot of unemployed people in the industry and I don't get huge numbers of job offers. Occasionally I may happen to get a choice of two films at a certain time of the year and I'll choose one or the other. So you're lucky to be employed, and sometimes you may have a hunch that a film is only going to be average and it's a shame, but you need to pay the bills - and you engage whole-heartedly with the film in order to try and breathe as much life into it as you can. If a great script comes up, then fantastic, but they're not that frequent. I mean, how many great films do we actually see each year? Three? So the odds of working on a truly great film are pretty small.
EH - I read the script before the film, and if I'm cutting a scene where I don't know what comes before then I will read the page that comes before that. But effectively I don't read the script after the first day of the shoot. It doesn't matter what's in the script - if they haven't shot it then it can't be in the film. I actually just look at the footage and the strengths and weaknesses in the footage because that's all that matters.
On how to avoid becoming overly-familiar with the material:
CD - I suppose the environment you watch it in is key. For me it goes back to the script, if you like it then you have a connection to the material, that allows you to watch it more and carry on editing. A very physical way of doing it is take it somewhere else - watch it at home, in a screening room. I try to watch it through someone else's eyes. I try to but it's almost impossible because the minute you start getting too used to something is the minute you can't see it. When people give you notes, I try not to dismiss any notes. Some of the notes that you have a really strong reaction to, albeit negative, are the... it's a good thing. Your negative reaction may because you're far too used to the scene. I don't dismiss anything. If people are too closed to new ideas, the film is almost never a success.