Saturday, March 13, 2010

Edit Sweet - I stand corrected!

I had a mini-rant the other day about how the judges of the Oscars tend to overlook the skills of great editors, and just lump "Best Editing" in with "Best Picture". However, an editor friend of mine had a different perspective on it. He basically said that the reason "Best Editing" and "Best Picture" go hand-in-hand is BECAUSE the edit is so crucial to the overall quality of the film. This I totally agree with. He explains things really well here, so I'm giving him a little guest slot today ;) Thanks Catalin!

I actually don't fully agree with this. For me, it makes sense that the editing and the picture wins. I believe that (in fiction) pictures get their full potential through juxtaposition, ie what comes before, what come after, what is being referenced in the film later. This is very much about editing, so editing defines the nature of the pictures and vice versa. It is like a symbiosis. I am not talking about merely technical achievements (nowadays with the right kit and money anyone can produce stunning shots). I mean how pictures speak to the audience, how they tell a story intellectually (what we see) and emotionally (what we feel). And this, is determined by the way they are put together. Simple example: the cross-cutting scene in "Seven" when Pitt and Freeman investigate the case in different locations (library/home): the camera is more than just beautiful, it describes the character to us in a very empathetic way, plus creates a personal POV that the audience feels (we have learnt far earlier that the two characters a diametrically opposed). But these aspects of the cinematography come to light by being edited together. Through the excellent cross-cutting, those low/high angles, those blue/orange tones and those nice tracking shots (vs still shots) get a new level of meaning. So, when storyboarding the director thinks in terms of cinematography and editing in tandem, and if one turns out to deserve an Oscar, chances are the other skill will, too.

It is a whole different issue with documentaries, especially on-the-fly docos. Those might have crap cinematography, but the editing might be brilliant. I think they should actually introduce an Oscar category "Documentary editing", so that these poor people get some recognition. That's our fate: Edit brilliantly, and no one talks about you. Make one mistake, and every one jumps on you. Anyway, I like working in the background. Maybe that's my "feminine" side :-)

Catalin is an editor / film maker / lecturer, and you can see his work at

1 comment:

TheUnwashedMass said...

Sounds like being a documentary editor is akin to being a projectionist:

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