Every once in a while I see something that reminds me how much I love film editing, and loved doing it.
It’s what I studied in college, it’s what I wanted to do, and did for a while as a professional job.
Back in college, I thought what I wanted to do was shoot and direct. Editing a project in school was a necessary step to completing an assignment to get a grade. Then, one day it clicked. I edited a simple two shot sequence of a guy dropping his cell phone on the ground. The sequence was more involved than that, but the two shots compromised of a cell phone falling out of a guy’s hand, and another of the phone hitting the ground did it for me. When I first lined up the two shots the timing was way off. The phone fell, cut to the ground, beat, beat, phone hits the ground. The delay was almost comical. But as I fine tuned the cut, and got the timing just right everything fell into place and it clicked.
Editing was fucking awesome, everything else sucked.
I instantly grew to hate shooting, and all I wanted to do was edit. Shooting became the necessary step to get to editing.
I wish I still had that stupid sequence on tape or DVD so I could rewatch it, but I am guessing that over the years I have glamorized that “defining” moment. And truly, it’s a 2 shot, 1-second sequence of a phone falling out of a hand, and then hitting the ground. Definitely not an Academy Award winning anything, but for me it was the awakening.
I never saw myself moving out to L.A. or New York so I don’t know what I should have expected with this as a career path. I just knew that I was loving what I was doing at the time.
About a year after I moved to Houston I got an editing job. Mostly corporate videos, weddings, performances, training videos and golf tournament videos. I once spent a day filming guys shooting 2x4s out of an air canon at windows. I enjoyed it for a while. I was editing.
But the sometimes unfortunate thing about doing what you love as your professional job is that you can easily get burned out on it. Especially when you find yourself editing primarily corporate videos and weddings. They very pedestrian and extremely repetitive. There was very little to no room for creativity.
I got burned-out on wedding and corporate events pretty quickly. It was then that I decided to keep my passions as hobbies. They are what I love, and they are for me.
Now, a few years removed from professionally editing and the itch has started to come back. I’ve cut a few things together in that time, but not a lot.
What really gets that itch going are times where I see a sequence in a movie, television show, or even a commercial that was edited so beautifully that it reminds me why I loved editing.
The cuts. The beats. Why did they cut from that shot so quickly? Why did they hold there so long?
Almost everything I watch I analyze the editing. Television and movies, even commercials and online videos.
Some of my favorite jokes in TV or movies are because of editing.
Opening titles to television shows, if well done, will set the tone for the show. Californication has great opening titles. This one is from season 2:
If you’ve seen Californication, you know how well the titles fit the show. Gritty. Indie. Vain. Decadent. Perfect.
I’m not a fan of the show, but True Blood’s title sequence is also very well done:
Friday Night Lights was a show that Ali LOVED. It was a really well made show. I loved just about everything the show did, but I couldn’t get into the story about high school football players.
The cold open of the show would slowly play out, and towards the end the music would swell up and hit the mark and then the titles go. Amazing transition. Just a really well made show from top to bottom. I really wish I cared about the characters and story lines, because the production was incredible.
As for recent movies, I was blown away by the regatta scene in The Social Network. The stylistic shots and lens choices, the brilliant score from Trent Reznor, and of course the editing which tied it all together.
It’s no surprise that The Social Network won the Oscar for editing that year.
Back in college one of my favorite assignments in one of my editing class was that all the students were given the same 10 or 15 clips from a television show. They all fit together, but depending on how you cut them, the scene changed drastically. It’s amazing how many different outcomes there were from the same footage. Some of the clips turned out to be comedies, others were very dramatic, a few were suspenseful.
The sad thing about editing is that if you do it well, it’s rarely noticed by the public. If it’s done poorly, then everyone will notice it. They may not know why a scene was weird, but they would definitely notice it.
Clips like the ones above really showcase the art of editing perfectly. I watch them and I miss editing. I know I could pick up a video camera and shoot something, but I hate shooting. Loathe it. Plus I’d need to find actors and who wants to do that?
(I know this is was a blog about editing and I mentioned I hated shooting video but then I led off with a photo of me shooting… Back off. I don’t have a photo of me editing.)