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Editors? We don’t need no stinking editors!

This article by Dan Selakovich makes the strong case for why films benefit from a skilled editor, separate from the director:

Why A Director Shouldn’t Edit Their Own Movie

It boils down to objectivity, to getting away from all the baggage of remembering what happened on set.  He makes a compelling case, and his advice is the conventional wisdom.  It reminds me of WIlliam Faulkner’s advice on editing yourself: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”  He meant that you need to let go of your attachment to any one little bit, to focus on the needs of the story.

And yet…  There are quite a few noted filmmakers who edit their own work.  The Cohen brothers spring first to mind.  But also Akira Kurosawa and Gus van Sant.  And quite a few documentary filmmakers edit their own work, although perhaps as much because of a lack of budget as from creative considerations. Here is a short list of filmmakers who edit:

And So It Begins list of directors who edit

Any thoughts?  I edit to learn, and will hire an editor when I can afford to.




Doc Short Contenders Announced by Academy

Multicam editing at Casual Dog Productions, LLC

Multicam editing at Casual Dog Productions, LLC

I was supposed to be editing…  I had been fighting gremlins for weeks – some of my own making, many that appear to be bugs idiosyncrasies features in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.  You know, Adobe – the company who got themselves hacked, meaning my credit card number stolen, so that I had to update every other utility and such that had that number.  Maybe those folks are onto something, when they advise that your editing machine not be connected to the internet.  But, honest, I was only looking at documentary film related news!

I just saw the list, via the Below the Line newsletter, of the short-form documentary films that will be vying for an Oscar this year.  This is the short list, later to be winnowed to five or so before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences votes.   Hopefully, a DVD will be produced that gathers them all for our viewing pleasure.  The whole slate looks intriguing, as usual.  Here are a couple that caught my eye…

Jujitsu-ing Reality from Chad Mann on Vimeo.

I was most intrigued by the trailer for Jujitsu-ing Reality, a short doc directed and edited by Chetin Chabuk and lensed by Chad Mann.  It tells the story of Scott Lew, a screenwriter (most recently Sexy Evil Genius) who continues to write, using adaptive technologies and help from others, while suffering from advanced ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  I don’t think it looks at what is possible for less privileged people facing such disabilities, but it sounds inspiring.

Another intriguing entry is Cave Digger by Jeffrey Karoff and filmed by DP Anghel Decca, edited by Erin Nordstrom  The film is about Ra Paulette and his ‘art caves’ dug into the sandstone cliffs of Northern New Mexico.  An iconoclast, he is embarked on a decade-long project.  How does he pay for it?

None of these films seem very daring, let alone experimental. But it is the Academy, after all…

Yet another film festival scandal!

Hanoi viewThere has been yet another film festival scandal. this one involving the Newport International Film Festival (among others).  It makes you wonder how common more subtle forms of cronyism or abuse must be…

See the Universal Film Magazine, Issue 9 article – look here:

There has been discussion (on Doculink, the D-word,  and similar boards) in the last year or two regarding the worth of film festivals to independent filmmakers.  The common wisdom has been that a path to success for Indies – including documentaries – was to submit your film to a bunch of festivals, win some awards, then sell to a distributor.  But that happens less and less, with self-marketing and educational sales maybe more important.

And the cost of entering festivals is high – to “do it right,” you pay the entry fee, spend money on publicity, spend a lot of time on publicity, and shell out for travel.  Perhaps we are better off spending our time and money to build a niche audience – for example, screenings and appearances with organizations interested in our topic.

On the other hand, festivals can be fun, and a time to schmooze and network.

Got advice?


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