Role of an Editor in Film Making

There are many roles in the Film making process that require a person to be a sound technician and an equally accomplished artist. The Editor of a Film is a critical role that also draws in equal measure on creative talent and technique.

At the most basic level, the role of a Film Editor is to put together the scenes of a Film in a manner where they are entertaining, engaging and tell the story as it was intended to be told. Let us exemplify this point. If it is a romantic comedy, then it is the Editor’s job to place visual and time emphasis on crucial moments in the Film. Likewise, in a thrilling crime drama, it is an Editor’s skill to build and sustain the suspense of the Film. This can be done by pacing the edit in a certain manner, cutting shots and scenes intelligently to reveal just enough to tease the audience.

Therefore, not only must the Editor possess an extremely keen sense of story-telling, he must also be armed with the technical tools to accomplish these goals. Hence, the artistry and technical wizardry combination.

Editing, in more than one way, is direction in post. An Editor is the first critic of the film. But unlike the passive viewer, or the regular critic, s/he takes an active part in presenting the story in its most effective, streamlined packaging.It is an extremely rewarding but arduous job that needs careful studying. And perhaps the best way to receive this comprehensive training is by attending a great school.

Digital Academy – The Film School, has finally arrived in India to impart a world class education in Film making. The Editing program at DA will instruct you not just about the theory of editing, but also in all the aspects relating to story-telling and the nuances of a keen story sense, and then back that up with hands on training on industry standard equipment.

A program at DA will be like editing out the years of struggle and self-teaching that will be replaced by a robust and complete education, and the confidence to take on the world of Films.

You Join Lives When You Edit

The common perception about a Film Editor’s job is that he is the person who makes the cuts. A Director captures a good deal of unnecessary information during the shoot and then the Editor chooses the correct shots, trims the extra material and sculpts the final film.

How true is that? An Editor does cut the recorded material. But that is not the only purpose of his job. Instead, he joins chunks of action shots and creates a scene with the shot-changes hidden. He chooses the emotion that suits the Director’s vision and makes it as effective as possible.

The Editor can be called a Director in disguise. He directs the film, but on the table. He does not shoot. He doesn’t even make an appearance at the shooting floor. But he is the first viewer of the shot material, known as the rushes. He recreates the film, with the screenplay in hand, to tell the story. He plays the role of the film’s first critic too.

We talk about a film’s internal rhythm that develops in time. More than the Director, it’s the Editor who creates that rhythm. It is difficult to describe that rhythm in words. But as the audience, we realize when successive shots become shorter and the scene gains pace. Such accelerated mood becomes a creative tool during a suspense-filled moment or a chase scene. Thrillers regularly use fast cuts so that the story moves on from one aspect to another, leaving little or no time for the audience to concentrate on the details. It creates a mood of rapidness, an emotion of tension.

Shots tend to become longer when it is time to introspect. Sometimes the scene demands a slow moving camera, where the frame just stays where it is for minutes. Filmmakers such as Theo Angelopoulos make good use of such stasis in time. A brilliant example was where the little girl is molested inside the truck at the end of Landscape in the Mist (1988). We, as the sympathetic audience, want the camera to move, to recede further away or to come closer, so that we can get rid of the tension and guilt. But the camera does not move. It remains stationary, at a distance from the truck where the crime is happening. It is an Editor’s choice to use a scene like that. It does not matter if the Director has actually chosen the shot. It is the Editor’s mind which is at work here.

(Image Courtesy: http://bit.ly/rTHPwZ)

In some ways, an Editor’s mind works like a musician’s. The Editor creates tempos throughout the film that sustain tension at particular points in the story. The ups and downs in the story act like musical notes which operate in time. Maybe that’s what Satyajit Ray meant when an interviewer asked him how he makes a film and he said, “Musically!”

So how did it all start? There was no Editor and no need for editing when movies were first born. The camera started and stopped only once throughout the entire film. Each scene was a shot, and that made an entire movie. The duration of such movies was limited to the capacity of film, which would hold not more than 100 ft at that time. More than 100 ft, and the film would become prone to tearing due to the stress produced by intermittent motion. That problem was solved with the introduction of Latham loop.

However, the problem with such one-shot one-scene set up is that the filmmaker cannot change point-of-view without changing the camera position during the shot. In the initial days, camera dollies were very primitive and jerky. Also it wasn’t always possible to change the camera position without damaging the flow of the story.

