Today our host is Amy Janes, a producer, editor, and cinematographer based in Oklahoma. Amy’s guest today is editor Stuart Levy, whose credits include Any Given Sunday, Red Eye, Nim’s Island, Foxcatcher, Insurgent, Allegiant, and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
An editor begins work on the first day of production. Once they receive footage from the previous day of shooting, an editor will watch and organize it to be able to find needed material efficiently later on. The editor will sometimes decide how they want the footage to be organized and communicate this with the first assistant editor, who will then organize the footage as the editor moves on to edit scenes.
Working from the organized footage, the editor will choose actor performances, camera angles, and shot sizes that they feel best relay the geography of the scene. They then cut the footage down into scenes and, once the scenes are completed, assemble sequences. Paying close attention to performances and pacing, the editor follows the script to assemble the first cut of the film. Aiming to make the editor’s cut feel as close to a finished film as possible, they will add in music and special effects where they are able.
At this stage of the process, the editor invites the director to see the first cut, taking notes on how the cut can be changed to fit the director’s vision for the film. Working together, they will refine pacing and dialogue, decide which scenes to cut, and choose which characters and story points they want to focus on. An editor takes careful notes as they work with the director, incorporating these notes into the edit until the final cut of the film has been completed.
Organization: Be able to organize footage effectively and efficiently, to know how to create a system of organization that your team will follow.
Endurance: An editor must look at the same film footage over and over again but see it in fresh, new ways each time. As an editor, you will also need to stay mentally sharp and focused despite long hours.
Attention to detail: Tracking character development, pacing, and size of shots in each scene, keeping in mind how they will work to enhance the film as a whole, requires diligence and precision on behalf of the editor.
Communication: An editor needs to listen well and communicate clearly with their team about what is required to achieve the best cut of the film possible at every stage of the process.
Understanding of story: A thorough understanding of how the film’s tone, characters, and plot interact will help any editor make good decisions on behalf of the film.
Note-taking: An editor will need to take clear notes from the director and producers on each cut of the film. This requires precision, understanding the intent of each note, good writing skills, and a commitment to continued, productive communication with the team.
1st Assistant Editor
Varies between TV and film. Editors for TV can make $2,000 per week - $6,000 per week, whereas editors for a film can make $2,000 per week to $6,000+ per week.
Selects: How the editor wants the footage organized
Cut: A cut refers to a version of the film that is put together by the editor
Editor’s Cut: Also referred to as the “first cut,” the editor assembles this cut of the film first on his or her own before sharing it with the director for notes.
Dailies: The raw, unedited footage shot on any given day on a film set.
In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch
Learn more about Stuart Levy: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0506634/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
Learn more about Amy Janes: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1834422/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
Thank you to the Oklahoma Film and Music Office for sponsoring this episode!
Film Crew 101: Certification is an extension of the free Podcast series "Film Crew 101" (available on apple, spotify, and wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts). Each episode pulls back the curtain on all the different roles that go into making a film or TV show from Gaffer's to Best Boy's and First Assistant Director's to Second Second Assistant Director's.
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