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What I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker

What I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker

Articles - Editing

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

On Knowing Your Role

When you’re the editor, you’re not the director.
You didn’t conceive or shoot the film. When the footage for a scene
arrives, try to forget every notion you had about what the scene
was supposed to be like and take all your cues from the film that
was actually shot. There will be time later to try to push the scene
in some other direction, but it’s important for me to not have a
plan, and to simply find the scene in the footage.

On Acting Advice

If you want more screen time during other people’s
lines, don’t just look at them. Look away and look back. That’s
what the editor will use, because it makes a cut feel motivated—even
if it’s not.

On Art Versus Science

Filmmaking is not a science, and there’s no formula
to follow to get you through the thousands of little decisions involved
in editing a scene. Trust your instincts.

On Art Versus Technology

One of the curious things about editing is that a
lot of us come into it from the technical side, and then have to
become something like artists. This really struck me on Sense
and Sensibility
. I was getting these stupendous performances
from some of the best actors in the world, and not only was I allowed
to pass judgement on them, that was my job. I, with virtually no
acting experience, was required to say that a given take of Emma
Thompson and Kate Winslet wasn’t really very good. As an editor
you have to become an authority on all the things that wind up on

On Audience Forgiveness and Great Film Moments

If an actor gives you a moment that’s really striking
or wonderful, you have to try to use it. It doesn’t matter if the
resulting cut will be terrible; people go to the movies for those
great moments, and nobody will care if the head turn doesn’t match.

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