Hence, the films looked like recorded plays. In fact, most of them were exactly that – staged plays filmed from a typical theater audience position. They gave an impression of a third person point-of-view and the only way to focus the spectator’s attention to a part of the screen was to move character.

In 1903, British filmmaker George Smith carried out a highly successful experiment by changing the point-of-view in Mary Jane Mishap. He juxtaposed wide, establishing shots with medium close up of the characters, to make the audience empathize with them. Dividing a scene or sequence was tried even before that. Goerge Méliès attempted that in his film Journey to the Moon (1902).

(Image Courtesy: http://bit.ly/vGuYjr)

During the same period, Edison’s film company made two films that explored cinematic storytelling breaking them into sequences. Both the films, The Life of an American Fireman (1903) and The Great Train Robbery (1903), used the cross-cutting technique to portray simultaneity. Now the audience could see for the first time while an action was happening at one place while what was happening at another place during the same time. The concept of ‘Meanwhile’ was very effectively produced by the logical juxtaposition of scenes, connected through common cues by a set of conventions, later to be called parallel editing.

It was the filmmaker who chose these cuts. However, specialized people had to be employed soon for the purpose of physical joining of negatives of different scenes or shots. They rose in rank with time and started suggesting things to their boss. They were the world’s first Editors.

It was in 1903, when the first big close up (also known as insert) appeared in Edison Film Company’s short, The Gay Shoe Clerk, to offer a glimpse into a character’s psyche by shifting the point-of-view. A mini story was effectively told using only two shots and three cuts. Cinema had started in the magic tent. But now the magic went too far.

That year was indeed very auspicious for cinema. A young screenwriter called David Wark Griffith joined American Mutascope and Biograph Company that year, and twelve years later he would change the face of film making and establish cinema as modern art.

Griffith applied almost every possible camera technique from his time to make his first feature length film, Birth of a Nation (1915). Though he may not have invented the techniques himself, he was the first to show how narration in literature could could be applied to cinematic storytelling. He demonstrated how a shot could represent a sentence from literature. He showed the consistent way to cut and join shots to build an equivalent of a paragraph from literature and turn it into a scene in the movie, join scenes to build a chapter from a novel and create a sequence. Ever since Birth of a Nation, all filmmakers around the world, starting from Eisenstein in USSR, Bresson in France, Phalke in India and Hitchcock and John Ford in Hollywood, followed Griffith’s footsteps.

(Image Courtesy: http://bit.ly/vo30of)

Griffith was followed by a line of master Editors. They joined two shots and joined two lives which would otherwise remain separate. Movies still show two persons talking over telephones looking in opposite directions in different shots, so that their eyelines match. We still hide the shot changes in modern films depending on the action change; matching the two different shot magnifications. It is similar to a sentence change, or to the complexity of the sentence, depending on the change of the principal verb.

Editors make the movies lifelike. In life too, we want to cut the unnecessary parts from our memories, to erase the wastes of our folly and to make it focused and steady. Don’t we?

Careers in Film and Television Editing

India makes the maximum number of films in the world. In addition to this, there are some 30 prominent channels, along with many regional networks. The Indian Media & Entertainment Industry is inviting great investment and has tremendous growth potential. Today, the number of aspirants who wish to make a career in films and the television sector, especially in the field of editing, is at an all time high. The scope of editing is ever widening in this era of technological explosion because every piece of audio visual media, requires an Editor.

Editing is a crucial job, which goes far beyond matching visuals and sound in accordance with the script. A good Editor can make the critical difference to a program’s final quality.

An Editor is therefore both an artist and a technician. As a technician, s/he needs to be abreast of the state of the art technology, which keeps moving towards higher levels of sophistication. At Digital Academy-The Film School, we not only ensure a hands-on experience with state of the art software, but also prepare students for the possible changes of technology in the future for e.g. the shift of Standard Definition Television (SDTV), to High Definition Television (HDTV) or the change of celluloid based technologies to Digital projection technology, be it 2K, 4K or higher.

 

What we aim for is to impart an education that grounds the student’s minds in the unchanging principles that govern narrative communication, while also preparing them for the ever changing flux of technology.

With greater responsibility comes greater visibility and better money. Today’s Editor’s can expect to earn top of the line remuneration especially in the high end spectrum.


