What A Film Editor Actually Does

What A Film Editor Actually Does

If you’ve ever wondered what a film editor does, and what it takes to be one, then this 2 minute promo for creative film editing course Inside The Edit, is probably the most poetic and celebratory answer you’re going to get.

The next sections of this post cover film editing from the following angles:

  • Editors on the craft of film editing
  • Old school film editing
  • Editing other people’s films for your own sake
  • In-jokes for film editors

This video demonstrates just how much work goes into an edit (often late into the night!) with a time-lapse of the editing process for Saturday Night Live’s ‘The Beygency‘ sketch, cut superbly by editor Adam Epstein.

Editors on the Craft of Film Editing

You have to go with your own instincts, with what you think will work.

Frank Urioste shares his thoughts on the craft of editing in this excellent filmschoolthrucommentaries compilation. Frank has cut some of the most classic of classic action movies since the 80s in including Die Hard, Total Recall, Cliffhanger, Tombstone, Conspiracy Theory and many more.

In this 45 minute treat editor Richard Marks shares plenty of insights from his epic career and on the craft of feature film editing at the LACPUG. The opening remark is a good warning for why you need to learn to edit with keyboard shortcuts and a Wacom tablet rather than a mouse!

Richard has cut over 35 features including Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Part 2Say Anything…, St Elmo’s Fire, Dick Tracy, Father of the Bride, Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, As Good As It Gets, Spanglish and many more!

In this fantastic 30 minute interview editor John Gilroy talks through some of his feature credits which include Narc, Michael Clayton, Salt, Warrior, The Bourne Legacy and Pacific Rim.

It’s a really great interview for hearing how and why an editor makes many of the stylistic choices in their films.

For more from John (and many other editors) check out this previous post with loads of snippets from numerous Manhattan Edit Workshop presentations.

UPDATE 2018 – The full video of John Gilroy seems to have been taken offline, but here are 8 shorter snippets from the whole, in one easy playlist.

In this short video, master editor Walter Murch shares what he thinks it takes to be a good editor, which he thinks is essentially a strong grasp of rhythm.

Invisible Artists, Visible Artists is a great event wherein this years Academy Award nominated editors share stories from their hugely successful films. Jump over to PremiumBeat for the whole 90 minute lecture, as well as more videos from previous years.

In this final video editor and trainer Larry Jordan and editor, author and lecturer Norman Hollyn share their thoughts on the skill of storytelling through editing.

Old School Editing

This 14 minute lesson from Filmmaker IQ walks you through the history of film editing and the next video shows, in a couple of minutes, how impossible tape to tape editing really was.

Editing Other People’s Films For Your Own Sake

Topher Grace Star Wars Prequel Re-edit

If you want to take on a major editing challenge to build your chops you could take a stab at re-cutting a long movie into a shorter cut. This teaches you how to condense, shape and streamline. Topher Grace re-edited the three Star Wars prequels into one 85 minute film (that will never see the light of day due to copyright infringement) but which you can check out a trailer, and post-screening insights, over on nofilmschool.com

Another re-cut film that you can watch online is director Steven Soderbergh’s ‘butchers cut’ of Heaven’s Gate.

This video blog (above), sets the context of why this is interesting and the story of the original 216 minute film, which sank United Artists.

As a quick aside The Final Cut by Steven Bach (scroll to the bottom) is a brilliant book which details the unravelling of both United Artists and Heaven’s Gate. Well worth a read!

raiders of the lost ark in black and white

For even more Soderbergh re-editing magic, check out his black and white version of Raiders of The Lost Ark, set to the soundtrack from The Social Network.

In-Jokes For Editors

I’ve previously posted all of these over the years, but I thought it would be good to have a giant collection, all in one place! In this first video Joy Moeller shares her insights on EditQuette – the etiquette of the edit suite. It’s funny, because it’s true.

what a film editor actually does

This classic image, I first found via New York editor Alan Capriles.

This spot from Conan O’Brien pokes fun at the laughable first release of Final Cut Pro X, featuring some of the real editors of the show.

Lastly I recently saw this fun little time-saver from Corporate Avoidance, in which you can set up your computer to make it look like your FCP7 or After Effects app is busily rendering away, with nothing for you to do but take a well earned break.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.