Shine Bright in Tinsel Town

Just like there is no sureshot formula to making a box-office hit, there is none real formula to making it big in the film industry. The path can be, and usually is, unclear, difficult, competitive and unpredictable. At the same time, there are plenty of opportunities, and a place for many. If you have talent and the sheer grit to stick out, stardom may just be yours. Here are a few tips to steer your spectacular journey to tinsel town:


Have clear goals: Decide right at the start what is it that you want. Whether your aim is to direct, to act, to choreograph, to edit, or to script. It takes time to understand the workings of the industry, and hence, it’s best to identify what you want to do, and start early.

Create a niche: Once you decide where your passion lies, move ahead and decide the genre of filmmaking that you would like to be associated with. Some actors or directors make comedy films, while others action, and still others, documentaries.

Build a portfolio: No matter what resources or opportunities are available, start doing what you love, and keep building on it. If you like to act, do college plays, theatre, even home videos. If you wish to direct films, use any camera available, and start filming.

Participate in film festivals/film groups: Every city has film clubs that watch movies and discuss them. And if you are adventurous enough, you can also participate and screen your films in regional, national, or international film festivals.

Take care of all audiences: It is essential as an artist to not get slotted in one kind of role/films. You should not do only low budget films, or stick solely to big budget films. You must strive for a combination, so that you can reach out to all audiences.

Network with people from the trade: Business is about networking – go out there, actively talk to people about yourself and your work. Approach all your ‘filmy’ contacts, and see if anyone can help you in your rise to the top.

  1. Improve your skills: Take up a course for the skills that need working, whether acting, speech delivery, writing, editing, dance, etc. Many film schools and academies offer these courses.
  2. Assist a good director: While you are still waiting for your big break, it is a good idea to get some work experience interning with a good production house, or under a good director.
  3. Watch, read, absorb: Watch as many movies as you can spanning genres and nationalities. Read film trade magazines, and follow industry trends. Moreover, keep absorbing the life around you, as films are nothing but an interpretation of life.
  4. Embrace the media: The media is both a friend and a foe to the film industry, but the sooner you accept and embrace it, the sooner it’ll become your strength. Woo the media, and half your battle to stardom is won.

Saurabh Shukla speaks to students of Mumbai University

Speaking on the topic of ” Careers in Cinema “, Mr Shukla said that to be a Film Maker, one should obviously know the art of Direction but should acquire knowledge of all aspects of Cinema or at least have the working knowledge in areas of Cinematography, Writing, Editing, Acting and Production Design. He recalled his own days as a student in Delhi when he was studying for his M.Com when he was trying to be a ” Nobody ” He said that that was the time when he sensed a certain calling towards theatre and dramatics.He said that he was never formally educated in anything that is part of his profession.Those days, he said, when I look back, I worked very very hard but it was not work….everything that I did gave me a lot of joy…Every morning , after waking up, I felt the eagerness to go to the theatre for rehearsals, I read and analysed a lot of literature..and tried to analyse great works to the best of my ability….but had I been formally trained, I would have gone further and at a much quicker pace.Mr Shukla said ” The greatest thing that formal education gives you is a way, a much richer scientific and methodical path. I never had an opportunity that you people are getting now.

He said that the if a person is talented and works sincerely, he is bound to be successful in the world of Film and television which could not only pay very well, but also give enormous satisfaction and recognition. As a parting note, he said that in the journey that the students were about embark upon, he suggested to make the best use of all that they will get and wished the students all the very best .

Filmmaker of ” Harishchandrachi factory ” (The Factory of Harishchandra) visits Digital Academy – The Film School


<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

Paresh Mokashi , Writer, Director of the Marathi film ” Harishchandrachi factory ” or ” The factory of Harishchandra’, India’s entry to the Oscars, while on a visit to Digital Academy – The Film School, surprised the students when he said that he had never assisted any Film maker before he started making this film and also revealed that the first time that he ever visited a Film set was for this debut film of his. He had been part of Marathi theatre for a long time as an actor, writer and Director . He said that the greatest two qualities that any Film Maker should have apart from the know how of the technique of Film Making is clarity of mind and stubbornness. He said that most of what he learnt about Film making was by seeing films, many made by the masters of Cinema. He said that he did spend a lot time watching the treasures of world cinema in the National Film Archives in Pune and it is by watching these films that he enhanced his visual sense and knowledge. He said that this is what helped him have clarity of mind as to what he wanted the film to look like and this was most of the battle won. If a Director is confused, then the crew will take over the decision making and ultimately the look of the film will reflect that. Once a director knows what he wants, stubbornness helps in sticking to his decisions.


Speaking about the film’s journey, he said that patience is a necessary quality in this business. He said the the budget of this period film was about 3.5 crores , an unusually high figure for an Indian regional film whose recovery in the box office is very difficult. He said the when he selected his crew, all of them ie the cinematographer, costume designer etc had never done a single film independently before.After the wait for finance of almost three years, he was the only person in the crew who was making his debut…all of the other technicians were experienced by a few films…


Paresh then spoke about research he had to do for a period subject such as this. The film concentrates about a period in the life of Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, when he made his first film ” Raja ( King) Harishhandra”. The entire story deliberately was chosen not to be a biographic but about the time when Phalke was Directing and producing his first film. It was also given a humorous touch because Mr Phalke, according to many sources did have a good sense of humor. Research was an exciting part of the process because not only the city and costumes looked different, also the sound of the rickshaws operating then had to be sourced and or produced to get as close as possible to the original.

Speaking on the Oscars, he said that I am not surprised the my film did not make it to the final list of the Oscars as the final five were much better than my own film.He was happy to inform that the next film revolves around an archaeological treasure hunt and is linked to the journey of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata .

The students were very enlightened by the visit of Mr Mokashi and after being given a tour of the Film School, Mr Mokashi was delighted with the facilities of the school, its vision and objectives of creating visionary Film makers of tomorrow.

Dale Bhagwagar, renowned Bollywood publicist and PR, holds a guest lecture, at Digital Academy – The Film School

Dale Bhagwagar began his journey as a journalist twenty-three years ago, when he was just 14 years old. He contributed articles, poems to local newspapers and magazines in his hometown, Nagpur. Six years later, he joined a local newspaper as a trainee Sub-Editor and Reporter. After completing his graduation in English Literature he moved to Mumbai and was soon hired as the Chief Sub-Editor cum Reporter for the Bollywood gossip magazine “Cine Blitz”, which dealt with yellow journalism. That was the turning point in his life where he learnt the trick and trade of manipulating “Star images”. He is instrumental in shaping the careers of many celebrities. He has handled the PR for the likes of Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty, Priyanka Chopra, Esha Deol, Shiney Ahuja, Randeep Hooda and Vivek Oberoi, among 50 others.
 
 
He informed the students that the transition phase from the learning world as students to the real world as filmmakers in the “Big Bad Bollywood” would involve lot of effort, patience and an ability to adapt to situations and people. Commenting on this, he said, “When you are in the real world, when you are going to get out in the so called big bad Bollywood, the first thing one needs to do is unlearn certain things you learnt in schools and colleges. Schools and colleges teach you the basics but people work according to their experiences along with their team and it is very important to adapt to that team, their culture and their style of working”
 
He strongly believes that media has an upper hand in creating a perception in the minds of people and that is exactly when a publicist steps in. Elaborating on this, he said, “Publicists need to spin a very strong web of protection otherwise the media goes ahead to massacre brands and images the way it likes. That is why a publicist needs to be very firm and cautious while handling the Media sensibilities.
 
Throughout the session he emphasized on the line “We are living in a world where perception is reality” and that is exactly what PR does, it creates a perception in the minds of people propelling the image of a celebrity from downright negative to acceptable. His suggestions to the students about the benefits of PR and Media were, “Understand how the media functions, because ultimately you all are going to be made by your talent and then by media. How much ever talented a person is, if not projected properly, the career may not take that pace, and it could have taken”. 
 
Talking further on PR skills, he said, “Good news is Good, but Bad news is even better…. Ugly publicity is the best as it travels faster and hits the hardest… The worst of all is no publicity, as you need to generate the buzz because without which it becomes difficult to grow faster in today’s world. You will grow with your talent but with a PR marketing mind, luck comes faster”.
 
His advice to the beginners was to change their mindsets about the way he or she thinks of PR. It’s very important to project yourself the way you want others to perceive you.
 
Mr. Bhagwagar also advised the students to have dreams and then create roads to reach for those dreams. He said that you must be sure of your goals and then set a basic pattern and time frame to achieve those goals and carve a niche in the field you are interested in. He cited that “You have to stick to your roots, think of the sky and grow”. He also said that PR is just 10%, the remaining 90% is the talent you possess, you should be better filmmakers and the rest follows.
 
In his parting lines to the students, he said that “Start thinking of yourselves as brands. Subtle branding plays a huge role in the anticipation of your films. Though talent is what really matters, good support in PR skills takes any budding filmmaker to higher levels of success.
 
 
For more information contact:
Tel. no.: +91-22-28257009/+91-22-28257008
%d bloggers like this: